How To Find Your Purpose & Unlock A Meaningful Life

We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.

But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.

Heavy, no?

I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.

We women, nurturers at heart, tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.

But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.

So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?

Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.

Step One: choose your purposeful adjective

Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).

Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…

Step Two: pick a goal of purpose

What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!

This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.

Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.

Step Three: decide your daily tasks

Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.

Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.

After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other. 

Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:

I want to feel organized and artistic.

My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).

Monday: print trip photos

Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook

Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space

Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook

Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts

Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)

Step Four: reflect and validate

Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.

Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.

Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.

I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.

 

With love,

healthy evening habits

5 Things To Do Tonight (And Enjoy Tomorrow Even More)

Do you jump out of bed at the buzz of the alarm?

Or are you more closely acquainted with SNOOZE than the first rays of sunshine?

Personally I’ve never been one to stick my head under the pillow. I compare waking up to ripping off a Bandaid — if you’ve got to get it done, you might as well just do it.

(But that might just be the country girl in me speaking.)

While my morning enthusiasm is partly sparked by the 10 minute routine I do after I get up (check it out here), there are 5 other habits that I haven’t shared with you, which really put a spring in my sleepy-eyed step…

In fact, it’s the five activities that I complete BEFORE I go to bed that make the biggest difference.

In the video below I’m going to walk you through the five things that you can do tonight to enjoy tomorrow even more, all of which are simple, practical and adaptable for your lifestyle.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.

To Recap, Here’s What We Covered

Evening Ritual #1: Protect Your Neck From Computer Posture

  • Fixing “chicken neck” isn’t as easy as seeing a Hollywood plastic surgeon, so you’d better start working on yours now!
  • Computer posture that causes you to stick your chin forward can put up to 60 pounds of extra pressure on your neck and spine, which over time can lead to disc compression, migraines, and neck and shoulder pain
  • In the video below I’m demonstrating exactly what those neck flexor exercises look like — try them tonight

 

Evening Ritual #2:  Turn Off All Screens 30 Minutes Before Bed

  • There are (at least) three good reasons to shut down your technology well before hitting the hay:
    • The blue light disrupts melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep
    • Media is stimulating and you need to give your brain a break
    • Your favorite show is ruining any chance of developing an “early bed time” routine

 

Evening Ritual #3: Tidy Your Kitchen

  • Now you’ve shut down the tech a little earlier you can take some time to potter in the kitchen
  • Sit out things for a healthy breakfast (or your morning cup of Joe)
  • Put away anything that needs to be cleared…
  • It’s such a treat to wake up and see this neat space!

 

Evening Ritual #4: Journal For Gratitude & Reflection

  • “Busy brain syndrome” occurs when you’re body is tired but you’re mind is on fire with to-do’s, concerns and the random thoughts that only occur after lights out 
  • Not surprisingly, this is not conducive for getting a good nights sleep
  • My remedy is to do a quick evening journal practice that focuses on gratitude and reflection (learn about it here)

 

Evening Ritual #5: Set Out Tomorrow’s Clothes

  • Setting out an outfit before you go to bed saves the hassle of finding clothes in the morning…
  • This leaves you extra AM time for doing nice things…
  • I recommend making a healthy breakfast, taking a walk or catching up with a good book

 

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any evening rituals that make you excited to wake up the next day?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

Yoga For Anxiety

8 Minute Yoga Flow To Reduce Anxiety

Feeling anxious, tired, stiff or a little tightly spun? Today’s gentle yoga for anxiety workout is for you. In this 8 minute video I’ll walk you through five gentle stress-busting yoga poses that you can do every day to stretch your muscles and switch off your mind.

It’s very cool to be good at yoga these days but unfortunately — not really! — I’m neither particularly cool or good at yoga. I don’t like the heated studios that have taken over the yoga community, and I also have a really hard time slowing down my busy brain and staying in the zone. So I don’t go all that often.

(Excuses, excuses!)

