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11 Tips to Help You Think More Positively

JUNE 12    BY PAUL SLOANE

In a study at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota patients were given a personality test that assessed their levels of optimism and pessimism. The progress of the patients was measured over 30 years, and it was found that the optimists lived longer than average for their age and gender while the pessimists had a shorter than average life. Researchers found that optimism strengthens the immune system and helps people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Optimists feel better about themselves and take better care of themselves, while pessimists confirm their fears by having higher blood pressure, more anxiety and depression.

You can choose to have depressing, negative thoughts or inspirational, positive thoughts; your attitude determines your mindset, which in turn determines your behaviours and the outcomes in your life. Many studies show that you will achieve more, feel happier and live longer if you chose the positive option. Here are some tips to boost your positive thinking.

Believe in Yourself
Successful people start with a deep inner self-belief. It has been shown that self-belief is more important than intelligence, education or connections in terms of life-long achievement. The important starting point is your conviction that you are capable of significant achievement or that you have something special to contribute.

Set Clear Goals
If you have no destination then your journey is haphazard. If you write down ambitious but achievable goals, then you are already on the road to accomplishing them.

Form a Mental Picture of Your Success
Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Savour the experience of your book being published, of making the sale, of giving the speech to rapturous applause, of winning the race, of living your dream. As your mind comes to terms with this picture it will help you to put the steps in place in order to achieve it.

Take Ownership and Responsibility for Your Life
Don’t be a victim. Don’t blame others or circumstances. You are the captain of the boat and you decide where it goes and what happens. If you are unhappy with an aspect of your life, then form a plan to change it and take action.

Talk to Yourself
Become your own motivator by telling yourself positive things. For example: at the start of the day you might say to yourself, “I am going to do really well today.” Or, “I am going to make real progress towards my goals.” When things go wrong or you falter, don’t make excuses—say something like, “That was my fault, but I can learn from that setback.”

 

yayEliminate the Negative
Use positive self-talk to overcome the doubts and negative thoughts that creep into your mind. Deliberately eliminate worries about difficulties and obstacles by taking a positive attitude, “I can overcome this challenge.” You do not ignore problems—you face up to them with a constructive and optimistic attitude.

Associate with Positive People
Among your friends, relatives, and associates there are probably some upbeat, positive, optimistic, dynamic people and some downbeat, negative, pessimistic or cynical people. Think about them for a moment and select examples of each. You should spend more time with the positive people and less time with the negative people. The optimists will inspire and encourage you, while the pessimists will feed your doubts and make you depressed.

Count Your Blessings
Draw up an assets and liabilities sheet for yourself. If you are educated, employed, healthy, in a loving relationship, financially solvent etc., then put these on the assets list. If you are unemployed, ill, in a toxic relationship, bankrupt, etc., then put these items into your liabilities list. The chances are that your assets will far outweigh your liabilities. We tend to take all the good things in our lives for granted and focus on our failings and needs instead.

Find the Silver Lining
Learn to look for the opportunities in every situation that comes along. Many self-employed consultants will tell you that being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to them. At the time it may have seemed a terrible blow but now they have found greater fulfilment and satisfaction in what they do. Every change brings good as well as bad, opportunities as well as threats. The people who do well in life are the ones who use setbacks as springboards for new successes.

Relax and Enjoy Life More
Lighten up a little. If you can laugh at things then you can cope with them more easily. Don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t become overburdened with work. Deliberately give yourself little treats and do things that make you smile. Laughter is the best medicine—and the cheapest—so try to keep a balance between work, exercise, relationships and play.

Fake It.
If all else fails then fake it. If you are really worried, nervous, or doubtful, then pretend that you are confident and self-assured. Stride to the lectern, smile at the audience and act as though you are positive, professional and successful. Acting the role helps you develop the attitudes and behaviours that go with the part. You can fool the audience, and more importantly, you can fool your brain—you will start to be the confident, positive person that you are acting.

If positive thinkers achieve more, live longer, and are happier than negative thinkers then why would anyone choose to be a negative thinker? The answer is that many people find negative thinking to be an easy option that is more comfortable and offers less challenge. Do not fall into that trap. Think positively!

source: www.lifehack.org


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The Power of Affirmations

By Remez Sasson

Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation.

