I'm a big fan of meditation. It helps with my stress and keeps me calm throughout the day. But when I tell people I meditate, they tend to give me an odd look. Meditation is not really part of mainstream America. But it should be!
Still not working? There are plenty of cd's or apps you can buy to help. If you have a Fitbit, there's an easy "calm" option on most of them that's a great way to start. Play around until you find what works for you.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia are a growing concern as the human race continues to live longer and longer. The good news is there are things you can do to prevent this devastating problem:
I read before bed almost every evening. It helps me to unwind and become sleepy. My husband can always tell when I have an exceptionally good book, because I stay up past my usual bedtime to continue reading. In fact once as a child, I stayed up all night reading a good book with a flashlight. I did not sleep very long and because of it, woke up feeling ill. My mother allowed me to stay home from school that day and after a good morning of sleep, I felt fine. Then I was busted, because no illness resolves that quickly. I had to fess up that I stayed up reading a book. I guess it could have been for a worse reason. I have always loved to read, but for others the interest is not present.
With the technology overload these days as well as the ability to binge watch shows and movies from all of our electronic devices, reading has declined even more. Reading is essential for children of all ages, but important even for adults. We have to find a way to revive interest in books. When I was a child, we had a reading program that rewarded us with free pan pizzas for reading a goal number of books. Reading is essential in this world; we must read menus, signs, instructions, reports and correspondence. Most jobs require some form of reading. While learning the basics is essential, there are so many other reasons to encourage reading.
The benefits of reading are numerous. Children who read outside of school tend to be higher achievers, more confident, more imaginative and less reliant on others for entertainment. Children who read are often better able to communicate their feelings and needs. Reading enables a calm and quiet time where only the mind is stimulated. Reading exercises the brain and also lengthens concentration time. Reading teaches everyone about the world and cultures around them. They can learn about different ways of life, ideas and believes that may make them a more open-minded and tolerant person.
Some ways to encourage reading among the whole family are as follows:
· Set aside a set reading time each day for everyone in the family.
· Take a trip to your local library to participate in the reading programs.
· Allow children to choose their own book to read.
· Pick a topic, have every family member read everything they can about it, and then have a family discussion about it.
· Set goals and reward your child for reading a set number of books.
· Ask your child to read you a story.
· Make a themed scavenger hunt out of topics from a book you read together.
· Travel to a place that they read about.
Enjoy a good book, starting today!
You might have heard the term, neuroplasticity, being bantered around lately. That’s because it’s an exciting new field of scientific research. It looks at the brain’s ability to change and adapt. This is especially important as we get older, and our cognitive function declines. By using neuroplastic exercises you can slow down and even halt this natural decline.
How does neuroplasticity work? It involves doing mental tasks that are challenging and work areas of the brain you tend to use infrequently. When combined with physical movement, these activities become even more challenging.
If you want to give neuroplasticity a try, here are some exercises:
1. Space It – This activity applies spatial, language, and math skills. While walking at a moderately fast pace, say your favorite color out loud. Spell it forward, then backward. How many letters does the word have? Does your telephone number contain that number? If it does, say the section of your number that has it. Repeat that numerical answer backward.
2. Speak It – This activity uses problem solving with spatial and language tasks. Alternate an activity that uses the left and right side of the body, such as forward lunges. As the right side moves, recite the name of any fruit or vegetable. As the left side moves, recite any word in a different language. Do this for 1 minute (Biscontini, 2016).
Continue to work your brain throughout life. You can do crossword puzzles while standing on one leg, play a musical instrument while marching, or play chess while doing planks. By combining physical movement with these mental activities, you will increase the benefits and promote long-term good cognitive health.
Coloring is no longer just for kids! You can now buy adult coloring books with intricate designs that will give you hours of coloring fun.
Reasons to color:
If you think you might want to give it a whirl, you can find adult coloring books at all craft stores and book stores. In fact, there are two on the New York Times best sellers list right now. Who knew? You'll also need to invest in some good colored pencils or markers.
