by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve recently returned home from my whirlwind Wellness Tour. I spent three and a half months immersing myself in the field of wellness at Dr. Oksana Sawiak’s Integrative Wellness & Detox Centre in Norval, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, in the middle of a crazy Canadian winter and now am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take my Homespunspa Mobile Spa business to the next level of success. Although I often felt like a fish out of water and completely out of my comfort zone, I know deep down in my heart that this whole experience was well worth the time I spent there.
When I left Victoria, I was feeling stuck, frustrated and burned out. I knew I had to do something different from my regular routine if I wanted things to change and improve. I know most people don’t have the luxury of leaving their life for a few months to explore different options and I’m grateful that I was able to take Dr. Oksana up on her invitation.
I started feeling better soon after I arrived in mid-November. I’m passionate about health and wellness and was learning something new every day. Even though I didn’t know what to expect from my internship, I was open to learning whatever I could and when Dr. Oksana suggested I sign up for a Higher Transformational Healing Workshop with Fred Vokey to learn about healing, I was game. Both Dr. Oksana and I participated in the full-day workshop and the experience for me was inspiring, enlightening and profound.
I’m aware that the topic of energy healing may sound a little “out there” or “woo, woo” to some people — that’s up to everyone to decide for themselves. I personally think it’s pretty cool. There’s a long tradition of healing in history across most, if not all religions and cultures and it’s just a matter of remembering, re-learning and re-activitating that wisdom and knowledge in today’s day and age.
I truly believe that the healing I experienced while I was away had a lot to do with the Higher Transformational Healing workshops I attended and now I’m a certified instructor and can teach you how to turbo charge the healing energy around you so you can heal yourself and others.
I’m super excited to be offering an Energy Healing Workshop (Level 1) in Victoria, BC on Saturday, April 6, 2013 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the 24 Carrot Centre, 714 Discovery Street, 2nd floor, Victoria, BC, V8T 1H2. Tickets are $220 early bird.
More information about Higher Transformational Healing is also available on the “Healing” page of my website, www.homespunspa.com. Please contact me, Maria, by email or phone to sign up for the Energy Healing Workshop and to make payment arrangements. I’m really looking forward to this and I hope you sign up.
Higher Transformational Healing Workshops
Anyone can learn how to heal with energy — including YOU. We are all born with the ability to heal ourselves and others and we just need to refresh our memory.
If you feel attracted to the idea of healing yourself and others, it may be worthwhile to explore Higher Transformational Healing.
During the workshop, you’ll learn how to:
- Awaken the Healer within;
- Channel Life Force Energy;
- Use Breathing Techniques for Channeling;
- Place your hands on or near the body for healing;
- Do Absent Healing;
- Do Self-Healing;
- Do “The Anywhere Healing;”
- Balance the Chakras;
- Move Bones with a Light Touch;
- Align the Body; and
- Connect with the Council of Healing Masters.
The Higher Transformational Energy Healing Level 1 workshop will especially appeal to the caregivers among us who know people who are suffering from an illness like MS or cancer or depression and would like to do what they can to help others feel better sooner.
Please join me for level 1 training on Saturday, April 6, 2013. You’ll get lots of hands on practice and by the end of the workshop, you’ll l become a certified practitioner of Higher Transformational Healing.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could boost someone’s spirits with your healing services?
When: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price: $220 (pay in advance, in person or online) or $250 (last minute)
Where: 24 Carrot Centre, 714 Discovery Street, 2nd floor, Victoria, BC, V8T 1H2
Presenter & Contact: Maria Koropecky
Websites: www.homespunspa.com or www.highertouch.org
I hope to see you there!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Well, it’s January and I’m still in Ontario. It’s snowing right now and there’s about 4 to 5 inches of snow on the ground already but I’m not letting that stop me from taking daily walks through my neighbourhood.
Over Christmas vacation, I walked for almost an hour every day at around 3:00 in the afternoon going along the same path. There’s some green space in this neighbourhood and the various suburban streets are interconnected with nature trails, which I wasn’t expecting to find at all. Normally, I’d get on the path from the street entrance, enter the park, turn right, walk past the ponds and streams and trees and head over to the shopping centre. Then I walked around the whole parking lot, cut across the gas station and then looped back onto the trail again, walked up a hill, crossed a street, and down a hill and past my original starting point and carried on to the next exit which took me a couple of blocks further west past my house. Then I’d pass another big pond and ended up in the residential area on the streets again and walked a few more blocks back to my house.
Usually, the path has been cleared of snow but once it wasn’t and I got an extra work out from walking on an uneven surface, which I was grateful for. Walking on snow requires more effort and that burns more calories. Yay.
And some days have been super cold and windy. Thank goodness I have my big coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots. Once it was so windy, I ended up running for about 20 minutes instead of walking and let the wind push me some of the way. Running into the wind was another story. Try doing that with a 20-pound winter coat on your back.
