Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Health Hacks of a New Mom

girl yogaTen glorious, exhausting, joyful, challenging and life-changing months have come and gone in a blink of an eye since little Stuart was born.  My early days revolved around feeding, sleeping (whenever I could) and diaper changes. I felt drained and overwhelmed; no one can prepare you for the sleep deprivation and challenges of motherhood. My “to-do” list was endless and I feared I would face absolute burnout.

During those first few months, my self-care was limited to the basics of showering (most days), enjoying a nice cup of tea and a few squares of dark chocolate, and eating a healthy diet (my quick go-tos in a bind where hard-boiled eggs, pre-washed organic greens, canned salmon, organic baby carrots and hummus).

Once we were in a bit of a routine with Stuart, I knew it was time to get back to taking care of myself to boost my energy and allow me to continue to give so much.

I started out small, so as to not add further overwhelm. Before Stuart was born, I had a set morning routine that I relished doing each day, starting off with 20-30 min of yoga, followed by 10 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of journaling.

Carving out that much time for me was no longer in the cards. I felt it was reasonable to aim to do 10 min of yoga per day (while Stuart was sleeping) and get out for long walks whenever possible (which was easy to do, because during the first several months, the only place that Stuart would nap was in the stroller or carrier). Boy did it feel good to get back to movement and exercise!

As time marched on, I added in the following self-care rituals into my day:

  • Meditating (for 10 minutes) and journaling (for 3-5 minutes) while pumping, since finding extra time was next to impossible. I used the Calm Meditation app and journalled using the template from The Five Minute Journal. Meditating helps me to be more mindful and present in my day and with my loved ones. Journaling helps me to find gratitude and appreciation for the small stuff, even if I am going through difficult times. I can’t stress enough how profound these practices have been in shaping my perception of and intention for each day.
  • Making breakfast ahead of time, enough to last me for 3 days. I would prepare a large chia coconut pudding or overnight oats that I kept in the fridge. Each morning, I would portion out a serving size and add organic, frozen blueberries and a scoop of protein powder.
  • Keeping a glass and/or bottle of water on each floor of the house: one upstairs to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, one at the kitchen table to sip on while eating or working away on my computer, and one in my basement clinic office to drink while treating patients. Staying hydrated energizes me, supports regularity and was crucial since I was breastfeeding Stuart every 2-3 hours.
  • Listening to podcasts when out for walks while Stuart napped in the stroller, to stimulate my brain and to hear other moms going through similar challenges. My favourites included; Totally Mommy, Balanced Bites, The Tim Ferriss Show and The Goodlife Project. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks since sitting down and reading a book seems like a pipe dream now.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities and have neglected your self-care, don’t beat yourself up. It is never to late to put yourself on your “to-do” list and make self care a priority. Start out small; choose from a short walk, a tea break where you actually savour each sip, or 5 minutes of dancing to your favourite song. It can feel like a luxury, but at the end of the day, your cup has to be full before you can give to anyone else.


relax.natureAre you so busy that you can’t find the time to do the things you need to do to get back your sanity and start enjoying your life?

Then, this FREE gift (webinar) may be just what you need.

REGISTER by clicking on the Date/Time Links below or scroll down for more details.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 12th, 7:00pm-7:40pm 
OR: Monday, July 18th, 6:30pm-7:10pm

I know what it feels like to be burnt out. Ironically, as a Naturopathic student, I was burning the candle at both ends. I had long days of classes, worked part-time and commuted over 2 hours per day. I stopped looking after myself and paid the price.

My mood dropped, I was continually snapping at my loved ones over the littlest things and would have days of total and utter exhaustion, where even walking felt like too much.

It wasn’t until I started to deal with stress by:

  • learning how to eat well to balance my blood sugar levels and hormones
  • incorporating yoga and meditation into my daily routine
  • and realizing that I was over-exercising

That I was able to heal. I can understand what you are going through and want to help you get past your hurdles. To get over chronic stress and give yourself the time and mindset to enjoy life and handle stressors with grace.

I wanted to share with you the first webinar in my “Burning the Candle at Both Ends –Discover Ways to Live Without Stress” Series. I have had amazing feedback on the program and wanted to give you a taste of what it provides. If you want to learn how stress destroys your health and determine just how imbalanced your hormones are, be sure to register. (by clicking on either of the sign-up boxes below).

I will be available for a live Q&A after the webinar viewing, so be sure to stick around (webinar is 20min) to have any of your pressing questions answered.


Tuesday, July 12th, 7:00pm-7:40pm 
Monday, July 18th, 6:30pm-7:10pm


Plug Into Nature – Guest Post by David Graham of EDGE3

In preparation for our upcoming EDGE 3 retreats this September, I thought I’d explore some ideas about nature from my most trusted source…my family! While recently enjoying a ridiculously lazy day at the cottage, I asked them why nature is important to each of them. I wanted to discuss “How nature moves us forward in our day-to-day, and how can it change the way we show up at work?”EDGE3

What fascinated me was that from 10 to 80 years old, we all had a similar perspective.  Here’s what I discovered…

Nature clears our mind…

  • It can bring peace and balance to our over-scheduled lives and allows us to focus on the things that are most important to us.