Once you're ready, sit down with your supplies and play fun music in the background. Start with an easier picture. Don't overthink your color choices or sweat it if you go outside the lines. Try to color like you did as a kid....free and uninhibited by worries!!!! You will be surprised by how fast time goes by.
I was just at my in-laws house for the holidays. They are the inspiration for this article. After 50 years of living in the same place, they have accumulated quite a bit of stuff. They know they need to get rid of it, but the sentimental value is making that task difficult.
Sound familiar? Many of us have a problem with hanging on to items for too long. We may hope to use something in the future, such as jeans that are too small. Or we may have fond memories attached to old artwork, gifts, etc.. Either way, these objects can clutter our homes and our lives.
It's time to remove some of that clutter!! Start with something small. If you're getting ready to put away holiday decorations then take stock of what you have. If it no longer works or fits your style, then sell or donate it to a worthy cause. I did this with quite a few of my old holiday decorations. Since my mom had made some of them, I took photos of each one and will keep those photos for the memories.
Recycling is another great way to get rid of clutter. I am currently cutting up my husbands old rugby jerseys and will be turning them into a lovely quilt for the bed. That way he can cherish the memories and I can get rid of 5 huge totes stuffed with shirts!
Any time you pull out items, whether it is to decorate the house or change seasons, take stock of what you have. Eliminate the clutter for a fresh perspective on life.
The holidays are upon us and can be a very stressful time of year. I was just in a beauty salon and every woman in there was complaining about what she had to do, what relatives got on her nerves, etc. It made me realize that we can easily lose sight of what's important.
Let's fix that! Go pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa. Curl up on the couch with a soft blanket, dim the lights, turn on some soothing music, and relax. Take some deep breaths. Now think about the holidays. What do you love about them? What is important to you? What would you be sad to lose?
Once you have your list then go for it. Implement what you love and forget about the rest. If decorations are your thing then put them up, but maybe leave the tricky ones (like outdoor lights) in the box. If food is high on your list then cook what you love, or buy ready-made items from the store. They may cost more but will save you time.
For most of us, it's the people that make a holiday special. Be sure you find ways to connect with the ones you love. This can include a quick phone call, sending an electronic card, meeting for a meal, or simply hanging out and playing board games. Whatever you do, make sure that fun and laughter are part of the equation.
The holidays don't have to be stressful. Focus on what's important to you and forget the rest.
I love to scroll through Facebook and see photos of friend and family, read the occasional joke, and laugh at the silly cartoons. Every once in a while something more serious catches my attention. I want to duplicate it on this blog so that we can have a conversation about it.
Several of my female friends and I were just complaining about these very things at work. We get ourselves so upset about elements of our lives and it makes us resent our family members. Reading this list after complaining with my colleagues made me feel guilty for taking my life for granted. As the latest terminology calls them “first world problems”.
I realized that our problems really are all about perspective. My friends tease me because when they complain, I always point out that it could be worse and give them an example. For example, one of my friends was complaining about her child vomiting on her living room carpet. I told her it could have been worse. When she asked how, I described in vivid detail how when I was a child, I always tried to run to the bathroom while vomiting, so I left a trail on the carpet in the kitchen, the family room, the den and the bathroom! My mother would be so upset that I just did not stand in one spot and make the mess. I was joking, but maybe I should take my own advice more seriously.
We get caught up in our lifestyle and routines and often forget that there are many people in the world struggling to make ends meet, do not have families to share their lives with and some do not have homes to live in. When we live our lives comfortably, we forget to appreciate them!
I encourage you to print this list or make it your background or post it somewhere you will see it often to remind you to be grateful for what you have. It does make all of those chores a little bit easier when you view them from a grateful perspective.
This phrase can take my irritated meter to the high level! I am happily married, work full time, have many hobbies and a fur baby. Many people in my life often use that quote with me when I am telling of my recent adventures. My response to everyone that gives me this very passive aggressive line is “then make it!” I understand that there is only 24 hours in a day and we cannot extend it, but you can manage it better!
First, you need to be the optimal you. You need to get adequate sleep! You probably thought I was going to shave some time off there, but the contrary is more appropriate. Adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night to be rested and energized for their day.