Saying that, there are a few yoga poses that I absolutely love, and the five that I’m showing you in today’s video are at the top of that list. These moves are the reason that I’ll try to hit the mat once every week or two, and they’re what I call on at home to soothe both body and brain.

As I’m not a yoga teacher, or a particularly loyal student, I’m teaching this series in my own novice way (pros: consider yourself warned). This sequence is designed to help you reduce anxiety and calm your central nervous system, which means we will be moving slowly.

Being able to slow down and enjoy the movement experience is much more important than the poses themselves. Don’t worry about getting from A-to-B with any great haste and remember that you’re here to learn how to use the body to unwind the mind.

Here are the poses that you’ll be doing:

Tree Pose

Here’s why you’ll like it: As a balancing pose, Tree will make you feel more grounded. With one foot firmly rooted into the floor you know that you are safe and stable in your own life, while the lightness and length of the spine helps elevate your energy (and reminds you that there’s always room to grow).

Here’s what you need to know: Keep the lifted foot AWAY from the knee-cap; be true to your body and keep your joints safe!

Seated Spinal Twist

Here’s why you’ll like it: This pose is energizing for the spine, a great stretch in the shoulders, hips and neck, and stimulating for the digestive system. I know when I feel anxious that my gut gets all knotted up, so I use this pose to gently wring out that tension.

Here’s what you need to know: If you struggle to sit upright try sitting on a folded blanket to decompress your low back. Got back or neck issues? Move gently or avoid this posture.

(Modified) Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose

Here’s why you’ll like it: Reversing circulation in the legs relieves fatigue in the lower limbs. Some also say that changing the direction of blood flow gives you a new perspective on life… check it out for yourself and see what you think.

Here’s what you need to know: This pose is an inversion, which means you need to avoid it if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma, or neck/back problems. You can also let your legs rest against the wall if that’s more comfortable for you.

Pigeon Pose

Here’s why you’ll like it: Many people don’t like Pigeon pose because it can feel pretty intense, but those knots in your hips may represent blockages in your life — hips don’t lie, as Shakira so enthusiastically reminds us! At a minimum that tightness is a result of your sedentary lifestyle and adding movement and breath will bring a lot of relief.

Here’s what you need to know: For knee issues you will want to take the modification OR try these hip stretches, including a seated-chair-pigeon pose (much more gentle on the knees and back).

Sivasana

Here’s why you’ll like it: This pose requires nothing of you, which is not something that you can say about many activities in your day-to-day life. Lay back, relax and let gravity do its job.

Here’s what you need to know: If you feel tension in the low back you can roll a small blanket and place it under the knees. Once settled, focus on your breath, imagine that your body is melting through the floor and let thoughts come and go without blocking them or engaging with them.

Yoga For Anxiety: 5 Poses To Unwind Body & Mind

 

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

What daily practices do you use to help reduce anxiety? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

With love,

HAVE MORE TIME JENNIFER DENE WELLNESS

Want To Have More Time? Here’s How…

Have you ever wondered why it can feel so hard to take time for yourself? Even when you promise yourself a little bit of r&r there’s often something — another task, request or responsibility — that snatches that time away.

The truth is that modern life — our work and responsibilities  —doesn’t always leave us with much breathing space; but it’s also true that some people seem to have more time than others.

So what’s their secret, these women who have the time to simply sit down and enjoy a cup of tea? The answer is less about the way they DO things, and more with how they THINK about things.

In today’s exercise we’ll explore how your attitude towards time is holding you hostage to that never ending to-do list (and preventing you from feeling satisfied with what you’ve achieved at the end of the day).

This exercise is taken from my three part audio series: Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life. Download the full series  here (videos and worksheets included)

 

“Should”, “Could” & “Get To”

How often do you catch yourself saying or thinking the words: I should…

“Should” is an expression of something that you think you have to do; an obligation or an expectation that you need to meet to view yourself as successful, generous, useful, important, etc…

I should fold laundry while I’m sitting on the couch…

I should get a head start on dinner to make things easier later on…

“Could,” on the other hand, expresses a conscious choice; it’s the start of a dialogue about how you spend your time.

