Stress Management

New Year’s Delightful Delectable List!

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Happy New Year!  We are eight days into 2014 and I keep re-checking my Weather Bug Application hoping for rain, instead we suffer with gorgeous days (mid 70’s) and it feels more like springtime stepping into summertime than winter.  Indeed, “it never rains in California“…

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Have you thought about your goals or set priorities for 2014?  Did you create a list?  How did you do for 2013?

I have my 2014 goals typed out and posted right at my desk.  We opened our 2013 memory box on New Year’s Eve and thoroughly loved all the memories and thankful scraps of paper notes.  This is such a wonderful activity to do!

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Take a box with a lid or an empty jar, decorate it any way you wish, place it in a frequented place in your home along with a pad of paper and a pen…then all year long make a note (include the date) of a happy moment, a blessing, celebration, a joy, an answered prayer, special occasion, etc., fold your papers and fill your memory box/jar.  Then, on New Year’s Eve (or even New Year’s morning) read each one and be amazed!  My husband and I love looking back on our year this way.

Anyway, I came across a fabulous blog site today.  I loved “10 Tips for an Amazing 2014”  and encourage you to take some time to savor and taste each part of this recipe.  I cannot pick my favorite ingredient, I loved them all, but one that especially spoke to me I will give you a sneak peek:

5 cups of Focus: find what you’re passionate about. Live it. Breathe it. Own it. Focus on it. Do it.  Be all about it. Not sure what you’re passionate about? Make it your goal to focus on finding that out this year.

Go check it out, I promise you will not be disappointed. Thank you, Lauren, for this fantastic recipe!

With love,

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The Three R’s

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Rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for ALL ages.  It rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to learning and memory function.  On the other hand, not getting enough rest can negatively affect your mood, immune system, memory, and stress level.

The three R’s for maintaining a healthy lifestyle have nothing to do with natural resources and waste management, although those are GREAT things to practice for the environment (reduce, reuse and recycle).  Rather, most importantly, the three R’s that need to be a part of our lives consistently are rest, rejuvenate and renewal.

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Rest

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1. Make time for down time.  Consider a leisurely walk or a 5-minute mini meditation.  Just close your eyes and focus only on your breathing for 5 minutes.

2. Follow a routine.  Consider waking up 10 minutes early each day for some simple stretches to start your day rather than jumping into high-speed mode.  Stretch and wind down before bed each night.

3. Give your mind a break.  Consider participating in an activity that directs your mind to full attention on that task.  Fully “be in the moment,” which will give your mind a mental break from a nagging “to do” list.

Rejuvenate

Rejuvenation

1. Schedule your “me” time.  If we don’t take the time to step back from the chaos, even a few minutes each day, and rejuvenate that emotional energy, we soon run out.  We crash.  Carve out a few minutes EACH DAY to catch up with friends, paint your nails, read, go for a jog, or even just meditate.  That small moment can refill your emotional bucket and ready you for the evenings’ madness.

2. Journal.  Take 15 minutes to think of the positives in your day or something you look forward too.  Write.  Practice gratitude.  Being thankful truly is a natural stress-buster and antidepressant.

3. Splurge and get a massage.  Not only will this ease sore muscles and release stress toxins from your body, but you will feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for life!

Renewal

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1. Get creative.  Creative renewal is such an important part of the creative process.  Every mind goes stale after a while.  You need to empty your cup.   Do you paint?  Start an outline or watercolor.

2. Enjoy the outdoors!  Turn on the Discovery channel or tune into David Attenborough or repeats of the late Steve Irwin to get enthused about this wonderful world you inhabit.  Better yet, get out into your garden or the local park.  Go hiking.  Get down on the grass and watch the ants.  Follow a butterfly or gaze closely at a pretty flower.

3. Embrace your hobbies!  Pleasures can bring a lift to your mood.  Because hobbies generally incorporate pleasures into your life, maintaining hobbies can be good for your overall sense of joy in life.  As well, gratifications can lead to a reduction in stress and a sense of well-being, and hobbies are usually experienced as gratifications.  If you want more happiness and less stress experiences in your life, hobbies provide a direct route to gratifications that can lead to this.

