The Secret to Relaxing Without Taking A Pill

The Secret to Relaxing Without Taking A Pill

Ever wish you could just take the edge off after a long, stressful day with the snap of your fingers?

Consider it possible. Research has long proven that something as simple as laughter improves your mood, helps you cope with difficult situations, helps you relax and boosts your immune system. The great thing about laughter is that it can be right at your fingertips.

When was the last time you laughed?

I have to confess up until pretty recently I wasn’t laughing as often as I used to.

Back in high school I was part of the so-called heeheehaha club – a term a friend of mine coined for my best friend and me. We would only have to look at each other and we’d soon both be roaring with laughter – for no reason. (Disclaimer: no substances were involved, never was my thing, never will be)

And it felt great. It was so invigorating, calming and most of all FUN.

So, how can you suddenly shift moods and start laughing? Get a game plan on and start thinking of things that make you laugh. It’s absolutely doable. Here are some ideas you can use when you know you could use a good laugh (and not at the expense of others):

 

  • Watch a funny video or show (SNL’s cowbell and Jerry Seinfeld’s Kramer always make me giggle)
  • Go to a comedy club
  • Collect pictures of things that make you laugh
  • Try improv comedy (it can be great for situations to help you think on your feet)
  • Pick up a book on jokes or something humorous
  • Share a joke with others
  • Do laughter yoga (learn how to laugh for no reason)
  • Learn to laugh at yourself (as long as it’s not mean)

 

If you like this and want more specific resources to improve your health and wellness download your complimentary guide “6 Wellness Trends You Need to Know About Right Now” here.

One Overlooked Quality That Will Make You Sleep Better and Be Healthier

Rome was not built in a day and neither is your life. Instant gratification is the norm today. We get texts, emails, downloads in a split second but building a career, a relationship or running a marathon doesn’t happen that fast. It requires one key virtue; patience.

 

Especially if you’re the type of person who wants it fast and right now listen up because having patience will be extra helpful to ease the irritability that often comes up for you.

 

Philosophers and spiritual enthusiasts have long been calling patience a virtue. Now there is research to show just how beneficial it is.

 

Patience can:

 

  • Improve our health. A study done at the University of Austin, Texas found that people who exhibit impatience and irritability tend to have more health complaints and worse sleep. Another study by Fuller Theological Seminary professor Sarah A. Schnitker and UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons found that patient people were less likely to have health problems like headaches, ulcers, acne, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

 

  • Improve our mental health. That same study by Schnitker and Emmons found that patient people usually are less prone to depression and negative emotions. This is most likely because they can cope better with upsetting or stressful situations. They also consider themselves more mindful. They feel more gratitude, more connection to mankind and to the universe, and a greater sense of abundance. Who wouldn’t want to feel that?

 

  • Help us achieve our goals. It takes consistent effort over time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you live your life and get closer to your goals? One moment and step at a time. Taking a seemingly insufficient step forward can eventually lead you to the prize.

According to a 2012 study by Schitker patient people reported putting in more effort toward their goals than other people did. In particular, those with interpersonal patience (the type of patience that doesn’t involve waiting but rather simply facing annoying or frustrating people calmly and with a level head.) made more progress and were more satisfied when they achieved their goals compared with less patient people.  The greater satisfaction with achieving their goals explained why the patient achievers were more content with their lives.

 

The keys to unlocking more patience

 

In another 2012 study, Schnitker invited 71 undergraduates to participate in two weeks of patience training. The training included the following steps:

  1. Learning to be aware and recognize feelings and what triggered them
  2. Controlling their emotions
  3. Cultivating empathy for others
  4. Meditating

 

The great news: in just two weeks, participants reported feeling more patient toward the challenging people in their lives, feeling less depressed, and experiencing higher levels of positive emotions. Patience is definitely something you can practice and improve upon.

Becoming more patient

Here is a simple exercise for you to get started on improving your patience that includes one step towards more patience – cultivating empathy. It is a meditation called Metta meditation a.k.a. loving-kindness meditation.

  1. Sit in a relaxed position and take a few deep breaths.
  2. Focus your attention on yourself with each breath. Think of loving thoughts about yourself – may I be happy, may I feel good, may I be safe.
  3. Next, focus your kind thoughts on another individual like a friend or family member. Think the same thoughts about them – may you be happy, may you feel good, may you be safe. (To really step it up a notch think of someone you dislike and try this meditation on them)

By all means, this takes practice, do not rush it or fake it. If you feel anger, resentment or any other negative feeling bubble up don’t worry. These are just signs that your heart is softening. Try directing the same loving thoughts to these feelings.

 

If you like this and want more specific resources to improve your health and wellness download your complimentary guide “6 Wellness Trends You Need to Know About Right Now” here.

The Secret to A Really Juicy, Healthy Relationship

What is a key ingredient to making a relationship really juicy and healthy?

Answer: Love yourself first.

