Managing Stress & Making It Work

Seven No-Cost Stress Busters That Are Worth Your Time

It is saddening that many feel the need to trip out on drugs in order to “cope” with the stress of their day. One single mom defended that spending her last $10 on her fix was important to give her a break from the stress of not being able to make ends meet, to feed her children and take care of them.

Oh, dear, perhaps your choices are leading to your inability to feed your children—$10 can buy a loaf of bead and a jar of peanut butter, and a jug of milk. That’s many meals …

The need to rejuvenate is fully understood. And supported. However, when you look at your options and your resources, there are choices that would serve you better. Spend the money on food to feed your self and your family. And spend some time to refresh your soul. Here are seven of the many ways one can “escape” with a little time, and no money at all.

MOVE. Get in motion. Go for a walk. Dance in your room. Stretch or strike a yoga pose. March in place. Do jumping jacks! This will elevate your mood and help your health. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. They interact with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. This is a key benefit of regular physical activity. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. That feeling is often accompanied by a bright outlook on life. Exercise also leads to improved self-esteem.

MIX IT UP. Get a new perspective. Rearrange your habits. Take a different route on errands. Straighten your closet or your room. Step back and ponder the patterns of your life—the daily routines that shape your existence. How could you tweak your routine to make your day more pleasant? A simple adjustment in a daily regimen can make a huge difference in your happiness.

MASTURBATE. Give yourself a hand. Love you. Escape in a moment of personal pleasure. When just thinking about sex, the brain releases dopamine, giving us a sense of pleasure. As we engage in sexual activity, endorphins are released, providing a sense of well-being. Learn to love yourself and you will be more open to love from others.

MAKE SOMETHING. Create a poem. Hum a new tune. Draw a picture of a daydream. Enjoy the journey as you manifest anew. Activities that put you into the “zone” slow your brain waves and stop the constant mind chatter. Whether it is cooking, painting, writing, sewing, gardening, photography, or working with clay, do something imaginative. Let it inspire you and lift your mood.

MEDITATE. Stop. Breathe. Ponder. Pray. And find a supportive mantra to repeat so you have this peace any time of the day. You can repeat a simple, neutral sound such as AUM for several minutes—or use a word or phrase with meaning to you (this can have stronger psychological impact). Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Ponder or say your word or phrase silently as you breathe out. When stray thoughts come by, gently release them. Continue focus on your mantra. Do this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes each day. Mindful self-compassion can relieve anxiety under conditions of chronic psychological pressure.

MELT DOWN. Cry. It can be therapeutic. It is one of the most cleansing experiences you can experience. Deep sobs open your chest and your diaphragm. This releases bound-up energy and helps to free your heart of muscular tension. A good cry will enhance oxygen delivery to your cells. And, crying stimulates release of neuro-chemicals in the brain that promote relaxation. Tears are also considered to be healing—evidence suggest that the nerve growth factor in tears has medicinal functions. In any case, a good cry feels like relief.

MEET UP. Get together with a friend. Swap stories. Laugh. Cry. Communicate your way to a brighter mood through connection. When we feel connected to another, we feel more calm. When a friend expresses support, sympathy, and compassion for your difficult situation, it reduces anxiety. This act of kindness goes a long way to relieve tension and provide a sense of comfort.

There are many more possibilities. Make time for yourself every day. Take a break from the info-stream and the constant press of info. Step back and look at the opportunities to serve your highest and best. Please share how you cope, productively, in times of stress.

 

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Life Eternal …

body blessings

body blessings

The human body can do amazing things. It is fueled by thoughts, actions, and by food. To help live the longest life possible, nurture your self mindfully. Here are three key ingredients to a healthy lasting life.

EAT:

Drink warm water with lemon upon waking to awaken, refresh and prepare the digestive system. Consider the daily calorie intake, reduce it by a quarter (for instance, a 2000 calorie demand would be fed with 1500 calories). A lean body is less taxing to its organs.

Divide caloric intake among three meals and a snack or two so that you are nibbling throughout the day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best between-meal snacks. Lean meats and fish plus legumes and nuts are great sources of protein and essential fats. Fill up on leafy greens and sprouted grains. Indulge in organic produce whenever possible. Chew your food well—taste the fullness of every flavor before you swallow.