It is also essential that you eat a well-balanced diet. Eliminate as much fat, sugar and processed foods as you can. When you eat healthy, you feel better and that results in more energy. Ensure you are exercising at least a half hour 3 times per week. These tips will keep you healthy and energized to enjoy your busy life. I know, you are going to tell me you do not have time for that! But I am going to help you find that time.
Most adults waste a lot of their day watching TV. Think about it. How many hours of TV have you averaged per day the past week? Be honest and you will find you probably have a lot of time to use for other things. Find your productive time. Are you a morning person, late morning, afternoon or evening person? I am a morning person. From the time I get out of bed, I am on a roll. My pitfall is sitting down in front of the TV with a cup of coffee and my fur baby in my lap. Before I know it, 2-3 hours of my day is gone!
It’s ok to enjoy a down day; I choose Sunday mornings. But the remainder of the week, I do not sit down and instead hit my to-do list! Surfing the internet with your laptop or tablet tends to be another contributor to sucking time out of your day. If you are going to do this, set a timer, when the timer goes off, put your electronics away and move on to a more active activity.
There are lots of other ways to make more time in your day. If you take your children to school or other events, consider carpooling with other parents. This will give you a couple of days for other activities in that time slot. Limit the number of activities your children participate in so that you have some days off. Include your family in your activities. Family exercise is a great way to keep everyone healthy and reduce stress. You can go on a family hike, walk/run, play in the yard, walk the family dog(s), or do a fun workout video.
Include the family in making and cleaning up after meals. The more you delegate and the less you insist on doing yourself gives you more time. There are many meal plans for 30 minutes or less, healthy pre-prepared foods, leftovers, or even an occasional cereal for dinner night to save time in the evenings.
Household chores are a big one for sucking up our time. The first thing to save you time is to spend the time to organize. Toss out or donate items that are not routinely being used. Cluttered spaces and overfilled closets and drawers contribute to the stress of cleaning up. Enlist the other members of your household to help you. Let you standards drift a little bit. It is not the end of the world if the dishes do not get put away until the next day when you have more time. Multi-tasking is the best way to clean and organize your home in the least amount of time. You could also try a power-hour. This is when you and your household members pick one hour once a week and you clean and organize as many things as possible. I like to blast fun dance music when we do this. If your household chores continue to be a problem for you, consider hiring a housekeeper weekly or every other week to help you maintain your home. It is surprisingly affordable and reduces a lot of stress in the household.
As you can see there are lots of ways for you to have time to enjoy your life. You just need to take an honest look at your routine and see where you can make simple changes that will really impact your time. Ask yourself what has to be done today, what can be delegated and what can wait for another time. Enjoy your life!
Did you know that all cultures use music? It has been a part of life since humans have existed. Other animals enjoy a melody as well. If you don't believe me, play an instrument or sing when you're dog is around. Most will try to join in and the results can be hysterical.
Music is good for our health. There are have been many studies conducted in this area and an entire field of Music Therapy to help those in need. Here's what music can do for you:
That's some pretty stellar reasons to crank out some tunes and sing to your heart's content! Try varying what you listen to and see how it impacts you on a mental and physical level. I recently pulled out some oldies from my college days and boy did that bring back the memories! Many people find that holiday music does the same thing.
I hope you have a melodious day!!
I am hosting a women's craft night at my house. In the old days this would have put me in a tizzy. I used to think hosting a party meant cleaning the house from top to bottom, shopping and planning an elaborate menu, and offering a large variety of drinks to my guests. Then, after spending all night serving food and clearing dishes, I would drop into bed exhausted knowing full well I would still have to clean the next morning. UGH!
Ladies, it doesn't have to be this way. A party should be about having fun and laughing with your guests. Lose the notion that it has to be perfect. Instead, try these tips for a stress-free party:
t took me 15 minutes to get my house ready for the craft party. I ordered pizza and salad to be delivered from a local restaurant and stocked up on simple beverages. I'm ready! Best of all I'll be able to spend time crafting and enjoying time with my friends.