I could go for a walk…

I could try a new recipe…

At the end of a “could” sentence is the unspoken “or”…this is you giving yourself options. By its very nature, “could” is a word that implies positivity and choice; you’ll even notice a difference in the inflection of your voice when you say it.

Compare these two:

I should go for a walk.

Golly, even writing this makes my feet feel heavy. It makes me wonder why I should go for a walk, which leads to me listing off all those unhealthy habits that I need to rectify with exercise. Yuck!

I could go for a walk.

Yep, definitely feeling more inspired. That could fit into this sentence: It’s a lovely day, I could go for a walk! Or this one: I’m going to exercise tomorrow morning, I could go for a walk or I could go for a swim.

In example number two, the walk becomes the reward and not the punishment. This sentence also reminds me that I’m the decision maker, and it gives me an option for how I spend my time.

Which brings me to your first challenge…

Step One: be a COULD person (not a SHOULD person).

You CAN choose how you spend your time and how you experience your everyday life.

But should every “should” become a “could”? (Ha, writing these sentences makes me feel like Dr. Seuss!)

Of course not!

If you’re a high-achiever it’s likely that you have a LOT of should’s floating around in your mind at any one time. I can hardly sit on my couch without thinking I should: water the plants, get rid of that cobweb, organize the DVR recordings, send an email, file my fingernails, plan a vacation, fold laundry, book a dentist appointment…apparently it’s exhausting to relax at my house!

But just because there are should’s that could be done, doesn’t mean you have to do them. Filling your day to the brim with “should” tasks doesn’t necessarily:

  • Move you closer to your three key life priorities (learn about these by downloading the full series here)
  • Create free space for the future (there will always be more should’s)
  • Make you a more important/interesting/useful/insert-adjective-here person. It just makes you tired.

Step Two: Shelve some of the should’s…

Here’s how:

  1. Look at your current To-Do list, or think about all of those odds and ends floating around in your brain
  2. How many of these tasks made it on to that list because of the sentence: I should do…?

“I should clean out the linen cupboard.”

“I should sort the winter clothing.”

“I should get a head start on Christmas presents.”

“I should attend that community meeting.”

While (in an ideal world) you would be able to cross these arbitrary tasks off that list, they’re actually not critical to the functioning of your day-to-day life. In fact, spending time on these “should” tasks could actually be taking you further away from reaching your healthy living goals.

Can you guess my simple solution? Just cross them off your list…right now. Liberation!

Your list will now have a sprinkling of could items, to be kept as options in your back pocket, as well as those activities that you couldn’t cross off, even if you wanted to (hello work obligations, mammograms and flossing your teeth)!

These remaining obligations are necessary for the functioning of your day-to-day life, and there are two ways of looking at that…

Step Two: living with a “have to” mindset versus a “get to” mindset

I have to go to work…

I get to go to work…

I have to meet (name) for a coffee…

I get to meet (name) for a coffee…

I have to workout with my personal trainer…

I get to workout with my personal trainer…

While this positive language trick won’t necessarily buy you more time, it will help you feel more enthusiastic about the way you’re spending that time. And who knows, spending less time procrastinating on things like work and exercise could free up more free space each day after all.

Try this one on for size: I get to workout with my personal trainer and then I could have a relaxing bath or read a book!

The solution?

Commit to adding a positive spring to your language step to make your “get to” activities even more enjoyable.

Let’s summarize today’s exercise!

  1. Use the word “could” in sentences, to remind yourself that you do have a choice in how you spend your time
  2. Cross off all the arbitrary “should” tasks on your to-do list (if they haven’t been done yet the world won’t end if they stay that way)
  3. Be positive in your language when describing tasks you get to do

A thought to ponder as you move throughout your week: what you do is less important than WHY you do it. What’s your reason behind your should’s, could’s and get to’s? If the answer doesn’t move you, consider letting it go.