As I was walking down the hill, I heard something different behind me. I can’t explain the sound but it caused me to stop in my tracks and look back over my shoulder. On the crest of the hill, there stood five deer, sun shining behind them. I greeted them with an “Oh, Deer.” They were about a standard backyard length away from me and I was able to count them. If only I had my camera!
I think I was in their path and the deer would have gone right where I was into the valley, if I wasn’t there at that moment. They decided to veer to their left, around me, and with like five grand leaps each, they whisked over the snowy terrain and quickly disappeared from my sight around the bend. It was quite a moment. Almost poetic. I felt like I was in a nature documentary even though I was in the middle of suburbia.
Now that I’ve returned to work at the wellness centre, I’ve decided to get my walks in first thing in the morning. It’s not easy getting out of a warm bed to go outside to walk for a half an hour or so, but I’m really enjoying my “Me Time.” I get to think, make plans, meditate, relax my stress, get exercise and fresh air and yes, enjoy my local winter wonderland — all for free.
And this morning, I saw two bright red cardinals playing and fluttering about and they looked stunning against the snowy backdrop. Again, I wish I had my camera.
I hope this blog post inspires you to find the time to take walks and explore your own neighbourhood. I recently came across an article about what they’re calling, “Sitting Disease.” Maybe you have heard of it already.
According to current thinking, too much sitting can seriously harm your health and lead to conditions like heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. And sitting for most of your day, everyday, may even shorten your life.
Standing is better than sitting and walking is better than standing and running is better than walking. If nothing else, get up off your chair at least once an hour, at least for a few minutes, just to move your body, especially if you have a full time desk job or spend most of your day sitting.
Here are some ways you can stand and move around more in your daily life:
- Stand whenever you use the phone (my sister-in-law does this — she paces while she talks on the phone and now her kids do it too!)
- Stand while ironing and folding laundry and other household chores,
- Stand while watching television,
- Stand during business meetings (I’ve seen people do this many times),
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator,
- Walk or ride a bike to work, school or the shops, (studies show that people who drive their car to work are heavier than people who take the bus, ride their bikes or walk),
- Park your car further from your destination and walk part of the way,
- Get on/off public transportation a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way,
- Stand up when riding public transportation, if possible (balancing in a moving vehicle will do wonders for your core), and
- Use any excuse like lunch time or coffee breaks or last minute errands to walk.
Now that you’ve read this, do yourself a favour: stand up, stretch and walk around for at least 5 minutes right now. I just did!
Happy New Year, everybody!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’ve come up with a genius (if I do say so myself) idea on how to manage stress and I really want to share it with as many people as I can. I call it “stone throwing on the beach” and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling down and stressed and needs a pick-me-up.
So yesterday, I was feeling irritable and annoyed and in a moment of frustration, I threw a plastic dish scrubber down the stairs. That felt pretty good so I thought I’d throw a box of SOS pads down the stairs, also. It occurred to me that I should go and play some tennis or something to release more of my pent up negativity but I couldn’t think of anybody who would be available to play with me on short notice.
And then the light bulb above my head switched on and I thought of going to the beach just to throw stones into the ocean. Then I noticed (just from that insight) that my energy shifted and I started feeling better. I knew this was a good idea and I couldn’t wait to try my little experiment.
Lucky for me, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so there are several beaches around here for me to choose from. I wanted a beach that was more rocky than sandy (for once) so I picked one in Sidney, BC. (If you don’t leave near the ocean, maybe you can go to a lake instead and try to count how many skips your flat stones make across the placid water).
The Stone Throwing Experiment
I arrived in the beach parking lot around 12:50pm. Except for the odd jogger, dog walker, crow and seagull passing by, I basically had the beach all to myself on this really bright and sunny summer afternoon. I went close to the ocean and said I prayer to get myself into a positive frame of mind and then started picking up stones that I thought had a nice shape and size.
My goal was to release and let go of any and all negative emotional blocks that were weighing me down and keeping me from getting ahead in life and living the life of my dreams. Yeah, I know, pretty heavy stuff.
I consider stone throwing a spiritual, emotional and physical exercise and I figured on a symbolic level, that the mighty ocean could absorb and dissolve my burdens.
Every time I bent down and picked up another rock (there were so many to choose from), I thought about a specific limitation that I wanted to get rid of (like the fear of trying new things, or expressing my true feelings, or losing 5 pounds of extra body fat) and then with my left hand (because I’m left handed), I hurled that stone as far as I could into the sea.
Some of my throws dropped into the ocean with a heavy plunk and some hooked far to the right. One of my throws didn’t even make it into the water and shattered into several pieces on the beach instead. I threw that one with my right hand and realized that the belief that I was thinking about at the time needed a few more rock throws to clear and a little more work.
Some of my throws were just beautiful and I could see the stone spinning like a flying saucer as it arced into the waves. In that case, I said to myself, “That was a good one.”
