As someone who’s borderline obsessed with happiness and wellbeing, I was intrigued to read about a nationwide survey that measures people’s happiness and how well they live. I’ll link to the actual study at the end, but here are some of the highlights, along with my own observations.
Better sleep is the biggest single contributor to living better. Over 60 percent of the group who came out as living very well felt rested most or all of the time after sleep – but less than five percent of the group who were struggling with life felt this way.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that sleep has the strongest association with how well we feel we are living. My happiness levels absolutely increase or decrease in proportion to my quality of sleep. This study revealed that getting a good night’s sleep would be the equivalent to having four times as much disposable income!
If you’re a sleep deprived mama reading this in despair, hang on – here’s some good news: Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that families with young children are living best. They found a positive impact on wellbeing for parents of children under five years old, when parenting can be at its most intense. The value of parenthood and the stronger social bonds that tend to feature at this life stage outweighed the lack of sleep and financial pressures also associated with having young children, resulting in higher-than-average Living Well scores. There you go! [more]
Okay, I’m going to let you in on a pretty weird secret. Every morning when I wake up, I stimulate my thymus gland while saying positive affirmations.
And you might ask yourself, ‘Where exactly is my thymus gland?’ ‘How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house!’ (Sorry, that one goes out to any other Talking Heads fans out there. I couldn’t resist.)
I know it sounds utterly bonkers, but I learned about morning thymus tapping from an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner at the very first Project Me Ibiza retreat in 2015 and I’ve been doing it ever since. It wakes me up, no matter how groggy I’m feeling. I then added some beautiful affirmations that my fab friend Suzie gave me, adapting it all into a morning ritual that puts me into a state of positive energy in a few short minutes. (My teenage son also does it on school-mornings.)
I’ve been wanting to share how I do thymus tapping, but it’s hard to explain in writing so I have FINALLY recorded a Vlog (video blog) to show you how it’s done.[more]
Thank you for reading my blog! I’ve compiled a list with easy links to the top six most popular blog posts written in 2016 in case you missed any of them or want to re-read. The comment threads beneath these posts are worth gold. Thanks to everyone who jumped in with their own words of wisdom or shared their struggles. It helps us to see that we’re not alone and inspires us to take action.
I’m over the moon to hear how Project Me has improved mother’s lives in so many amazing ways. I welled up with tears as I read hundreds of responses to my Autumn survey.
I asked permission to print some, like this one from Lisa:
“I do the Life Wheel tool quarterly, and encourage my girlfriends to do the same. A couple years back when I saw that my work area was very low (as a stay at home mom), I made the decision to get my Master’s in Education. I graduated in May and am now working with English Language Learners. I am so very fulfilled helping and empowering my students.” That put such a HUGE smile on my face! GO LISA!
And this from Lauren:
“I had completely lost my voice – I had no idea who I was as a person. The Project Me Life Wheel was the first tool that actually helped me organize my thoughts and my fears in a way that was empowering rather than overwhelming. It helped me pick one thing to focus on improving. Once a month I plan on doing a check in with the Project Me Life Wheel so I don’t get so anxious again.” Well done Lauren! Monthly check-ins are the key to becoming the expert of yourself so you can learn from what’s not working and do more of what is.
There are too many to include here, but I send a huge FIST PUMP to each and every one of you for all big and small steps in the right direction. YES! Keep going!
Now without further ado – drum roll please…[more]
Is mom guilt / mummy guilt taking up too much of your valuable headspace and eating away at your happiness?
How often do you have thoughts like:
I shouldn’t be working – my kids need more attention.
I should be working so we can afford more for the kids / I can be a better role model for my daughter / I can use my brain.
I didn’t spend enough time playing with my child today.
I didn’t get anything done today because I was playing with my child.
I let my kids eat too much junk / play too many computer games.
I’m too strict / too lenient / too inconsistent.
I didn’t make it to the gym AGAIN.
I haven’t sent out the thank you cards.
I’ve got nothing decent to make for dinner.
I was so moody and mean last night.
It goes on and on and on….
Some guilt is pointless and soul destroying. We ‘should’ all over ourselves, ruminating over small things that don’t really matter or big things we can’t do anything about.
Could some of those guilty feelings be a signal to look at parts of your life and see where you might not be living in alignment with your values? Could uncomfortable pangs help you to pay closer attention and motivate you to make changes? Could guilt be the push you need to do things differently?[more]
I’m normally a positive and energetic person. I talk and move fast, my brain is filled with a steady flow of non-stop ideas and I rarely feel bored.
So feeling a complete lack of motivation over these past few weeks has been very strange and unusual.
It started with a horrible stomach virus which morphed into a bad cold and cough. But even 10 days later when I ‘should’ have felt back to normal, I couldn’t muster up an ounce of enthusiasm for anything.
I didn’t want to work – which has never happened since starting Project Me. I didn’t want to socialise, I couldn’t be bothered to think about food or cooking. My poor family.
