We’ve been fans of motivational speaker Gabby Bernstein for quite some time now, and while we’ve all dreaded tomorrow’s return to the workplace, Bernstein sees it as simply an opportunity to keep up the joyfulness you had going this summer. We had a conversation with this wellness guru on how to be more mindful of our emotions, choose to turn a bad day into a good one and ease back into our work week with positivity…
The New Potato: It’s Tuesday and summer is over. How do you re-focus yourself for fall?
Gabby Bernstein: Monday hits and you’ve got that crash and burn. I think that there’s a big element of easing back in. It’s a shock to our system to jump from that mellow mindset back right into ‘back to school’.
There should be a sense of easing in, which could mean don’t load up your calendar that week, don’t be overly social that week, or get more sleep that week. Be mindful of how you’re eating and how you’re taking care of yourself because that fall transition is often when people get really sick. People catch colds just because they’re burning out and the weather is changing. So maybe start to reignite some of your better health patterns.
Also take one of your health patterns that you’ve been applying all summer long and decide to do another forty to ninety days on it — just reignite it. You kind of think, ‘I’ve been doing this throughout the summer because I wanted to cleanse, or I wanted to lose weight, or I wanted to get into a bikini.’ Well, why not reinstate that? Almost like a New Year’s resolution – a ‘new season resolution’.
Keep it simple. I know for myself, there is sort of an energy and a vibe that hits after Labor Day where everyone’s kind of anxious and on overdrive. A lot of the ways that we can change that is through our mental conditioning. It’s a choice that we make to be in overdrive or it’s a choice that we can make simply to say, ‘I’m going to bring my summer ease into this new season.’ Anxiety and stress come from thought patterns — mental decisions — that we choose. So we can choose to go into the fear right now or we can choose to keep it mellow. That internal conditioning can be very powerful. Set the intention to bring more grace into this new season. Set the intention to be more balanced. Set the intention to not go headfirst. In any given moment, you can choose again. That’s the other very important step. You may have missed that boat; you may have not set the intention; you may have gotten hooked into your dramas with your coworkers or the to-do list that you’re freaking out about. So at any given moment, you can choose again. In the Uber on the way over, choose again. Bring yourself back to a centered place, and then say, ‘I choose to see this day with more ease rather than this tension that I’ve already created.’
The next thing is, once you make that commitment to choose again, what do you do with it? Simply changing your breath pattern can change your whole day. There is a meditation I think is really powerful because it’s not like, a meditation. It’s something you can do in an Uber; it’s something that you can do in your office; it’s something you can do even in a conversation. It’s called one-minute breath. You breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and release your breath for five seconds. You just do that breath pattern for a full minute and it can completely reorganize your energy. You’ve set the intention, you’ve pivoted with that new choice, and then you use your breath. This is a sort of pathway to easing back into this week.
TNP: I like the idea that you can choose to reset rather than give up on your day. You get to work and you’re like, ‘The morning started badly, it took me two hours to choose what to wear, I got flustered therefore this is a bad day.’
GB: You can pivot. That’s really what this is all about. It’s not about living every moment of your life completely sane and completely stress-free, because that’s impossible. It’s what you do with your stress. How quickly can you come back? I believe in a comeback rate. I care much more about how quickly you come back than how often you stay in.
TNP: What’s your advice to people that struggle to find a grey area? They feel things are black and white – either they have a getaway to look forward to or summer Friday’s and life is relaxed, or it’s a time or season where it’s all work. How can we be more balanced?
GB: Make it all joyful. Your joy is a choice you make. If you see the manicure that you have at four o’clock as your reprieve – your vacation for the week — choose to create more vacation time. Make a special event of your dinner or make a special event of your brunch on Sunday rather than just seeing it as ‘this thing I do on the weekends’. Really place emphasis – the same emphasis that you would place on that vacation time or that Summer Friday – on these mindful moments throughout your week. The more you add up those experiences, the more you’re leaning towards joy, and the more you lean towards joy, the more you live in that space.
I think that there’s got to be a balance of your daily commitments to yourself and a balance of how you choose to perceive your moment-to-moment celebrations. Create more celebratory moments throughout your week and don’t just see them as ‘just getting your nails done’ or ‘just having brunch’. Make a celebration out of it, make a vacation out of it.
