Word-Of-the-Week #785: Uptight

August 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Uptight what you become when you don’t take time for relaxation!

So, how did you do relaxing last week? Were you able to reduce your stress by deep breathing? Did you take time to plan your next vacation? Did you connect with your friends? How much time did you devote to being “unplugged?”

This week I will share the other four ways on how to relax and reduce your stress that was featured in the Time Magazine article titled, “Six Ways to Handle Stress.”

  1. Exercise Regularly. It protects the heart, which is often the first to feel the effects of stress. Studies show exercise also helps maintain the brain’s ability to change focus quickly from one situation to another.

One of the things I love to do is walk. I don’t listen to head phones; I use it as my creative quiet time. Also, Pilates has been a life saver. I breathe completely differently as a result.

  1. Eat Plenty of Fruits & Vegetables. The antioxidants and other ingredients they contain counter-balance the inflammatory proteins the body produces under stress.

This is very easy for us. You’ve heard about Meatless Mondays? Well we don’t eat meat (but lots of wild fish) during the week and may splurge on the weekends. But even then it’s usually no more than 3 to 4 ounces. It’s very hard to gain weight, and easy to lose weight if you eat only whole foods.

  1. Don’t Stay Up Late. Irregular sleep increases the effects of stress on your body, setting you up for metabolic imbalances that increase your risk of heart disease.

This is only a challenge when we travel and have to deal with a lot of time zones.

  1. Do What You Love. Having a sense of mission about your job makes it easier to deal with inevitable setbacks. (You will still need to take those regular breaks from work.) And if you can’t find meaning in your job, look for it in a hobby or through participation in religious or community organizations.

Fortunately, we both loved our jobs and it never felt like “work.” I am still working part time (if the group is FUN) and both Chris and I have lots of things to do that keep us busy.

This week’s focus is how uptight you are. Do you exercise at least three days a week? If not, could you start by just walking? Are your eating a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits? Are you on a regular sleep pattern? Do you love your work? Do you have a hobby or an organization that supports your life mission?

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Word-Of-the-Week #784: Relaxation

August 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Relaxation what you need to have to reduce stress.

How often do you take time for relaxation? Do you even know how to relax? When you go on vacation how long does it take you to fully unwind? You have taken a vacation and time out from work, right?

This week I am rerunning a WOW because August 15th is “National Relaxation Day!” Time Magazine featured an article titled, “Six Ways to Handle Stress.” First, “There’s more than one way to relieve stress.” This week I will share the first three.

  1. Breathe Deeply. Regular, slow breathing – a common characteristic of meditation and prayer – alerts your brain that you are in a safe place far away from predators. It also relaxes your heart, decreases blood pressure, and removes waste from the bloodstream.

This is something I do all the time. It‘s guaranteed to calm me down if I am feeling stressed out. 

  1. Take a Vacation. A change of scenery clears the head, recharges the batteries and, according to a recent study sponsored by Air New Zealand, improves reaction time 82% – provided that you ignore your e-mail and allow a couple of weeks to disengage and unwind.

Bali Hammock Sunset Relaxation Asia Indonesia Sun

My response to that is, “Checking my email and updating my blog is actually more relaxing to me than putting it off. But I designate only one time a day for that.” How about you? 

  1. Make Friends. Social isolation increases the physiological damage caused by stress. A 2006 survey found that Americans have only two close friends with whom they can confide their deepest concerns – down from three friends 20 years ago.

The good news is, I go on vacations with my best friend and LOVE of my life! We are great travel buddies as we have the same interests and energy level.

This week’s focus is on relaxation. Are you able to do that or do you feel guilty? Do you take time to breathe deeply? Sometimes just getting up and taking a short walk helps reduce stress. Have you had a vacation of at least one week in the last year? Do you have friends with whom you can confide in?

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Word-Of-the-Week #783: Energy

August 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Energywhat you expend in response to a reaction. 

Did you think about your reaction to any negative events last week? Have you ever thought about how much energy you spend on complaining? Do you know that emotions are contagious?

This is the 2nd half of “Purge your complaints and refresh” by Sara Cagle.

To Recap: “If we all wore digital complaint trackers throughout the day — much like the Fitbits and similar devices that religiously count every step we walk — we’d probably be surprised by how much we moan about life’s daily irritations:

“A lot of people do get intimidated when they see the word ‘meditation,’ ” she said. “They think, ‘Oh, it’s too hard; my mind is constantly going.’ ”

“But “complaint cleansing is in the realm of meditating,” she said. “It’s just you being still with your thoughts, noticing them and noticing how they make you feel and where they’re coming from and how you can start to retrain your brain so you’re not complaining so much.”

Once you’ve noticed your incoming complaint, the second step in a complaint cleanse, according to Megan Monahan, meditation instructor and author of new book “Don’t Hate, Meditate!” is to decide whether the complaint is worth more energy. (It probably isn’t.)

“Imagine that every thought you have is either feeding a flower in your mind or a cactus. The thoughts that are based in love feed the flower. The thoughts that are based in fear feed the cactus,” Monahan said.

“You have an opportunity every time you have a thought to ask yourself, ‘What is that feeding in my life?’ ”

The final step, if you decide that your complaint deserves no more energy, is to practice gratitude. That could look like a gratitude journal, community service or treating a friend to coffee, Monahan said. It could also take a less tangible form.

“For the longest time, I was really intimidated by meditation, so what I did instead of focusing on my breath or any of the other meditation techniques is I would just wake up, hit snooze on my alarm and think of things that I’m grateful for,” Roman said.

The things you express gratitude for can be as important as friends, family and health or as simple as the color of your bedroom wall, the taste of an apple or the sound of your favorite song. It’s not about the content of your thoughts, Roman said. It’s about the peaceful emotion that your thoughts elicit.