Yup, it really comes down to accepting yourself, admiring yourself; LOVING yourself first. If you don’t love yourself the amount of love you have for your significant other, your job, your friends etc. will not as strong as it could be.
Know and understand that you rock.

Does it sound easier said than done?

Imagine feeling good in your own skin, owning your talents and skills and essentially who you are as you are. It isn’t vain, selfish or thinking you’re better than everyone else.

Nobody is perfect, not me, not you, not the person you admire the most. We all have weaknesses and we all have strengths too. Embrace it all and be happy to be you.

Focus on your strengths and avoid getting stuck in your perceived flaws – judging what you don’t like about yourself.
You could be thinking you’re too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, not smart enough, too boring, too serious, too shy or too talkative.

STOP.

Negative self-talk and being hard on yourself doesn’t get you anywhere. Catch yourself when you’re going down that dark, nasty path.

Realize it’s more about perception and how we define things or how others have taught us to define, rate and value things in our life.

I worked on Dove’s campaign for real beauty back during my corporate career and I found it so devastating when we did a study on women and at the time only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful.

Yet I could identify with the remaining 98% of women who didn’t think they were beautiful. I certainly didn’t love myself back then but I committed to turning that around.

It took a total mindset shift from stomping out negative thoughts to thinking about what I could love about myself and what act of love I could do for myself.

It came down to better self-care. I started doing things that were good for me and my body like saying no to things that would have stretched me too thin. I chose foods that were healthier for me like more vegetables especially fennel (it’s my all-time favorite, love it with olive oil). I stopped reaching out for that pint of Ben and Jerry’s I’d be spooning into when I felt bad. I thought it would make me feel better but I’d always end up crashing and feeling tired and cranky afterwards.

So now it’s your turn. Think about what you love about yourself even if at first it feels hard. What have people complimented you on? What are you good at?

Identify one thing. Is it your hair? Your eyes? Or maybe your honesty, authenticity, warmth, courage, generosity, kindness or compassion? That’s beautiful.

Give yourself credit for being an amazing person and focus on the good in you.

Let it out and let it shine. You are an amazing person no matter what you may think or compare yourself to.

Now I would love to hear from you. What do you love about yourself? And what self-care will you commit to doing for yourself?

The Real Truth About Breathing

 

What’s the one thing you can’t live without? If you guessed oxygen, you are right. We can go without sleep, food and water for days or even weeks at a time, but without oxygen it’s lights out, game over.

 

It goes without saying that oxygen is vital for staying alive and being healthy. But how much do you actually get? If you might think deep breathing and doing deep breathing exercises are methods to get more oxygen into the body, Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage, says this just isn’t the case.

 

Breathing right has a tremendous impact on our health, our energy, stress levels and the quality of our sleep. However, many of us don’t get it right. The key is breathing through your nose, not your mouth. Practices like yoga, tai chi and qigong that focus on gentle, light breathing are the way to go. In fact, competitors at tai chi tournaments are also judged on their breathing. If judges can detect breathing too easily, points are deducted from their score.

 

According to McKeown, when we breathe deeply it’s like adding water to an already full glass. When you breathe normally your blood oxygen saturation is normally 95-99%. You don’t want it to be 100% because you want your blood to release oxygen to your tissues. Deep breathing doesn’t allow any more oxygen into the blood because it’s almost fully saturated.

 

Deep breathing is also getting rid of CO2. You remove CO2 from the blood in the lungs. The harder you breathe the more you get rid of CO2 and this, in turn, reduces it from the blood, tissues and cells and your blood vessels constrict. We actually need CO2 to be present in order for oxygen to be released into our body.

 

All the more reason to slow down your breathing. Try this:

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest.
  2. Focus on the airflow in and out of your nose. No need to force your breathing or count the amount of seconds.
  3. Aim for gentle, slow breathing.
  4. Slow it down to the point where you feel air hunger because air hunger signifies that CO2 has increased in the blood.

The body breathes to get rid of excess CO2 so the air hunger you feel when you do this exercise doesn’t mean your oxygen levels have dropped. When you work on slowing down your breathing, CO2 increases in the blood and your blood vessels open up, making you feel warmer.

 

Another great advantage of slowing down your breathing is that it activates your parasympathetic nervous system. According to research at the Stanford University School of Medicine, there is a cluster of cells in the brain that act as your pacemaker. Think of it as a pacemaker for the brain that spies on your breathing. If your breathing is fast, this pacemaker releases the information to other parts of the brain and you become stressed. If, on the other hand, you slow down your breathing, the pacemaker sends this information to the rest of the brain and it has a calming effect. When we get stressed, we breathe faster making us more stressed.

 

By changing your breathing you can change your energy levels, improve your sleep and feel more relaxed.

If you like this and want more specific resources to improve your breathing download your complimentary guide “6 Wellness Trends You Need to Know About Right Now” here.