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Fun Fact Friday

  • Stephen Hawking was told that he had two years to live by doctors back in 1963. Today, he’s alive and is 72-years-old.

  • 71% of breakups happen because of mood swings.

 

 

  • Banana is a happy fruit. Eating just one can help relieve irritable emotions, anger and or depression.

  • It only takes one lie to completely change a person’s perception of who you are.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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A 5-Minute Breathing Exercise To Reduce Stress

In yoga, we try to balance the flows of energy and awareness as we raise prana, or breath. Pranayama (“conscious breathing”) creates this balance by linking the body with the mind. Pranayama is the inhale, the exhale, and the suspension of the inhale and exhale. Performed correctly and gradually is to be freed from all disease.

In essence, without the breath, yoga would be no different than our traditional Western forms of exercise. The breath is the tool that unites body with mind. When linking breath with movement, we gradually develop a relationship with the length, depth and pace of our inhale and exhale. This synchronicity creates balance. Now let’s see what this mind-body connectivity hoopla is really all about!

To deepen your yoga practice, try this 6-step process once a day for 30 days:

  1. Pick your favorite seated yoga posture. Secure yourself safely in the posture.
  2. Close your eyes and breath naturally for a moment. As you do so, acknowledge your slowing pulse, become aware of how still your mind and body are, and absorb your connection to your entire being
  3. Now, deepen your breath, inhaling the breath from your belly into your chest. Feel the strength of your life force.
  4. Exhale slowly and completely through your nostrils, being patient with your release
  5. Still holding this posture, breathe deeply for at least 90 seconds. Watch the heat build. This is how we detoxify and purify the body.
  6. Notice any sensations and discomfort that arise in the body. Notice the mental discomfort as the ego wants to escape from the posture. Every breath is a source of valuable information for you.

 

d16c0-yoga-meditation-woman-mountain

Pranayama is also a powerful tool for developing mindfulness and witness consciousness.

The average person has between 40,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day.

(Take a moment to soak in thought #60,001.)

So what determines whether you’re having 40,000 or 60,000 thoughts?

You guessed it: the length, depth and pace of your breath.

The mind spends the majority of its time replaying memories of the past or projecting how events or moments in the future will unfold. These repetitive thought-cycles carry an emotional charge. Those that are negative and fear-based enslave us in negative habitual patterns of unconscious and subconscious behaviors.

And that kind of thinking certainly takes the fun out of life, doesn’t it?

In yoga, we call these Samskaras. As long as these particles containing these emotions, thoughts or desires are within, we will continue to be influenced by them at an unconscious level.

The past is our guide to healing. The breath is our tool for healing and transformation.

All we have is the present moment, which empowers conscious choice and transformation from the inside out.

So, maybe you’re not a yogi or yogini. Even so, a daily pranayama practice is one of the most valuable resources you have for your overall health and well-being. Conscious, mindful breathing allows you to organically raise energy levels in your body while activating the relaxation response, all designed to bring you maximum vitality.

Take five minutes for yourself every morning for a little mindful breathing and see how that elevates your workout, reduces stress, and helps you realign inside and out.

This is pranayama!


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8 Ways to Put Yourself on Your Priority List

Finding Time for ”Me” Time

By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach

How often have you found yourself thinking or saying the following?

“I wish I had more time for myself.”
“I’m so busy! I don’t have a moment to breathe.”
“I need more hours in the day.”
“I don’t have time for that.”

We lead crazy, busy lives. And the one thing we never seem to have time for is ourselves. This problem seems even more pervasive as we work harder to meet the challenges of this new economy.

Creating more personal time tops the list of goals many people want to accomplish. With work time, partner or family time and social time all demanding our attention, we are constantly juggling our day-to-day responsibilities. Finding as little as 15-30 minutes a day of uninterrupted, relaxing “me” time is challenging at best.

But we all instinctively know that when we take time for ourselves to pursue our passions, do the things that we enjoy, relax or even do nothing at all, we end up happier, healthier and feeling better. “Me” time allows us to de-stress, unwind and rejuvenate. Taking time for yourself allows you to renew, heal, and create reserves of energy and peace.

