Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind

Increasing Milk Supply: The Point is Moo

October 28, 2018
BreastMilkSupplytips

Joey: If he doesn't like you, then this is all just a moo point.

Rachel: Huh. A moo point?

Joey: Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion, you know, it just doesn't matter. It's "moo".

 

Breastfeeding is wonderful for the body, but terrible for the mind…if you struggle with milk supply. We, as moms, are willing to go through crazy lengths for our babies — especially when it comes to nourishing them with the precious (said in the voice of Gollum) breastmilk. But how far is too far? 

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. I’d heard about how hard it can be to breastfeed. Being the paranoid person that I am, I even consulted a lactation consultant before Charley was born just in case I had issues.

But the moment she latched on, I thought, “I did it. I’m a breastfeeding mama! From here on out, it’s smooth sailing.”

PSYCH.

That all changed when I went on a 3 day trip (without Charley) when she was 7 1/2 months. 

Even though I brought three pumps — my electric pump and two handheld pumps for when I was on the go. Even though I dutifully pumped every 3-4 hours at the expense of leaving the fun, and a good night’s sleep. And even though I went so far as to pump in the bathroom bar at the rooftop of the W, only to have a drunk girl walk in on me and a long line of other drunk girls staring me down, wondering why I was hogging the stall for so long…

My supply STILL plummeted.

I got back from my trip, SO excited to hold my girl in my arms again and nurse her to sleep. But to my dismay, the milk would not come. She nursed and nursed and nursed, and finally got very tired of waiting (read: cried and thrashed for 15 minutes), and gave up on me.

I was crushed.

But I was determined not to give up. I would crack the code and get it back. And I was willing to try ANYTHING.

Thus began my dark journey down the “Low Milk Supply” black hole. Here are the 12 things I attempted to get it back up, and the one thing that really worked.

1. Consult a Lactation Consultant

Lactation Consultants are the holy grail of breastfeeding assistance. These women know their stuff and they're amazingly knowledgable…when it comes to early breastfeeding. But when I came to them with my issue, they were kind of stumped. So you've never had a problem before? Nope. And you pumped every 3 hours when you left? Yep. Then it should come back. Just pump more. 

Three different consultants and three variations on the same answer later, I thought I was a lost cause. Overall, not a great experience. It only made me want to take matters into my own hands. Next!

2. Take a nursing vacation

Of all the tips I was given, this one cracks me up the most. A nursing vacation means that you spend the day in bed with your baby, ideally shirtless (for skin-to-skin contact), cuddling and snuggling till your heart is — and your breasts are — full. Maybe this works with a younger, non-crawling baby. MAYBE. But I know few people in this day and age who have the patience (and time) to snuggle all day long. Nonetheless, I tried it. It was cute for about three minutes. And then Charley booked it to the end of the bed and I had to catch her mid-air. After about 12 more tries of this, I gave up. Overall, the whole experience reminded me of when I tried to meditate and only got more anxiety about the fact that I wasn’t relaxing.

3. Pump on one side while she feeds on the other

When you pump on one side, inevitably, milk will come out on the other. So I figured, why don't I just manually pump one boob, while she's nursing on the other, and the milk will come out faster. BRILLIANT…in theory. Yes, it is possible to help her get milk out this way. But when you're trying to pump with one hand, and hold your baby in the other, you realize you have no hands left to keep her from kicking and grabbing the pump. Overall, this was a very stressful experience. Fail.

4. Feed her a bottle, then follow with the breast

Part of the problem with continuing to put in the “demand” for the milk, is that my girl had worn out her patience with waiting for my let-down. After all, for three days, all she got was the bottle from her dad. When I would try to nurse her, she’d get restless after a minute or two when nothing came out — and eventually she’d get REALLY pissed and refuse to take the breast at all. One solution is to start with a bottle (with half of what she needs), and then switch to the breast when she’s less restless. This actually did work to an extent. Not only was she less stressed, but the pressure was also off me to “produce.” The more relaxed I was, the sooner my milk came. I call this a semi-win. It didn't solve the whole problem, and sometimes I think she would get frustrated and confused why there were so many "nipples" coming at her at once and just give up all together. But overall, a good tip to try.