I wasn’t depressed and I didn’t feel hopeless. I just had a drawn-out case of the Blahs. Yes, it’s happened to the Mama Motivator herself![more]
Feel like you ‘should’ be meditating, but never really manage to get into it?
Have a monkey mind and can’t stop the endless chatter running through your head?
I hear you!
For years I tried to develop a meditation practice. I’d heard all of the amazing benefits, including less stress and anxiety, the ability to manage emotions, unwind and be more present.
Yet all I seemed to accomplish in a session was mentally scanning my to-do list or pondering what I should make for dinner.
Now I’m using guided meditation apps. They give my mind something positive to latch on to so I won’t automatically go off on a wild thought tangent.
I’ve been experimenting with several meditation phone apps. Here are some great ones and in the comments below, please share any you like too.[more]
I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.
The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.
When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.
I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:
Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)
My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:
‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’
They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.
Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?
There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.
The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.
Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.
Have you heard of Tapping yet? It’s also known as EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique.
You lightly tap certain points on your face and body to watch fears and anxiety disappear.
Sounds kind of woo-woo wacky, right? Read on…
I first heard about tapping when I watched a video about it by my business mentor Marie Forleo.
I found it fascinating but at the time I wasn’t experiencing any fears or anxiety, so I put it in my back pocket for another time.
Then a lovely Project Me follower, Diana Tower, got in touch to offer me a free Tapping for Mothers session via Skype. Diana specialises in helping overwhelmed, stressed out mamas clear their minds, get out of their own way and feel happier and calm. What I found particularly interesting is her ability to help mothers with fears and anxieties.
The timing was perfect. I had our annual family ski trip coming up and I knew I needed a strategy to help me cope.
Weirdly, my anxiety was getting worse every year and I risked passing on my fears to my kids as they witnessed me freeze up (and dissolve into tears) on the slopes.
We had our next ski trip to Switzerland in two weeks time and I suddenly decided NOW was the time to try this tapping thing!
And just one session was all I needed. It was some kind of small miracle.
After completing a pre-session survey, Diana had the information she needed to get started.
She advised me to have a box of tissues handy for when my emotions let loose, but nothing prepared me for [more]
I decided to create a Toolbox of Calm. Something I could quickly access when I felt a full-blown Mama Meltdown coming on.
I filled a cardboard box with emergency supplies:
CDs of feel-good music, meditations, card decks containing words of wisdom and mantras for mothers, a candle, crystals and stones that felt soothing in my hands. (Even though I know nothing about crystals and stones!)
Plus my essential bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy. (They don’t call it Yoga in a Bottle for nothing. If you haven’t got any, good grief – get your hands on some now!)
I kept my Toolbox of Calm under my bed.
When I felt myself spiralling out of control, I’d give myself a Mama Time-Out.[more]
Can you imagine your kid slurping spinach as an after-school snack? Or enjoying kale and broccoli for breakfast?
I certainly never dreamed of it, yet my 12 year old is now one of the many kids jumping on the green smoothie bandwagon. Blending up some leafy greens + fruit + a liquid base = a delicious smoothie.
Who doesn’t want their child to have a strong immune system and loads of energy when they set off for school each morning?
If yours hasn’t tried it yet, here are my top tips for turning your child into a green smoothie junkie.
Think yoga’s only for bendy young bunnies in skin tight lycra or for dreadlocked, tie-dyed hippies?
Ever done a class in a freezing, dusty church hall and thought, ‘this ain’t for me’? Or found a swanky new yoga studio, but the teacher got on your nerves? Was your class too challenging? Not demanding enough? Did the chanting freak you out?
You’re not alone. Having been to hundreds (maybe thousands!) of yoga classes, I’ve had my fair share of weird and whacky experiences. Not all yoga classes are created equal.
As a yoga teacher for the past 10 years I’ve focused on my true yoga love: Vinyasa Flow. I love the variety, creativity and the fun of it. Most of all I love the way it makes me feel so damn good!
There’s a type and teacher to suit everyone. It’s just a matter of finding your yoga style and a teacher you resonate with.
Here’s my guide to finding the yoga that’s right for you.[more]
Have you heard that if a frog is placed in a pan of boiling water it’ll jump out quickly – yet when it’s placed in cool water with the heat turned up gradually, it won’t realise the danger and will stay in the pan and boil to death? (Not a nice picture…)
Think about this analogy in relation to your own life. Are you so used to running around juggling balls and spinning plates that worry, stress and impatience have become your new normal?
Living on the edge sends huge amounts of cortisol zooming around the body – not a good thing. Too much cortisol depletes your immune system, affects your sleep, gives you unhealthy food cravings, lowers your sex drive and makes you feel like crap.
You’re far more likely to flip your lid over any and everything, let small things get you down and lose your ability to think straight.
It’s taken me a while to get to the place where I actually notice the heat. Now I’m so used to feeling good that as soon as I get a tightness in my chest, pang in my stomach or feel hot headed – I’m like – Whoa! What’s going on?!
The old me would have ignored the warning signals and carried on. The new me hits pause and does some ‘me search’.[more]