Tag: Awareness (page 1 of 8)

How To De-Stress Right Now

Stress may suck, but on some level, it acts as an indicator of many things, namely, that we need to either pay attention to the situation for our safety or care for ourselves for our well-being.

I’m a sensitive person and I tend to empathize with others very easily. I also have a temper. In a perfect storm of stress factors, I can go from 0 to 60 in no time at all. It’s not difficult to imagine how common it is for me to pick up on other people’s stress or for seemingly minor things to cause me unease, irritation and concern. I often catch myself tensing up; I feel my shoulders cramp, neck and back pain, shallow breathing and my mind races. I become high-strung and I can’t think straight, Naturally, I’ve had to work out a few instant and effective de-stressors.

All of these eight tips take one hour or less, most take effect in minutes. Also, I picked eight (8) because it’s the symbol for infinity and I believe that when we’re at the heart of our (shared) greatness, we feel incredibly peaceful. Here are my go-tos!

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical Gardens, photo by Mercedes

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical
Gardens, photo by Mercedes


1-   Breathe

That’s really the first step. A deep, belly breath; in through the nose out through the nose. Close your eyes, feel the breath sweep through you, feel your tummy rise and fall.

2-   Stop Glorifying Busy

Don’t overbook yourself. Allow for buffers in your week. If you were thinking of squeezing in that extra meeting, or booking another errand in your commute to/from work or double-booking your Saturday night, don’t do it. In fact, if you can reschedule one thing without repercussions, do it. You’ll be happy you’ve left breathing room. Aaaah.

3-   Remove the Digital Clutter


Unsubscribe from mailing lists, because really, when are you ever going to read that email? Do you *need* to buy yet another appliance? You already check twitter or instagram; you don’t need the notification. You’re entitled to a clean house, digitally.

Social media

Unfollow, Unfriend, Unsubscribe. No one needs that negative friend who can’t seem to spend one day rant-free. And if you have a dear friend or relative who posts games and cat videos, maybe you just don’t need to see *all* their posts.

Clear your inbox

Use folders, flags, archive, delete. If you’ve read it, file it. If it requires action, follow-up or flag it to deal with at your earliest convenience. Delete anything that doesn’t need to be revisited (you would keep directions or instructions for instance) or that you don’t value (you might keep a friend’s touching email). Otherwise, DELETE.

4-   Remove Clutter From Your Home

Perform a clutter sweep

Give yourself 5-10 minutes to do the sweep your common areas and bedroom. Your only concern is to clear counters, tables and seats. Any trash and recycling should be disposed of. Fold blankets, replace cushions, push table chairs, wipe tables and counters. Load your dishwasher if you have one, or pile your *rinsed* dishes to be cleaned when you can. IF they aren’t rinsed and you can spare your sink (or a soak bin), ya might want to soak them. Your (near) future self will thank you.

Take a basket or two and assign a space per basket, such as “office” and “bedroom”. If you have kids, you’ll want one for their rooms. Whatever you find that belongs in those spaces you put in the basket and when you’re done, you bring those to these spaces to be sorted later. You now have a tidy kitchen, dining and living room.

Bonus: open a window or light a scented candle (go with a non-toxic option)!

5-   Care for Your Body

Get moving.

Get some fresh air, go for a walk or a stretch and don’t sit down until you’ve spent 30 minutes moving. Get the blood moving and consider it an “active meditation”.

Have a piece of a fresh fruit.

Our brains run on natural sugar and our bodies need vitamins and nutrients. Do yourself a favour and bite into something healthy. You’ll feel refreshed and your body will thank you.

Draw yourself a bath.

If you’re at home and you can manage 15-20 minutes to yourself (gosh, I hope you can!), draw yourself a warm bath. If you have sea salt or Epsom salts, throw some in for an added treat – bonus! it helps your skin detox. You can throw in a few drops of your favourite essential oil (lavender works beautifully). When you sit in the tub, focus on your breath or on how the water feels on your skin. Be present. Forgive yourself if you drift; this time is for you!