When these statements are often repeated, they get impressed on the subconscious mind, and conequently, trigger it into positive action.

In order to ensure their effectiveness, they have to be repeated with attention, interest, faith and desire.

When you know how to use them, you get a great tool for achieving success, and for improving your life.

Imagine that you are swimming with your friends in a swimming pool.

They swim fifteen rounds, something you have never done before, and since you want to win their respect, you want to show them that you can make it too.

You start swimming, and at the same time keep repeating in your mind, “I can do it, I can do it…”. You keep thinking and believing that you are going to complete the fifteen rounds.

What are you actually doing? You are repeating positive affirmations.

Most people repeat in their minds negative words and statements concerning the situations and events in their lives, and consequently, create undesirable situations. Words and statements work at both ways, to build or destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results.

Pay attention to the words you repeat in your mind, to discover whether you use negative statements, such as:

    I cannot do this.
    I am too lazy.
    I lack inner strength.
    I am going to fail.

Your subconscious mind accepts as true what you keep saying. It attracts corresponding events and situations into your life. So why not choose only positive statements, in order to get positive reults?

Your words and thoughts program the mind in the same way that commands and scripts program a computer.

The repeated words help you to focus your mind on your aim. They also create corresponding mental images in the conscious mind, which in turn, affects the subconscious mind accordingly. In this way, you program your subconscious in accordance with your will. This process is similar to the way creative visualization works.

The conscious mind, the mind you think with, starts this process, and then the subconscious mind takes charge.

By using this process consciously and intently, you influence your subconscious mind, and in turn, it transforms your habits, behavior, attitude, and reactions, and even reshape your external life.

Sometimes, you might attain immediate results, and at other times, it might take days, weeks, months or more. This depends on your focus, faith, strength of desire, the feelings you put into the words, and on how big or small is your goal.

It is important to understand that repeating positive affirmations for a few minutes, and then thinking negatively the rest of the day, neutralizes the effects of the positive words. You have to refuse to think negative thoughts, if you wish to attain positive results.


How to Repeat Affirmations

Choose affirmations that are not too long.

Repeat them every time your mind is not engaged in something important, such as while traveling in a bus or a train, waiting in line, walking, etc., but do not affirm while driving or crossing a street. You may also repeat them in special sessions of 5-10 minutes each, several times a day.

Relax any physical, emotional or mental tension while affirming.

The stronger the concentration, the more faith you have in what you are doing, the more feelings you put into the act, the stronger and faster will be the results.

Choose only positive words, describing what you really want.

If you desire to lose weight, do not tell yourself “I am not fat”, or “I am losing weight.” These are negative statements, bringing into the mind mental images of what you do not want.

Repeat instead, “I am getting slim“, or “I have reached my ideal weight“. Such words build positive images in your mind.

Always affirm in the present tense, not the future tense. Saying, “I will be rich”, means that you intend to be rich one day, in the indefinite future, but not now. It is more effective to say, and also feel, “I am rich now“, and the subconscious mind will work at overtime to make this happen now, in the present.

By stating what you want to be true in your life, you mentally and emotionally see and feel it as true, irrespective of your current circumstances, and thereby attract it into your life.

Positive Affirmations
– I am healthy and happy.

– Wealth is pouring into my life.

– I am sailing on the river of wealth.

– I am getting wealthier each day.

– My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.

– I have a lot of energy.

– I study and comprehend fast.

– My mind is calm.

– I am calm and relaxed in every situation.

– My thoughts are under my control.

– I radiate love and happiness.

– I am surrounded by love.

– I have the perfect job for me.

– I am living in the house of my dreams.

– I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband.

– I have a wonderful and satisfying job.

– I have the means to travel abroad, whenever I want to.

– I am successful in whatever I do.

– Everything is getting better every day.



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Perform Better Under Stress Using Self-Affirmation

Can thinking about what’s important to you improve your problem-solving powers?