TNP: Do you have things, come fall — foods or drinks— that you cut out or you wean off of?
GB: I’m probably the most boring food interview you’re ever going to have because it’s less about what I do eat and more what about what I don’t eat. I don’t eat gluten, I don’t eat white flour, I don’t eat sugar, I don’t have alcohol – really my biggest vice is coffee. I don’t necessarily change my diet in the fall, but I would probably bring in more grounding root vegetables, things that are a little bit warmer. I’ll start making soups and definitely go apple picking. There’s an element of eating with the seasons. I’ll pick up what’s happening locally and I’ll start in that direction. The big thing I do is that I load up on more supplements. I’m much more mindful of my eating patterns and my immune system because I think the change of season can be a real shock to our nervous system at times, so I just become more aware of what it is that I’m thinking, eating, and drinking — what am I taking in, in general.
TNP: And for those of us that wouldn’t want to cut multiple things out…
GB: I don’t think that’s for everybody. I would say decide for yourself. If you’re coming into this new season, decide for yourself what is serving you and fueling you and what isn’t, and maybe eliminate one thing. It’s also great to have preliminary New Year’s resolutions so it’s not this big shock in the New Year, like, ‘I have to get rid of everything.’ Maybe you have your pregame New Year. Keep it simple. If you’re like, ‘Okay, I know that I’m drinking too much all summer at the barbecues,’ cut down. That’s a big one. Particularly for twenty-five to thirty-five-year-old women – that’s when the hangover really starts to hit you, particularly in your thirties. I think it’s quite simple: Just pull it back —with ease.
TNP: What are the best vitamins to start this week with?
GB: I love oregano — I swear by it. You don’t necessarily need to take it every day, just if you feel a cold coming or you feel like your immune system is weaker. Take Vitamin D if you’re not getting in the sun as much. Again, I’ll preface this by saying doctor-prescribed, because some people can’t take certain supplements, so take supplements with guidance. Olive leaf is a really good immune booster that I swear by. But turn to your food before supplements. Eat more garlic; choose more fresh vegetables. Ginger is a big part of my diet. I choose ginger everyday. Just cut-up ginger in tea. Fresh ginger in hot water is tremendous. Drink two full glasses of water the moment you wake up. You’re the most dehydrated in the morning and the first thing you do is have coffee. Drink two full glasses of lemon water – big glasses -before you do anything. Rehydrate your body; get it back to an alkaline state, and then you can have your coffee. And eat before you have caffeine.
TNP: A lot of people say they feel unhealthier in summer than they do around the holidays…
GB: I feel the same. You’re eating a lot more.
TNP: So how should we get back into it fitness wise?
GB: I believe in moving everyday. That’s my workout routine; I just move in some way everyday. Yesterday I did twenty-five minutes of a Pilates video and I walked to my doctor’s appointment and got my steps in. Do something where you’re physically active in some way every single day. You don’t have to hit the gym everyday; you don’t have to go to that SoulCycle class everyday. Maybe you have those hardcore workouts once or twice a week, but move in some way everyday. Maybe that means walking to the office or getting that ten-minute butt lift on the Urban Rebounder, which I love. Ten or fifteen minutes on the Rebounder and I’m dripping sweat. Ten minutes of walking up your steps in your building and you can break a sweat. So just move. If you accept that that’s enough, it’s far better than doing nothing. I love SoulCycle, I love rebounding, I love Pilates — those are my things.
TNP: Is there a new workout you really like?
GB: Well, I teach Kundalini Yoga so I practice it on my own. By no means is Kundalini Yoga new, but it’s becoming hipper. It’s pretty wild yoga. I think it is an innovative way to work out that a lot of people are not as familiar with. I’ve been teaching a lot of Kundalini online as well; I have a digital video thing. There are ways to get access to that kind of yoga now.