I had the song, “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket replaying in my mind. I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the sea. There were a few moments of sadness in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful. I was having fun and I didn’t care who saw me. I’m sure they were wondering, “What is she doing?”
I don’t know how many rocks I ended up throwing into the ocean — maybe 50, maybe 100, I’ll never know because I lost count after 4, but eventually, I looked at my watch and to my surprise it was 1:50pm. I had been stone throwing for an hour! I knew at that point, it was time to go home.
Did my stone throwing experiment work?
Yes, I think so. I felt really good and dare I say, lighter than I had before. I didn’t have the energy to do much else later that day but I didn’t really care. I just relaxed. And that night, I slept like a rock.
Today, my arms and shoulders feel a little stiff. Earlier this morning, I had a chat with my personal trainer on Skype and the first thing she said to me was, “You’re looking really good today” (which she has never said to me in that particular tone before as far as I can recall) and she noticed that I had more confidence than usual. I told her about how I went to the beach to throw stones into the ocean and she thought my idea was “brilliant” and she had never heard of anyone doing that before. She said she’ll certainly recommend the idea to her other clients because it’s a physical activity and it lets you get back to nature. She also said, it was exactly what my body needed to do that day and she was glad I listened to it. I genuinely think she saw a positive difference in me and because of her feedback, I do believe this little idea has some therapeutic value. And it’s free so why not try it for yourself. It’s time to let go of your blocks and get on with your life.
Please leave a comment and let me know your experience with throwing stones into the sea. Here’s to letting go.
by Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding, Guest Bloggers
Due to everyday stresses, high-pressure responsibilities and busy schedules, we spend most our time in the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It’s within this system that our “fight or flight” response resides, causing anxiety and over stimulation. In the past, when our fight or flight system was responsible for helping us survive a potential tiger attack, the fight or flight response would be released by either fighting or ‘flighting’ (leaving fast) the situation. The actual fight or flight was a release. However nowadays, our modern life has taken away the need to fight or flight and therefore, we’re in a constant state of stress without release. As a result, the ability to relax and sleep become difficult.
This is where yoga comes in. When we practice yoga, we gently move ourself into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) — the rest and digest mode. In the same way that our body and mind need food as nourishment, they also need rest in order to digest that nourishment. This type of rest is different from sleep, but can be just as rewarding and can come from a good yoga practice. Restorative yoga is particularly suited for this and will allow us to sink into our body, while calming the mind. It’s at this point that we’re graced with a good night’s sleep.
Restorative yoga is a specially gentle style that addresses the difficulty of finding relaxation and sleep. It’s a style that uses many props such as blocks, straps, and pillows to open the body gently, while allowing the mind to rest in a meditative state, promoting us to move into our PNS. By doing so, we slow down the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and can exist in a calmer state where the ability to sleep is enhanced.
During the first few yoga classes, it’s normal to feel challenged. Moving from a state of high stimulation to stillness can be tough, however, know that things are happening on a deep level. Over time, the more we practice, the more the body and mind learn to calm and appreciate relaxation.
The deep benefits of yoga will not come overnight. Yoga is truly something that needs to be integrated into your life to notice the affects, especially if sleep is challenging. Remember that whatever reason you’ve been called to try yoga, it has been a long time coming. Likewise, it may take awhile for you to make changes. The amount that you put in, will be the amount that you get out.
We’d love to share more with you and teach you how to put yourself expertly to bed. Join us on a retreat in Mexico, November 10-17th, 2012 where each night we’ll offer a restorative class right before bed. Come and feel the difference for yourself. www.yogasherpa.com/SpiritedLife
We’d also like to invite you to download a complimentary copy of our ebook, Spirited-Health-Tips-Sleep-Better-Naturally.
With love for a good night’s sleep, Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding.
Both based in Toronto, Canada. Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding have 20 years of yoga experience, combined. Sharing many teachers along their individuals paths, they’ve trained in Anusara, Hatha, Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga. They are two individuals who strive to share their experience of yoga and holistic healing to their students, empowering each one to lead a more mindful, and authentic lifestyle. You can find them online at www.chrysyoga.com and www.donnawilding.com.
by Geraldine O’Keefe, Guest Blogger
Like the 71 million Americans who suffer from various sleep issues like insomnia, hot flashes, nervousness, and anxiety, I have found myself wide awake in the middle of the night on many occasions.
Here are some tips that have worked for me and may help you get a better peaceful and sound night’s sleep.
Try incorporating these tips in to your bedtime routine:
- Pamper yourself and power down at least 30 minutes before bed. When your core temperature rises then falls (as it naturally does at night), it signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Help the process by taking a relaxing soak before bed and add some pure, organic lavender essential oil and/or some Himalayan salts to your bathwater.
- Drink Escape to Sleep tonic, preferably on an empty stomach. It can help your body feel what it’s like to sleep naturally and soundly.