Today a friend shared with me a question that she posed to her husband this morning. She asked him “In your opinion, what is the funniest thing I have ever done?” He quickly shared this thought and they had a great laugh. This couple has a great relationship because they can have fun together and laugh together. It made me think about the kind of person I am. I tend to be more reserved and responsible. My husband is the character in our relationship, but every now and then, he can bring out the silliness in me and we have a great laugh together.
Being the kind of person who can let their guard down and just be silly for a moment can really lighten the mood, reduce stress and ease anxiety. For some people being a character comes naturally and they tend to live with less stress and are more care-free. For others it takes a conscious effort to relax to the point of letting go a bit. Sometimes we take ourselves a bit too seriously and worry too much about what others think of us.
Allowing yourself to laugh at situations can really help a relationship. Think about things that happen in your everyday life that frustrate you. Now think about how you can find the humor in it. Now how much better do you feel? When you realize that not everything is purposeful and can actually be turned into a good laugh, life with your significant other becomes more enjoyable together.
For example, my husband constantly drags items across our coffee table, leaving behind numerous scratches. It used to frustrate me that he didn’t take care of our things. For him, he wanted to be comfortable and relaxed in his own home with the view that things do wear. So one day he told me he was “aging it for free because that’s the trend right now”. I laughed and since then, the scratches and marks haven’t bothered me.
Today I challenge you to do something or say something silly. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Have a good, old fashioned belly laugh until you face hurts from smiling and enjoy being a character, even for a brief moment.
Are you feeling stressed out? It's tough not to in today's crazy and face-paced world. Our jobs, family, and home life can all lead to an intense feeling of being out of control. I call it the "I-want-to-rip-my-hair-out" effect. Ugh!
There are many ways to deal with stress but today I want to focus on just one of them....massage. Therapeutic touch can do wonders for not only your mind but your body as well. Here is a list of just a few of the benefits:
Some women may shy away from getting a massage because they are self-conscious about their body. Let me reassure you that a therapist doesn't even think about that. They are concentrating on your muscles and have seen all shapes, sizes, and hairy legs in the past!
Another common complaint is that a massage costs money. There are many massage clubs out there that reduce the rate in half if you sign up for several sessions. You can also opt for a shorter session, such as 30 minutes, instead of a full hour.
I get a massage at least once a month and have never regretted the time or money spent. For me it relieves some serious back pain that I frequently encounter. It also puts me in a zen state of mind that can last for several days. I urge you to give massage a try.
Do you find as spring approaches you have to fit more in? The days are getting longer. Everyone is emerging from their winter hibernation and making plans. Sports are starting again. Yards need to be cleaned up. Homes need repairs from the winter beating. Kids want to stay up later. Stress levels rise. It’s very important to manage your stress.
Here are some tips:
· Make lists and prioritize what has to be done today and what can wait for another day.
· Share your calendar with your significant other to avoid conflicting schedules.
· Review family schedules and make your plans and expectations clear each morning to your family.
· Make time for 30 minutes of exercise daily.
· Eat healthy, non-processed foods.
· Limit alcohol and caffeine.
· Ensure good quality sleep each night.
· Take a moment for a quiet walk by yourself to clear your head.
· Shake it off---play some fun music and just dance! You can include the whole family!
· Take a mini spa day, get a massage or give yourself a mani-pedi and mud mask.
· Take a bubble bath.
· Share meal responsibilities with your significant other and older children.
· Prepare lunches and snacks the night before; again have the entire family assist.
· Make larger meals to plan for left overs so that you do not have to cook every night.
· Make a family chore chart.
· Turn off all electronics, find a quiet place and mediate for a half hour.
· Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Enjoy a stress free day! Give us more suggestions on stress relief strategies that work for you!
Do you ever walk in a room and forget why you entered it? Do you forget a person’s name shortly after you have been introduced? Do you have a hard time remembering multiplication numbers? Your brain is like a muscle. It is import to exercise your brain daily. By exercising your brain, it gets stronger and you improve memory, attention span and language. Learning something new should be a daily goal. The brain grows more when you use new and different strategies rather than sticking to what you already know and find easy. So keep an open mind and consider these exercises:
· Get a word of the day calendar and attempt to use your new word in at least three different conversations each day.