5. Take Rescue Remedy

This is another way of saying RELAX. Too much stress can lead to problems with let-down, a dive in milk supply, and early weaning. Check, check, and check! I felt like I was stuck in this vicious cycle. The less milk I produced, the more I stressed, and the less milk I produced. Enter Rescue Remedy. A blend of flower essences concocted by a doctor to help you deal with stress. This product was a recommendation from a lactation consultant, and though it was on the pricier side, I figured – I can always use something to help me stress less, right? Meh. I'm a big believer in essential oils and herbs for better health, but maybe I needed something a little stronger in this situation. Plus, adding one more thing to my pre-feeding routine ironically stressed me out. Ha.

6. Eat oatmeal (and other galactagogues)

Oh, the oatmeal. I really put the “ish” in Paleo-ish during this oh-so-stressful time. Everybody and their mother will tell you that oatmeal will help with your milk supply. It’s what they call a galactagogue. A food that is meant to increase milk supply. So I ate it. I ate it with flaxseed (also a galactagogue). With brewer’s yeast (galactagoguge). With fennel (galactagoguge). With almonds (galactagogue). I ate it cold. I ate it baked into cookies. Every day. Sometimes two times a day.

Other galactaoguges that I did not put in my oatmeal, but did eat frequently include: dark leafy greens, garlic, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, ginger, papaya, cumin seeds, anise seeds, and turmeric (source).

I never actually measured my output with and without oatmeal, so I can’t say for sure whether it did or did not work. But my guess is that it has more of a placebo effect than an actual effect. It calmed me to make my galactagogues concoction every morning. It made me feel like I had some sort of control over the situation.

7. Drink a Guinness

Ha! I know this should probably be in the galactagogues category, but it was such a rock bottom moment in my milk recession that I had to give it its own number. As you know, I generally follow a Paleo diet. I let things slide here and there, but typically beer is not one of those things. But when your doctor tells you to drink a Guinness and relax, you figure it’s a damn good excuse to drink one. The barley in beer is a polysaccharide — a carbohydrate that stimulates prolactin (that key hormone that stimulates milk production) (source). Not to mention, there’s yeast in beer, which is — surprise! — a galactagogue.  

As soon as I figured this out, I threw Charley in the Ergobaby and marched over to Mariano’s to pick up a case of beer. I called my husband on the way there and told him that we’re drinking Guinness tonight (he was very supportive).

That night, I sat there with my pump sucking the little milk I had left out of me, with a Guinness in one hand and a bowl of oatmeal in the other. Honestly, the whole thing felt weird to me. Alcohol and breastfeeding are not supposed to go hand in hand. And it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. It seems as though this girl agrees with me.

8. Take Supplements

Just like foods, certain supplements are reported to have a positive effect on your milk supply. The most popular one is fenugreek. Head to Target or any major grocery store and you’ll probably find this or this on the shelves. I bought both of them. And then a lactation consultant told me to watch out for fenugreek because it could also have the opposite effect on milk supply. Are you serious?

I immediately stopped taking them, and looked for alternative options. That's when a friend told me about this store in Chicago that specializes in breastfeeding moms (Ya. A WHOLE store). The nicest woman showed me to the holy grail of supplements called Liquid Gold that so many of her customers “Swear by!” She was the first piece of positive news I’d heard yet. I hung on to her every word when she told of the countless other mamas coming back and thanking her for their large boost in milk supply.

Oh boy! I thought. This is it. This is what’s going to get me back on track. I started taking the recommended two tablets, three times a day, went to their website (hilarious, great marketing), and ordered the other two supplements that they sell — each one a different combination of herbs, intended on working better for different people.

I waited seven days to see a result. And still, no dice. I switched it up to the Pump Princess, hoping this particular concoction would have a better effect on me. Still nothing. Not to mention the fact that I tested my milk while taking these and was appalled by the herby-dirty taste it took on from taking these supplements. I pushed them to the back of my medicine cabinet and hoped they would serve me on the next go-round.

9. Avoid Certain Foods

Just as galactagoues have a reputation for increasing milk supply, other foods have a reputation to decrease it. On that sh*t list is:

  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint (watch out for Altoids!)
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Cabbage leaves (works wonders for engorgement, but obviously avoid if your supply is low)
  • Beer (contradictory to #5, I know).

As somebody who uses herbs liberally in her everyday cooking, I got real simple and stuck to salt and pepper. In addition, I said goodbye to my favorite hummus (sage being one of its ingredients), avoided peppermint tea, and donated the leftover Guinness to my husband. Did this make a difference? Probably not. It just added to my stress level, feeling like I had to constantly watch what I ate.