- Try not to eat past 7 p.m. and avoid caffeine.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you wake up and you are achy and sore, consider a new pillow and/or mattress.
- Lower the room temperature at night. Optimal range is 60-68 F.
- Sleep in a pitch-dark room. It will help you get back to your natural rhythm.
- Incorporate Lucid Dreaming: The object of lucid dreaming is to become conscious of being in the dream state. Keep a dream journal; write down what you remember.
Learn Yoga Techniques such as Pranayama (breath control), Yoga Nidra, and Meditation:
These calming techniques can help assure that you get the 8 hours of sleep to function at your best.
- Try Pranayama which is the art of restraining and controlling the breath.
- Also try Yoga Nidra, aka yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is a highly powerful ancient meditation that originated in the Tantras. It’s a scientific way to eliminate the root causes of all negativities.
- And Practice Meditation. Meditation will train your mind to induce consciousness.
Our minds can be like a ship at sea without a sail. Practicing yoga nidra, and/or pranayama can help you observe and control your mind which will help to bring you into a deep, restorative and healing sleep. If you realize your thoughts are stressing about something in the future or in the past, gently bring them back into the moment. BE HERE NOW and don’t let those racing, “monkey mind” thoughts keep you awake at night. I always remember a monk that said, “when you eat, eat; when you walk, walk; when you talk, talk, and of course, when you sleep, sleep.
Be kind to yourself, yoga takes practice. Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind and a regular practice can help assure your restorative sleep.
There are seven levels of consciousness. Most people are operating in the first three: waking, sleeping and dreaming. As you begin to become more conscious of your thoughts in the three states, you will begin to understand and enjoy life more. Sweet dreams, may they all come true.
Sleep Well, Live Longer!
Geraldine is an herbalist, lifetime yogi, and vegetarian who has had experience with insomnia. She decided to create an herbal sleep-aid and ultimately, her dream product, Escape to Sleep™, was born.
You can find Geraldine online @:
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
As you may recall from my blog post, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 1,” I went on a cruise to Alaska with my mom in June of 2012. It was a wonderful experience and a dream come true for me.
Here is the much anticipated, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 2″ and today I’m going to blog about my visit to the Celebrity Century Cruise Ship’s, AquaSpa.
Homespunspa is a mobile spa, but a spa on a cruise ship takes “mobile” to a whole new level. Not only were we travelling at sea while I was getting my detox treatment, we had hit a major storm, with no end in sight, and things got pretty rocky for a while.
Images of the Aquaspa on the Celebrity Century Cruise Ship.
I don’t remember hearing any mention of a spa on the Love Boat in 1979 but I’m sure they must have had at least a hair salon on board. Nowadays, spas are a big part of the cruise experience and as an esthetician and lover all of all things spa, I needed to go “undercover” and do some “research.”
We were treated to a complimentary hot stone shoulder massage and tour of the spa and fitness facilities on the first day of our cruise. I didn’t realize how much tension I carried in my shoulders until I sat down for my mini hot stone massage. I wouldn’t give my free massage a 10 out of 10 because I felt like the spa therapist was spending way more time on my left shoulder than on my right and I noticed that although she started my massage after her co-worker started my mother’s massage, she finished my massage sooner. I’m just saying…
I briefly considered getting a full Aroma Stone Therapy Massage but I’m familiar with hot stones and wanted to learn something new. I was also tempted to get the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage because I think seaweed is one of our planet’s most valuable treasures. Ultimately, I decided to go for the Ionithermie Treatment to firm, tone and detoxify my body.
Here is the write up on the spa menu: “An extraordinary treatment, developed by a French medical physician, proven to detoxify and visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks and guaranteed 1 to 8 inch reduction on the body after one single treatment…” One to 8 inches off my waist — I’ll take it! “Using active Red Algae and rich marine clay combined with gentle stimulation targeting the stomach, thighs, arms and abdomen.” Red Algae and marine clay? There’s my seaweed, sign me up!”
When I met with the spa therapist, I told her I was an esthetician and I wanted to learn about the Ionithermie treatment for myself and for my spa clientele. I told her I work out regularly and had lost 40 pounds a couple of years ago but have gained a lot of it back and would like to focus on my tummy. I also thought it might be a nice treatment to add to my mobile spa menu for my own customers. She said she would tell me as much as she could without revealing trade secrets.
She drew a diagram of a cell with arrows and told me how we are exposed to 40,000 toxins a day and these toxins interfere with maintaining a healthy body weight on a cellular level if they’re not dealt with efficiently. She recommended Ionithermie as a detox program but emphasized that people only need to detox once every 5 years to stay healthy.
