3 Ways to Get Better Sleep, Tonight

How did you sleep last night?
 
Did you wake up well-rested and energized? Or, are you feeling tired and groggy? Did you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
 
The American Sleep Association (ASA) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. But, we definitely have trouble getting our zzzz’s in each night. The ASA estimates that sleep problems affects up to 70 million American adults!
 
Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Study after study tells us how sleep deprivation causes us to eat more, shrinks our brains, can cause false memories, and is linked to type 2 diabetes. 
 
Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, and yet often, we willingly sleep too little or continue bad habits that stop us from getting good sleep. 
 
It really is our ethical responsibility to get plenty of sleep and rest. Our teams, colleagues, organizations, and our families need us to be at our best, to be able to think clearly, and make sound decisions. Lack of sleep can deeply compromise our decision-making ability and mood. 
 
But, despite the best of intentions there are times when getting the recommended 7-9 hours just doesn’t happen. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel possible (this pile of laundry is blocking the path to my bed and I can’t sleep until it’s done) or it’s totally out of our control (my toddler needs water….again). 
 
In today’s video I share three things you can do to get better sleep tonight, even on the nights when it’s less than you would like. 

1. Sleep in Complete Darkness

Melatonin is a hormone that rises at night and helps us go to (and stay) asleep. However, it is very light sensitive. For it to rise and be effective, your surroundings have to be completely dark. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark so that melatonin can do its job. Turn off night-lights, cover lights from electronics, and get room-darkening shades. If you need a night-light, choose one with a red bulb. Red light does not interfere with melatonin production.

2. Unplug Before Bed

Remember that little hormone melatonin we just talked about? Well, staring at a computer or your phone before bed also obstructs melatonin from rising properly. Your bedtime Facebook scrolling could be the cause for your sleepless night! Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed to get your body ready for sleep. Instead, read a book, do some stretching, or enjoy a cup of tea. Next, get a real alarm clock. You know, the kind you plug into the wall and has numbers on it? They still sell those antiques at most stores! That way you don’t have to use your phone as an alarm clock. Instead, charge it overnight in a different room so you’re not tempted to check your email and compromise your melatonin production. 

3. Create a Comfortable Bed and Bedroom

Your bed should be a place that you look forward to relaxing and sleeping in. If there is something about your bed or bedroom that is uncomfortable, then change it. Is your mattress old and uncomfortable? Are your sheets too hot or too cold? Maybe your pillows are lumpy or too flat.
 
Be sure to watch the video where I share how changing our blankets has helped me and my husband sleep so much better!
 
I want to hear from you! Do you have any tricks for getting a good night’s sleep? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
 

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

THIS Is More Important Than Leadership Development

When is the last time you did something for yourself? Say, attended a fitness class, went for a walk, got a massage, or went away for the weekend?
 
Or, if you do those things perhaps you feel a little tinge of guilt? A little voice in your head saying,“You don’t deserve to spend an hour of your day in a yoga class. You have too much to do!”
 
We have this idea that in order to be a successful and effective leader who is well-respected by colleagues and subordinates we should be working all the time. We should fill our days with meetings, phone calls, emails, and be accessible 24/7. And if by some miracle we have an open spot in our calendar or a free hour of time we immediately feel guilty for not being productive. Better fill that open time with some work!
 
Our lives are hectic by nature, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us available anytime, anywhere. Sure there are positives to this – we are no longer tied to our desks and can take the occasional conference call while driving kids to piano lessons. But, that means we let work infiltrate more and more into our personal lives. It’s a delicate AND very hard balance to keep. One that most of us are not so great at. 
 
On top of being constantly connected (a relatively new phenomena), family life is looking very different than it did just 30 years ago. Now mom AND dad are going to work. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, 46% of American households have two full-time working parents. Trying to juggle work, meetings, getting kids to school, after school activities, and get some semblance of dinner on the table can feel like a feat of epic proportions – even on a relatively “slow day.” 
 
So, how can we do it all without burning ourselves out? 
 
With all that on our plates it seems impossible to make time for ourselves. And yet, it’s the only thing that can keep us going. Self-care is what fills your tank so you can get things ($hitdone AND do it all with clarity, patience, and grace. It’s essential and vital to being a successful and effective leader and the piece that many are missing.
 
In this McCausland Monday video, I share with you three very simple ways to practice self-care without taking up too much of the limited time you have. Plus, I discuss why modeling self-care is a powerful way to lead – your organization, your community, and your family. 
 
 
I want to hear from you! Tell me in the comments below…..
 
What self-care habits do you practice regularly that help you fill your tank?
What kind of classes or services does your organization offer that help taking care of yourself easier?

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

Honoring the Seasons of Your Life

The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red, the temperatures are dropping (well, sort of), and pumpkins are appearing on porches. It’s a time for change and reinvention, to start anew or perhaps start over.