Have a look at the following list of values and personal characteristics. If you had to pick just one, which most defines who you are and what matters to you?

  •     Your family
  •     Being good at sports
  •     Belief in a higher power
  •     Your friends
  •     Your creativity
  •     Aesthetics
  •     Your job

Perhaps what matters most to you isn’t there (this isn’t a comprehensive list!), in that case think about what does matter to you most.

In the burgeoning series of experiments which use this type of self-affirmation exercise, participants are then asked to write a paragraph or two on why this characteristic or value is so important to them. Sometimes they also think about a specific time or story that is illustrative.

The effects can be quite useful across a surprisingly large number of domains. It can help boost self-control in the moment and even increase social confidence for two or more months after it’s carried out.


Problem-solving

In a new study, Cresswell et al. (2013) tested whether a simple self-affirmation exercise would have a beneficial effect on problem-solving under stress, particularly for individuals who have been stressed recently.

In their experiment, half the participants did the self-affirmation exercise while the rest performed a similar, but ineffectual exercise.

The results showed that those who had been stressed recently and were self-affirmed before they began the exercise performed better at the problem-solving task. This suggests the self-affirmation exercise could be useful for people under stress who are, for example, taking exams, going to job interviews or under pressure at work.

What’s fascinating about the self-affirmation task is that it doesn’t have to be related to the area in which you’re looking to improve. So thinking about the importance of your family can increase your problem-solving performance, even though the two have little in common.

We don’t know exactly why the self-affirmation exercise works; indeed the researchers tested a couple of options in their study—that perhaps it improves people’s mood or that they engaged more with the task—but they don’t find evidence for either.

Instead they think it more likely that the self-affirmation exercise helps you move your attention more flexibly, which improves memory function.

Whatever the mechanism, this growing body of evidence on the benefits of self-affirmation is encouraging.

source: PSYblog


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4 Ways to Enjoy (Not Just Endure) Holiday Family Gatherings

The holidays mean lots of time spent with family, which can mean lots of opportunities for stress. Whether your brother-in-law insists on talking about politics, your mother probes into your love life, or your Great Aunt Jean picks her teeth at the table, each family gathering is rife with opportunities to lose your cool.

“The irony about spending time with the people you know and love the best is that they also know how to push your buttons the most,” says Kate Hanley, author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide. You can either clench your jaw and muddle through until it’s time to go home again, or you can try a few mindfulness techniques that can help you stay open-hearted to the people you love, Hanley says. “The only way you can change another person’s behavior is to change the way you react to them—and taking even a few seconds to take a deep breath can help you react more thoughtfully to whatever’s stressing you out.”

Here are four simple remedies—drawn from meditation, yoga, and acupressure—Hanley suggests trying at every family gathering you’ll be attending this holiday season. “Although no one thing can magically transform your family relationships, these tips can help you be more relaxed, less stressed, and less likely to get snippy with the people you love.”

Stand by your mantra.

Before you head to the family gathering, decide which family quirks you’re dreading the most. Then resolve to repeat a calming mantra whenever your stress trigger happens. “Your mantra can be any word or short phrase that’s meaningful to you,” Hanley says. “It could be something formal, like ‘Om’ or ‘Amen,’ or something simple such ‘peace’ or ‘bless his heart.'” Whatever mantra you choose, taking a few moments to repeat it before you react to whatever is pushing your buttons gives you a chance to collect your thoughts—making you less likely to over-react.

How to Stay Healthy at Christmas

Accentuate the positive.

Before you leave for the family gathering (or before you begin getting ready, if you’re hosting), take a few moments to name the parts of the day you’re looking forward to—such as eating Mom’s apple pie, seeing your favorite cousin, or playing with your niece. Then if anything happens to spike your stress levels, make it a point to focus on the things you like. “Changing your focus from something upsetting to something enjoyable can snap you out of a downward spiral in mood,” Hanley says.

Practice the art of letting go.