When I ask my clients why they don’t plan more “me” time in their schedules, three common themes arise: not enough time, feeling guilty, or it feels selfish. The more giving and caring a person you are, the more these feelings seem to emerge.

Remember that no matter what we do, there are only 24 hours in a day, so you can’t create more time. But you can clear some time by reevaluating priorities, perhaps saying “no” more often and practicing smart time management.

“Me” time is not something you should feel guilty about. It’s nothing more than taking some time to put aside your everyday business and treating yourself to an activity that you enjoy. It gives you an opportunity to relax, refocus and recharge. And when you do that, you can come back to your responsibilities with greater focus, commitment and enjoyment.

It is very common to become so involved in giving to others that we fail to give to ourselves. And although this is more often a trait in women, there are plenty of men out there who feel this way too. Many are so caught up in earning a living to take care of their families, that breaking away from responsibilities to indulge in hobbies, reading or hanging out with the guys makes them feel selfish.

If everyone else around you is worthy of care and attention, then so are you. You not only deserve this time, but you need it for your own well-being. Lack of time for ourselves often leads to feeling frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and out of balance. Without this time for ourselves, we lose sight of what’s important to us.

Peaceful woman relaxing at home with cup of tea

Occasionally I am asked, “Doesn’t exercise count as ‘me’ time?” Well the answer is yes and no. If you approach exercise as another responsibility to cross off the list, and/or get more joy when you are done vs. enjoying the actual time spent working out, you are probably getting lots of health benefits, but not the same kind you get from “me” time. Unless you walk away from your routine feeling renewed, refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the world once again, you may still need another activity that you do just for the pure joy of doing it. If, despite a regular exercise routine, you still feel overwhelmed and yearning for personal time, scheduling a few “me” time activities will do you a world of good!

Let’s look at some ways you can make “me” time a reality:

First, decide that you deserve some time to yourself each day. Stop feeling guilty for taking time out for you, and realize in the long run, it’s a win-win for everyone. When you are tired, stressed out and pulled in too many directions, it is hard to give your best to all you must accomplish. Remember, self-time is not selfish—it’s a necessary dimension of self-care!

Decide how best to spend “me” time. How each of us chooses to spend free time is as individualized as we all are. If you had an extra 15 minutes, a half hour, an afternoon or an entire day, what would you do to make yourself feel rejuvenated, relaxed and happy? Write a list and keep it handy when you begin scheduling time into your calendar.

Evaluate the things that are wasting your time each day. Do you check your emails constantly and end up spending more time on your computer than you planned? Do you answer personal calls in the middle of your workday? Run to the supermarket daily to pick up dinner rather than plan in advance and shop once? If this sounds like you, you must take the time to organize your responsibilities, and you will gain more free time than you can imagine.

Learn to say “no” to requests to do things that you don’t really want to, don’t value or don’t bring you satisfaction and joy.

Ask for help with chores that don’t necessarily have to be completed by you alone.

At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to designate specific time slots for all that must be accomplished—including “me” time. Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable.

Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of “me” time every day. Do something (or nothing) that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts.

Create a daily ritual. This can be a bath, listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. Make it something you can look forward to. Years ago, when my children were small and life felt too hectic and overwhelming, I created a ritual for “me” time. I decided it was well worth it to get up 45 minutes before the rest of the family to enjoy my coffee and breakfast in solitude. To this day it’s my time to read, daydream or just bask in the sounds of silence. Looking forward to this time, and a coffee pot on a timer, gets me out of bed with a smile on my face.

Stop wishing you had more time to yourself, and commit to carving it into your schedule. Rather than bemoan your lack of time, change your approach and create the time using the tips above. You will be amazed at how a little bit of time to yourself can make a huge difference in your health and happiness!

Source:
Richardson, Cheryl. 1999. Take Time for Your Life:
A Personal Coach’s 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want,
NY, Broadway Books.
www.sparkpeople.com


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How to Claim Some ‘Me Time’

By Karen Asp       WebMD Feature Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

Say it loud, and say it proud: Me, me, me! OK, maybe you don’t want to shout it, but it is that important.

