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Connecting the Dots Between Physical and Emotional Health

There’s a link between your emotional health and your physical well-being, so take time to nurture both.

To be completely healthy, you should take care not only of your physical health, but your emotional health, too. If one is neglected, the other will suffer.

What’s the Connection Between Emotional and Physical Health?

There’s a physical connection between what the mind is thinking and those parts of the brain that control bodily functions. According to Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine in New York City, the brain is intimately connected to our endocrine system, which secretes hormones that can have a powerful influence on your emotional health. “Thoughts and feelings as they are generated within the mind [can influence] the outpouring of hormones from the endocrine system, which in effect control much of what goes on within the body,” says Dr. Goodstein.

“As a matter of fact, it’s very probable that many patients who go to their physician’s office with physical complaints have underlying depression,” he says. People who visit their doctors reporting symptoms of headache, lethargy, weakness, or vague abdominal symptoms often end up being diagnosed with depression, even though they do not report feelings of depression to their doctors, says Goodstein.

While unhappy or stressed-out thoughts may not directly cause poor physical health, they may be a contributing factor and may explain why one person is suffering physically while someone else is not, Goodstein adds.

stronger

 

How Exactly Does the Mind Affect the Body?

There are many ways in which the mind has a significant impact on the body. Here are a few:

  • Chronic illness and depression Depression has been shown to increase the risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, according to an article published in 2013 in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. A review of studies on diabetes and depression, published in August 2015 in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes, found that depression put people at a 41 percent higher risk for the condition. Researchers aren’t yet clear on how mental health influences physical health, but according to a study published in September 2017 in the journal Psychiatria Danubina, it may be that depression affects the immune system, and that habits associated with depression, such as poor diet or lack of physical activity, may create conditions for illness to occur.
  • Depression and longevity According to a review published in June 2014 in World Psychiatry, many major mental illnesses are associated with higher rates of death. Another study, published in October 2017 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that those with depression may have life spans from about 7 to 18 years shorter than the general population.
  • Physical symptoms of emotional health distress People who are clinically depressed often have physical symptoms, such as constipation, lack of appetite, insomnia, or lethargy, among others.
  • White-coat syndrome This is a condition in which a person’s blood pressure increases the minute they step into a doctor’s office. In white-coat syndrome, anxiety is directly related to physical function — blood pressure. “If you extrapolate from that, you can say, what other kinds of anxieties are these people having that are producing jumps in blood pressure? What is the consequence of repeated stress?” asks Goodstein.

And on the other hand: “Those individuals who have achieved a level of mental health where they can manage better the inevitable conflicts of human life are more likely to prevail in certain kinds of physical illness,” says Goodstein.

How Should You Care for Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being?

It’s hard to do, but slowing down and simplifying routines can go a long way to strengthening your mental and physical health.

  • Eat right. A healthy, regular diet is good for the body and mind.
  • Go to bed on time. Losing sleep is hard on your heart, may increase weight, and definitely cranks up the crankiness meter.
  • If you fall down, get back up. Resilience in the face of adversity is a gift that will keep on giving both mentally and physically.
  • Go out and play. Strike a balance between work and play. Yes, work is a good thing: It pays the bills. However, taking time out for relaxation and socializing is good for your emotional health and your physical health.
  • Exercise. A study published in October 2017 in Reviews in the Neurosciences shows that exercise improves your mood and has comprehensive benefits for your physical health.
  • See the right doctor, regularly. Going to the right doctor can make all the difference in your overall health, especially if you have a complicated condition that requires a specialist. But if your emotions are suffering, be open to seeing a mental health professional, too.

Total health depends on a healthy mind and body. Take time to nurture both.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Kathryn Keegan, MD
11/14/2017
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If you’re going to do one thing for a healthier 2017, choose one of these

Welcome to a new year filled with hopes for a healthy, happy 2017. The same resolutions are thrown around each year – lose weight, save money, and spend more time with family, for example.