We all wish we could “get more Zen” around our families, but we can all use a little help because the emotions associated with family are deep-seated and highly charged. There is an acupressure point known as Letting Go that facilitates the release of troublesome emotions, deepens breathing, and promotes relaxation. “Spending a few minutes applying gentle pressure to your Letting Go points can provide a noticeable shift in your mood,” Hanley says. “You can do it in your car before you go inside or even in the bathroom if you need help during the festivities.” To find the Letting Go points, feel the tips of your collarbones on either side of the notch of your throat. Walk your fingers out to where the collarbones end—the Letting Go points are located three finger widths below that end point. With your arms crossed in front of your torso, press two or three fingertips in to the points on either side of your chest and breathe naturally as you do. “You don’t need to go for the burn—think steady but gentle pressure,” Hanley advises. After a minute or two, remove your fingertips slowly and take a couple of breaths before you head back in to the festivities.

Remember your heart.

Whenever you need help staying calm, take a moment to lay one hand over your heart. “This simple gesture shifts your focus away from your swirling thoughts and on to your body—where your deepest wisdom resides—and your heart in particular, which helps you react with love instead of frustration,” Hanley says. “If anyone in your family catches you doing it and looks at you funny, just tell them you have heartburn.”

Kate Hanley is a professional writer who specializes in exploring the mind-body connection.

source: life.gaiam.com


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Say These Two Words to Eat Less, Lose Weight: Study

September 13, 2012 | By Amy O’Connor

Can saying two simple words help you lose weight and stick to your healthy habits? Researchers cautiously say yes!
In a series of experiments, dieters who said “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” when offered tempting treats were more likely to choose healthier options or abstain from food completely, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
In “‘I Don’t’ versus ‘I Can’t’: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior,” Vanessa Patrick, Ph.D., of the University of Houston, wanted to examine the power of words on self-control and goals, especially among people trying to get healthier.
She hypothesized that “I don’t” is a more powerful regulator of behavior than “I can’t,” because “I don’t” connotes a firmly entrenched attitude rather than a temporary situation, empowering the person who says it with more will-power and feelings of self-control.
One experiment put a series of hypothetical temptations in front of 120 people and asked them to tell themselves “I don’t” or I can’t” depending on the situation. (For example, at a party, if offered a greasy meatball, you would say “I don’t eat those” or “I can’t eat those.”)
They were then asked to rank their feelings of empowerment and self control. As they were leaving the lab, they were asked to choose between two snacks—an unhealthy candy bar versus a healthy granola bar—provided by the experimenter as a token of appreciation.
Fotolia
The results: twice as many of the “I don’t” responders skipped a snack altogether. And 64% of the participants who said “I don’t” chose the healthy granola snack while 39% of those who said “I can’t” went for the chocolate.
“The finding supports our theorizing that the don’t refusal frame is more empowering and more likely to lead to resistance to temptation than the can’t refusal frame,” says Patrick.
In another experiment, 30 working women between the ages of 22 and 53 were signed up for a 10-day health and wellness program. All were prompted to using the “I don’t” versus “I can’t” refusal strategy when confronted with unhealthy temptations.
The results: 8 of the 10 “I don’ts” followed through the program for a full 10 days, whereas only one of the “I can’ts” (and three of the controls) continued on to the end. This suggests that suggests that saying “I Don’t” increased the participants’ feelings of autonomy and control, greater self-awareness, and positive behavioral change.
While the notion that saying “I don’t” can be an effective self-regulatory strategy and help dieters stick to their goals is an intriguing one, it isn’t proven. But it’s free, easy, and anyone can try it! So altogether now: I DON’T!!


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3 Ways to Banish a Bad Habit

