Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:37 am , by Family Circle
By Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama
As my family prepares for an upcoming out-of-state move, I’ve been forced to think about what home means to me. I’ve always believed home is a feeling, not a place. More specifically, home is the feeling of peace and completeness I feel when I am surrounded by the people I love.
But recently, my definition of home has expanded. Home is also living Hands Free.
What began as small changes to let go of distraction, pressure and perfection has become a necessity—like water, air and food. Each day, I need time to connect to what matters in some form or fashion. I need time to rest, laugh, listen and breathe.
Smelling my daughter’s freshly washed hair … feeling sunshine on my face as I wait for swim practice to conclude … jotting down writing ideas in a notebook … tight hugs before we go our separate ways … my Hands Free moments are home to me now.
But I must be realistic. As much as I would love all moments in life to be calm, present, safe and undistracted, it is simply not possible. We live in a fast-paced world saturated with duties, deadlines and devices. In a world inundated with distraction, it is easy to get far from home.
Yet with almost four years’ experience living Hands Free, I am able to detect when I am getting too far from what matters. No longer am I willing to push and pressure and “yes” my way through life to the point that I lose sight of everything that matters most.
Here are some of the difficult truths I say to myself when I am getting too far from home. These “red flags” help me realize when I need to say no, re-establish my boundaries or reassess what matters and what doesn’t.
My distraction radar says:
“You’re staying up too late.”
“You haven’t sat down all day.”
“You’re eating at the kitchen counter.”
“Your heart is racing.”
“You are complaining more than you are being positive.”
“You are quick to anger.”
“You are bullying yourself.”
“You are trying to do too much at once.”
When I hear these painful truths in my head, I don’t ignore them like I used to. Nor do I make excuses or get defensive. Instead, I do one of the following actions to bring myself back home:
• I lower the bar. I remind myself nothing has to be perfect, just “good enough for today.”
• I turn away from the outside/online world and turn toward my inner circle of friends and family.
• I take a walk. Even 10 minutes of fresh air and time for reflection helps me feel rejuvenated and less overwhelmed.
• I silence the inner critic with three powerful words: Only Love Today.
• I resist the urge to push myself beyond my limits and make a reasonable plan for getting one item accomplished at a time.
• I throw on a hat and stop fussing over my appearance.
• I treat myself with kindness and compassion like I would a friend who is going through a hard time.
• I say, “I cannot worry about that right now,” and stop obsessing over things I cannot control.
Whenever my distraction radar goes off, I try to do one of those things—even if it is for only a few minutes. These actions help me protect what is important in my life and keep me moving forward on my Hands Free journey. My friends, we cannot control all the circumstances of our life, but we can control some. When faced with feelings of being overwhelmed, take a moment to evaluate: Is everything I’m trying to do today necessary? Is there somewhere I can lower the bar? Is the feeling of home in here somewhere? Each day, take one small step toward what brings you peace and fulfillment. This way, you’ll never get so far from home that you can’t get back to what matters most.
Rachel is the New York Times best-selling Author of Hands Free Mama. She resides in Alabama with her husband and two daughters, who inspire her daily. You can join her on her journey to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter at www.handsfreemama.com.
Written on June 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm , by Danielle Hester
By Reisa Feigenbaum
We could all benefit from better sleep. While The Better Sleep Council raised awareness about the importance of a good night’s rest in May for Better Sleep Month, we’re sharing a slew of products that take beauty rest to a whole new level.
1. Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, target.com and select Target stores, $23
Revive dehydrated skin with an overnight leave-on mask. Highly concentrated mineral water moisturizes parched skin, while rose and sandalwood stimulate relaxation and deliver a pleasant floral scent.
2. Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Overnight Miracle Repair Serum, drugstores, $8
Don’t lose sleep over your dry, damaged tresses. Try this leave-in serum that strengthens hair at its weakest points. You’ll wake up with shiny, smooth locks and no sticky residue on your pillow.
3. Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Pillow Mist in Lavender Chamomile, bathandbodyworks.com and Bath & Body Works stores nationwide, $10
Doze off to the calming scents of lavender, chamomile and vanilla. These essential oils sooth the body and de-stress the mind for a more peaceful sleep. Simply spray onto your pillow or sheets and let the relaxation begin.