“Just like complaining trains your brain to look for more things to complain about, having a gratitude practice trains your brain to look for things you’re grateful for, so it’s absolutely the antidote [to complaining],” she said.

You won’t just improve your own mental health when you stop complaining and start showing gratitude. Experts say your positivity is contagious.

Roman likes to spread the power of complaint cleansing in the grocery store checkout line. Instead of complaining about the weather or the price of avocados, she suggests mentioning how happy you are to see the sun shining or a sale on your favorite brand of chips. It could affect the person you’re talking to more than you think.

“Most people have no idea how powerful they are,” Monahan said. “Without doing anything other than embodying that which you want to see more of, you can totally change someone’s experience of life.”

This week’s focus is on your energy. Are you wasting good energy on negative events? Can you imagine that every thought you have is either feeding a flower in your mind or a cactus? How often do you spend time thinking about what you’re grateful for?

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Word-Of-the-Week #782: Reaction

August 1, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Reactionwhat you feel, say, or do because of something that has happened or experienced. 

How much do you grumble or complain about life’s daily interruptions? How conscious are you of your positive and negative thoughts and statements?

This LA Times article “Purge your complaints and refresh” by Sara Cagle is spot on.

“If we all wore digital complaint trackers throughout the day — much like the Fitbits and similar devices that religiously count every step we walk — we’d probably be surprised by how much we moan about life’s daily irritations:

“Traffic is ruining my mornings!”

“My date last night was terrible. I’ll be single forever.”

“I still can’t believe how rude that salesperson was to me three years ago.”

But learning how to eliminate those constant, persistent grumblings might be the first crucial step toward mindfulness. It’s called complaint cleansing.

“What happens when we complain is that we are basically training our brain to look at things that we’re not happy about,” said Kaia Roman, a Santa Cruz-based writer and the author of “The Joy Plan: How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying, Quit Complaining, and Find Ridiculous Happiness.”

Adds Roman: “When we make a conscious choice to focus on solutions, to focus on things that we do right, the good in life and positive aspects, we actually start changing the neural pathways in our brains to be more optimistic. Then we start to experience life differently.”

boat jetty sunset lake windermere lake district cumbria england uk europe

Roman said she decided to try a week-long complaint cleanse four years ago at a point when she felt her anxiety and negative thoughts controlled her mind. After those seven days, her anxiety improved, so she decided to keep it up.

“So many of us complain on a regular basis without realizing that we’re doing it,” she said. “When you do a complaint cleanse, you have to be super aware of what you’re thinking and what you’re speaking.”

The first step of a complaint cleanse is to listen to yourself.

That’s the advice of Deepak Chopra, a bestselling author and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. “Whenever you feel that you’re criticizing or condemning or complaining or playing the victim, the first thing is to press the pause button in your mind and actually be a witness to how you’re going to react to the situation,” Chopra said in a recent interview. “If you do that enough, you will realize that your range of options in any situation, in any adversity, in any circumstance is actually infinite. Slowly this will start to influence your life so that you’re not a victim, but a creator.”

A complaint cleanse, says Jovon Bernal, is “just you being still with your thoughts, noticing them and noticing how they make you feel and where they’re coming from.”

When a complaint inevitably does pop into your head during the cleanse, try not to get frustrated with yourself, said Jovon Bernal, a meditation teacher and owner of Downey Yoga. Simply notice the thought without judgment.

“There’s a difference between, ‘That’s bad that I’m thinking that’ and ‘Oh, I wonder why I feel that way?’” Bernal said. “There has to be that process of reflection. That’s where a lot of the growth comes from.”

If that kind of self-awareness sounds similar to meditation, that’s because it is. Meditation is about noticing your thoughts without judgment, then using your breath, a mantra or another technique to bring your mind back to the present. Similarly, complaint cleansing challenges you to acknowledge your negative thoughts — then switch them around to something you feel good about in the present.

That means that if you’ve ever been skeptical of your ability to meditate, Bernal said, a complaint cleanse might make you feel more confident.”

This week’s focus is on reaction. Have you ever heard the saying, “What you think about, you bring about?” Have you ever made a conscious effort to listen to how much you complain vs saying how grateful you. How would it feel to try a “complaint cleanse?”

Stay tuned for the 2nd half next week!

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Word-Of-the-Week #781: Hakuna Matata

July 25, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #781: Hakuna Matata 

Hakuna Matata – a Swahili phrase that is literally translated as “There are no worries.” It is sometimes translated as “no worries,” although is more commonly used similarly to the English phrase “no problem.”

Do you spend time dwelling on the past? Do you worry about things that haven’t happened yet? Are you fully living in the present?

Since I am in Africa re-running this WOW seemed perfect. And then I read that on July 19th the all new Lion King releases in theatres. What are the chances of that timing?

In 1994 the Walt Disney Studios animated movie The Lion King brought the phrase international recognition, featuring it prominently in the plot and devoting a song to it. A meerkat and a warthog, named Timon and Pumbaa respectively, teach the main character, a lion cub named Simba, that he should forget his troubled past and live in the present.

Have you heard the saying, “It is what it is?” Some things are just simply out of our control. And I have learned to not let that affect me. Another saying I have referenced before is, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”

One of the responses that I am hearing from service personnel more often is, “No Worries” especially when we’ve been in Canada and the UK.

One of the things that I like about traveling is that I am totally focused on everything around me and am living “in the present.” The same applies for when I am playing golf. All I think about is hitting that stupid little ball!

This week’s focus is on having “no problems.” Have you ever said, “Hakuna Matata when a problem arose? Did you handle the situation differently? How would it feel to be able to say, “no problem” or “no worries” and mean it?

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