Fitting in time for yourself is essential to do your healthy habits. Take charge of your health and happiness, and you’ll lower your stress, become more productive, and have more energy.

You may think “it’s all about me” is selfish. But consider this: Other people benefit from your “me time,” too. Do things that feed you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and you’ll bring greater patience and a more positive attitude to your relationships. You’ll become a better parent, spouse, and a more effective team player at work.

Book It

Take a page from your calendar, literally. Every week, look at your calendar and book some me time.

Can’t find an hour to devote to yourself? Even 5-15 minutes can work, if you stick to it.

Don’t use the time to fold laundry or catch up on email. It may even seem more stressful at first to leave things undone, but you’ll have more energy if you take a little time off.

Where to find the time?

  • Take advantage of the kids’ reading or nap time.
  • Get up 10 minutes earlier.
  • Ask your kids (and spouse) to do the dishes.
  • Turn off the smartphone.
  • Claim a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon for yourself, even if that means adjusting your family’s schedule.

Gimme 5

If 5 minutes is all you’ve got, you’d be surprised at how much you can make it count.

Just breathe. Really focus on taking deep breaths. Your mind may wander — that’s OK, just gently lead it back from thinking about everything that’s on your to-do list.
Stretch. Get up from your desk and energize your muscles.
Do nothing. Sit quietly. Resist the urge to jump up and clear the table or pick up the kids’ toys. Let your mind and body rest.

A Few Minutes More

At least once a month, carve out a little more time for yourself — say 30 minutes to an hour. Get a pedicure. Or a facial. Go somewhere you’ve never been (a certain museum or a walking trail, perhaps). Write down your dreams and goals in a journal.

Say No, Gracefully

You don’t have to tell your friends and family what you’re doing. But if their demands cut into your time, it’s okay to create a buffer.

Tell them you can help but that you need a quick 20 minutes (or whatever amount of time feels right) before you can do it.

Stick to It

Unless it’s crucial, don’t cancel me time. It’s tempting and easy to forgo this time. But if you do it too often, you won’t have any me time left!

Stick up for yourself, and you’ll find it pays off for those around you, too. You’ll be happier and more able to help them.

source: WebMD


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10 Ways To Stop Stressing & Start Living Peacefully

BY TINA WILLIAMSON    NOVEMBER 9, 2013 

If you’re anything like me, you might worry like it’s a second job: if the coffee is good or bad, if we’ll get that promotion, and what diseases the future has in store for us. The unfortunate part is that this all-consuming gig doesn’t pay money—it pays in stress, unhappiness, anxiety, and inner turmoil.

It can feel almost unbearable waiting for these future outcomes to transpire. Sometimes our worries are small and manageable and pass, but sometimes worry becomes a chronic default setting. When we worry chronically, it becomes second nature to live in this revved up state of anxiety and restlessness. Know that you’re not alone; chances are, if you are breathing you are likely worrying.

Instead of replaying the same old worries day after day, why don’t we look at how to stop worrying and start living peacefully?


1. Take time for silence.

We need to first understand why we worry—worry comes from unpleasant thoughts that our mind manifests. When we follow these thoughts, we tend to dwell, fixate, exaggerate and obsess. Through silence, we can become acquainted with these thoughts and through mindfulness and meditation we can change these thoughts.


2. Get rid of stuff.

Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise. But material possessions are things we can lose, and with that comes worry and stress. By adopting a minimalist lifestyle you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.


3. Give yourself a safe space.

Whether your safe space is a room designed for yoga or meditation or simply your bedroom or office, the point is it should be relaxing, a place where you can close the doors to the outside stressors and just breathe.


4. Create a budget.

Even though it may seem like you’ll never have enough money, you need to stop stressing about it. One way to stop worrying about money is to gain some control over it. Create a budget and follow it.