 

With love,

Live Mindfully Jennifer Dene

Why We Need To Live Mindfully (Or How I Flushed My Paycheck Down The Toilet)

I lost a lot of money on Saturday. I wasn’t gambling. I didn’t make a bad business deal. I simply…misplaced it.

Subsequent hours were spent in a somewhat frantic search. Did I lose it in the house? Perhaps I dropped it during errands? Could I have accidentally put it in the mailbox?

My concern for losing the money was matched by the unsettling thought that I simply couldn’t remember why. What had I been doing before, during and after that time? I mentally tried to retrace my steps, only to hit a brain deadend at every turn.

And so it went…All weekend.

While I’m not thrilled at flushing away a week’s hard work, the outcome could have been so much worse.

I didn’t lose my health or ruin my relationships. I just lot some cash.

And as sore as it might make me feel, part of me is grateful. This was an important (albeit expensive) reminder that I haven’t been living mindfully, and I needed to slow down. 

Lesson Learned: If YOU don’t slow down the universe will send something that will slow things down for you.

2017 started with a bang; from early January I hit the ground running and I haven’t really stopped. Even though I’ve been very conscious of checking the seven core boxes of my basic health, this one thing was obviously still lacking.

Mindfulness is the mental state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s the ability to focus your awareness on the present moment, while calm acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.

In contrast to this description,I’ve spent this year multi-tasking and multi-thinking. Sometimes I imagine that my brain is hosting a national ping-pong tournament; where ideas, to-dos, memories and premonitions bounce through my cranial arena with alarming speed.

And even though I’ve been working on being more mindful of late, I clearly still have a long way to go.

Which brings me to my focus for this week: For the next 10 days I’m going to spend 10 minutes in meditation to live more mindfully. (This won’t be meditation like “om” and flying elephants, but simply a practice of bringing awareness to my breath, body and physical surroundings.)

I’m committed to this every day for 10 days…probably in the early afternoon, when those ping-pong players are warming up their paddles.

Perhaps you’d like to join me.

To make it easier I’m going to use an app called Headspace. Headspace offers a free 10 day guided meditation series, narrated by buddhist monk (and juggler extraordinaire) Andy Puddicombe. I’ve used the app in the past and I like that it keeps me centered and focused on what I’m doing. 

Sharing new resources is something that I’ll try to do more of this year. I’ll also start sharing some of my own little life experiments with you, both to invite you on the journey and to remind you that none of us have this healthy living thing completely figured out.

Starting with Jenn’s self improvement strategy #1 = live mindfully (especially before more of my retirement fund goes down the gurgler).

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

Do you ever feel like you can’t keep up with your brain? Are you living on autopilot, or getting stressed over little things, for no apparent reason. If so, are you willing to join me on this 10 day experiment?

Or perhaps you already take mindfulness seriously and have established a daily practice. If you do, I’d love to hear about what that looks like for you.

Please join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

With love,

Jennifer Dene

Resources mentioned: Headspace

stop feeling stressed

Stop Feeling Stressed: How To Manage Your Overwhelm

In today’s post I’m talking about overwhelm, and I’m going to share with you one simple strategy to help you stop feeling stressed right now. 

But first I want to assure you that if you’re feeling overwhelmed you’re not alone. In fact, according to a 2016 survey from the American Psychological Association, over 40% of Americans feel stressed on a regular basis.

And lately I’ve been one of them. (Well, I’m an honorary American I guess…)

Here’s a little glimpse into my life over the past 20 months. Here I am, a 20-something Australian woman with a degree in journalism, working in the health and fitness industry, husbanded-up, and driving a little red Mazda across the USs from North Carolina to Los Angeles.