Sip water constantly. Infuse it with essential oil (lemon, lavender, orange) or tea to enjoy the pleasure of flavors. Enjoy an occasional sweet treat (preferably made with honey or natural sugar). Fuel this way and you will feel enlightened in many ways.

MOVE:

We are meant to move. To flex the muscles of our being in order to remain strong and alert. Walk. Run. Enjoy a sport. Be sure to balance cardiovascular conditioning, strengthening and stretching.

Yoga is a wonderful option and can help balance body and spirit.

REST:

Pause to reflect. Sit quietly and ponder. Take regular breaks from your work to let your mind float free of thoughts so it may open to enlightenment. Work toward getting adequate sleep each evening. Give your body the time it needs to repair and dream.

Treating your body with mindful moments will help you thwart destructive effects of stress and environment. And, in our dreams, we often work out the answers to the most pressing questions of the day.

Do enjoy a long and wonder filled life. Savor the eternity in each moment. Be grateful for the time you have within your body, here on Earth.

Girls Night Out

Gathering with girlfriends is a cornucopia of goodness.  Here are a couple gems from the treasure of last night’s soiree.

  • Where we met: Figlio’s.
  • What we drank: Michael David Chardonnay and Hahn Pinot Noir.
  • What we ate: Polenta Fries and Calamari followed by seafood dinner plates.
  • How we solved the world’s woes: Collaborative conversation. And hugs.

The topics we covered were as diverse as the days we each have experienced between our memory making moments when we cross paths. Having forged our friendships in college, celebrated careerImages and weddings and children and adventures, we raise our glasses with gratitude for the here and now. And salt.

Two salts we praised for flavor and health benefits were Celtic Coarse Light Gray Sea Salt and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt to add minerals, texture and a pinch of panache to the food we enjoy. Salt Works offers a nice guide to artisan salts and offers a selection online. Or check out the food section at T J Maxx for a deal that makes trying something new so much easier.

Onward, we tackled the almighty question of “what do I want to be when I grow up.” For our selves. For our children. For those we advise. A wonderful resource employed by a few became the curio for us all. Aptitude testing is a great adventure that has helped shaped the career paths for our children (and it is never to late to give it a go). And we enjoy the conversation about our strengths, weakness, hopes and dreams.

So the evening wraps up with hugs and promises to keep in touch until we gather again. Girl friends. Women who are changing the world.

 

4-Hour Body: Tim Ferriss

4-Hour Body: Tim Ferriss (excerpt):

Tim Ferriss says that by following the diet outlined in The 4-Hour Body you can lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days. The eating plan is described as the “Slow-Carb Diet” and basically involves the intake of lean proteins, legumes and green vegetables.

Five simple rules are presented for dieters who are looking to reduce their level of body fat.

  1. Avoid “white” carbohydrates. The following foods are to be avoided with the exception of up to 30 minutes after a strength workout: bread, rice (including brown), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried food with breading.
  2. Eat the same meals over and over again. According to Ferriss the most successful dieters, regardless of whether their goal is muscle gain or fat-loss, have limited variety in their meals. You can eat as much as you like but you should restrict yourself to three or four meals and repeat them.
  3. Don’t drink calories. Milk, soft drinks and fruit juice should be avoided. With the exception of red wine, alcohol consumption is not permitted.
  4. Don’t eat fruit. Says Ferriss, “Humans don’t need fruit six days a week, and they certainly don’t need it year-round. 4-Hour Body says if your ancestors were from Europe, for example, how much fruit did they eat in the winter 500 years ago?”
  5. Take one day off per week and go nuts. Dramatically increasing your calorie intake once a week increases fat loss by preventing the metabolic slowdown that often occurs with long-term calorie restricted diets.

In addition to dietary recommendations the 4-Hour Body includes information about a range of subjects related to the body. Tim Ferriss suggests that you don’t read the 4-Hour Body from start to finish but instead pick the chapters that interest you and select just one appearance goal and one performance goal to start.