5. Organize your time and self.

When you’re overextended, you are being flung in every direction, and when that happens, you’re not really following through on anything or doing anything particularly great. This ignites stress; we want to be perfect for everyone all the time. Make effective use of your time; learn how to say no, set a realistic schedule and forget about the expectations others project onto you.


6. Stop being influenced by media.

The media can make us feel like we are not thin, rich, or successful enough. It also instils fear of war, disease and even coffee. The media can be a fear-based breeding ground for worry.


7. Be rational.

Ask yourself, “Are my worries realistic?”

8. Exercise.

It releases endorphins, which make the brain feel good. Exercise also reduces the body’s stress hormones.


9. Express gratitude.

Stop worrying about things that may or may not happen and start being thankful for the things you have right now. Developing an attitude of gratitude can transform our states of mind. Spend a few minutes each day, listing things for which you are thankful.


10. Trust yourself.

Do you worry about whether you’re on the right path? Get quiet so that you can hear the small voice deep inside of you. Your inner GPS won’t steer you wrong.

Simply tune into your inner compass; it’s guiding you in the right direction.

Remember these things:

  • Worrying accomplishes nothing.
  • Worrying is bad for you. 
  • Worrying is the opposite of trust and peace. 
  • Worrying puts your attention in the wrong direction.

 

When worry does grab a hold of you, these fun tips can help stop it from snowballing:

  • Listen to music
  • Go to a party
  • Read a book
  • Have a movie night with your friends
  • Go camping
  • Have a family outing
  • Spend a day at the beach
  • Take a relaxing cleansing breath ….

Aaahhhh. Feel the stress float away.

 


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Magnolia Tree Bark Extract Fights Bad Breath, Tooth Decay, Stress

by: Leslee Dru Browning     Tuesday, January 08, 2008 

(NaturalNews) Magnolia Bark has been used in Chinese Medicine since the year 100 A.D. Magnolia Bark was primarily selected as a safe treatment for low energy, anxiety, stress and depression. Recently, after hundreds of years of herbal use, scientific research discovered that magnolia bark is rich in two biphenol compounds (magnolol and honokiol), which are thought to contribute to the primary anti-stress and cortisol-lowering effects of the plant. Today, medical research specifies that magnolia’s anti-stress benefits are, indeed, linked to its ability to control levels of the body’s primary stress hormone, cortisol.

Elevated cortisol levels are associated with conditions including, but not limited to, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, memory problems and suppressed immune function; magnolia bark can help these conditions by regulating cortisol levels. Numerous health benefits are associated with normal cortisol levels.

Old-time herbalists used magnolia bark in hypertension herbal remedies and Japanese researchers have now determined that the magnolol and honokiol components of Magnolia officinalis are one thousand times more potent than alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in their antioxidant activity, thereby offering a potential heart-health benefit. Research has also shown both magnolol and honokiol to possess powerful “brain-health” benefits through their actions in modulating the activity of various neurotransmitters and related enzymes in the brain.

The latest research news from scientists in Illinois report that breath mints made with magnolia bark extract kill most oral bacteria that causes bad breath and tooth decay within 30 minutes of chewing the mints. A magnolia bark extract could be a boon for oral health when added to chewing gum and mints according to a study reported in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

Minmin Tian and Michael Greenberg tested the germ-killing power of magnolia bark extract using saliva samples taken from volunteers following a regular meal.

In this new study, Mints containing the extract killed more than 61 percent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes, compared with only a 3.6 percent germ-kill for the same flavorless mints without the extract, the researchers say. Magnolia bark is much more effective than existing anti-bacterial products for bad breath, which are far from ideal, with some having side effects like tooth staining.

The extract also showed strong antibacterial activity against a group of bacteria known to cause cavities. Mints and chewing gum containing the extract may also provide a “portable oral care supplement to dentifrice (toothpaste), where brushing is not possible,” the study states.