6-   Ease Your Mind

Put away the screens.

Give your racing mind a break… put away the screens and devices for one hour. If you can’t manage that, start with 30 minutes. Baby steps. When we’re using devices, we’re constantly stimulated by advertising, pop-ups, email notifications, back-lighting. This is especially true if you’re going to bed because screens stimulate a part of our brains to think it’s still daylight, which means we won’t feel sleepy and it’ll throw off our natural Zzzz’s. There are apps like influx that will convert the light to an orange-tinged back-light, but really… do you need to send that email or spend more time on Facebook? Go cuddle up to your honey, your kid or curl up with a good book or journal.

7-   Soothe Your Heart

Call a friend or loved one.

Don’t text, call. Listen to their voice or go meet them for a cup of tea. Humans respond best to faces and voices. Besides, if you meet up in person, you might get the added bonus of a hug (yay for oxytocin!).

8-   Lift Your Spirits

Consume or create something that inspires you

Read your favourite author’s blog, watch a TEDtalk or write a note or a card, or make that flower arrangement or scrapbook. Spend time in nature, taking it all in, whether it’s a park or your back yard. If you find it calming, weed or tend to your garden.

How do you bust stress in your life? What are your favourite tips? How have they helped you?

Book Review: Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

Manuscript Accra Coelho

Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

As part of my goal of a more frugal, intentional lifestyle meets my love of reading, I’ve been known to hang out at the municipal library. A lot. In the last year, I’ve read a lot of light, fun novels but I’ve also started to return to Paulo Coelho, and other more philosophical reads or non-fiction with a personal development twist.

I used to love EVERYTHING Coelho published, until I didn’t. After The Witch of Portobello, I took a break. I didn’t feel compelled by the writing anymore so I knew that I needed to step back. Sometimes, authors go through phases, but so do readers, even the die hard fans.

When I got back to his work, I decided to read Brida, which was a contemporary story about a young Irish woman who wished to reconnect with witchcraft. It was a beautiful story that flirted with some New Age concepts such as Twin Flames. Coelho is fascinated with mystique, spirituality (The Alchemist), the history of religions, human nature (By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, Veronika Decides to Die, Eleven Minutes) and relationships (Love: Selected Quotations, The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession, Adultery). He also seems to be drawn to matters relating to lightwork and purpose, as he’s more obviously expressed in works like The Warrior of the Light. Essentially, his books, whether they’re fiction or based on facts, are about the journeys we make and how those journeys influence our lives.

Book Review: The Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

The Manuscript Found in Accra is one of those books based on fact. Coelho brings to life the reality of people in Jerusalem, on July 14, 1099. The city is waiting for the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the gates. Inside the ancient city walls, the people have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. They ask him questions in the hopes he’ll share his wisdom about life.

Although this is not written in poetry but in prose, the structure reminds me of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. In his poem, Gibran tackles complex topics in simple terms. Coelho achieves the same thing with similar complex subjects that have puzzled humankind for centuries. They both speak of love, success, work and family. Both books share a teacher to student interaction, speak to crowd, wise to curious. They share the quality of easily being referenced beyond their initial read. I’m sure that if we compared them more carefully, we’d find even more similarities. Both narratives begin with a wise man leaving his legacy to a village before an end; in one case, the prophet departs while in the other, the city will be under siege. The other difference is that Gibran’s work is his perspective on life and spirituality presented in the form of fiction, while Coelho’s work is about a historical event, interpreted.

As I remind myself that nuggets from Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra came from an ancient document, I’m impressed with the relatability of the discussions and concerns. Many of the observations made are still applicable today! It reminds me that there has always been hope for the awakening of our collective consciousness but that through history, our metaphors evolved and slowly but surely, more of us now wish to lead conscious lives.

We seek to reconnect with our true natures, we often look for a godly presence in our lives or wish to find the sacred. We yearn for harmony, we wander looking for purpose and we crave meaning.

What books have led you to reflect on human nature, purpose and spirituality?

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