Nature leads to self-discovery…

  • The simple moments outdoors quiets our emotions and allow us to hear our inner voice.  Being in touch with nature means that we are in touch with ourselves.

Nature gives a fresh perspective…

  • Once we place ourselves in a tranquil setting, we recognize the power of “now” which allows for new insights and enlightened perspectives.

Nature connects us…

  • We are more similar than we are different. Nature levels the playing field and helps to connect with each other on a deeper level.

As I pack my bags and prepare for departure back to the city, I take a piece of nature with me.  The challenges may remain the same, but I face them with a renewed sense of self, and an energy that I intend to share with others.

How do you plan to reset your inner compass? 

What would a renewed sense of self do for you? 

Where can you go to unplug from your work setting?

Consider one of our EDGE 3 retreats.  We want to help you reignite your inner passion!

David GrahamDavid Graham is a Leadership Coach and the Founder of EDGE 3.  He offers one-on-one coaching, team building workshops and for transformational experiences, he takes executives out of the boardroom and into nature. What inspires you as a leader?

NOW Available! Webinar Series: Burning the Candle at Both Ends? Discover Ways to Live Without Stress

meditation.womanI was fed up. I ‘d had enough. I was sick of feeling stressed out and wanted to take back control of my life.

It started in university when I was out of my comfort zone. I drank too much coffee to wake me up, ate too much sugar to keep me going, and drank too much alcohol to “relax” and fit in at night. This vicious roller coaster ride led to further anxiety, weight gain, fatigue and acne. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.

My friends could see I was suffering and helped me embark on an exercise and healthy eating regime. I learned how to cook real whole food and reduced my intake of sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

I noticed huge increases in my energy level, mood and quality of sleep. This formed the basis of my motivation for becoming a Naturopathic Doctor.

Ironically enough, my anxiety came back after I graduated and started practicing Naturopathic Medicine. I was overwhelmed and lacked confidence. My Naturopathic Doctor at the time prescribed journaling, yoga and stress-balancing herbs to heal my adrenal glands. After about 6 months, I felt like a new person.

Since I was feeling better, my stress-reducing habits dropped off.

Eventually, my anxiety came back when I was juggling too many roles. My warning signs were acid reflux and insomnia. This reality-check reminded me to incorporate daily stress-reducing habits to prevent this from happening again. I now incorporate yoga, meditation and journaling daily. I make sure I eat enough healthy protein and fat, avoid grains and sugar, limit fruit and keep caffeine to 1 tea per day (with the occasional 1/4 cup of coffee on the weekends). This ensures I am not put on a blood-sugar rollercoaster that can trigger the release of stress hormones.

Feeling back in control of my life and my emotions, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, is what motivated me to develop this webinar series. I wanted to share what I have learned over the years so you can take back control of your life, find your inner sparkle and live your dream life, STARTING NOW.

Have questions about the program? You can contact me for more details or click the “Get More Info” tab.

Are you Suffering From Nature-Deficit Disorder?

autumn2I was sitting inside as I started to brainstorm for this post after being cooped up all morning. Since I work from home most days, I have to make an extra effort to schedule in outdoor time to avoid getting cabin-fever at night. Even in winter I find myself braving the cold to clear my mind after a long day, all bundled up like the abominal snowman.

(pause for a few seconds as I head outside)

I am now sitting on my back deck to take advantage of this last mild November day. Almost immediately I feel more at ease and mindful as I listen to the wind blowing and appreciate the mild warmth of the sun on my skin. The neighbours’ wind chimes and the last few bird calls are lulling me into a sense of calmness I wasn’t experiencing inside.

Is this a placebo effect? No. Science tells us that Nature can impact our mental and physical health in profound ways AND help us to live longer.

Before we delve into the research, I want you to step back and think about how much time you spend outside each day. You may walk to the subway or bus for 5 minutes on the way to and from work. You may walk 10 minutes to grab a coffee or a grab-and-go lunch during the week. But, are you cooped up inside the rest of the day for meetings and computer work, followed by chores and watching TV at night?

A survey conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2012 found that 70% of youth spend an hour or less outdoors every day. The average American spends only 7% of their time outdoors (and a whopping 93% of time indoors!) according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This is detrimental to your health and I only see the numbers getting worse as technology (and Netflix) improves.

Why Should I Get Outside?

How close you live to outdoor green space will significantly impact your mental and physical health and longevity.

People who live within a 1km radius of outdoor green space have significantly reduced rates of depression and anxiety, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and coronary heart disease. And more green space is better: there was a 30% increased risk of anxiety and a 25% increased risk for depression in residents with only 10% green space within 1 km of their residence (as compared to those with 90% green space).