* * * * *

The three R’s are just as important as maintaining a good diet and exercise for our overall well-being, and quite necessary for our joy and health.

Wishing you all a rejuvenating weekend,

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WANTED: More Hours In A Day

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“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  – James Howell, Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659)

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Over the past few weeks (or longer) I have slowly (and rapidly) been burning out.  Long work days (usually 10 hours and sometimes longer) and online classes with homework leave little time for pleasure or relaxation.  On average, I am in front of the computer approximately 14+ hours each and every single day.  Everything has become chore-like for me lately, even walking, which I love to do.  Same schedule, different day.  Same work out routine, different day.  My time off work is spent working!  I don’t know about you, but this equals severe burn out and feels like a mild depression-induced routine.  In all honesty:  I hate it.

Truly, we all have different crosses we bear.  What do we do when we have a routine like this?  Of course, we all know we must make changes, but what if you cannot make a dent of a change in a full schedule in your life?  I am still experimenting myself.  It is imperative that we MUST make changes eventually.   I know I cannot continue on this type of routine day in and day out without feeling awful mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There is just not enough “me” to go around.  A vicious cycle isn’t it?  But, the fact of the matter is: life still happens.  We still have our responsibilities and obligations, our families need us, chores cry out to be finished, our pets are hungry and in need of attention, extra school work on top of an occupation if you are finishing your degree later in life, on and on and on…and there are only so many hours in each day.

Yesterday I had a half day off and I knew I had to do something different to nourish “me” and get back to feeling like my old self.  And I did it!  Spring is here, and the weather has been teasingly beautiful lately (today it is 77 degrees where I live).  I was thinking of naming this blog something like, “how to have “me” time for under $10″ or “can you have fun for less than $10” or even “is it possible to have a great day for little or no cost?”  But, that was not the point in how I spent my day yesterday or what I want to share with you all in this blog now.  Most importantly, I want to share how utterly important it is to have therapeutic time for yourself regardless of an insane daily and weekly schedule.  Is it possible?  I believe it is.  It will take planning and thought and action.  When we become desperate enough, we will look for ways to do this.

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I decided to change  my work out yesterday morning (because my goal was NOT to have a same thing, different day kind of day!).  I started Tony Horton’s 10-Minute Trainer, ABS.  It felt SO good to do something different and really it did kick my butt! I would so recommend this plan for ANYONE with limited time (like me) and the desire for just doing something different with their work outs.

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**Note: You can get the FREE DVD BONUS Workout—Tony’s Fountain of Youth yoga (a $19.95 value)—when you buy 10-Minute Trainer here: http://www.teambeachbody.com/shop/-/shopping/10MinTrainer?referringRepId=208213


(All of this for $79.90, but 10% off this price if you become a club member! Pretty good deal if you ask me!)

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I was now ready for a few hour adventure out of the house.  I am so blessed to live so close to the beach and the mountains.  I decided to take my little dog to a beautiful park at one of our local beaches for a long walk, Marina Beach Park, and have time for playing ball,  just letting the sun shine on my face and enjoy the sounds of the pelicans and scents of the ocean air.  Little did I know we would have a delightful surprise: lots of seals!  My dog has never before seen a seal and this was actually pretty comical.  Was it a dog?  A cat?  A monster?  (We call rats and rodents “monsters”).  Instead, it was a baby seal that was coming closer and closer to us, crying out to his/her mother, and my little dog, Buddy, quivered and growled and stayed put on my lap not sure what to do but protect me!

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Here is part of the pathway we walked:

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Children LOVE this ship:

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My favorite view of the bay side:

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Our next stop was for lunch!  Just me and my dog!  He truly is the PERFECT DATE!  (My husband was at work)

I splurged and had a glass of cold white wine and we shared grilled fish tacos outside on the patio at Duke’s Grill:

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Our delicious & healthy lunch:

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Here is Buddy, lounging on a cushion, runny eyes from the sand, lip sticking to his tooth looking much like a Chupakabra!