Herbalists have also used magnolia bark in herbal remedies for the following health conditions:

Traditional Usage:

* Allergies
* Anti-anxiety
* Anti-inflammatory
* Antioxidant
* Chest Pain
* Cleansing
* Detoxification
* Digestive Problems
* Emotional Distress
* Energy Loss
* Fainting
* Heart Health Maintenance
* Hormonal Imbalances
* Inflammation
* Insomnia
* Muscle tension
* Nervousness
* Obesity
* Stress and restlessness
* Tension
* Tension Headaches

All magnolia species have been found to have similar active ingredients and are used interchangeably.

Drug Interactions when ingesting Magnolia Bark tincture, extract or capsules:

Do not use with substances that act on the central nervous system such as alcohol, barbiturates, and mood altering medications.

Contraindications for ingestion of Magnolia Bark tincture extract or capsules:

Contraindicated for use with substances that act on the central nervous system such as alcohol, barbiturates, and mood altering medications.

Side Effects:

No significant toxicity or adverse effects have been associated with traditional use of magnolia bark. However, do not operate heavy machinery while ingesting magnolia bark.

References:

Compressed Mints and Chewing Gum Containing Magnolia Bark Extract Are Effective against Bacteria Responsible for Oral Malodor in the Nov. 14 issue of the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/jafcau/2007/55/i23/html/jf0721…)
Sweet magnolia: Tree bark extract fights bad breath and tooth decay from the American Chemical Society:
(http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/89384.php)
Herb & Supplement Encyclopedia:
(http://www.florahealth.com/flora/home/Canada/HealthInformation/Encycl…)

About the author
Leslee Dru Browning is a 6th generation Medical Herbalist & Nutritionist from the ancestral line of Patty Bartlett Sessions; Pioneer Mid-Wife & Herbalist. Leslee practiced Medical Herbalism and Nutritional Healing for over 25 years and specialized in Cancer Wellness along with Chronic Illness. She now devotes her career to teaching people, through her writing, about Natural Healing from An Herbal Perspective.


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Stress and the Brain

Brought to you by Deepak Chopra, M.D., Alexander Tsiaras and TheVisualMD.com        Posted: 07/24/2011


The human body responds to stress with a powerful fight-or-flight reaction. Hormone surge through the body, causing the heart to pump faster and sending extra supplies of energy into the bloodstream. For much of human history, this emergency response system was useful: It enabled people to survive immediate physical threats, like an attack from a wild animal. But today, the stress in most people’s lives comes from the more psychological and seemingly endless pressures of modern life. Daily challenges like a long commute or a difficult boss can turn on the stress hormones — and because these conditions don’t go away, the hormones don’t shut off.  Instead of helping you survive, this kind of stress response can actually make you sick.


Chronic stress can harm the body in several ways. The stress hormone cortisol, for instance, has been linked to an increase in fat around organs, known as visceral fat. The accumulation of visceral fat is dangerous, since these fat cells actively secrete hormones that can disrupt the functioning of the liver, pancreas and brain, causing problems such as insulin resistance, inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Chronic exposure to other stress hormones can also weaken the immune system and even change the structure of chromosomes.

How Stress Affects the Brain

Recent research suggests that chronic stress takes a toll on the brain, too. Studies on mice show that stress-related hormones alter physical structures in the brain in ways that could affect memory, learning and mood. Some of these changes involve dendrites — tiny branch-like structures on nerve cells that send and receive signals. Several studies have shown that stress hormones can shrink dendrites and, as a result, information doesn’t get relayed across nerve cells. When the cell damage occurs in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, it can impact memory and learning.

If stress makes you feel anxious, damage to dendrites might be part of the cause. A 2011 study found that rats whose dendrites had eroded due to stress had higher levels of anxiety. More research is needed to determine the exact effect of stress hormones on people’s brains, but one study of adults with post-traumatic stress disorder suggests that the stress hormone cortisol may actually shrink the size of the hippocampus. Researchers are still trying to determine if this is because of the hormone’s toxic effect on neurons or if there is a genetic component — or if both are involved.