Canadians from coast-to-coast may want to lead a healthier life, but don’t know where to get started. Global News asked leading health experts and organizations to pick the top priority they’d like Canadians to focus on for the year ahead.

Focus on your behaviours, not the numbers on the scale

Hide the scale. Losing weight and keeping it off is always a challenge. However, simply focusing on improving your diet, increasing your physical activity levels, getting enough sleep and feeling better about yourself can lead to important health improvements even with no – or very little – weight loss.

But remember, it is easier to achieve and sustain behavioural goals when they are specific, realistic, and measureable.

Also, it is better to focus on changing one behaviour at a time rather than trying to change everything at once.

– Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network

Get a pulse on your mental health and well-being

Mental health is key to well-being. It affects every single aspect of your daily life. Maintaining your mental health is a lot like staying physically fit: it requires a little effort, but the rewards are worth it.

Get into the habit of learning to recognize and express your emotions – without awareness it’s difficult to pinpoint why you are so stressed or having problems coping.

– Patrick Smith, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association

Break a sweat

A healthy lifestyle helps prevent 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke – leading killers of Canadians. The easiest way to reduce your risk is to get moving. Walk, dance, play a sport, take the stairs – make it fun! Even if you don’t have extra time, short rounds of exercise add up: 10 minutes is enough to get real cardiovascular benefits. Over time, you’ll work up to 30 minutes of daily physical activity at a moderate intensity. Repeat five days a week.

– Diego Marchese, CEO of Heart & Stroke

Think of the mental health of your loved ones

Operate on the statistically safe assumption that someone you know – a family member, friend, neighbour, fellow student, or coworker – is currently struggling with some form of mental illness. Take a moment to think about who that person is and then reflect on how you have responded to their experience of illness. Ask yourself if your response was different than it would have been if he or she had a broken leg or a cancer diagnosis. And if there is indeed a difference, then consider how you might support them differently.

The reality is that mental illness can be an isolating, even humiliating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Connecting makes a difference and enriches a relationship – it can relieve the sense of being alone and provide comfort, help and reassurance.

– David S. Goldbloom, senior medical advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Add healthy cues to your environment

Look around your workplace, car or anywhere you might be eating. Are there cues like candy bowls and cookie jars? Redesign your environment to nudge yourself towards nourishing choices. For example, put a bowl or fruit or cut up vegetables on the counter and keep all other foods in the fridge or cupboards. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk so it’s ready for sipping instead of sugary drinks.

– Andrea D’Ambrosio, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians of Canada

Plan your meals

Meal planning is a vital part of healthy eating and makes you happy as there will be less stress around weekday meals. It saves time by eliminating the deliberation when you’re trying to decide what’s for dinner. It will also save you money as you’ll only shop for ingredients you need on your plan. Finally, it saves calories.

When you arrive home from work, you’re less likely to mindlessly munch when you know what is planned for dinner. Keep menu planning simple – set aside 30 minutes before grocery shopping to survey the family. Bookmark favourite meals and reuse them weekly.

– Jaclyn Pritchard, registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto

Family meal

 

Schedule quality time with your family

Spending time with the family is essential to the health and well-being of both children and adults. Focus on your children by playing their favourite games with them, encouraging conversation by asking about their day at school, and showing interest in their ideas and activities. Share mealtime as an important way to connect and unwind at the end of a busy day.

Even when family members are off in different directions with school, work and activities, be sure to come together at the table at least once a week.

Decide on specific times when everyone’s electronic devices will be turned off. When you’re unplugged, get active – play games like tag, go for a walk, or sled in park.

– Staff at the Canadian Paediatric Society

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Lower your long-term health risks by staying within average levels of alcohol consumption. For women, the recommended daily serving is less than 10 ounces. With today’s wine glasses, your pour should be less than a third of the glass. For men, if you like to try the latest craft beers, keep it to two tall cans.

Always have some non-drinking days each week to minimize tolerance and habit formation.

