Friday, February 24, 2012

Feeling stressed lately?

It's not surprising that so many of us suffer from stress and over-stimulation. In our technological world, as wonderful as it is, we are asked to move faster, think more quickly and multitask. Trying to fit everything into a 24-hour day, spend quality time with our families and also find time to relax and rest become more and more difficult. Many of us get so tied up in this race that we are unable to relax and enjoy anything at all. The end result is stress, anxiety, burnout and even depression.

I have three very simple rules that I'd like to share with you this week to bring joy back into your life. First, it means slowing things down. Slowing down probably means cutting a few things out of your routine. Maybe you could turn off the television a little earlier or spend less time in front of it. A homemade lunch in the sunshine instead of racing to the local fast food place is another great way to win back some of the nicer moments of the day.

Next, give some attention to mealtime and the foods you put into your body--that is my second rule of reclaiming joy. Are you zipping through the drive-through in the evenings because you are too tired to go home and cook? Eating well doesn't necessarily require hours of grueling food preparation. It can be as simple as cutting out foods with a high fat content and eating more salads and greens. The bookstores also have shelves of quick and easy health recipes. You can also find some good suggestions online. When your body is functioning well you will feel better mentally and emotionally, too.

The third point is to start having fun. Set aside time for a hobby or artistic endeavor that you enjoy. I hear so many people complain that they just aren't creative, and this couldn't be more untrue. Even if you can't paint like da Vinci or play like Itzhak Perlman, you can find enjoyment in the process of making art, playing music, crafting, repairing motorcycles or any other activity that intrigues and relaxes you. The key is to enjoy the moment of creating, however that unfolds.

Life is too short to spend our precious moments feeling stressed and frustrated. Being happy is the natural state of life. It is our birthright, and we can see it in the smiles and laughter of children.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Winter Sunshine!

Sometimes in the winter months, I find myself craving sunshine. We have many gray days where I live, so when the sun is out, you can be sure I will do my best to be out too, especially during the fall and winter. I may be bundled up, but I'll get a good dose of sunlight that can boost my immune system and help me to keep feeling positive and enthusiastic about life.

Sunlight is important to our overall health and offers many benefits. For one thing, getting 15 minutes of sunlight a day provides us with vitamin D, which boosts our calcium absorption and promotes better bone health. Healthy exposure to the sun actually improves our blood circulation, boosts your metabolism, and helps us to sweat, thereby eliminating toxins and waste from our body. Sun exposure is also known to help with liver issues, such as jaundice, and improve some skin conditions.

One of the best things about the sun is its positive effect on our mood. Natural sunlight stimulates the production of endorphins, which help us to feel good. And then of course there is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which commonly strikes in the winter and is a form of depression caused by too much time spent under artificial lighting and not enough exposure to natural sunlight. Exposure to sun or full spectrum lighting, especially if you work in a building where you don't see the outdoors, can actually help you avoid seasonal depression.

Sadly, many people are afraid of any sun exposure because of concerns about overexposure, sunburn and harm to your eyes. However these concerns can be addressed by using common sense when exposed to sunlight. When the sun is stronger, as it is in the spring and summer, you should be mindful of your exposure and take precautions against sunburn and dehydration. In the winter, the sun's rays are weaker and you can tolerate more exposure.

If you've ever sat in a sunny window or stood in sunlit patch on a cold day and enjoyed feeling those rays soak into your body, you know how wonderful the sun can feel. A bit of natural sunlight can go a long way, so find a way to get your daily dose of sunlight whenever possible.

Hope you can take advantage of the sunlight this week. And be sure to take note and give thanks to the increase in sunlight. We've passed the mid-point of winter now and the daily sunlight is increasing a little more every day!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Feeling tired?

How do you recharge during the day? I am talking about the times when you take a break from your usual routine to give yourself a breather and your mind a rest. It is important for us to break from the daily monotony to recharge ourselves. However, if we aren't careful, breathers can become monotonous and routine as well.

For example, if you are spending your break in a windowless room having the same snack and beverage, day in and day out, then you may want to rethink your break time habits. Or if you find yourself automatically nibbling during break time, regardless if you are hungry or not, you may not like what you see on the scale. There are lots of things you can do with your break time that don't include grazing at the snack machine or drinking a third cup of coffee for the day.

For example, try to change your scenery or atmosphere by slipping outside for a 10-minute walk. It will do wonders for your state of mind and boost your energy levels as well. If you can partake in healthy exercise and re-oxygenate your bloodstream, you will likely return to work more alert and enthusiastic about the tasks at hand. If you can't get outside, boost your oxygen levels and calm your mind and body with a few minutes of quiet breathing and relaxation exercises. Just close your eyes and envision that scattered energy you expend during your day all coming back to you, helping you to feel whole again. Or take a few minutes to do a few rounds of deep breathing, four breaths in and four out. Afterwards take notice how the affect it has on your body and mind. Hopefully, you will feel a little freer or a little more relaxed.

If walking or meditating doesn't seem like an ideal break time activity, try journaling, listening to your favorite music, or planning your next holiday in your head. The essential thing for you to do to break out of your normal routine and do something that makes you feel good.

Whether you work in an office or from home, it is important to take advantage of your breaks throughout the day. Try the tips I've shared or consider options of your own. The goal is to engage your mind, body and spirit in something new, different and pleasing.

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