TNP: What about being a more mindful person just in terms of others around you? For example as New Yorkers when we are pissed off…
GB: I’m about to write another book called The Judgment Detox. Cleanse your judgment; become more aware of how judgmental you are. Recognize that when you’re judging somebody else, you’re actually judging a disowned part of your own shadow. What you don’t like about someone else is an unspoken element of what you do not like about yourself, or it’s a projection of your own discomfort onto another person. And then judgment creates a cycle. You’re judging somebody else to avoid feeling whatever it is that you don’t want to feel, then you feel bad for judging so you judge yourself again, and then you project the judgment back onto somebody else to avoid feeling that guilt and that discomfort — it just becomes a cycle. Become aware of how of you judge and how it makes you feel. Set the intention to change your pattern.
Make a daily check-in – like a daily intake of how you have been judging and how it is making you feel. And then choose again — that’s it, choose again. With the affirmation you could say, ‘I choose to see peace instead of this. I choose to release this judgment now.’ Setting that intention is everything. You could be mid-sentence gossiping about Kim Kardashian and be like, ‘You know what? I don’t know Kim Kardashian. God bless her. She seems like a happy girl. She’s a good Mom.’ Redirect. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really feel good to be in judgment mode.
TNP: If you yourself have things that make you upset – something that somebody else is doing that you don’t agree with – do you choose not to make it your problem?
GB: Once again, we can’t change our experience of the world, but we can change how we experience our experiences. So right now, I am very angry with how our political system is handling what is happening with gun laws. I am mad, I am angry, I am devastated, and I’m disappointed. What can I do? I can be pissed, I can be angry, I can feel powerless, or, I can donate money to a nonviolent organization, I can support a congressperson that’s in favor of stronger gun laws, and I can speak up publicly to my fan base about having a greater sense of awareness and lack of apathy. I can choose to show up rather than just feel the depression and sadness of what’s happening. But show up with solutions. What do we do with the decisions that we can create on a moment-to-moment basis? Can we just bitch about it or are we going to do something? It’s frustrating when you feel very powerless, but if we all turn to that place of apathy then what’s going to happen? This will continue to happen.
TNP: Everyone that lives in a crowded city has at least one moment during the day where the F word is screaming in his or her head, whether it’s when you’re on a crowded subway or someone shoves you in the street. What do you say to people when they’re in that moment?
GB: Well, I don’t believe in repressing anger, but I don’t believe in uncontrolled rage either. So I think it’s important to have tools for addressing your anger and rage, so that you don’t bring it about in a passive aggressive way, or you don’t go rage. There’s a great tool that I learned when I was growing my practice, from my coach, which was to breathe into the feeling of rage. Just give yourself ninety seconds and you can transform the feeling. Identify — you’re on the subway, you want to f-ing punch somebody, you’re like, ‘That rage is in my stomach,’ ‘That rage is in my chest.’ Breathe into the rage, feel it, release it, breathe into it, feel it, release it, breathe into it, feel it, release it, for ninety seconds and it can dissipate, it can transform. Don’t push it down. If you push it down, you go home and you take it out on your husband, or you take it out on your boss or your children because you will carry it. Particularly with coworkers and bosses, I think people get really angry about those relationships, so learn to honor your rage so you can have a safe place to hold it.
TNP: What do you think about Instagram accounts like The Fat Jewish or Fuckjerry? Do you like that comedy? Do you ever direct people to comedy to feel better?
GB: I think whatever brings laughter or joy to you. I don’t like comedy at the expense of judging others because it’s not really in support of my judgment detox, but some of the stuff on those sites is just genius. Those guys are brilliant. But a lot of it is at the expense of other people, and that’s really what comedy is. I’m not saying don’t ever go and participate in seeing comedic performance, but choose to decide what feels like a high vibe for you. Follow people that make you feel good. I unfollow tons of people. I don’t want to say who it is because it’s very judgmental, but there’s one young Hollywood celebrity that is just so negative. There are just so many negative posts and I just can’t go there.
What content are you taking in that’s elevating you? I think that you could renew your back-to-school with a media intake cleanse. Clear out the people you’re following that trigger your jealousy or trigger your judgment or trigger a place within you that’s not healthy. Follow the folks that make you feel good.
Also, don’t watch CNN before bedtime. Last night I was online reading about what’s happening with Isis, and I went to bed feeling like shit. Read empowering content before you go to bed.
*Photo via Lorenzo Agius for Telegraph Magazine