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor     August 21, 2012

Bad habits happen—even to good people.
Whether it’s biting your nails, or putting off a big project, everyone has those little routines that aren’t so healthy or helpful.
What makes a particular pattern of behavior “bad?”
Lori Campbell, gerontologist and author of “Awaken Your Age Potential,” says that a habit should be considered bad if it’s harmful to you or other people. This simple-sounding definition encompasses a wide variety of behaviors—from unhealthy eating, to compulsive shopping.
The birth of a bad habit
Habits themselves are neutral, subconscious patterns of behavior that people learn by repeating an action. Once they are formed, these patterns act as neural short-cuts, helping the brain save energy for more complex tasks. With habits you don’t think—you just do.
But, because a person isn’t thinking about the potential consequences of their actions, this lack of attention can quickly lead to the formation of bad habits. “Most people go through life letting things ‘just happen’ to them,” Campbell says, “They make reactive responses quickly and without much thought.”
These reactive responses occur more frequently when a person is confronted by stress. Sheila Foreman, J.D., Ph.D., a clinical psychologist says that most harmful habits spring from maladaptive coping techniques to difficult situations.
Reaching into the freezer for a tub of Chunky Money as soon as you come home from work is the perfect example of such a technique. Digging your spoon into that sugary, icy vice is a quick, yet ineffective way to give your stressed-out brain the infusion of feel-good hormones it’s craving after a long day at the office.
Don’t break it, replace it
Bad habits are often formed as a result of subliminal pleasure-seeking. This makes attention and awareness the most potent enemies of unhealthy routines, and two valuable tools that can be used to rid yourself of harmful patterns of behavior.

Here are some techniques to help you defeat your damaging behaviors:

1. Recognize-Before you can get rid of a harmful habit, you must first be able to recognize it Habits, by definition, are automatic patterns of behavior, which is why Campbell stresses the importance of mindfulness in day-to-day life. Turn your attention to your habits—the good and the bad. Figure out which behaviors you want to change and what challenges you’ll face while trying to overcome them. Whether you’re aiming to break out of a fast food rut or seeking to get a better handle on your temper, pre-planning and goal-setting are both effective methods of working towards an achievement like breaking a bad habit.

2. Visualize-Don’t dwell too long on the negative routine. Instead, figure out what positive habits you want to replace it with. Both Foreman and Campbell suggest swapping out damaging behaviors with healthier alternatives. For example, if you love to drink diet soda, try gradually replacing your daily bottles of pop with glasses of water. In your mind, picture yourself drinking the water, think about how good it will make you feel and how much healthier you’ll be as a result.

3. Affirm-An affirmation is essentially a verbalization of the goal you’re seeking and why it’s beneficial for you. In the diet soda example, some good affirmations might be: A healthy body is the key to leading a better life, I am treating my body with respect so that it will last me as I get older, etc.
Experts differ on their estimations of how long it takes to form a new habit. Some say it can happen in as little as three or four weeks, but some studies say that the road may be a little longer.
Consistency is the key to rapidly replacing damaging behaviors with healthy ones, according to Foreman.
A study published by the University College of London found that people who were trying to incorporate more healthy behaviors into their daily routines—eating an extra piece of fruit or going for a short run—required an average of 66 days of regular adherence to their new routines for them to become second-nature.
You may be able to shorten your healthy habit adoption time by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. “So many bad habits are socially accepted and people tend to want to ‘fit in’ rather than be healthy,” Campbell says, “Start hanging around with people that emulate and live out your desired new habit.”

source: care2.com    AgingCare.com 


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Self- Fulfilling Prophecies

I’d like to share a secret with you. On many occasions, when I have been faced with a difficult task, I have found myself doubting my ability to achieve it. I can hear this negative thought within me saying “I can’t do it.


It’s funny how powerful your mind can be.

Most of us are way too hard on ourselves. Self esteems are fragile, and rarely do we give ourselves the credit we deserve.

Our self doubts can often be so powerful, they usually shape the outcome of our activity. If we picture ourselves failing, much of the time you can bet we will.

The opposite is true as well. If you imagine yourself succeeding, you are more likely to.

I have learned to combat that negative voice inside me with another voice. This voice is my advocate, my champion, my inner hero. It also uses 3 little words. YES, YOU CAN!


These three words can be VERY powerful. For me, they counter act negativity and self doubt often. I have made it a habit to combat insecurity
with those three words, and it has become effective in helping in countless challenging situations.

This is a great example of how self affirmations can be an excellent way of helping you succeed.

The mind is a very powerful tool … a tool you can utilize to improve your life, help you be more successful more often and achieve our goals. Try being your biggest cheerleader next time you are challenged … encourage and believe in yourself.

~ Pete Szekely