10. Go to an acupuncturist

I’m a big believer in acupuncture. It has helped me through serious back pain, anxiety, and possibly even improved my fertility. As the practice is meant to improve blood flow, it made sense to me that it could help move other fluid (milk) through my body. Not to mention, acupuncture can also help with anxiety — which I believe was having a big impact on my supply as well.

I walked into my acupuncturist office like a bat out of hell. I was talking a million miles a minute, but I wasn’t saying much. She, of course, stayed completely calm throughout my explanation. And before I knew it, I was lying on her table with pins in my ears, my back, and my shoulders. Within minutes, I entered a tranquil state. I was so relaxed that I convinced myself she must’ve slipped drugs into my waiting room tea. 

I returned back home, dazed and confused, with Chinese medicine and an essential oil tincture in my purse. I was instructed to break the herbal capsules into hot water and drink it as a tea three times a day. The oil, I was to rub on my breasts before breastfeeding.

The results? The acupuncture did indeed help to relax me. And if I could’ve gone regularly, I believe could’ve helped in the long run. But unfortunately, insurance still has not gotten around to covering alternative treatments such as Chinese medicine, so weekly visits were out of the question. I did not notice an increase in my milk supply with the herbs, so my acupuncturist upped the ante and gave me something a little more potent. I took it dutifully three times a day.

Fast forward three weeks after me obsessing over my Chinese tea (I had anxiety if I didn’t have it because I truly believed my milk supply would disappear if I stopped drinking it), and I realized that the attachment was getting a little out of hand. When I ran out the third time, I didn’t make the 15-minute trek to my acupuncturist to get a refill. I was slowly letting go…

11. Power Pump

This was the mother of all tips. But it was also a Mother something-else. My good friend who had struggled with breastfeeding from day one had tried every trick in the book. When I came to her desperate for help, she sent me this link, and warned me:  it works, but it is a soul sucking activity. She was right.

Power pumping is meant to mimic cluster feeding. In other words, pump, stop, pump again, stop, pump again, etc. You do this for an hour, following the schedule 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on.

As much as I hate pumping, I was willing to try anything at this point. At first, I went a little crazy, and aimed for two power pumping sessions a day. After about 4 days, I saw results. Real results. I’m talking a three ounce difference. I was addicted. So I kept at it. After a week I cut the morning power pump out, but continued doing the evening one after she went to bed. I would join my husband on the couch and we’d watch TV with the “eh eh eh eh” of the Medela in the background…for FIVE MONTHS straight.

Long story short. It works. But it’s an un-sustainable soul-sucking practice that no one should do as long as I did.

12. Let go

When my supply dropped, I did not take it well (obviously). I found myself forgetting to breathe on most days. I woke up every morning hoping for full, leaky boobs, and would cry when I saw small, deflated ones. And after a particularly rough night when Charley refused to take milk from me, my husband found me on the kitchen floor curled up into a ball, rocking back and forth, bawling my eyes out.

I perceived my milk supply as part of my identity as a mother — it was how Charley and I bonded. No matter how moody she was, nursing was always a calm, happy time. Before she was eating solids, I was literally her only source of food. And she ate every two hours so I had serious anxiety about ever leaving her for longer than that time.

I did not know how to be a mother to Charley without breastfeeding. 

Sometimes, though, you need to hit rock bottom to get back up again. After weeks and weeks of wallowing, self-pity, and self-doubt, I stopped. Because I realized that I was making this all about me, and not about Charley. I had to be strong for her. So that's what I did. Every time the milk wouldn't come, I would just repeat over and over "Be strong for Charley." 

Today, I am happy to report I am pump-free, supplement-free, oatmeal-free, and carefree (when it comes to breastfeeding, that is). Charley now takes a formula I am very happy to give her in place of my milk (It's base is Mt. Capra goat milk, but essentially is a recipe that I make myself using these ingredients).

Here's the kicker. We're still breastfeeding five months later. Not very often. Just enough to put her to bed at night and sometimes to nap during the day. I can't believe I still have milk without doing any of the afformentioned things. If this experience has taught me anything, it's listen to your body. It knows what it's supposed to do.

I share this becuase I hope somebody out there reads this, realizes how CRAZY one could go trying to "get your supply back," and lets go a whole lot sooner than I did. Maybe you lose your supply, maybe you don't. Whatever happens, it's going to be okay.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

Healthy Mind

I Quit My Job To Follow My Dreams and Here’s What Happened

September 1, 2016

StaceyHutsonSelfie

I wake up at 5:30 AM. Look at my alarm clock, desperate for just a little more sleep, and zero desire to roll over and go to work. But then I remember. I do desire to go to work. I desire to go to work very much. Because, for the first time in my life, my work is my bliss. Every little piece of it.