These seasonal changes are predictable, they happen with ease, and they require no effort on our part for them to take place. Fall will go into winter, whether we like it or not. Sure, they may result in sleepless nights gluing together the last-minute Halloween costume or stress-induced hives when you can’t get the Christmas lights untangled. I’ll save that for a future article!

What are life seasons?

In addition to seasonal changes we also experience life changes – often many times throughout the year. I call these “life seasons.” We have different life seasons in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes they are short, sometimes long.

Some life seasons are predictable, such as the start of a new school year or budgeting for the next quarter. At Diamond6, for example, we have learned that our busy professional season is spring through early fall. That has evolved over time and we have learned to expand how we work to accommodate that growth.

Other seasons come as a surprise, such as suddenly caring for an aging parent or getting a promotion. These unpredictable seasons can catch us off guard and require extra time and energy to feel comfortable and confident – no matter if they are positive or negative.

Change is a constant

Just as with the start of a new season, the one constant in life seasons is change. Now, that’s not to say that change is a negative thing. Change is what helps us grow and evolve, embrace new experiences, and live fully. Change can also make us feel unsteady, unsure, and afraid.

A promotion is a great example of this. Being promoted is exciting! Others have recognized your hard work and you are considered a valuable asset to the organization. But, it can also be stressful taking on extra responsibilities and learning new things. This change is an opportunity for growth AND be a time of some uncertainty.

The ripple effect of change

One of the hardest things to accept during a new life season is that things will not remain the same. In short, something’s gotta give.

And, while your new life season may be one you’re welcoming, such as a promotion or a new job, chances are other parts of your life will be affected. Late nights at work mean more frozen pizzas or skipping the gym a few times.

This is where we struggle the most. Where we feel guilt, shame, and maybe even have the occasional internal temper tantrum. We might want one thing to change but not all the others that come with it.

However, if we give ourselves permission to let other areas of our lives change too, chances are it will all go more smoothly.

Seasons change

During the dead of winter, when it feels like it’s been cold, snowy, and miserable for an eternity I try and remind myself – spring WILL come! Thanks goodness for that!

Guess what? Life seasons change too! They can be bumpy at first but eventually the road smooths out. We get accustomed to our new routine. We get back to the gym and maybe even start cooking dinner again. We get comfortable with our new role and confident in our abilities.

We’re cruising and all is well.

Just in time for the next life season to drive up and surprise us.

What life season are you in right now? What else has changed in this season? Did you welcome the change or did you struggle?


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

9 Ways to Take Care of Yourself While on Vacation

Summertime is here! Chances are you have a much deserved vacation planned – either by taking a car trip to the closest beach or hopping on a plane to visit family. Taking time off to catch your breath, get some rest, and enjoy time with family and friends is essential for our health and well-being.

However, traveling and being away from home can create some challenges when it comes to self-care. Quality food is less accessible at gas station rest stops, sitting on a cramped plane can make our bodies feel stiff and achy, and spending hours in the car with children can be a combination of beautiful memory-making and pure agony.

Much like preparing for a trip by making hotel reservations, buying your tickets, and packing your bags you can also prepare for how you will maintain some semblance of self-care while on vacation. Below I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks for eating well, moving more, and staying calm while away from home.

TRAVEL FOOD

Salty Snacks– While traveling I personally tend to crave salty foods over sweets. Can you relate? Olives have now joined the more common nuts, crackers, and cheese as a go-to travel food. Several brands now sell them in convenient travel packs like Olovesand Mario. Plus, they really satisfy those salty cravings but are a better choice than chips or pretzels. Other great salty foods include Skinny Pop, single-serve hummusand roasted, salted chickpeas.

Granola Bars– Most granola bars are packed with as much sugar as a candy bar. When looking for a quality granola bar be sure to read the nutrition facts – you want lots of fiber and protein and as little sugar as possible (5 grams or less/serving is ideal). KIND bars are a great choice. They use whole grains and raw nuts so you have plenty of protein. The Cashew and Ginger Spice is a good choice at 4 grams of sugar. Plus, the ginger can help alleviate nausea or upset stomach during travel

Instant Oatmeal – Hotel breakfast usually leaves much to be desired. Waffles, bagels and pastries will have you hungry again in an hour. The rubbery eggs and greasy meat patties are not all that appetizing. Instant oatmeal can be a great alternative and hot water is readily available at hotels, gas stations and airports. You can pack instant oatmeal cups like these from Bob’s Red Mill, or, buy single packets if you think you can swipe a bowl or cup somewhere. You can often find honey, fresh fruit and granola at a hotel breakfast bar to jazz up your oatmeal. I suggest adding whole milk and butter to make it a very satisfying breakfast that will keep you full until the next rest stop!