My Ionithermie Appointment:
So there I was standing in the middle of the spa treatment room wearing a pair of disposable undies and a towel while a storm was brewing outside on the open sea. I was feeling uncomfortable because I’m a modest person, to put it mildly. My esthetician started by measuring my midriff, upper waist, natural waist, lower waist and upper hip. Then the spa therapist applied a cleanser to my tummy. Then she whipped up a big bowl of blue clay that was made with Algae, Ivy, Kelp and Guarana extract and that’s when things started to get interesting. She placed a tray on the bed and then poured the clay into the pan and spread it around as if she was icing a birthday cake. Then she strategically placed some electrodes in the clay and covered everything with something like a cheesecloth.
She told me to lie down with my back on the clay tray and then she placed the other ends of the electrodes near my belly button. She turned on the machine to see how strong a signal I could take. It felt like two centipedes were running across my stomach and then it felt like two thumbs were pressing on my tummy. So that’s what they meant by “gentle stimulation.” After a few minutes, it also felt like hands were pulling the skin on my abdomen to my left as if kneading dough. These odd sensations would repeat every 30 seconds for 30 minutes with an increase in intensity as the minutes clicked by and as more waves crashed against the side of the ship.
Once I was fully committed and couldn’t go anywhere in a quick hurry, I thought to myself, THIS IS SO WEIRD. Here I am on a cruise on my birthday, in my birthday suit, covered in clay and agreeing to have an electrical current zip through my body in the middle of a raging storm in the north Pacific Ocean. How did I get here?
After my treatment, I was re-measured and all in all I lost 2 and 3/4 inches off my waist in one session and this made me happy. Also, when I got home and was weighed by my personal trainer, I only managed to gain 1 pound during my cruise which also made me happy.
My Recommendations on a Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high):
- Would I recommend the AquaSpa on the Celebrity Century? — Yes (8)
- Would I recommend the Ionithermie Treatment? — Yes (7)
- Would I recommend the esthetician who administered the Ionithermie Treatment on the Celebrity Century? — Yes (8)
A little note on price:
It says on the spa menu that one session of Ionithermie is $159 US. However, when I received the printed statement in my cabin later that day, they added another $30 as some sort of a spa service charge to the total. There was no mention of any extra charges on spa treatments anywhere (not in the fine print, not when I booked my appointment). I was not impressed when I got the final bill and for that, the spa got dinged a point on my recommendations scale.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
“Have you ever been to sea, Billy?”
“No, Captain, Highliner.”
“Well, sometimes the waves get so high, you can’t eat your dinner…”
Does anyone remember that commercial for Highliner Fish and Chips from the late 1970’s? (Go ahead and YouTube it, it still holds up). Somehow and for some odd reason, I committed that little conversation to my memory. Maybe I liked it because my father was an officer in the navy and he spent a lot of time on the high seas during those years and the sailor reminded me of him. The ad campaign was also launched around the same time as “the Love Boat,” (my favourite tv show at that time), was on the air.
Anyway, because of these three little memories, let’s just say, going on a cruise has been a dream of mine for over 30 years. Well, that dream finally came true last month in June when I went on a cruise to Alaska with my mom.
We went on the Celebrity Century as part of a modern-day pilgrimage with our church (yeah, I know, you’re asking yourself, what kind of church do you belong to, Maria, and can I sign up? and throughout the cruise, I experienced a lot of inspiring moments that made me feel more happy and alive. I went zip-lining on the longest ziprider in the world at Icy Strait Point (Hoonah, Alaska), I saw the AWESOME Hubbard Glacier, and I danced with an officer, wearing my favourite silver disco shoes, in the “Dancing with the Stripes” contest.
Hubbard Glacier on June 13, 2012
I also ate a lot of delicious food. Yes, when you go on a cruise, expect to eat a lot because every dish looks so good and you feel like you have to try everything. One night during his show, the comedian even joked, “I won’t keep you folks much longer because I know you have to go to the dining room again and eat soon…” We all laughed because it was true.
All of this delicious food meant I had to have a game plan. I didn’t want to go home heavier. I decided to take the stairs whenever possible and going up 7 decks at a time made a difference. Also, my personal trainer said, “Take advantage of all of their state-of-the-art fitness equipment” and I’m proud to say that I did, but I must say, running on a treadmill on a choppy ocean is way more challenging than you might expect and you get a double workout with all of that extra balancing and compensating you have to do. Don’t believe me? Try running on sea legs for yourself and let me know what you think.
And, of course, as an esthetician, I had to sign up for at least one spa treatment while I was cruising. As we boarded the ship, we were handed a flute of champagne and were told the spa was offering free hot stone massages all afternoon and a tour of the spa facilities and after eating our first lunch, we headed straight to the Aqua Spa.
If you’d like to hear my review of the Century’s Aqua Spa and the spa treatment I signed up for, please read the blog post, “Have you ever Spa’d at Sea? Part 2″.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
For my first blog post of 2012, I thought I’d take Homespunspa to the streets, as they say, and see how my friends would respond to this question: “How do you relax and manage stress?”
I was looking for some wholesome ideas that anybody can do on a regular basis and my friends did not disappoint. I think folding these tips into the day will keep the stress at bay.