I haven’t told you much about what’s been going on in my life lately. Mostly because this isn’t that kind of blog. You’re here to learn about healthy food, pick up a recipe or two, and be on your merry way. No need to know about my love life, my doctor’s appointment, or my cat’s latest sleeping spot (I don’t have a cat, but if I did, please kill me if I ever found that to be important enough to tell you about it).

But there are certain things that I just have to get off my chest because they're SO COOL and I’m pretty darned proud of them.

You see, in the last few months, I have made some pretty drastic changes. I mean really big, I-don’t-even-recognize-my-life changes. So we’re not here for 72 more paragraphs, I’m going to put it in a nice little nutshell for you. Here goes. In the last three months, I…

  • Got married to my best friend
  • Became a freelance writer
  • Quit my stable, fulltime job as an advertising copywriter
  • Met an incredibly impressive entrepreneur who has my dream job…
  • then started working under her as her Wellness Chef Apprentice
  • Got hired as a Class Assistant at one of the busiest cooking schools in the country (the Chopping Block!)
  • Graduated from the Institute for Transformational Nutrition and became a CTNC (this one just happened yesterday – cue Vitamin C's Graduation Song here)

Whew! I know, right?

I still have to pinch myself. It doesn’t seem real.

HealthyStaceyApron

When I tell this to my friends and family (or curious bystanders), they are sometimes shocked, but mostly proud of this ballsy endeavor. As if they, too, have plans to do the same someday. But then they ask the question, “What exactly do you plan to do?"

This is the part where I get a little squirmy. I've never been great with elevator pitches, but this new "job" of mine is particularly hard to describe because it's not one answer. It's more like 11 pursuits, plus a few side jobs to pay the bills.

A freelance content creator, a food writer, a cookbook author, a recipe creator, a food photographer, a health coach, a holistic nutritionist, a private paleo chef, a cooking class instructor, a professional dinner party host, and the Food Network’s first holistic chef star. And somewhere in between all that, a mom.

After years of dreaming these dreams and setting goals for myself to achieve them, I was doing myself a disservice by continuing to stay on my old career path. If I wanted to get closer, I needed to jump into the fire. The healthy, holistic, foodie fire.

Once I quit my day job, I had no other choice. I had to find the opportunities, the people and the organizations that would help me get closer to my dreams. Which is exactly what I did and continue to do. And because of these actions, every day, the path that I had previously searched so desperately for, becomes more clear.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Because it’s life. And your crazy dreams never turn out as picture-perfect as you think they will.

I spend much more of my time confused and scared out of my mind. And yes, there are moments where I think – Are you CRAZY? You aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur! You have NO IDEA what you're doing. Please. Just go back to the real world, get a respectable desk job, and hopefully nobody will notice your I-want-to-live-my-dreams hiatus.

But then I snap myself out of it. Because really, I’ve already done the hard part. The leap-out-of-a plane undertaking that everybody is so deathly afraid to do. From here, it’s just about navigating my new territory. And recognizing that my mind isn’t used to working outside of its safe Groundhog Day routine.

Get up. Go to work. Collect paycheck. Go home. Count the days left till the weekend.

Now. Every day is a new day. With HUGE opportunities to learn something new, meet somebody new or create something that I didn't know I was capable of. And at the end of that day, I’ve never felt more alive.

No. Regardless of what my inner critic says, I have no plans to get back in that plane.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

p.s. Know somebody else who wants to follow their dreams? Share my story through this pin with all your dreamer friends–>

I Quit My Job To Follow My Dreams

Healthy Mind

Anti-Anxiety Herby Salmon + Avocado Recipes

July 21, 2015

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Anxiety (aNGˈzīədē/) (n): an apprehension of the future, especially about an upcoming challenging task. Perfectly acceptable EXCEPT when the reaction is significiantly blown out of proportion.

I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on my nerves, something happens that sets them off again. And it isn’t always the result of something drastic. Sometimes, it’s simply the to-do list in my brain firing off all of the things I haven’t done yet, and all of the dreams I have yet to accomplish.

My good friend and fellow over-achiever approached me the other day to tell me that her anxiety, unknowingly, had gotten so out of hand that it manifested in a physical reaction. She went to the doctor and was given, to my surprise, strict instruction to alter her diet temporarily to help her symptoms subside.