Another part of the brain that seems to be affected by stress is the amygdala — the part of the brain that regulates fear and other emotions. A 2003 study found that in mice under stress, the amygdala grew larger while the dendrites in the hippocampus shrank. Researchers believe that together, these two effects may cause an increase in anxiety. They think that as the amygdala grows in size, you may experience more anxiety and fear. (The amygdala is known to become bigger and more active in people who are depressed). But because the hippocampus cells involved in memory are shrinking and not transmitting information effectively, you can’t connect the feelings of fear to memories of real events. You’re left with a lot of generalized anxiety.

Tips On Coping With Stress

If this news about stress and the brain is giving you a headache – or stressing you out in other ways – relax. The good news is that you can learn healthy ways to cope with stress that will protect your brain – and the rest of your body – from stress’s negative effects.


Not everyone is equally vulnerable to stress. Genetics play a role in how a person’s body reacts. Your past experiences can affect your response, too. If you lived through a lot of stressful situations growing up, you may be more sensitive to stress as an adult. Try to notice your own reactions to stress. Do you stay calm when pressures mount, or can you feel your pulse increase just thinking about a stressful situation? Once you become aware of what sets off your body’s fight or flight response, you can use these tips to try to change your response to stress.

1. Resolve the stressful situation if you can. You may not have much control over many of the sources of stress in your life, but if there is a something you can do to resolve a stressful situation, do it! Talk to friends about what you can do to change a bad situation, and consider getting help from a conflict resolution expert if necessary.

2. Spend time with loved ones and cultivate healthy friendships. Research shows that a good social support network has definite mental health benefits. It can keep you from feeling lonely, isolated or inadequate and if you feel good about yourself, you can deal with stress better. Friends and loved ones can be a good source of advice and suggest new ways of handling problems. But they can also be an excellent distraction from what’s bothering you. If your network of friends is small, think about volunteering, joining an outdoor activities group or trying an online meet-up group to make new friends.

3. Do an activity you like. Part of being stressed out is feeling that you never have enough time, so adding more activities to your schedule might seem like the last thing you need. But if you make even a little bit of time for an activity you really enjoy, the payoff can be huge: You feel calmer and happier and can deal with work and other demands better. Whether it’s playing music, doing a craft, or working on your car, do something that absorbs and relaxes you.

4. Try relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help slow your breathing and heart rate and focus your mind inward, away from whatever is causing you stress.

5. Exercise regularly. Whether it’s walking outside with a friend or taking an exercise class at the gym, getting active can help you relax and help turn off your body’s stress response.

6. Get plenty of sleep. When you’re well-rested, you can approach stressful situations more calmly.

7. Eat a healthy diet. Stress is tough enough on your body, so help it out by feeding it fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat protein.

8. Appreciate what’s good in your life. It sounds corny, but focusing your thoughts on positive parts of your life instead of the stress-ridden areas can be good for your physical health. Research shows that positive emotions helped people recover their normal heart rate more quickly after it was raised during exertion.

9. Laugh! Researchers are still investigating the precise effects of laughter on stress hormones, but some findings suggest that it has a stress-relief effect on heart rate, respiratory rate and muscle tension. Your own research has probably convinced you that laughing makes you feel better.

10. Seek professional counseling if necessary.  Extreme chronic stress is no laughing matter. Enlist the help of a professional if you think you are at risk for serious health effects.


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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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Relax: It’s Good For Your Genes

By Maia Szalavitz   May 03, 2013

While it might seem that your body and brain aren’t doing much when you’re on break, relaxing triggers a flurry of genetic activity that is responsible for some important health benefits.

When you really relax —  using any type of meditative technique such as deep breathing, yoga or prayer — the genes in your body switch to a different mode. Genes that counteract the chemical effects of stress kick in, while those responsible for driving more anxious and alert states take a back seat. And a new study shows that long term practice of relaxation techniques can significantly enhance these genetic benefits.

Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, first defined the relaxation response in the early 1970s and led the latest genetic investigation published in the journal PLOS One.

“We have within us an innate, inborn capacity that counters the harmful effects of stress,” says Benson, “And this study has shown its genomic basis:  namely that specific hubs of genes are changed when people evoke this relaxation response.”

