From the Desk of Sarah Claus

Nature Giveaway

Are you ready for a challenge?

Try this one and get a chance to win a free giveaway!!

Let me back up.  You see, I felt *INSPIRED* this week! I heard a beautiful presentation around being in nature.  It reminded me about how powerful a “Green Hour” can be for kids and for adults.  I loved the term that was used: green hour.  

It’s perfect for reminding me to normalize spending some time in nature–as a mom, as a partner, as a therapist, and as a human.  It’s helpful to make it routine–not a matter of *if*, just a matter of *when*.  

The Resolution: I’m resolving to give myself a green hour each day for the next month.  It’s perfect timing, too, because it’s the spring equinox this week AND my month will end just in time for Earth Day in April.

We know nature’s good for us, but how good, you ask?  It is proven to improve our mood, raise our self-esteem, increase our emotional resilience, boost our immune system, help our focus, calm our minds, lessen our stress, and enhance our sense of connection to others.

I mean–REALLY!!!  People invest a lot of time and money trying to get results like those.

So, I want to challenge you:
Could you give yourself one EXTRA green hour per week for the next month?  

Try this out.  See how it impacts your life.  If you do it, be sure to tag my practice in a post or photo about your #greenhour.  I’ll be picking one winner per week to win a great book about giving yourself a nature retreat!

FB: @sarahclaustherapy
IG: @sarah.claus.therapy

I’ll give away one book at the beginning of each week.  Final giveaway will be April 22nd, which is appropriately Earth Day.  

It’s still a bit chilly here and I have a young kid.  I will have to be intentional and creative.  Here are 10 ideas that I have about how I might spend my green hours for the next month:

  1. Prepare soil for garden.
  2. Spend a weekend morning at Red Rocks.
  3. Clean out my garage.
  4. Walk to the park.
  5. Watch the geese at our neighborhood lake to ma
  6. Stargaze!  There will certainly be one evening that is warm enough to do this if we pull out blankets and make this happen!
  7. Read books on the porch.
  8. Find a new walking trail along a creek.
  9. Sitting outside with my laptop to plan a camping trip for this summer.
  10. Creating a cool fort for our chickens.

I’m also going to have to overcome some thoughts.  These are the first ones to come to mind:

  1. “I don’t have time.”
  2. “It’s too cold.”  
  3. “I can do it later/tomorrow.” 
  4. “I *kind of* was already outside today; maybe that can be enough.”
  5. “I shouldn’t have committed to this.”

I’m in, though.  Are you?  

Finding Freedom

The 4th of July reminds folks of many things, including:

~their wish to live lakeside every single day while armed with a watermelon and a grill,

~their love/hate relationship with fireworks (or is that just me since I have a dog and live in a dry state?), and

~the idea that freedom and independence are celebration-worthy.

Let’s stick with that last one.  Emma Lazarus penned the iconic lines for the Statue of Liberty to welcome those entering the United States–she wrote for those who are struggling the most, who are outcast from their own people, and who are “yearning to breathe free”.  Today reminds many US citizens and residents how fortunate they are to live where freedom is so highly prized and protected.  While the United States must take a serious look at how it keeps itself accountable for being the land it claims to be, we as its people also get to take this time to reassess our own lives.

I invite you to take this Independence Day to review your life a bit, because sometimes we need to *free ourselves* from whatever is holding us back.  To put it another way, if we purportedly have such protected freedom, how do we make the most of it?  Sometimes, it seems like we find ways to help ourselves feel bogged down and shackled, despite being “free”.

Please be clear, I’m not encouraging independence from all obligations.  Dogs need to be walked and meals need to be made.  However, I do encourage all of us (myself included) to look at what parts of our lives are not only not serving us, but actually holding us back from living authentically.  

Here are my three 4th of July links with quick reads to get your *personal freedom* fire(works) lit:

#1) Letting Go of the “Real Stuff”
This is a beautiful list of short, simple tips that aren’t so simple when you unpack them.  So, before you click, I encourage you to think of whatever the first thing is that is weighing on you.  Then, click and try to apply as many of the tips/steps as possible to that one part of your life.