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To conclude, I feel so refreshed today because I took some “me” time to relax, play, enjoy, savor very special moments and I also found a pretty rock on the beach that will remind me of this day.  I also ate healthy and had a new work out.   My total bill for this delightful time was $7.08.  Yes, under $10!

Even though it was only a couple hours, it felt like a full day off.  I am a happy girl today and wish you a refreshing moment every day in YOUR life routine!

~The joy of living comes from a heart of thanksgiving.~

Wendy

Yoga for Dumber than Dummies!

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If you remember, I tried Yoga for the first time a few Friday evenings ago and mentioned I would come back and talk about my experience.  To be honest, I have simply put this off because of how ridiculously dumb I felt after my very first EASY Yoga workout.  Oh, and the aches and pains I had for days afterwards…I have felt so ashamed to even share with you all!  I went at this so ill-equipped.

The workout I used I now have come to love.  It is relatively easy and very gentle, and I especially appreciated that there are three instructors to exercise with based on your level of expertise.  You can find this DVD here:Image

I think the most important thing one can do before a Yoga workout is to review the different postures, especially if you have never performed Yoga before.  That was my first mistake!  It was very difficult watching the TV at the same time as I was engaging in the exercises, which I had never before done, and I truly believe this caused my neck to ache for days afterwards.  Yoga is supposed to relax you, and all I felt was extreme stress during my first workout because I had not properly prepared.

Here is a great site for a simple review of basic Yoga positions as well as more advanced techniques for relaxation, prenatal and back pain: www.yogadownload.com.

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Secondly, water is so very important after a work out.  Why?  Some yoga exercises squeeze and soak your kidneys, which releases toxins in your body. You need to drink water to help flush out those toxins.  I did not do this, rather I had a glass of wine!  Dumber than a dummy!  All my body toxins just settled back to their original locations and it felt like they multiplied because I felt so stressed trying to get the positions right!  I truly could hardly move the next morning.

Breathing is another important part of Yoga.  I found I was holding my breath through many of the exercises!

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You should have the ideal automatic breathing pattern.  This slow and relaxed diaphragmatic breathing pattern provides the human body with superior body oxygenation: about 2-3 minutes for the DIY body-oxygen test (stress free breath holding time after usual exhalation). There are many other effects that correspond to the ideal breathing pattern. You can find them on many Web pages devoted to the ideal breathing pattern for Yoga.

Additionally, the body and cells require oxygen 24/7.  (A Yoga novice can practice in the best yoga sessions, but if he or she sleeps on their back at night, or breathes through the mouth while sleeping, all the positive effects of yoga practice will be demolished by tissue hypoxia and free radicals generated during sleep.)

Here are some other additional Yoga tips I have discovered:

Motivation for Yoga
You should examine your motivation behind trying Yoga. Many students are happy with improved form and physique. To this end, they try impossible poses which may be beyond their capacity. They should remember that Yoga has physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits.  Sometimes, instead of trying a difficult pose, the student may be better served performing a simple one.  

Don’t Try for Yoga Perfection
You may have seen perfect Yoga poses in a picture or video. Do not try to imitate the seeming perfection of the pose. It may have been morphed, for all you know. Striving towards superficial Yoga perfection can be dangerous. So, do not sacrifice your body trying the perfect pose. Rather than trying to contort yourself into a pretzel, focus on how your mind and emotions feel when you do Yoga.

Form Over Feeling
One of the main Yoga dangers is putting form ahead of feeling. This tendency is becoming widespread, leading to increasing Yoga injuries.

Yoga Injuries
Straining too hard can cause back injury, bone spurs or tendonitis. These injuries can be slow to manifest. Even some seniors, denying their age, try to perform poses which are too difficult for them. Take care not to fall into this trap. Trying too hard can cause injuries which may take many years to manifest. And, it may take some more years to rectify the damage. Therefore, do Yoga poses within your limitations to prevent injuries.