A little interesting perhaps, but not too out of the ordinary. That is, until you take into account the following:

  1. We had never visited L.A. before deciding to move
  2. We didn’t know anyone there 
  3. Neither of us had jobs in California — Nate would continue to fly back to the East Coast (poor chap) and I would… figure it out.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’re happily settled in, loving life in our beautiful home and making great new friends. This is also when I decide to expand my business online — hello jenniferdenewellness.com!

And that’s where overwhelm kicked in.

In addition to my work in the health and fitness industry I had suddenly become… a web developer, a graphic designer, a marketing and sales director, a bookkeeper, and so much more. I’m also still trying to become somewhat fluent in social media speak >>> #progressnotperfection >>> #whydowehavetousehashtags

It would be an understatement to say that there’s been a lot to learn, and some days the stress levels have gotten kind of high. Like, 1960s flower-child-at-a-music-festival high.

But stress is just stress, and overwhelm is just overwhelm, and it happens to us all. The key is getting a handle on it before it spirals out of control, which is why I love today’s stress management exercise.

So grab some paper and a pencil and let’s do this thing. 

How To Stop Feeling Stressed NOW

This exercise works so well because it gets the mess out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Having all those thoughts bumping about in our brains, like dodgem cars at a carnival, can often make situations feel more overwhelming than they actually are. Seeing things written out allows you to logically categorize and start dealing with each individual item.

I definitely recommend that you do this exercise on an actual sheet of paper;  the physical act of writing engages different parts of our brain and helps us better process the information that we’re working on. Plus, taking a break from your computer is a quick stress-buster in-and-of-itself.

So let’s do it!

Step One – The Brain Dump

Write down everything you can think of that is making you feel stressed or overwhelmed. This might include actual tasks that you need to complete, goals that you’re working towards, and even less tangible thoughts and worries, such as feeling stressed about what the weather will do tomorrow. Spend no more than 3 minutes on this step.

Step Two – Make Four Categories

Take four different colored pens and circle your items according to the categories below:

  1. Must fix now
  2. Future self will deal with that
  3. Someone else can deal with that
  4. Not within my power

Be really clear about what items absolutely have to be done now, those that can wait for another time, and those that you don’t personally have to do. Items that are “not within my power” include worrying about the weather, worrying about the plane being delayed, or worrying about something else just for the sake of worrying. Spend no more than 5 minutes on this step.

Step Three – Consolidate Your Lists

Take a new piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “must fix now”. This list should not be very long and only contain your highest priority tasks. Wondering what goes here? Ask yourself which tasks will make the biggest positive difference to how you feel about yourself and your life.

Then, take another piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “future self will deal with that” — this is where all those non-urgent tasks go. You’ll probably notice that a lot of the items on this list are not really important… so why are you stressing about them? It’s likely that these are your procrastination-tasks, the ones that make you feel busy and productive but actually prevent you from completing items that really matter.

Spending too much time each day focusing on your “future self” list is draining your energy and limiting your potential for success. Focus on today, spend time completing the tasks that matter, and use that feeling of accomplishment to override overwhelm.

Step Four – Delegate:

Ask yourself which items from these two lists can be done by someone else. For example, if cleaning the house is a regular source of frustration then have a cleaner come in and help you, it’s cheaper than paying for a therapist! Make moves to outsource those tasks immediately. 

Step Five – Trash Your Stress

Quickly scan the very first list that you made, the brain dump, and read the items that you circled “not within my power”. Place your hand over your heart and say out loud: “I have no control over these situations and worrying about them isn’t benefiting anyone”. Then burn that piece of paper and let those concerns go up in flames with it. 

Step Six – Moving Forward (Calmly & Gracefully)

You’re now left with two lists, your high priority list, and your future self list. Read the latter and make a note of when you would realistically need to revisit the items here. Are they going to become important at a future date, or will they remain to be non-urgent tasks that you can complete at a later stage? You can make a note on your calendar to review this list in a few weeks, or just return to it if you find yourself with some extra time to kill. Now put it out of sight (and out of mind).