#2) 3 Strategies for Breaking Negative Thoughts
This outlines 3 of the strategies that I see making the most radical improvement in my life and in my clients’ lives.  However, if you notice your thoughts don’t just make you feel grumpy, but that they also make you feel anxious, I’d suggest this read, too.

#3) 10 Commandments of Freeing Yourself from Clutter
I feel this one.  Clutter bogs us down, and it feels daunting to overcome it when it becomes a vicious game of whack-a-mole.  I love these “10 Commandments” because chances are that if you’re like me, there are a couple that would be helpful to focus on at this point in your home and life.  

27 Ways to be Gentler With Yourself

As we explore self-compassion and kindness, sometimes we need actual ideas of what we can do today or even right now to improve.  There are actual mental and heart shifts the come with being self-compassionate.  This is a matter of honoring your limits and celebrating your strengths.  In short, it’s letting yourself be more human.

However, if you need practical, applicable ideas to start embedding self-kindness into your life, consider the list below.  Look for the ones you CAN do, and let this be play.

Try it out.  If it doesn’t go great, try it at a different time or just try a different one instead.

  1. Set your timer for a minute and just sit, feeling your breath.
  2. Don’t volunteer yourself for one extra obligation this week.
  3. Get off social media.  If you’re prone to comparing yourself or dwelling on how others are doing it, give yourself an evening, a day, or a week with a break from social media.
  4. Go for a walk–around the house, around the block, or around the neighborhood.  Towards the end of your walk, look for the ways your body feels better.
  5. Do something the slow way.  Being a little indulgent (you say inefficient, but I say indulgent!) with our time can remind us to stop and smell those proverbial roses.
  6. Schedule some time (in person, online, with a letter, or in your mind/heart) with the person who “fills your cup.”
  7. Stop right now and list everything you’re grateful for.  When you feel like you’ve got it all, find two more.
  8. Dress up in the clothes that help you feel like your best self.  You don’t have to get fancy, but shower and wear what helps you feel confident.  And if you feel “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” treat yourself to a cup of tea and a book at your nearest coffeeshop.  Places where we can be with others while being alone are great for times like that.
  9. Catch your white lies and choose to be honest (with yourself and with the other person) instead.
  10. Doodle.  No crossing out, just keep doodling.
  11. When you hear the “this is how I should be” ideas creeping in, recognize whose voice that actual is (a parent’s?  a partner’s? society’s?).
  12. Smell things: the flowers, your food, or even the person (or dog) you’re hugging.
  13.  Look at your schedule ahead of things you have told yourself you must do and try to identify one that you can take off your plate or reduce in its size.
  14. Ask for someone to take something off your list or to be with you as you do it.  Chances are, not everything on your list has to be done by you alone.
  15. On social media, follow a few people who inspire you and unfollow a few people who don’t.
  16. Take a few deep breaths after you get into the car.
  17.  Incorporate one single healthier replacement today (an apple instead of candy, a walk instead of a cigarette, a kind thought instead of a criticism).
  18.  Say “hey” to yourself in the bathroom mirror and spend a few seconds looking into your eyes.
  19. Schedule a session with someone who helps you take care of yourself: a massage therapist, a good friend, a psychotherapist, a hair stylist/barber.
  20. See if your library has a free app or website where you can listen to audiobooks. Choose one that helps you escape or helps you get perspective on something bothering you (relationships, anxiety, parenthood, etc.)
  21. Go for a walk and take some twists and turns to go where you haven’t gone before.
  22. Set a timer for 5 minutes and use that time to tackle the task you’ve been dreading.
  23. Sit with your cup often or coffee or water and use all five senses as you finish it.
  24. Rub your feet, arms, and head. Maybe even use a little oil.
  25. Turn off the radio when you drive.
  26.  Plan for some extra time before or after a meeting so that you can just be.
  27.  Actually say the words and complete the sentence, “I’m glad I…”