Recommended Foods

Egg whites, chicken, grass-fed organic beef, pork, fish, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, soybeans, spinach, asparagus, peas, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, sauerkraut, tomatoes, avocados, red wine.

Sample 4-Hour Body Meal Plan

Breakfast

Scrambled egg whites with one whole egg
Black beans and mixed vegetables

Lunch
Chicken thigh, black beans and mixed vegetables
Dinner

Grass-fed organic beef, lentils and mixed vegetables
1 glass red wine

Mindful Eating

Image: Brookstone

You’ve heard of smartphones and even smartwatches, but how about a smart… fork? Designed to help you become more aware of your eating habits, HAPIfork keeps track of a variety of information when it comes to mealtime, including number of  “fork servings,” time it takes you to eat your meal and built-in timer. You can then upload your data to HAPI.com for analysis, coaching and tracking progress. The forks are Bluetooth compatible, and the accompanying mobile app is available for Android, iOS or Windows mobile. Price: $99.99. Reposted via 13 Gift Ideas for the Woman in Your Life.

& This advice from MeQuilibrium.

Eat mindfully.

When you aren’t aware of what you’re eating, you tend to eat a lot more—and enjoy it a lot less. Try slowing down and tuning in at mealtime, and you’ll not only reduce the negative effects of stress, but ease digestion, heighten your senses, and even eat less.

What to do: Put everything you want to eat on your plate, rather than skimp and go back for seconds. Turn off the TV; put away the phone. Take a few deep breaths before diving in. Tune in to the appearance, textures, and flavors of your food.

If you’re eating with friends or family, pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table to slow yourself down.

Get more good fats.

Don’t be afraid of fats! Contrary to what you may think, fats don’t make you fat, but are necessary for healthy brain function and heart health, sustained energy, and the absorption of important fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Include more healthy fats in your diet.

What to do: Snack on healthy plant-based fats like those found in nuts, nut butters, and avocados. Use healthy oils in your cooking: olive, canola, and sunflower oil. Eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. Take an omega 3 supplement.

Detox your drinks.

Skip the bottled, sugary, caffeinated beverages and drink only water today. Hydrating often can keep you alert and your skin looking great, and even help with calorie control.

What to do: Invest in a good glass pitcher or bottle to keep on your desk all day. Add cucumber, mint, and lemon or lime for flavor. Drink sparkling water with a splash of pomegranate or grapefruit juice (consider a Sodastream machine which turns tap water into bubbly water.)

Take a culinary adventure.

In a food rut? Stop by your local farmer’s market. Fresh, locally grown produce is not only great for your health, but can add a little zing to your same old, same old.

What to do: Let your senses guide you. What looks inviting and healthy and delicious? Buy what appeals to you and you can find a recipe later. Buy something (fairy eggplants, or a different Asian green) that you’ve never seen or tried before.

Talk to the farmers and growers. These people know their produce inside and out. Ask some questions about how to use or prepare foods and you’ll leave with new insight and a recipe or two. Take home your new foods and enjoy (sooner the better). You’ll feel great that you bought something that supports local growers and your health at the same time.

Get more magnesium.

Magnesium is a mineral that’s abundant in our bodies; it plays a vital role in our stress response system. Consuming the right amount of magnesium can help restore optimum levels and calm and energize you.

What to do: Talk to your doctor about having your levels checked; he or she may recommend a supplement. Up your intake with these natural magnesium-rich sources:

  • beans
  • dark leafy greens
  • grains like barley
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • nuts
  • shrimp
  • oyster
  • halibut

Bring your lunch.

When you don’t plan for lunch, you may forget to eat it altogether—and end up eating something less than healthy out of desperation. Pack a healthy meal and you’re sure to sustain your energy throughout the day.

What to do: Pack your lunch the night before. Put a portion of your dinner aside for tomorrow to take with you the next day.

Throw it over some greens. If you had cooked salmon for dinner, save a portion in the fridge. The next morning, put it over some salad greens and you have a fancy chilled salmon salad that would normally cost you $15.