Here are 17 cheap and cheerful and easy ways to relax and manage stress:
"Help, I'm stressed." Illustration by Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com.
1) Managing stress is a biggie for me as I have Crohn’s Disease, a chronic illness that can be aggravated by stress. The first step was recognizing my reactions to stress: why am I reaching for that cookie/candy/ additional glass of wine or heading out for some “retail therapy”? I’ve become wiser with age and those are no longer how I react. These days when stressed, I get physical by going for a long, brisk walk outside. Walking, plus the sunshine, fresh air and being out in the natural environment, all contribute to de-stressing for me. I hope this helps and Happy New Year! — Leslie
2) “I draw.” — Lindsey Henderson www.intown-creative.com. (Lindsey drew the charming illustration for this blog post and I’m so impressed! Thank you, so much, Lindsey!)
3) “Yoga. And laughter ” — Katie
4) “Playing with my cats after a hard day reduces the stress levels.” — Kelvin
5) “Hey friend, I am a huge bath person, I love to have a lovely smelling bath, sometimes bubbles, candles, music, maybe wine or a book..it is my favourite.” — Rebecca
6) “Put the kids to bed and do the laundry, watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand (hoping the kids don’t get up before I am done).” — Lilia
7) “oooh, tough one! I do like putting my feet up and doing something mindless like knitting and watching a silly movie. I also think a brisk walk outdoors with a walking partner is very cleansing. Going to the gym and doing aqua zumba is great, too. Oh, and I forgot to mention the best destressing strategy…tea with a friend!” — anonymous
“My new year’s resolution is to go through my closets and boxes and discard or organize everything I own. Must say even getting through one drawer lessens my stress.” — anonymous
9) “Putting some seeds in the yellow bird feeder on my back deck. The birds are such a joy! I can just watch them all day!” — Motria
10) “Watering the garden on a summer evening.” — Yaro (posthumously)
11) “When all else fails, I water the house plants. At least I’m doing something positive instead of just stewing in my own juices.” — Alex
12) “My favorite way to relax is reading. I love a good book or any book. I read every night. I manage stress by staying calm and trying not to let my mind control my body. If I stay calm, I can be more objective and see things clearly and find less stressful solutions to situations. I’d rather be a problem solver than be stressed out!” — Liz
13) “My daughter wasn’t much of a talker when she was growing up and one day when she was going through a rough time at school, she came home and started baking bread. There she was in the kitchen, mixing the dough and kneading it and baking it in the oven. I think there was something therapeutic about that for her and after a while, she opened up to me and told me what was going on. From then on, I knew baking bread was her way of dealing with stress and also telling me she needs to talk.” — Elsie
14) “A nice long walk, pet your pet, a hot bath, bang on my drum set, yoga breathing, watch nature and take pictures of it.” — Diana
15) “Am I the only one that watches TV to relax??? I just need something mindless so that’s what I do. I think Jazzercise is a great stress-buster!!” — Debbie
16) “I love to ride my bike, drink a cup of tea, read my Bible, of course, sex. ” — Suzanne
17) “Invite some friends over for a home spa pajama party.” — Maria
So there’s the list of 17 easy ways to relax and manage stress. Kelvin’s is my favourite — because I love cats — and we can learn a thing or two about relaxing from our pets. I think “taking a walk” is probably the most popular stress-busting activity on this list and funnily enough, I found myself taking that advice this afternoon by walking through my neighbourhood while it was sunny. I’m so glad I did because I do feel better.
How about you? Would you like to add your 2 cents? How do you relax and manage stress? Please leave a comment and I’ll make sure it gets added to the list. Thanks especially to Lindsey for drawing such a great illustration for this blog post and thanks to everyone for participating!
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
My friend, neighbour and high school classmate used to joke with me about the smell in my house. She said that if she was blindfolded and taken all over the world on a wild goose chase and then dropped back into my house on Trombone Court in Vienna, Virginia, she’d know exactly where she was just by the smell alone. Of course, I could say the same thing about her house, too.
This observation leads me to think about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You know how Santa says, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright…won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Maybe, Rudolph’s Marachino cherry nose is more than just a light bulb. Maybe, Rudolph’s nose is more like a highly-tuned, GIS, infrared, gizmo that homes in on unique household smells and that’s how he helps Santa get his job done so well each year while everyone else is sleeping.
Either way, at the end of the day, the nose is the star of the show and I’d like to invite you to pay attention to all of the aromas that are surrounding you at this time of year. This is an aromatherapy lover’s dreamtime! When you walk into someone’s house to celebrate the season, take a moment to stop amidst the flurry of activity and close your eyes and breathe deeply. What are you smelling? Turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven? What else? Try to catch a whiff of a single ingredient on the holiday menu. In my house, you’re likely to smell onions caramelizing on the stove top, which is home sweet home for me.