· Learn a new language. Recruit a friend and continue speaking to each other in your foreign language. Reward yourself with a trip in which you can use your newly acquired skills.
· Play memory games.
· Listen to audio books on your commute to and from work.
· Subscribe to informative emails regarding your profession.
· Work puzzles (i.e. Sudoku puzzle, jig saw puzzles, word finds).
· Research random topics that come up during the day online.
· Download memory skill games onto your smart phone or laptop.
· Download random fact applications onto your smart phone or laptop.
· Print off a sheet of math problems and do them as fast as possible.
· Make up a story, tell it to a child or write it in a journal.
· Free write in a journal for a scheduled amount of time daily.
· Keep up to date on current events. Watch the national news.
· Limit television time to an hour a day.
· Read a different genre of book than you would normally choose for yourself, consider joining a book club.
· Go on a scavenger hunt.
· Find your way through a maze.
· Meditate to clear your mind and enable better focus.
· Exercise and eat well.
· Avoid toxic substances (alcohol, drugs, preservatives, excessive caffeine).
Enjoy your new mental health!
As a mental health advocate, I have always believed in the value of meditation and other mind-body techniques. I feel they can do wonders for our minds by shutting down the internal "chatter" and bringing us to a lovely state of peace.
Having said that, I am ashamed to admit that I never really looked into the power of prayer. I was raised Catholic but quit attending church as soon as I could. I never found the connection that others raved about. To me God was out there but too far away for me to truly grab onto.
And yet, many of my friends continued to tell me about their prayers and how much they helped. I did a bit of research and there is some scientific evidence to support their claims. It would appear that folks who pray tend to live longer, have richer social lives, have less worry and stress, and are better able to relax than those who do not pray. In the hospital, those who pray tend to have less pain, less complications, and are sent home sooner. Wow!
Whether or not you believe in a higher power, there is something very soothing about the repetition of prayer. It is similar to the mantras that many folks use when meditating. I also liked the fact that you could take your overwhelming problems and hand them over to someone else (God). What a wonderful feeling that must be, even if it's only for a short time! I decided to give it a try.
They say you gravitate back to your childhood and that was true for me. I decided to attend mass at the Catholic church where I do volunteer work. So far I have been there about 5 times. What I have learned is that it is a peaceful way to spend an hour. The sermons have more meaning to me as an adult and I enjoy the aesthetics of the building. I must admit, I also enjoy the people watching! The kids, in particular, always make me smile.
Have I found that true connection to God? Not really. Am I able to turn all my problems over with ease? Not yet. But I'm still hopeful. Meditation takes years of practice and I can only assume it is the same with prayer. The bottom line is finding peace and meaning in your life. Amen!
It's a boring time of the year.....no holidays or big events in sight, and I'm starting to get restless! Time to plan a vacation!!
My husband and I are fortunate in that we usually take at least two vacations each year. The first is always to the same place where we honeymooned 20 years ago.
The second trip is always in the Fall, for a Cleveland Browns road game. But I can't start planning that trip until the NFL schedule comes out in April.
Which leaves me with nothing.to.plan.right.now. That just won't do.
So I need to figure out a quick little get-away for March or April, just to give me something to work on and get us out of the house.
A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that many people experience a large boost in happiness (for 8 weeks!) just from planning the vacation. It makes perfect sense to me....I know I always enjoy figuring out where to go, where to stay, and what to see. The anticipation is almost as fun as the actual vacation!
My favorite trip-planning website is tripadvisor.com. It has tons of reviews and suggestions and advice, and I find it easy to use. I usually pick a destination and check out the hotel rankings. I read the forums to find out the best area to stay, then narrow my hotel choices down to 2 or 3.
Then I hop on to expedia.com to get prices. Next, I go to each hotel's website (often they are the cheapest!). I always check for Entertainment card or AAA discounts, plus I plug in my hotel rewards card number to see if that gets me extra savings. I have even used priceline.com when we weren't picky about where to stay---it worked out great in Nashville!!