Summary

I really hope my mistakes and tips about Yoga have helped you!  Remember to relax, breathe and know your Yoga positions before attempting a DVD, and especially drink your water after your workout!  If you are just beginning Yoga or are interested in giving it a try, taking a class with others is a fantastic idea to have hands on guidance with your session.  Otherwise, if you already enjoy Yoga as part of your lifestyle, I think you would really enjoy the DVD I myself use.

Have a lovely weekend,

Wendy

Is Laughter Really the very Best Medicine?

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Physical Health Benefits:

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
Social Benefits:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use!

Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”

~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

(My husband, Lee and I being flash-blinded by our friends camera phone during dinner last evening.)

Laughter is good for your health

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

(This is my husband and I holding our eyes open as wide and long as we possibly can after being flash-blinded by a camera phone!)

Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

The link between laughter and mental health

The link between laughter and mental health

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

(Our dear friends, Julie & Chris, dinner last evening.)

Bringing more humor and laughter into your life

Therapeutic Benefits of PetsWant to bring the fun? Get a pet…

Most of us have experienced the joy of playing with a furry friend, and pets are a rewarding way to bring more laughter and joy into your life. But did you know that having a pet is also good for your mental and physical health? Studies show that pets can protect you depression, stress, and even heart disease.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
  • Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Using humor and play to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and be more creative. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

As laughter, humor, and play become an integrated part of your life, your creativity will flourish and new discoveries for playing with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones will occur to you daily. Humor takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, creative, joyful, and balanced perspective.

Wishing you laughter throughout your week and may laughter be part of your choice to Keep Choosing Consistency,

Wendy

Reference

Laughter is the Best Medicine.  Retrieved  from http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

Car Pocket Sign Holder Thingie…

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According to the Urban Dictionary, a “thingie” is a noun for a non-specific term for anything.

Okay, today was the day I really wished I had my “car pocket sign holder thingie” all full and prepared. But, let me first define what this “thingie” is.

Several years ago I wished I had prepared signs for my car that I could randomly pull from to hold up and show drivers as they passed me or I passed them who were driving in a way that was irritating, dangerous or just plain rude. Today was the day I would have chosen the sign “thingie” that would have said, “You drive like an a**hole!”

All that is needed to make these signs is some cardboard or construction paper, even a cheap paper plate, Popsicle sticks, tape or glue, crayons, markers or even better yet BLACK PERMANENT MARKERS! Create and write many statements that reflect your feelings about really bad or rude drivers. Keep a nice little pocket folder “thingie” in your car and fill it with your home-made signs.

Great, therapeutic thought, don’t you think?

Actually, no. Not a good idea. A word of WARNING: in this day we do NOT want to engage in such behaviors as showing our “car pocket sign holder thingies” because of crazy people in the world who just may retaliate with a gun, knife, bomb or follow us, beat us up or slash our tires, steal our mail, rob our homes, whatever… BUT, the thought is incredibly therapeutic and a wonderful stress buster in dealing with idiot drivers out there.

Now, secondly and most importantly, this kind of behavior does NOT reflect integrity, and we need to and must choose this above all, first and foremost.

It may be helpful to go for a run, walk, do a work out, drink a cup of herbal tea, listen to some classical or relaxing music, read a soothing poem, but some of us may need more tangible activities to rid us of this kind of stress in dealing with terrible drivers or long hours on the road traveling. Then go ahead and make the sign or signs! Just DO NOT put them in your cars or share them with others! Do the activity, but put them away. Laugh and feel good afterwards!

Again, sharing our “pocket sign holder thingies” will not help us, others or our world, but creating them can be a fantastic stress buster!!!

What are your thoughts on this? I sure enjoyed making my one and only sign this afternoon!  (You all know the one I chose, too!)

Above all, Keep Choosing Consistency in living a life of integrity,
Wendy