– Dr. Granger Avery, president of the Canadian Medical Association

Quit smoking for one week

Quit smoking for a week, and then a month, and then a year and beyond. But start with that first week. Setting that small goal can help you with your longer-term goals, and everytime you quit – even if you don’t succeed – you learn more about how to quit successfully. Research shows that if you can quit for one week, you are nine times more likely to quit for the long haul. In some provinces, it could even win you $500 from the Smokers’ Helpline’s First Week Challenge Contest.

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. Within 10 years of quitting, an ex-smoker’s overall risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

– John Atkinson, director of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline

Don’t fall for gimmicks

Rather than fall prey to this year’s crop of fad diets, or worrying about a particular probiotic, nutrient or scary sounding chemical, focus instead on the bigger picture. Set a goal of cooking more from fresh whole ingredients and eating them around a table free from distraction. Reduce your restaurant usage. Aim for better nights’ sleeps. Cultivate healthy relationships with your friends and family. Don’t drink alcohol to excess and reduce your consumption of all sources of liquid calories. Do those things well and avoid news about the latest fad diet.

– Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute

Feed your brain

Do more physical activity, not for your waistline but for your brain. It gets blood pumping which helps your brain to function as well as possible. The increased blood flow nourishes your brain’s cells with nutrients and oxygen. It also encourages the development of new cells, all factors in reducing your risk of stroke.

Your brain is like your heart. They’re both muscles that need to be given a workout to stay healthy. Challenge your mind with exercise training, learning a new language or joining a book club, as examples.

– Larry Chambers, scientific advisor for the Alzheimer Society of Canada

Take a small step, master it, then take on another

Many of us are familiar with the best intentions of starting off the year with lofty goals when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle – followed by the enthusiasm of resolutions declining a few weeks after.

Take a step back and think of something you can realistically and comfortably accomplish when it comes to exercise, your diet, weight management or stress – and you will be more likely to stick to it.

Try incorporating 15 minutes of physical activity to your routine just a few days a week, and as you progress, move to 30 minutes. When you’ve made that into a habit, remove sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet, for example.

– Joanne Lewis, director of healthy eating and nutrition programming at the Canadian Diabetes Association

Ease your mind and treat yourself

Pace yourself at work. Try not to check your work emails after hours, truly disconnect.

Just like the 12 days of Christmas, practice 12 days of self-care in 2017.

Go for a walk, ski or snowshoe in the woods, treat yourself to a latte, book a massage, take a yoga class or volunteer. Don’t forget that doing something for others not only makes them feel good, but can lift your spirits.

– The Mental Health Commission of Canada

By Carmen Chai
National Online Journalist, Health Global News
carmen.chai@globalnews.ca
source: globalnews.ca


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What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t

When asked the question: “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer yes — we’d even think, “What kind of question is this? Of course I care about myself.”

When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s where the tricky part begins.

What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity that we deliberately do in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Although it’s a simple idea in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also keep to a good relationship with oneself and others.

What isn’t self-care?

Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman defined, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well. That is, if I don’t take enough care of myself, I won’t be in the place to give to my loved ones either.

In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life.

Where do you start? Well, there are 3 golden rules:

  • Stick to the basics. Over time you will find your own rhythm and routine. You will be able to implement more and identify more particular forms of self-care that work for you.
  • Self-care needs to be something you actively plan on, rather than something that just happens. It is an active choice and you must treat it as such. Add certain activities to your calendar, announce your plans to others in order to increase your commitment and actively look for opportunities to practice self-care.
  • What I often emphasize to my clients is that keeping a conscious mind is what counts. In other words if you don’t see something as self-care or don’t do something in order to take care of yourself, it won’t work as such. Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels and what the outcomes are.
Healthy-Lifestyle

Although self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist which can be followed by all of us:

  • Create a “no” list, with things you know you don’t like or you no longer want to do. E.g. Not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during lunch/dinner.
  • Promote a nutritious, healthy diet.
  • Get enough sleep. Adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Exercise. In contrast to what many people think, exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. In line with the self-care conditions, what’s important is that you choose a form of exercise that you like!
  • Follow-up with medical care. It is not unusual to put off checkups or visits to the doctor.
  • Use relaxation exercises and/or practice meditation. You can do these exercises at any time of the day; in the morning, when anxious, before going to sleep.
  • Spend enough time with your loved ones.
  • Do at least one relaxing activity every day, whether this is taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding yourself.
  • Do at least one pleasurable activity every day; from going to the cinema, to cooking or meeting with friends.
  • Look for opportunities to laugh!