A Canadian study of 575,000 adults, all urban-dwelling, found that those who had access to urban green space lived longer, had less non-accident deaths, especially reduced respiratory-related deaths. In Florida, those who had more green space were less likely to die of stroke.

Do you need any more convincing evidence to lace up those runners and get out for walk?

People who are exposed to nature exercised more, experiences less stress and had more meaningful social relations.  These factors boosted self esteem, improved immune function and reduced the incidence of chronic disease and mortality. You can really live a longer, healthier life if you get outdoors.

This Is Your Brain on Nature

When researchers induced cognitive fatigue by presenting study participants with mentally-challenging tasks, those who got outside for a nature walk afterwards (for 30-60 minutes) were able to focus and concentrate more effectively than those who didn’t (as measured by neuropsychological tests). The results were not merely due to an acute positive mental outlook from being outdoors. So, to be more productive, take a Nature break.

It’s time to take a “forest-bath”

The Japanese practice of “forest bathing” (which literally means to have a short, leisurely visit to a forest) has been shown to lower: oxidative stress, inflammation, blood pressure, pulse rate and the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. It improves natural killer cell immune count and activity to ward off infections. You don’t need to spend all day in the forest/nature; even 10 minutes can have huge benefits.

What you can do to inject more nature into your daily routine

Awareness is the first step. Create a nature journal and track how much time you spend outdoors every day. Record how you felt before you went outside and then how you felt once you returned. You could even rate your stress levels before and after (ie 0 = no stress; 10 = maximum stress).

Step back from your daily routine and see how you can incorporate more time in nature. Instead of using your 20-min break to surf the internet, use that time to get out for a short, brisk walk or to do some yard work if you work from home.

Plan an evening or weekend social or solo activity that revolves around nature. Try hiking, biking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Instead of meeting a friend for a drink or coffee, make a point of grabbing a coffee or tea to go so you can walk and catch up at the same time.

Leave the car at home. Walk or bike to run your errands or get to that meeting. Your mind and body will thank you (and so will your boss!).



Information Overload

I am new to the world of blogging and social networking. I have to admit that some days my head is left spinning after reading so many different bloggers’ perspectives, and discovering yet another must-read natural health site that broadcasts the latest and greatest research findings.

I often feel left behind in the dust, with no recent tweets and updates on Facebook to grab everyone’s attention. It is a never-ending battle to keep up with all of the information that is being broadcast every single second!

When is enough, enough?

Why do we continually look for the answers “out there” on the information highway? We may spend hours, days and sleepless nights searching for those hidden gems that will make us lose weight, find the path to happiness and cure that ailment that we are suffering from.

Why are we moving away from looking inward?

The internet is a blessing and a curse. It promises quick fixes and spoils us rotten by giving us any answer (true or false) with the click of a button. We are expected to do more and know more because of it. We also tend to compare ourselves to others when on Facebook, Twitter or someone else’s blog. Your friend from high school (who you haven’t seen in 20 years) looks like she is leading the perfect life, but is she really? It is amazing what a couple of photos and a few status updates can make us perceive.

It takes more time to look inward and ask ourselves the hard questions like, “What do I need to do to live a happier, more fulfilling life?”. Unfortunately the answer isn’t found with the click of a button. When you do find the answer, it will be a million times more valuable than any quick fix you just found online.

Don’t get me wrong, I rely on the internet to do patient research, look up herb-drug-nutrient interactions and depletions, and find out the newest and greatest health findings. But I continually have to remind myself to step away from the computer and look within to get the most valuable answers.

So, just how do we get back in touch with ourselves?

Sit in silence. Yes, that’s right…in absolute silence, doing absolutely nothing. Just be with yourself and see how it feels. It could be for five minutes or for an hour. Fit it in at least once a day.

Get outside. Nature always brings us back to the truth and calms our mind. Go for a walk, or sit on the porch or in the park. Take it all in.

Ground yourself. Not in the “you’ve been bad” way, but actually make physical contact with the earth. You can sit on a tree stump, lie on the beach, walk barefoot or hug a tree (yes, I know, that is very stereotypically Naturopathic!). This can help dispel any electromagnetic radiation that you were exposed to during the day, which can augment anxiety and throw off your natural balance.

Breathe deeply. Inhale fully, hold for several counts, and then exhale fully. Repeat, and repeat again.

Try something new. Break out of your routine, whether you walk home a new way, try a new exercise class or pick up a new hobby. This will help you learn more about yourself in different situations.

Focus on your accomplishments. Remind yourself of all the great things you have done today and what you are grateful for. There are always going to be a million more things to do, but I am sure you can be proud of and grateful for many things.

Remember, the answers are found within. All of that other information is just sugar-free icing on that gluten-and-dairy-free cake!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.