Try a sushi sandwich. For a low-calorie, nutrient-dense option, roll a few slices of turkey with some avocado and mustard in a nori seaweed wrap and you’ve got a lean, low-carb sandwich.

Clean out your cupboard.

Eating healthier starts with what’s in your cupboard. So, clean it out and replace it with healthier alternatives and you’ll have what you need on hand to eat well, every day.

What to do: Toss: Old oils (especially the ones that smell rancid—and trust us, you’ll know). Replace with: heart healthy olive or canola oil (look for cold- and expeller-pressed).

Toss: Old herbs and spices. Do you even remember when you bought them? Spices have a long shelf life, but if you can’t smell them, they won’t do you much good. Replace with: Fresher versions of spices you know you’ll use: cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, and any others your favorite recipes call for. Skip the economy size and opt for smaller you can use up.

Toss: Packaged goods that contain: transfats, loads of preservatives, artificial sweeteners, dyes, and anything else that is nutritionally void and just taking up space. Replace with: Shelf-stable options that have a shorter ingredient list, lower sodium, and contain foods—not chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce.

Eat fish twice this week.

Fish is a healthy, lean protein and a powerful addition to your diet, as it’s lower in calories and saturated fats than other meats.

What to do: Opt for fatty, cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel to get a potent dose of heart-healthy omega 3s. Try anchovies in your pasta or sardines over brown rice for lunch or dinner, or toss some shrimp into a stir fry.

Widen your net. Eating a wide variety of fish can help reduce exposure to environmental contaminants, as can eating smaller fish (think anchovies versus swordfish, which has a higher concentration of mercury). Try some you haven’t before, like herring or smoked trout or kippers, which are available at most supermarkets.

Have a smoothie for breakfast.

Skip the bagel and coffee, and front-load your day with healthy fruits and veggies instead for energy-boosting nutrients with lower calorie counts while avoiding the sugar crash.

What to do: Smoothie recipes abound online, or you can experiment with a few of your favorite ingredients. All you need is a good blender. Try:

  • Frozen berries, bananas, an apple, and some spinach (you won’t even taste it).
  • Throw in some flaxseed meal for healthy omega 3s and fiber.
  • Add some soy or almond milk for texture.
  • Blend until smooth, and take along with you!

Swap your snacks for real food.

We’ve been taught that snacks are their own food group and usually come prepackaged—but in fact, food is food, and when you’re hungry, you should eat it.

Skip the snack packs and instead upgrade your between-meal bites to include actual fruits, veggies, grains, fats, and proteins. You’ll sustain your energy and avoid the sugar crash.

What to do: Cut up veggies and hummus or tahini sauce. Choose a sliced apple with some almond or peanut butter. Have a small cup of greek yogurt with a few nuts. Enjoy a cup of soup with some cheese and crackers.

The Weighty Issues

Get active and count calories (and make sure your calories count). This is the formula for keeping a fit figure. At every age there are variables to accommodate. For instance, after one is fully developed, calorie needs diminish.  Of course, if pregnant or nursing, calorie needs increase. Hormone changes affect diet needs. At menopause, usually in one’s early 50’s, metabolism takes its greatest hit and muscle loss accelerates.

Keep moving through the aches and pains (as okay with your health provider). Being active may even reduce joint and muscle pain that comes with aging.

Stretching is an important aspect of your regimen at every age. Try it between “sets” when strength training, and notice how your body responds with new vigor.

The “formula” in general includes a varied form of cardio on a daily basis. Variation will help prevent injuries from overuse. It will also keep things interesting. Stick with strength training at least three times a week. If you do more, be sure to vary muscle groups to allow for recovery. And, stretch regularly.

Fold this in to your daily routine and enjoy the energy that comes with fitness. Additional benefits are delivered such as mood enhancement and an increased threshold for pain that comes with endorphins released during a workout. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain during and after exercise, can provide a natural high. Mind, spirit and flesh benefit.

Eat to fuel your body (and do so in a pleasurable way). Fresh foods are best. Searching out seasonal produce helps keep things interesting. And ensure adequate protein. Fish, fowl, and meat can replenish amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. Beans, nuts, eggs and dairy are also good sources of protein. Again, vary your intake to give yourself a full range of flavors plus nutrients. Make sure every day is filled with FWB’s – Foods With Benefits. Supplement only as needed.