MOBILE MOVEMENT

Shoulder Push & Pull – While driving gently grip the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o’clock on positions. Keeping your back firmly against the seat, gently pull your right shoulder forward, then push your right shoulder blade back into the seat. You should feel a slight stretch in your neck, collar bone and upper back. Repeat 3-4 times and then do it on the other side.

Travelers Cat-Cow – If you’ve done yoga you are probably familiar with the cat-cow posture that you do on your hands in knees. You can do the same movement while sitting in the car or on a plane – where we tend to collapse forward and hunch our shoulders. For this movement simply exhale and curl your spine and shoulders forward (imagine a classic black Halloween cat with an arched back). Then inhale, pull your shoulders back and arch your spine. Do this several times remembering to deeply inhale and exhale with the movement.

Gas Station Stretches– When we’re driving we sometimes become fixated on just getting to our destination. And, it doesn’t help when you have a chorus in the back asking, “are we there yet????” Despite the desire to rush through pit stops, take just 5 extra minutes to stretch your legs, back and arms before getting back behind the wheel. Stretch side to side with your arms over your head, put your hand on the hood, straighten your arms and stretch your calves, clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and tilt your head from side, front and back. Take a few deep breaths and keep on driving! Here is a detailed articlewith pictures for several stretches you can do using your car.

CALM IN THE CAR AND PEACE ON THE PLANE

Breathe Deeply – While sitting we tend to take more shallow breaths and we sometimes hold our breath when stressed or tense. You can easily invite calm and clarity by taking a deep breath through your nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. Repeat 3-4 times.

Get Present– Notice one thing at a time. Focus on the sound of the engine, feel the vibrations through your feet, your body in the seat, notice the distance between you and other passengers or drivers. If the flurry of the airport or the traffic your sitting in has you stressed out this is a good way to lower your blood pressure, calm your nerves and let go.

Explore a Podcast– Podcasts and books on tape are excellent ways to learn something new or be entertained while traveling. There are so many podcasts to choose from that it can feel impossible to choose. I enjoy Hidden Brain,TED Radio Hour, and On Being with Krista Tippettif I’m feeling curious or want to learn something. Meditation Minis with Chel Hamiltoncan be a great way to invite calm to an airplane ride. Two offbeat personal favorites are Armchair Expertand The Longest Shortest Time. If you have any other recommendations please share them in the comments below!


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

On the Run: Rules for Eating Out

In the past two months I’ve flown from one coast to the other and driven back again (yes, I drove from Missouri to California….nuts, I know!). I’ve made small jaunts to St. Louis, Los Angeles and Mississippi and am now in Germany to visit family and attend two weddings. Even for this frequent-flyer-health-nut making healthy choices while traveling has proven to be difficult at times if not seemingly impossible.

Traveling for business in particular can throw off your good intentions of sticking with your usual healthy choices. Business meetings are often held at sub-par restaurants, workshops are stocked with breakfast pastries and airports have you trapped with fast food options only (although, they are getting better!).  This can feel overwhelming so you throw your hands up and think “screw it. I’ll get back on track when I get home.” Only problem is you’ll feel crummy while you’re traveling, be exhausted and have to work extra hard when you get home to get back to your normal self.

With a little creativity it’s totally possible to make healthy choices and keep your weight in check while running through airports and eating at the occasional diner. Here is your guide for making healthy choices that will save your waistline and keep you on top of your game.

Breakfast – Ask for 2 or 3 poached eggs over steamed veggies and a side of fruit. Add avocado to your eggs if they have it. This way you’ll be sure to steer clear of icky processed vegetable oils and get plenty of protein and healthy fats to make it through your afternoon meetings.

Lunch – Salad is where it’s at for lunch. Ask if they can add beans to your salad so you get enough protein. If you’re super hungry ask for an extra vegetable side or a side of brown rice to mix into your salad. Avoid the processed dressings and ask for oil and vinegar. I often ask for half a lemon and squeeze that over my salad – it’s delicious and refreshing!

Dinner – Always look at the appetizer menu first for dinner. Often one or two appetizers and a salad make a perfect dinner. Keep the bread and chip basket as far away as possible to avoid mindlessly munching in empty carbs. Replace potatoes and fries for salad or an extra side of steamed veggies. If you have a fridge in your hotel ask to have half of your meal packed up before you start eating. This is a great way to manage portions.

Snacks – Instead of defaulting to getting snacks at the gas station try and hit up a grocery store if you have time and stock up on almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans and dried fruit. Apples and bananas are always convenient but don’t forget about carrots and bell peppers – they are very packable and make great crunchy snacks. Pick up some hummus with olive oil (no canola oil please!) for your veggies and you’re sure to never go hungry!

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Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach and the founder of Home Cooked Healing in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!