Set up a 15-day self-care routine and see how you feel before and after. And never forget: As with everything, self-care takes practice!

 By Raphailia Michael, MA

About Raphailia Michael, MA
Raphailia Michael is a licensed Counselling Psychologist, qualified in Cyprus, Slovenia and the Netherlands. She runs an online practice working with people from all over the world, as well as a practice in Cyprus where she offers face-to-face sessions, workshops, skills groups and group therapy. Raphailia works with a variety of symptoms in a humanistic and integrative way, drawing on the perspectives of Person-centered approach, Narrative therapy, CBT, DBT, and Mindfulness. Her goal is to help her clients through their journey towards self-empowerment, self-acceptance and a more fulfilling life. More information can be obtained through www.raphailiamichael.com.


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9 Things Success-Oriented People Do

It’s a long journey. Here’s how to get started.

Posted Aug 08, 2015

Each of us can probably name an “overnight” success story, but most successful people actually spend countless hours nurturing and caring for their beloved projects. Many people assume that most successful people have things handed to them or that it comes with little effort. What is less obvious, however, is that they more typically become successful because of what they practice.

Here are 9 things that success-oriented people practice:

1. They are prepared for the journey. And they know the journey is an expedition rather than a stroll. Along the way, they encounter obstacles that no one warned them about, walk down poorly lit paths and discover a great deal about themselves.

2. They see everything as an opportunity. They even see rejection as an opportunity for personal and/or professional growth. Their strength comes from knowing that rejection is not the end of the world, and understanding how to use it. This is why success-oriented people don’t panic when they see an obstacle; they have confidence that they will work through the challenge.

3. They ask important questions. And the questions they ask themselves are far more important than the ones anyone asks them, questions like: Who do I want to reach? Is this goal serving a higher purpose? Who can I ask for honest feedback? What keeps me motivated?

4. They practice balance. They know they are on a journey and that self-care is critical. They realize that things can began to go sideways if they focus too much on just one issue. Going back to the expedition metaphor, success-oriented people know that if they use all of their energy to climb one hill and don’t properly pace themselves, they will run out of “fuel” to complete journey. In other words, they take breaks and participate in non-work related activities.

goals

5. They know that the core values of determination, discipline, perseverance, and hard work produce golden results. Many people want instant results, but it’s thoughtful, well-planned intentions that carry successful people to the finish line.

6. They are fully aware of their blind spots. They are open and ready to ask for help in areas that they haven’t mastered. They know that others can see things they can’t, and that sharing different perspectives provides new opportunities for growth.

7. They are always a student. They may be reading, doing independent research or engaging in new conversations, but their Number One goal in these activities is to learn. They know that they are responsible for laying the foundation for their success, and this growth comes from broadening their knowledge base.

8. They are not caught up in labels or status symbols. They know that golden opportunities are sometimes the ones others overlook or don’t see as popular. Success-oriented people know that a brand name isn’t always the best value for their business. They know what is the best fit.

9. They practice gratitude. They adopt this practice as part of their daily habits. They are grateful not only for career accomplishments but also for any help that they receive along the way. They are quick to say a sincere “Thank you” to those who offer them support.

Success comes in many different forms
and opening your perspective about
it can shape your path.

Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level social worker. She graduated from Kalamazoo College with a major in psychology and completed the master in social work program at the University of Michigan. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years.”