When reducing, trim calories by increasing vegetables proportionate to protein and starches. For support, consider an app such as MyFitnessPal or MyNetDiary.

Make a habit of healthy eating and keeping active as soon as you can. And carry it with you always. It will help you feel good and be well in your skin.

Chakra Balance ~ Peaceful Pondering

In an attempt to find balance, consider aligning your chakras. These seven energy centers help govern our psychological qualities. The four in the upper body are linked to mental properties while the three in the lower body govern instinct.

One method for balancing them is to sit comfortably with feet flat on the floor or in the lotus position. Spend a moment rubbing your hands together to feel warmth or energy in your palms. Then, move your hands in a manner as if you are bouncing an energy ball between them. Take your dominant hand and bounce this energy against your body.

Begin at the pelvic area. Bounce the energy from your hand to your pelvis. Imagine the red light energy of the root chakra. See it spinning with life. This chakra helps one feel present in the moment, aware, sensible, secure, and comfortable.

Next, move to the area of your abdomen. Bounce the energy from your hand with the orange energy of the sacral chakra. This chakra helps you feel sexual, passionate, sensual, emotionally balanced.

Then do the same at your stomach, bouncing energy with the yellow energy of your naval chakra. Here is where you find confidence, dignity,

Move to your heart chakra and address the green energy field. Support your ability to feel compassionate, caring, friendly, love.

Bounce energy to your throat chakra. Imagine the blue light of communication, expression, and creativity.

At your third eye chakra (between your eyes at the forehead), move your hand with the indigo energy of insight.

Finally bounce energy to the crown chakra. Hold the violet pink hue of wisdom and spirituality in your mind as you do so.

Now, move your hands from your pelvic region to your crown in a clockwise motion as if to stir the energies so that they are alive and interacting with one another.

Take three cleansing breaths and lay your hands in your lap, palms upward. Relax and sense the balance in your body. Carry it with you through the day.

Even if you don’t sense the chakras, this is a lovely meditation that can help you find emotional balance and mental clarity — or at least a few moments of peaceful pondering.

P.S. If you’d like to expand chakra health while exercising with yoga, consider this Kundalini Yoga Chakra Exercise program.

The Fountain of Youth

There is a formula for staying youthful. It includes a healthy diet of fresh food, ample exercise (outdoors when weather permits), plenty of rest (including sound sleep), and engaging the heart, mind, soul. The ripple effect of healthy habits help keep one youthful.

One could find this formula quite simply. Meditation opens the mind to receive life’s bounty. Education is another road to enriching thought. Reflection, contemplation, conflict, and chaos are also good experiences to stimulate heart and mind. Relationships are laboratories for finding understanding — often through misunderstandings.

The garden provides a smorgasbord of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains. The waters run deep with gifts of fish and seafood. Grass fed red meats are also abundant in nutrients when properly prepared. Drink of fresh water. Life is a garden.

Curl up in a comfy place for a snooze. Make sure to track your dreams. Get the seven to nine hours uninterrupted sleep your body needs to refresh.

And move. Walk. Run, Swim. Stretch. Plus, follow this ageless rite of Tibetan Yoga for rejuvenation.

Recognize the magic in every day. Embrace it with childlike wonder. Investigate. Turn the pages. You will be young at heart through the ages.

House Rules

House rules. When I visit others, I enjoy participating in the house rules. My friend Didem asks that we all take off our shoes upon crossing the threshold. She has a supply of house slippers available if desired. This is a wonderful custom except when I’m wearing long pants with heels and end up flat footed.

At my home, a rule of the house is that we consume food in the kitchen. Realize that there are times to break the rule (like popcorn with a movie or breakfast in bed), but day-to-day the rule is to eat at the table, the counter, or the bar overlooking the great room.

This honors my appreciation of mindful eating. It is from realizing that I could eat a row of cookies while looking at television and  wonder where the cookies went. Not to mention having to manage crumbs and morsels that fall upon the floor or furniture.