I love that this advice came from a traditional physician. I wish it were the solution more often instead of prescription drugs.

As much as I rely on food and nutrition to help me in every other area of my life, I had honestly never thought to use food to ease my stress and anxiety (wine doesn’t count). It makes perfect sense, however, that food can affect our mood. Everything you ingest has an affect on your body chemistry –whether negative or positive. So I did a little digging to see what foods could hit the calm-my-nerves-button. And this is what I found. I think you'll like what you see:

GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

What it’s got: Folate
What it does: Helps your body produce serotonin (the-feel good hormone) and dopamine (chemical critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood).

GreenLeafyVegetables_HealthyStacey

ORGANIC TURKEY BREAST

What it’s got: Tryptophan
What it does: It’s the Amino acid that your body converts into serotonin (the-feel good hormone).

FERMENTED FOODS

What it’s got: Probiotics
What it does: I've talked about the benefits of Fermented Foods plenty of times before. But here is yet another reason. The probiotics in fermented food nourishes your gut flora to support a positive mood.

SALMON/SARDINES/ANCHOVIES

What they got: The animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA
What it does: This one is a little more complicated, but, in my opinion, one of the most important. So I'm going to attempt to explain it with the help of Dr. Barry Sears

The brain is incredibly sensitive to inflammation. And when it is inflamed, it causes a breakdown in signaling between cells (which affects mood and anxiety). This cellular inflammation is caused by an increase in Omega-6 fatty acids (which is abundant in processed foods). In fact, many of the drugs that people with anxiety are put on are anti-inflammatory drugs for this very reason (aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitions and corticosteroids). These drugs, however, cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. SO when it's inflamed, the brain's only protection is Omega-3. Unfortunately, most people aren't getting nearly enough of this in their diet (wild caught fish is expensive!). Studies have shown that high levels of Omega-3 can reduce anxiety (2). Which means, the more Omega-3 we get in our diet, the more seamlessly our brain can function, and the more we can relax. Salmon, sardines and anchovies have them in spades.  

BLUEBERRIES

What it’s got: Anthocyanins – the pigments that give berries like blueberries and blackberries their deep color
What it does: These antioxidants aid your brain in the production of dopamine (chemical critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood).

DARK CHOCOLATE

What it’s got: Flavonols, a subclass of flavonoids, which are natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables.
What it does: Reduces cortisol – the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. It also contains other chemicals that prolong the "feel-good" aspects of anandamide. One study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology also revealed that drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.

KEY thing to remember here is that NOT ALL DARK CHOCOLATE IS THE SAME. The total antioxidant content of chocolate products are directly associated with the amount of raw cocoa it contains. So if you're going to eat it for the health benefits, the darker, the better. The Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cacao is my absolute favorite. It is so smooth and indulgent with its high cacao content, but with a very small amount of sugar (5 grams/serving). 

Fun fact: Anandamide is a derivative of the Sanskrit word “Bliss”

DarkChocolate_HealthyStacey

WATER (genius, I know)

What it's got: Hydration
What it does: Dehydration affects as many as 25% of those with persistent stress or more. Dehydration is also known to cause more anxiety.

AVOCADO

What it's got: Monosaturated fats
What it does: Regulates blood sugar levels. This combination of satiety and blood-sugar regulation can help keep your mood steady and even in times of stress.


Great. So what to do you do now? I guess you make a big green leafy salad with turkey, sardines, saurkraut, avocado and blueberries, wash it down with a BIG glass of water, and finish the meal with a nice piece of 88% cacao dark chocolate. Easy peasy. You'll be one relaxed, even-keeled cat. OR you can start small with a couple awesome go-to recipes of mine…

AVOCADO MASH RECIPE

Avocado_HealthyStacey

I was so glad to see avocados on this list, as they are one of my all-time favorites. And with their decadent texture and comforting qualities, I’m not surprised. I very rarely go a day without one – whether in my morning smoothie or chopped up in my afternoon salad. But this recipe is perfect for fast and immediate comfort and satisfaction.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (if you’re dairy-free) OR 1 teaspoon shredded parmesan
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mash up together in a bowl with a fork (really get in there and smash it up to get out all that anxiety)
  2. If you choose…put it back in the avocado shell for smile-inducing presentation
  3. Eat with a spoon!