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12 Commandments for a Happy Life and Soul

Posted: 08/18/2015    Elyse Santilli

1. Choose happiness. Radiate it.

Happiness is a choice and an energy you can cultivate on a daily basis. Do your best to live in high vibration energy like love, peace, fun and joy — for your own wellbeing and fulfillment, and for the positive ripple effect it has on those around you and the entire world. Bring a sense of play, delight, awe and enthusiasm to your daily life and tasks. Decide that no matter what happens, you will keep your heart open.

2. Enjoy the pleasures of life.

You are the Universe experiencing itself through you. Show it a good time. Give it to yourself to enjoy earthly pleasures. Get up early and watch a sunrise, swim in the ocean, devour fresh salads and juices, put on your favorite tunes, throw a dinner party, try a new recipe, relax in the park with a great book, have a second coffee, and do the things that make you feel fully alive.

3. Make empowered choices.

You don’t have control over everything in life but you do have control over your choices. Make choices that are loving and kind to you. Feel good about your choices. Make them with the right energy – wholeheartedness, joy and permission. Use permissive verbs – I can do this; I choose this.

4. Live in gratitude.

Gratitude is deceptively simple yet incredibly powerful. It makes what you have today enough, while also attracting more great things into your life. Say thank you numerous times a day. Thank you for fresh air, blue skies, rain drops, nourishing food, warm clothes, loved ones, and life itself.

5. Own your gifts.

You are the only you in the history of humankind. There will never again be anyone else like you – with your unique and magical blend of talents, passions, quirks, ideas and energy. When you think of how many sliding doors moments and events in history had to happen for you to be here today, you may realize for a moment how incredibly precious and worthy you are. Shine your light. Own your gifts. Share your true authentic self with the world.

6. Listen to your heart.

Become less centered in your circling thoughts and more centered in your heart and soul. When you can listen to your own soul instead of the noise of the world, you’ve mastered your life. Your inner guide will always tell you where to go, what to do, what to say, and to whom. Your soul knows exactly what is needed for your own highest good, growth and happiness. Following your bliss is a reasonable action plan for your life, because when you do, you open the floodgate to ideas, energy and inspiration.

7. Be creative and curious.

Make time for soul journaling, dancing, art, creating, adventuring, and solo dates to get to know yourself better. Mix up your routine, try new activities, walk the untrodden path, and open your circle to new people. When you do, you become more present and alive, because you can no longer rely on your default autopilot half-asleep mode. Have endless curiosity towards life, and positive expectations.

namaste

8. Take care of yourself.

You are a worthy, divine spiritual being. Treat yourself accordingly. The more you take care of and support yourself, the more you can take care of and support others. Nourish yourself with nutritious foods, water, movement, meditation and sleep. Fill your cup until it overflows onto others.

7. Commit to self-love.

Your relationship with yourself is the most important one of your life. How you treat yourself will have a profound impact on your relationship with others, as well as your level of success and happiness. Treat yourself like you would a best friend or loved one. Place your hand on your heart daily and tell yourself you are loved and accepted. Remind yourself ‘I love you’ whenever you are feeling anxious, ungrounded or inadequate. Remember you are always enough.

8. Be present and mindful.

The only time you can truly experience life is now. Leave those circling thoughts, worries and daydreams alone for a minute and check out what joys and opportunities are surrounding you in the present moment. Give each task your full love, energy and attention. Connect with your senses throughout the day as a window into the present. Drop into your being and make presence your natural state. Give yourself wholeheartedly to each moment. Hold nothing back.

9. Remember measure and balance.

The sage walks the middle path, away from the extremes. There is a time for action and a time for rest. A time for giving and a time for receiving. A time for speaking and a time for silence. A time for indulging and a time for holding off. Balance the areas of your life – calling and career, love and relationships, wealth, leisure and lifestyle, wellbeing and spirituality – in line with your values.

10. Creation over reaction.

You are a powerful creator. Spend less time complaining about how things are and more time deciding how you would like them to be — and then take inspired action to make it so. Embody the energy of having what you desire in advance of it arriving. Act, dress, walk, talk and make decisions as your ideal self. Keep your eyes on your vision, not the illusions around you. They are yesterday’s creations.