Do you have any favourite Christmas scents? What are they? If you were to smell them right now, would they transport you straight back into your childhood? Which smells tell you that you’re home at last?
Top 7 Christmas-themed Aromas, Tastes & Essential Oils
Here’s a list of the aromas and tastes I associate with the Christmas holidays. Some are cool and refreshing like a snowy, winter’s day and others are warm and cozy like a country cottage.
- Citrus Family: Mandarin, Orange, Pomegranate, Cranberry
- Mint Family: Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen
- Spice Family: Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice, Nutmeg, Cardamon, Ginger, Star Anise
- Sweet Family: Vanilla, Chocolate, Cream, Sugar
- Nut Family: Hazelnut, Walnut, Almond, Macadamia
- Woodsy Family: Pine, Spruce, Cypress, Fir, Juniper Berry, Cedar, Sandalwood
- Biblical Family: Frankincense, Myrrh
Everybody knows that smells awaken deep memories and I hope everyone will create lots of happy moments with their loved ones this Christmas to replay with fondness in future Christmases, year after year.
Wishing you a very aromatic and fragrant Christmas with lots of sugar and spice and everything nice, Maria of Homespunspa.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Recently, while attending a fashion show fundraiser, I came across a wellness poster that really spoke to me and I thought it would fit in easily with my blog. I don’t know who the original artist of the poster is, otherwise I would give her credit. I think the artwork is really cute. The poster has 10 cartoon drawings under the heading, “Today’s Healthy Woman is…” and I thought I’d use them as a spring board to build a metaphor that joins water and wellness. I hope this inspires you to stay healthy.
1. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Balanced
I’m constantly trying to balance my life (career, relationships, time, chequebook, health) and I’ve noticed that when I’m out of balance, I get tired and irritable and I eat more than I would otherwise. Imbalance shows up in a lot of different ways for different people. You can see imbalance manifest as acne on your skin, a bad hair day, insomnia or illness to name just a few on the tip of the iceberg. It has occurred to me that maybe that’s why people indulge in their addictions. I think people drink, smoke, over-eat, shop, gamble, go to tanning salons etc., etc., etc., because they want to correct some sort of imbalance in their system. They want to feel better, or at least different. Unfortunately, as we all know, addictions are counter productive. Here is a quick, easy and free way to feel more balanced any time of day. — Breathe. — That’s right. Focus on your breathing. Take a moment to picture some gentle waves curling along a sandy beach, in and out, in and out, and then follow the rhythm. Add a palm tree and a sunrise or sunset or full moon. I feel better already.
2. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Self-Accepting
Acceptance is the answer; De Nile is a river in Egypt.
Self-acceptance is about being OK with all aspects of who you are and not feeling the need to change anything in your life. Often times people forget about their strengths or talents and at the same time deny or ignore the parts of themselves they don’t like. But seeing the whole picture — sunlight and shadows — will help you live the life of your dreams.
Do you accept yourself as you are, unconditionally, right here and right now? If you were to see a pool of water with a big sign above it saying “Swimming Pool of Self-Acceptance,” would you: 1) dip your big toe in and then run away 2) wade in, ankle deep, in the shallow end 3) stand in water up to your waist or shoulders and occasionally dip your head under water and maybe do a hand stand or two? or 4) artfully dive in off the diving board and do the backstroke and the butterfly in the deep end?
If you are having trouble with this concept of self-acceptance, as many of us do, there are several exercises you can do in your daily life. Start with getting to know yourself on a deeper level and remember to be kind to yourself.
Ironically, positive change comes easier when you’re able to accept what’s already there. Remember the “Serenity Prayer.” God, Grant me the serenity / to accept the things I cannot change; / courage to change the things I can; / and the wisdom to know the difference. / Living one day at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; / Taking, as He did, this sinful world / as it is, not as I would have it; / Trusting that He will make all things right / if I surrender to His Will; / That I may be reasonably happy in this life / and supremely happy with Him / Forever in the next. / Amen. — Reinhold Niebuhr
3. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Humourous
Gather around the water cooler, everybody, I’ve got a blonde joke.
A guy called “Ken” has noticed that his girlfriend, let’s call her “Barbie,” likes to put two glasses on her nightstand each night before she goes to bed. (He’s very observant). One glass is empty and the other one is filled with water. “Why on earth do you do that?” he asked her. And she answered, “Cuz, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t know if I’ll be thirsty or not.”
4. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Fit
When I first started Jazzercising back in 1998, I quickly learned to bring a bottle of water to each class. I like taking sips of water between songs to stay hydrated.
On another note, sweating is also an important part of staying fit. I learned recently that the amount of sweat you produce is proportionate to your fitness level, so if you’re sweating during a workout more than you used to, you’re on the right track. Keep up the good work!
Some people don’t like to sweat, but I do. It makes me feel empowered. It’s the body’s way of cooling the system and releasing toxins and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a happy day and a great workout when I feel that first bead of sweat start trickling from my forehead.
5. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Passionate
What activities make your face light up when you talk about them or do them? Do you enjoy painting with water colours? Do you like taking photos of the world’s tallest water falls? How about going whale watching or scuba diving or fly fishing? Hula dancing on the beach after a day of surfing? Or maybe you’re like me and you like writing in your journal with a fountain pen? In any case, having a passion for something is one of life’s great gifts and I urge you to pursue your passions with zeal and fervour.
6. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Self-Nurturing
This one’s my fave because it’s all about the spa. Sprinkling the spa into your life on a regular basis is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your life. The word “spa” splashed onto the world scene after some therapeutic mineral-rich springs were discovered in Belgium in the 14th century.
All spas have some sort of water element in them, especially the ones that focus on Thalassotherapy or “sea therapy,” a school of thought that was named after Thalassa, the Greek goddess of the sea. Thalassotherapy uses the mineral-rich supplies from Poseidon’s playground — salt, seaweed, mud and, of course, water — to create healing treatments that help relieve stress, smooth skin, stimulate circulation and eliminate toxins from the body.
You don’t have to go far to enjoy some spa time, unless you want to. I think taking a bubble bath at home, with some candles and some music for added ambiance, is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself. If you take time to take care of yourself, like getting your hair done or polishing your nails or giving yourself a facial every now and then, you’ll manage the rest of your life that much better. Remember to put some “me time” into your life. That’s what Homespunspa is all about.
7. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Spiritual
Spirituality is hard to define in a quick paragraph but in my mind, being spiritual is having a belief in an invisible energy that surrounds and permeates through every living thing in the entire universe. (I call that energy “God,” but you don’t have to). A spiritual person tries to connect with that energy through prayer, meditation and contemplation etc., to enrich their life and find deeper meaning in their existence.
I believe in the power of prayer. Praying can have an influence on people’s health and wellbeing. Did you see the 2004 movie, “What the Bleep do We Know?” At one point they talked about the work of a Japanese author, Masaru Emoto, who claims that if positive human thoughts like prayer and music are directed at droplets of water before they are frozen, the resulting water crystals will be beautiful, suggesting that invisible thoughts and their energy have an influence on the material world. It’s fascinating.
8. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Optimistic
I don’t know about you, but I immediately think of the “glass is half empty; glass is half full” saying for this one. Just out of curiosity, what’s in your glass? Water? Milk? O.J.? Pop? Beer? I always picture water with blue food colouring in it. Anyway, some people are naturally optimistic and positive in life. Others prefer to view things more “realistically” and feel they would be lying if they were to put a positive spin on things. Others tend to see things negatively, thinking that if they get their hopes up, the bubble will burst and things won’t work out and they will be left feeling worse than they would have otherwise. My thoughts? You may not have control over everything that happens in your life, but you do have the power to choose your attitude in every given moment. Here’s a quote that might help: “It’s the same up and down roller-coaster but it’s up to you whether or not you enjoy the ride.” Why not choose to be more optimistic? It’s more fun that way.
9. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Loving
Do you remember the song, “Shower the People” by James Taylor? Here are the lyrics to the last half of the song. I don’t remember that last bit at all but it fits with my water theme, so I’m keeping it.
Better to shower the people you love with love / Show them the way that you feel / Things are gonna be just fine if you only will / Shower the people you love with love / Show them the way that you feel / Things are gonna be much better if you only will / Shower the people you love with love / Show them the way that you feel / You’ll feel better right away / Don’t take much to do / Sell your pride / They say in every life / They say the rain must fall / Just like pouring rain / Make it rain / Make it rain / Love, love, love is sunshine / Oh yes, / Make it rain / Love, love, love is sunshine / Yeah, all right / Everybody, everybody / Shower the people you love with love…
10. Today’s Healthy Woman is: Confident
Confidence has always eluded me. Searching for it is like trying to fish an eggshell chip out of egg whites. What does having confidence mean anyway? I’ve given this topic considerable thought over the years and I’ve finally figured out that having confidence starts with positivity — being able to find something good in everyone you meet and in every situation you face. If you can see a positive outcome from the beginning, than you’re already halfway there in my book.
How does this tie in with water you ask? Well, when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, do you think he had a clue about where he was headed and what he was up against and how long it would take him to see land again? I think not. But I do think he had confidence and a vision and a faith that everything would work out for the best. If he and his crew approached that voyage with fear, doubt and negativity, they wouldn’t have gotten very far and I wouldn’t be blogging from Victoria, BC today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they had their moments, but they didn’t let that stop them from exploring the high seas.
Having that sense of adventure, taking calculated risks, stepping out of your comfort zone, facing challenges head on, braving stormy weather and reaching out into the great unknown, build confidence. And having confidence will make life more interesting.
I hope you found this post “good to the last drop.” As always, if you have any comments to add, feel free to write them.