Staying centered is a key part of a balanced and happy life. Learn how relaxation techniques and clean eating with Fitlife Foods can help.
Contemporary life is marked by constant demands on your time and energy. It can often feel like you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions at once, making it difficult to stay connected to yourself.
Yet staying centered within yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your health and happiness. Read on for easy techniques and tips for cultivating a calm center that will always be there to support you — even in the most stressful moments.
When confronted with a challenging situation, people sometimes unconsciously hold their breath. Instead of holding your breath, when a stressful moment occurs, you can use your breath to help you become calm.
How to Become Calm with Conscious Breathing
To practice conscious breathing, inhale and exhale slowly through the nose. Count the length of each inhale and exhale, and try to make them even as you breathe. For instance, you might count to five on the inhale, and then count to five on the exhale.
Conscious breathing is so simple you might not believe it has much of an impact, but this is the easiest way to hack your nervous system. Breathing slowly and deeply has an immediate effect on your nervous system and will help to calm you down and keep you centered.
Sit or stand still, conscious of your posture, and try even breathing for five to ten breath cycles. Observe the response in your body and mind, and use this technique whenever you need a quick way to ground yourself in the present moment.
More Conscious Breathing Techniques
After you’ve mastered the technique of even breathing, you can try some simple variations. First, try lengthening each inhale and exhale by a count of 1 or 2 to make your breath even slower.
Another variation to try is extending the exhale by a count of 2 or more. A moment or two of conscious breathing with a longer exhalation affects your heart rate variability and engages the vagus nerve, calming your fight-or-flight system. When you really need to calm down, breathe slowly in and out through the nose and consciously extend each exhale.
Meditation for Calm and Sleep
The stress-reducing and health benefits of meditation are widely known. Scientists have come to the same conclusions long touted by Eastern meditation practitioners: A regular meditation practice can improve sleep and mental health, lower stress and anxiety, increase focus, reduce inflammation, regulate the nervous system, and more.
While it can be tough to incorporate a new habit into your life, a regular meditation practice will bring the most benefits. Even if it’s only for one minute a day, meditation can help you feel more centered.
Meditate in Bed
One helpful trick when you’re getting started with meditation is to meditate in bed. Meditation can be practiced seated or lying down, and to prepare for sleep, meditating in bed is a great option to allow you to set the habit and sleep peacefully. Since you’re already lying down for bed, why not try meditating for a few minutes before you go to sleep?
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation for Sleep
You can use the conscious breathing techniques you learned above as part of a simple mindfulness meditation to help you relax and get a great night’s sleep. To meditate before sleep, try the following steps:
1. Remove all distractions from the room, including your phone.
2. Lie in a comfortable position in your bed.
3. Begin consciously breathing, following the techniques above for even breathing or extended exhalations. Focus on your conscious breathing for 10 breaths or more.
4. As you breathe, notice the sensations of breath in your body — how your lungs and ribs inflate and expand with the inhale and relax with the exhale.
5. If you notice a part of your body is tight or rigid, kindly ask that part of yourself to relax.
6. As thoughts arise, try to let them go and gently return your attention back to your breath.
If you want more direction as you establish your meditation practice, guided meditations are a wonderful option. Many popular meditation and health apps offer free guided meditations. You can also try meditation podcasts, or get recordings of guided meditations from your local library.
Another option is to record yourself reading a guided meditation from a book or website, and play the recording back to yourself. It can be powerful to hear your own voice in the role of a calming and soothing guide.
1. Before you turn on the recording, make sure your phone or other device is on “do not disturb” mode. While you’ll need your technology in the room to play the meditation, you want to avoid interruptions or distractions. After you start the recording, turn your phone or device over so you won’t be distracted by the screen.
2. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
3. Begin to breathe consciously.
4. Focus on the guide’s voice as you breathe. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention to the guided meditation.
Get Better Sleep
Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia, yet sleep is one of the most important factors for a balanced, healthy life. With so many people struggling to fall and stay asleep, some people are left wondering, what is healthy sleep?
Healthy sleep allows you to feel like yourself. It improves learning, creativity, memory, and mood, and can even strengthen immune system response. Sleep is as vital to humans as food and water.
Remember, healthy sleep means getting enough sleep: adults require seven to nine hours per night of sleep. If you’re getting less, it’s time to prioritize a bedtime routine to help you get more quality sleep.
If you’re struggling with sleep, you can take steps to improve your bedtime routines. In addition to trying meditation in bed, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Don’t check your phone or eat right before bed, and try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. Establishing healthy sleep habits will help you feel centered throughout your day.
While we can’t always control the external stressors in our lives, one of the most important things we can control is what we eat. Healthy nutritional choices can keep you balanced and centered.
Staying Centered with Clean Eating
Clean eating, or focusing on whole foods as much as possible while avoiding foods that cause inflammation and stress, can help you feel balanced and centered. Clean eating includes a mix of healthy proteins, carbs, and fats eaten throughout the day to keep your energy and mood stable.
Foods that Cause Inflammation and Stress
One of the main tenets of clean eating is avoiding highly processed foods as much as possible. There are multiple reasons to avoid or minimize packaged foods high in sugar and salt, and one of the most important is the way they can contribute to chronic, low-level inflammation in the body.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, and other illnesses. Stress can contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, and further contribute to the development of illness, so avoiding foods that cause inflammation is key for both your physical and mental well-being.
Foods that cause inflammation include refined carbohydrates, French fries and other fried foods, soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks, red meat and processed meats such as sausage and hot dogs, margarine, shortening, and lard.
Foods for Lowering Anxiety, Stress, and Inflammation
An anti-inflammatory diet is good for both your physical and mental health. Foods that fight chronic inflammation include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
In addition to the power of anti-inflammatory foods, foods that lower the hormone cortisol can also lower stress and anxiety. These include foods high in vitamin B such as eggs, beef, and chicken, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as avocados, olive oil, salmon, tuna, and walnuts, and foods high in magnesium such as broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.
Eating a balanced diet of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats packed with nutrient-rich whole foods will help keep you centered while giving you energy throughout your day.
How to Eat Clean Without Cooking
If you’re on board with eating clean as part of your balanced lifestyle, but you don’t have time to prep and cook, you might feel like mindful, healthy eating is out of reach. But this isn’t the case. No matter what your schedule looks like, with Fitlife Foods, you can get healthy, balanced meals delivered right to your door.
Stay Centered with Clean Eats from Fitlife Foods
Delicious prepared meals from Fitlife Foods are packed with healthy stress-reducing whole foods to help you stay centered. Get your omega-3 fatty acids with a delicious serving of Miso Glazed Salmon, or fight inflammation with the nuts, veggies, and lean protein in our tasty Chicken Gyro Bowl.
With the filtering options on the Fitlife Foods menu, you can sort dozens of delicious meal options based on your unique needs. You will find a plethora of gluten-free, dairy-free, and plant-powered options, as well as healthy servings of animal proteins.
With Fitlife Foods, you can eat clean and avoid food allergies and intolerances with ease. Simply choose the right filters for you in the drop-down on the menu page to find your new favorites.
A Centered Life Includes Balanced Nutrition
While keeping yourself grounded and centered can seem like a tall order, introducing practices like conscious breathing and meditation into your life will help you stay grounded.
Establishing healthy sleep and nutrition habits will impact not only your mood, but your overall energy and outlook on life. When your to-do list gets too long and your schedule is too packed, let Fitlife Foods take over the prep and cooking duties so you can focus on the rest of life.
Explore delicious possibilities for staying centered and healthy with meals delivered to your door from Fitlife Foods.