After I have booked the hotel, I start to plan what we want to do while we're there. TripAdvisor is great for that, or you can get travel guides from the library (or AAA if you're a member). I usually have Dave look through what I've gathered and tell me some of the things he's interested in seeing, and then go from there. A lot of cities have passes for several tourist attractions at a discounted price, as well as passes for public transportation. I also check viator.com for discounts on tours. It's fun to figure out what we can squeeze into each day, how we'll get to each attraction, and which restaurants are nearby for us to try.
If we're flying, I start checking prices several times per day. There is a lot of talk that prices often are best about 2 months out, and go down on Tuesdays; I have found that to be true (although after I purchase the tickets, I stop checking). There have been times when I have had the hotel booked but the flights never worked out, so I just cancelled the hotel. I rarely pay in advance for a hotel...the savings don't justify the risk of having to cancel and lose the deposit.
So anyway, it's time for me to plan a mini vacay. You know, for that boost of happiness!! Any ideas where we should go??
Liza and I went shopping yesterday. In itself that wasn't a strange occurrence. LOL. However, we stopped at a Bath and Body Works and stocked up on scents. We both have allergies but still needed a "good smell fix." It got me thinking about aromatherapy and so I did a bit of research.
Aromatherapy uses scents to alter our moods and enhance our well-being. Scientists have found it can reduce pain, decrease anxiety, and increase energy levels in patients. They believe it stimulates the limbic system in our brain which deals with emotions.
When you think about it, that makes sense. Certain smells have a tendency to trigger memories in people, which in turn can trigger emotions. My mom has been gone for almost 20 years, but when I smell her perfume I immediately picture her laughing. This in turn either makes me smile or gets me a bit teary-eyed, depending on the situation.
Our sense of smell is more important than people realize. It contributes to the taste of food, can protect us from dangerous situations, and is the last sense (no pun intended) to fade away as someone is dying. I urge you to think about what scents make you happy. For me they include brewing coffee, fresh baked cookies, the air immediately after a good rain, a burning fire, and crisp fall air. I also love the smell of chlorinated water, which is a reminder of many happy summers spent swimming as a child.
There is quite a science to aromatherapy and people can put a lot of time and money into developing the perfect scents. If you're lazy, like I am, then you can whip up a quick batch of cookies or light a candle to get the job done. I urge you to have fun with aromatherpy and find what works for you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to light my new lavender and vanilla scented candle and eat a cookie!
Are you a "glass is half full" type of person? I try to be, but I'll admit that it's easy to get sucked in by the "half empty" personalities. They're all around us, and they can zap the fun out of any situation. Before you know it, you'll be feeding off of each other and griping all day long!
So what should we do?
The obvious first step is to try to avoid the negativity. We all have people in our lives who have certain topics that they continuously gripe about, so try to avoid those topics. If a Negative Nelly starts in on her favorite grumpy topic, direct the conversation to more neutral subjects or things that the person enjoys.
If that doesn't work and you truly care about the person, you can try putting yourself in her shoes; if her complaints are justified, express empathy and maybe make a few suggestions on how she can improve her situation. Keep in mind, though, that Debbie Downers probably won't want to hear your opinion. They are too far entrenched in their victim mentality and have lost all self-awareness and don't want to entertain any views other than their own. They just want an audience. Even worse, they often don't take an interest in you---it's a completely one-sided relationship in which they drone on and on and on about all of the rotten things that the world inflicted on them, and never have time for you unless you're complaining as well.
If you want to salvage the relationship, you can try to be blunt and point out the constant negativity. Let the person know (nicely) that you are very aware of her complaints and you have nothing new to add to the topic and would like to discuss something else.
If that doesn't work, you simply have to limit all contact. Why spend your valuable time with someone so toxic?
I know everyone goes through rough times and needs to vent. That's normal. And some situations never change, so the complaints are probably well-founded. But if that is ALL someone focuses on, it can be very draining and a huge waste of time. Life is way too short!!
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