 

HERBY SALMON RECIPE

Omega-3 in Salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 oz. Grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 t. Course Himalayan salt
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 T. fresh herbs of choice (I used rosemary and thyme from my balcony garden)
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • Dash of White Pepper
  • 4 Salmon Fillets, about 4-5 oz. each

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to broil (or grill it if you've got one!)
  2. Chop up your herbs and your garlic.
  3. Toss them in a bowl, along with salt and white pepper and melt together for approximately 30 seconds. Stir until combined.
  4. Place the salmon fillets on a broiling pan lined with aluminum foil that has been oiled so it doesn't stick.
  5. Coat the salmon with half of the lemon herb butter, evenly spreading it over the tops of each fillet.
  6. Place pan on about 6 inches away from the heat source. Timing here is key and very delicate. Becasue you're broiling, it's going to go fast. Let it go for about 3 minutes. Take it out. Turn over each filet. Brush eash side with the remaining herby mix. And put it back in for another 3 minutes. I'm 99% sure you won't need more than that. It should be nice and flaky.

References:

1. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Merikangas KR, and Walters EE. "Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication". Arch Gen Psychiatry 62:617-627 (2005)

2. Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, and Hibbeln JR. "Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 32:568-575 (2008)

Like what you read today? Think somebody else could benefit from a few anxiety-reducing foods? See those cute little gray shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Much Love,
Stacey

Healthy Mind

Vision Making

May 24, 2015

I have always been a day-dreamer. I like making wishes on candles and stars, planning vacations I can't afford, ripping out pages of luxurious locales from magazines and walking residential streets to pick out my dream home. 

When I was younger, day dreaming was much more of an unintentional habit. Today, I embrace it. I love that I'm a dreamer. In fact, I try to make time for it every day. Before you think I'm getting all woo woo on you, hear me out.

Daydreaming is really just a form of life planning. Sure, it seems a little far-fetched when it hasn't happened yet. But if you're dreaming about a place you want to visit, a house you want to own, a job you want to land, or a family to call your own, then it's likely that you are trying to take the steps towards making that happen. 

Studies have shown that we may experience real world actions and imaginary actions in similar ways. It seems as if we activate many of the same neural networks whether we're physically sitting in our home office in our oceanside Southampton estate (see picture above) or mentally doing it1. If this is true, then we should all be daydreaming a lot more. 

Daydreaming, however, is really only the first step. I think that if there's a better way to harness these dreams, capture them, take a picture of them, put them on paper, etc., then we should be doing it. 

So I am.

In order for me to visualize my dreams as much as possible, I created a Vision Board. I know I'm not the first person to do this. Vision boards are commonly thought of as poster board collages with pictures and magazine clippings. But to me, this screams intimidation and overwhelm – who has time for craft projects these days, and where do you put this massive (super personal) daydream display? So I simplified the process and digitized my vision board. Now, I can access it anytime on my phone. I usually cruise through it on my morning commute. It takes me 15 minutes max and I always feel better after I've looked through it.

There's something really inspiring about starting my day with the dreams that I am working towards. And there's no doubt in my mind that doing this will lead me closer to those dreams. I know this because it's already happened. Every once in a while, I am forced to delete a slide from my vision board because I already achieved it. It's no longer a vision; it's a reality. Best. Feeling. Ever. 

I have no scientific evidence to back this claim up, but I have found it to be true:

The more I remind myself of my dreams, the more I want to achieve those dreams. 

If you're at all intersted in joining me in my daydreaming ways, follow the steps below to create your own digital vision board:

Step 1: Create a presentation using Microsoft Powerpoint or an alternative program.

Step 2: Pick out your favorite images (Pinterest is an obvious source of day-dreaming inspiration. But I also recommend Zillow for dream-home searching, travel sites like TravelChannel.com and luxury sites like VanityFair.com for dreamers with high standards.

Step 3: Copy and Paste images in-line with your dreams into your powerpoint presentation.

Step 4: Save the presentation.

Step 5: Upload it into Google Docs (free to create an account if you don’t already have one).

Step 6: Download the Google Docs app onto your phone.

Step 7: View your vision board presentation on your phone or your tablet.

Voila! Portable dreams – easily accessible to look at whenever you have five free minutes. Thanks for joining me readers! I want to hear from you. Do you love it? Already do it? Do you think I'm totally off my rocker? Comment belooooowwww.

 

1. http://westallen.typepad.com/brains_on_purpose/files/mind_over_matter_shackell_07.pdf