Finally, return to your high priority list. These tasks are the only items that have even the smallest claim on your stress levels, but we’re fabulous and feminine women, and a little to-do list is not going to get the best of us.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Choose the task that is the fastest to complete and make a mark next to it.
  • Choose the task that is most important to complete and make a mark next to it.
  • Acknowledge that these are the only two tasks that you need to focus on (not worry about) right now, and take action to complete them in the most timely manner possible.
  • Once both of these items have been checked off you can return to your priority list and choose another two.
  • Continue in this way until you’ve crossed off each item on that list.

In Conclusion…

Of course there are many other stress-management strategies that you can benefit from. Things like meditation, self-care exercises, coaching, physical activity, eating well, and spending time unplugged from technology should be a regular part of your routine. 

But there is a method to this list-making madness. Doing this exercise has hopefully helped you realize how many things you’ve been worrying about that you either can’t control, or you don’t need to worry about right now. It should also have cleaned up your mental clutter and shown you that even those things that might seem a little overwhelming at the moment can be tackled simply and methodically.

As you continue with your week I would encourage you to let go of stress for the sake of stress, and channel that same energy into being focused, productive and content.

See you next week!

With love,

JDW Signature

P.S. I recorded this video on Facebook live, which is why it’s a little less clear (and why I said “hi Nate” as he popped into the live video recording!) Join me on Facebook here. 

Upper Back Stretches Jennifer Dene Wellness

4 Feel-Good Stretches For A Tight Upper Back

In today’s workout I’m sharing four upper back stretches that will make your spine feel divine. All you need is an exercise mat, so come on in and join the fun!

Remember a few weeks ago when I shared three stretches for tight hips? In that post I talked about how our sedentary lifestyle is really doing a number on our muscles and joints. Sitting is the new smoking and it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies.

Another side effect of our habitual postures is tightness in the upper back, neck and shoulders. Here’s why:

Most of our day-to-day tasks keep our arms in front of our torso (hello computer work, texting, driving, ironing, and cooking). This contracts the muscles at the front of the body and weakens the muscles of the back, which are constantly being lengthened.

Yep, lengthened. Your “tight back” might not be a symptom of muscle contraction, but actually of muscle strain.

Rounding the shoulders or low back when sitting or standing (and constantly reaching forward) over-stretches the spinal extensors and weakens the shoulder stabilizers. Rather than being a good thing, this “flexibility” is a sign that your spine isn’t properly supported and your own weight is dragging your body out of alignment.

What happens then?

Our fascia — the connective tissue that wraps around the muscles, bones and organs  — gets stiff and inflexible from being stuck in the same position all day. Imagine the fascia as a cobweb that has wrapped around your muscles. Cobwebs that get ignored get more and more dense; fascia that gets ignored also gets more dense (or knotted) creating tension and reducing mobility.

So what can we do about it?

I’m so glad you asked! We need to take a three-pronged approach to tackling these aches and pains:

  1. Strengthen the spine. A tight back is different from a strong back. Do these three upper body exercises (and pay particular attention to move #1 “Cactus Glides”) 
  2. Strengthen the core. This is going to support your spine from your abdominals, and help you to improve your posture throughout the day. Here is a 10 minute crunch-free core workout. 
  3. Stretch the upper back through a variety of movements. Mobilizing the thoracic spine (upper back) through flexion, extension and rotation will help to take your fascia from sticky to supple. Try adding the four exercises in the video below to your daily routine.

Download Your Stretch Series

I’ve created a nifty one-page PDF for you to download, which includes instructions and photos of the four stretches from today’s video. That way you can keep it on your computer to remind yourself to stretch your spine throughout the day! Click here to download your free PDF.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

Once you’ve had a chance to do these stretches I’d love to know how they felt in your body. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

With love,

JDW Signature

Morning Routine Jennifer Dene Wellness

Take Back Your Mornings With This 10 Minute Routine

The early bird catches the worm.