11. Adopt Namaste consciousness.

Bless others and soul-salute them as you pass by. Remember the light within you is the same light within them – we’re all just souls wearing different costumes. We’re also operating at different levels of consciousness, so show compassion and practice forgiveness. See everyone as a flower — unique and beautiful in their own way. Replace judgment with acceptance, respect and love.

12. Think give.

Wake up and ask yourself: how can I serve today? How can I embody love? How can I bring joy? How can I leave this world a better place? Have a spirit of service as you go about your day. Be a blessing, good company, an inspiration to others. You get more of what you give, so if you lack love, joy or abundance, find a way to help others find it. It will return to you a hundredfold.

Elyse is a writer, life coach and happiness teacher at NotesOnBliss.com and the creator of the Beautiful Life Bootcamp online course. She teaches people to align with their inner spirit, design a life they love, and expand their happiness and inner peace.


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10 Simple Ways to Find Balance and Get Your Life Back

PRODUCTIVITY BY ROYALE SCUDERI

Life balance seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind of late. We have discovered that maintaining a healthy life balance is not only essential for happiness and well-being; it can be a tremendous boost to your productivity and career or business success as well. A well-balanced person has a far greater ability to focus their attention and energy on attaining their goals, taking productive actions and moving forward in a meaningful way.

The big question is…What does life balance really mean? What would a balanced life look like to us? And most importantly, how do we go about achieving it in the midst of our crazy schedules?

There are steps you can take to change what isn’t working and get back some control and balance in your life. And once you start seeing results you’ll be better equipped to maintain that new found equilibrium. The key is not to try to change everything at once, but to make small adjustments over time to determine what works for you. Eventually you will have a whole new set of positive life habits and you’ll never look back!

Some strategies that work:

Turn it off – Disconnect on the weekend. I hear the excuses already, but try it, at least for one day or even a few hours each night. Put the phone down and turn off the computer. Give your work brain a rest. Bonus: Spend the extra time actually interacting with your family and friends!

Trim, trim, trim – It’s a given that if your life is overflowing you will never be able to achieve balance and manage it all. It’s just not possible. Say no to everything that is either not essential or doesn’t add something valuable to your life. Be ruthless!

Pay attention to your health – We hear this over and over again, but usually only give it lip service. We know what we need to do, but it isn’t a priority until we have a health crisis. Our health really does affect the quality of our lives and our work. We are far more productive and happier when we get enough sleep, eat a little healthier and fit in some type of activity.

Minimize toxins– By that I don’t mean chemicals (though that might help too.) Minimize the negative influences around you. Avoid toxic people (complainers, whiners, poor attitudes.) If you can’t completely avoid them, at least minimize contact and tune them out as much as you can.

Surround yourself with positive, supportive, can-do people whenever possible

balance

Spend time alone – Making time for you is probably the hardest thing to do for the typical overworked and overwhelmed person, but it is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. Some things to try; meditate, write, sketch, do some yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing. You can do it!

Relationships do matter – Set aside quality time with your family and friends. Don’t just sit in front of the television, really connect and pay attention to those you care about. Make a date with your significant other, have coffee with a friend, play a game with a child. Really get to know the people around you.

Treat yourself– Get a pedicure or a facial. Better yet, schedule a massage. It doesn’t need to be costly; a glass of wine, your favorite coffee or tea, a delightfully scented candle or beautiful flowers will make a huge impact.

Explore the world – Take a walk and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Take a new route, visit a new town or try being a tourist in your own. Attend a local performance, play amateur photographer or go to the park and watch children play. They really know how to enjoy life!

Expand your awareness – Take a class, learn to paint or try something new that you’ve always wanted to learn. Read a book that sparks your interest or try listening to uplifting music. Find what interests you.

Remember fun – Laugh, joke, play, find your sense of humor, subscribe to a daily joke or get a tear-off calendar. Nothing makes the feel better as fast as a good old-fashioned belly laugh.


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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.
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