4. Sephora Collection Instant Depuffing Eye Mask, sephora.com, $6
Get the ultimate shut-eye with a refreshing eye mask that contains HydroSenn+, a natural ingredient that seals in moisture. Perfect for traveling, it reduce puffiness and dark circles instantly.
5. Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment, sephora.com, $18
Apply this treatment before bed once a week and allow your nails to breathe as they grow, with a pretty glossy nude finish.
6. Dermelect Cosmeceuticals Self-Esteem Beauty Sleep Serum, dermelect.com, $42
Brighten and tighten all night long while the exfoliator reduces pore size, lightens hyperpigmentation and penetrates your pores. This serum boasts powerful anti-aging ingredients including collagen-boosting vitamin C and moisture-rich glycolic acid.
Written on April 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm , by Danielle Blundell
Sleep—it’s that elusive thing all moms crave and rarely get enough of, especially with younger kids around. Most of the tips we’ve given you so far focus on the health angle—when to exercise, how to curb caffeine consumption and how to deal with a sleepless night. But when was the last time you considered what your home has to do with a good night’s sleep? Turns out there’s probably more of a connection than you think. The good news is that just a few small changes could have a big impact on the quality of your zzz’s.
Use your senses—smell, in particular.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, which can make you feel extra relaxed. So try a lavender-scented candle on the nightstand before turning in, or tuck a fragrant sachet inside your pillowcase. Better yet, wash and dry your sheets, PJs and other nighttime linens in the new lightly lavender-scented Sweet Dreams collection from Tide, Bounce and Downy. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, keep it to a single dryer sheet. Even a hint of lavender could help get you into slumber mode.
Make the bedroom a gadget-free zone, especially at night.
Face it, with the popularity of tablets, e-readers and laptops, more work, reading and Netflix watching is done in bed these days than ever before—it’s just so comfortable and convenient. We’re not suggesting you never marathon a series or ban the Kindle from bed, but be sure to limit that activity to daytime. Dr. Ian Smith, celebrity physician and wellness expert from The Doctors, recommends turning off all devices, including your smartphone, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If you want to read, do it the old-fashioned way, with a book. Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock, because that gives you an excuse to leave it on all night and be tempted to check it.
Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
Creating the right environment is key for falling and staying asleep. Shop for breathable sheets, PJs and other bed linens, says Kelly Ellis, director of integrated marketing at Serta International, who notes that flannel sheets, while certainly cute, are best avoided, even in winter. Dim the lights in the evening to tell your body that it’s time for sleep, and choose calming decor—think whites, blues, grays, tans and other tranquil hues.
Replace that old pillow.
Everyone seems to know that mattresses eventually need replacing, but so do pillows. According to Erik Brandt, VP of iComfort brand development at Serta International, they should be updated more frequently than mattresses for optimal comfort. (How long have you been holding on to yours?) The cooling action of the iComfort Scrunch Pillow’s memory foam particles is right on target for enhancing anyone’s sleep experience. At $79, it’s a bit of an investment, but what better to splurge on than a good night’s sleep, right?
Written on March 17, 2014 at 8:30 am , by Family Circle
By Jessica Girdwain
What do you do when you’re lying awake staring at the alarm clock? Try these expert tips on how to survive a sleepless night.
1. Practice mindful breathing
Sit quietly and focus on taking deep breaths. When your mind wanders, return your focus to your inhales and exhales. Research shows this helps stop your mind from racing and lessens insomnia symptoms.
2. Try self-massage
Twice-weekly rubdowns helped the women in a Brazilian study drift off quicker, improve their sleep quality and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Using as dim a light as possible, pick up a paper book or magazine (avoid e-readers, which emit blue light). Aim for a relaxing read, not a page-turner that keeps you wide-eyed.
4. Tidy up
Some light, monotonous cleaning (like dusting or straightening up your desk, not rearranging the fridge or scrubbing baseboards) can be soothing, making you rest-ready.
5. Do yoga
The relaxing practice is associated with better-quality sleep, according to new research. Get up and perform a few gentle stances, like the child’s pose or corpse pose, to unwind.
6. Relax your muscles
Starting at your toes, tense and release your muscles, working your way up to your face. This method, called progressive muscle relaxation, helped lull insomniacs to sleep in a study in the Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies.
7. Turn on tunes
In a Dutch study review, music helped participants relax enough to improve sleep quality. Light tunes before bed (think smooth jazz) cue your body to wind down.