(Apparently.)

But if that bird wakes only to dive, beak first, into social media, emails and caffeinated stress…well, perhaps it should have stayed in bed.

The exact time that you wake up is less important than the actions that you take immediately after waking.

So in today’s video I’m sharing the five habits that make up my morning routine. These actions help me feel more productive, more centered, and less frazzled for the day ahead.

This routine doesn’t take long (you can complete it all within 10 minutes) and it’s really easy to implement. Below the video I’m sharing some extra tips on how you can get started with each of these steps.

But before you press play I want you to think about your average weekday morning. Is your overall AM vibe one of relaxation and awakening? Or is it a mad scramble to get ready and out the door?

How would you like to feel at the start of each new day? Why would you like to feel that way?

What’s getting in the way of that?

While adopting new habits don’t always happen overnight — although, to be fair, this is one that could be — understanding why you’re making a change will help you follow through.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So please stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.

To Recap, Here’s What We Covered

Habit #1 Appreciate The Act Of Waking

Even when I really, really don’t want to be getting up I put a smile on my face and say: “thank you for another wonderful day”. It’s a simple act that only takes seconds but sets the tone for a positive and grateful day ahead.

Habit #2 Drink Water

Room temperature is best, so leave a large glass of filtered water on the bench before you go to bed each night. Drink it all before that first sip of coffee or tea.

Habit #3 Read Something Inspiring

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul. We become the books we read.”

Set aside 2 — 5 minutes to read something that energizes your mind. It might be a chapter from a book, a poem, a quote, a bible passage… It might be a positive note that you wrote to yourself the night before.

Habit #4 Make A 3-Point To Do List

This is even better to do the night before. Numerous studies have shown that we can only expect to achieve three main tasks each day, and adding more to the list makes us feel overwhelmed and decreases productivity. Choose the three big rocks that, if you can cross them off, will make you feel satisfied at the end of the day.

Habit #5 Move Your Body

Doing cardio before breakfast can actually help to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Which is cool, but the main reason that I do it then is to avoid getting a cramp from exercising after eating! Don’t sweat it if you don’t have time for a full workout, just repeat one move continuously for 60 — 120 seconds. This might be a plank, lunges or wall pushups. Anything to get the blood pumping.

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have a healthy morning habit that you couldn’t live without? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

With Love,

JDW Signature

Me Time | Jennifer Dene Wellness

How To Have More “Me Time”

We could all use a little more me time.

Having time out for yourself, without an agenda, is as important for your health as exercise and healthy eating. Yet it’s often the first thing to be scrapped when life gets busy.

Whether it’s work, family, volunteering or social commitments, you have to know when to say “NO” to external demands in order to be able to say “YES” to yourself.

In today’s video I’ll show exactly how you can take time for yourself every day, and why you need to make it a priority.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you.

Once you’ve “scheduled the schedule of nothing”, how might you use that time?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

Remember that this video is part of my series: 7 Ways To Love Your Body & Life This Week. Catch up on all the videos here.

Click the image to download your free Self Love Checklist!

7 Ways To Love Your Body (Cheat Sheet)

Just to recap, here’s your task for today:

  • Step one: Open your calendar or to do list for this week.
  • Step Two: Every day schedule out a 30 minute block of time that’s just for you.
  • Step Three: Consider how you might use that time; I recommend choosing something that makes you feel nurtured and relaxed.
  • Step Four: Remember that this is a vital appointment with yourself, and nothing or no-one is allowed to encroach on that time. Set your boundaries and stick to them.
  • Step Five: When you arrive at your me time appointment each day turn off your phone and be present in the moment with your self.

Then, dive into the next video, where I’ll show you how to quiet that negative self talk.

Thank you so much for joining me here on Jennifer Dene Wellness. I know that together we will create a bright, healthy and purpose-filled future for ourselves, and the women that come after us.

With love,

JDW Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to download your Self Love Checklist. Here it is.