“It’s fantastic,” says Dr. Mladen Golubic, medical director of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not associated with the study. While other studies have linked the relaxation response to lower stress levels and reduced blood pressure, the current trail details the physiological pathways responsible for producing these benefits. The findings confirm and expand on work Benson’s group published in 2008 in which they showed that people who meditated over a long period of time showed altered expression of the genes involved in the stress response.

In the current study, Benson and his colleagues studied 52 people, half of whom had meditated for four to 20 years using relaxation techniques and half of whom were novices. Both groups had their blood taken and analyzed before and after a 20 minute relaxation session in which they used a CD for guidance. The new meditaters agreed to participate in two relaxation sessions; in the first, they listened to a CD that provided general health information unrelated to stress, which served as a control. That way, the researchers could compare any molecular changes captured in their blood after they learned deep breathing, mindfulness and mantra practice, which involved focusing their mind on a single repeated word while ignoring distractions.

After these sessions, the scientists identified four sets of changes in the way genes were expressed; these alterations only occurred after the participants used relaxation techniques. The first involved genes related to mitochondria, the batteries that power the cell. “These changes lead to [mitochondria] being more stable and more controlled,” Benson says, “The word we use in the paper to describe the mitochondrial changes is that they are more resilient.”


That makes sense, says Golubic, since “we know that people engaged in meditation report better moods, more energy and that they sleep better.”

Genes linked to insulin production were also affected, with the relaxation response boosting levels of the hormone that is also involved in energy metabolism. “Insulin facilitates the entrance of glucose into cells and into the mitochondria,” says Golubic.

And wasn’t just individual genes that Benson’s group identified, but suites of genes that were likely connected in a pathway. That strengthened the findings, since the changes appeared consistently and therefore were unlikely to be linked simply by chance. “What really matters is if you find genetic changes in hundreds of genes in the same pathway. When you find whole pathways that show change, that’s impressive,” says Golubic.

Meditation also affected genes related to telomeres, which cap off the ends of chromosomes to protect and extend the lives of cells. “The shorter the telomere, the more the aging process is manifest,” Benson says, “What the relaxation response is consistent with is stabilizing the telomeres and making them less likely to break down.” An earlier study found that experienced meditaters had about 30% more activity in the enzyme that repairs telomeres following an intensive meditation retreat.

The researchers also saw less activity in genes related to inflammation; in other studies, these genes were over-expressed in patients with hypertension, heart disease and cancer. The data suggest that meditation, or regular relaxation, can downplay the activity of these genes and potentially counteract some of the physiologic processes that drive them.

All of these changes were seen to a much greater extent in the experienced meditaters than in the novices. But those new to the practice also showed differences after only two months of training. “The longer you evoke the relaxation response over time — years as opposed to weeks as opposed to once or twice — the more profound the changes.” Benson says.

And there is no “right” or “best” way of achieving relaxation, say Benson and Golubic. Each individual can find whatever method works best; the benefits, according to the research so far, are the same.

“The relaxation response is best understood as the opposite of stress or the fight-or-flight response,” says Benson, “There are two steps generally used in evoking it.  One is repetition.  The repetition can be of a word, sound, prayer, phrase or movement. The other is that when other thoughts come to mind, you disregard them and go back to the repetition.”

Benson recommends practicing the technique for ten to 20 minutes, at least once a day. “It should be a daily habit,” he says, adding “People have been doing it for millennia.  Now we have a scientific basis to prove its worth. It’s wonderful to be alive to see it.”

source: Time


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How to Reduce, prevent, and Cope with Stress

Stress Management

It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems

Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).

Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a stress journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure).
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
  • How you acted in response.
  • What you did to make yourself feel better.
  • Look at how you currently cope with stress


Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.


Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)


Learning healthier ways to manage stress

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
=> Change the situation:
Avoid the stressor.
Alter the stressor.
=> Change your reaction:
Adapt to the stressor.
Accept the stressor.

Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.


Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Adjusting Your Attitude

How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

Healthy ways to relax and recharge

  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Call a good friend.
  • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Take a long bath.
  • Light scented candles. Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Work in your garden.
  • Get a massage.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.


Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.


Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.

Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.