During the holidays, we enjoy tales of wonder, whether about oil that miraculously lasted eight nights or the story of of angels, virgin birth and a guiding star. Even the secular celebrations in December leave kids wide-eyed with tales of flying reindeer.
Children are easily swept up in wonderment during the holidays, but adults are often tasked with the chores of creating this magical experience, which can lead to feeling harried rather than awestruck. As a gift to yourself, remember to welcome wonder into your holiday season. Continue reading →
Step out of the chatter of your mind and orient to the joy that surrounds you.
The human brain has a unique capacity to put things into perspective. We can look back, learn from our mistakes, anticipate problems and solve them using imagination. However, these abilities also feed the anxious mind, resuffering past struggles and presuffering feared futures. In the words of Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the Positive Psychology movement, “We aren’t built to live in the moment.”
You already know that it’s important to eat your leafy veggies and blueberries, rich in antioxidants. But did you know that hope is the ultimate superfood?
A superfood is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” Hope offers emotional nourishment that improves emotional and physical health and lengthens life. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the health benefits of an optimistic outlook. Dr. David Snowdon found that positive emotional content in essays written during young adulthood predicted lifespan—those who had a more positive outlook lived 6.9 years longer than their pessimistic counterparts. Similarly, other research has shown that optimism is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower death rates.
Where can you carve-out five minutes? How about before you get out of bed after your alarm goes off? Or maybe you can claim five minutes after your morning coffee, at work while sitting at your desk, or in the car before you drive to the grocery store. Really, you can do this practice almost anywhere.
In fact, you’re already doing one part of this practice all day long – breathing. The only added step is to pay close attention. Breathing usually happens outside of conscious awareness, but focusing on your breath is one of the most powerful strategies for managing stress and increasing self-control. It can even help with treating anxiety and depression.
When imagining aging, most middle-aged people look ahead with trepidation. But take heart: the best is likely yet to come!
Satisfaction surveys have found that happiness increases after middle age, and this pattern shows up around the globe. Referred to as the Happiness U-Curve, the data show that on average, life satisfaction drops during midlife and begins its recovery around age 50, reaching its peak at the end of life.
Have you ever returned from a vacation feeling depleted rather than replenished? Maybe you were jetlagged after an international adventure or drained from overextending yourself to host family or friends. As you return from this holiday break, whether you feel rested or weary, focus on refreshing yourself regularly this year.
The body, mind and spirit crave a pattern of alternating expansion and restoration. You will be at your best when you stretch yourself and then regroup before stretching once again. Sleep is a great example – the body and mind need rest at the end of each day in order to consolidate the learning, insights and activities of the day and reset in preparation for the next day’s experiences. Similarly, your muscles need a day to repair after a weight training session.
The season of indulgence has begun. If you received trick-or-treaters at your home, then you may still have leftover candy tempting you. Thanksgiving offers a delicious feast, served up with a side order of gratitude, followed by the biggest shopping day of the year.
The holiday season is presented as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many, it is overwhelming, lonely, and draining.
Do you ever soothe yourself with food after a hard day? Usually we think of emotional eating as turning to unhealthy comfort food when we are upset. But you can attend to your mood by making healthy eating choices. With a few yummy substitutions in your snack drawer, you can improve your psychological and physical health.
Blood sugar fluctuations can be associated with moodiness. Stabilize yourself emotionally while managing your weight by eating healthy snacks in between smaller meals. For example, you might consider putting a baggie of nuts and dark chocolate chips into your purse or desk drawer to keep yourself consistently fueled and emotionally even. Dark chocolate seems to improve mood by boosting endorphins.Continue reading →
As the saying goes, change is the only constant. Given this truth, why is change so stressful?
The brain has a function similar to a motion stabilizer on a video camera. With this feature, the videographer can be jostled and bumped while filming without creating footage that leaves the viewer feeling queasy. Like a Steadicam, the brain orients towards stability, giving you a sense of calm while glossing over the moment-to-moment changes happening all around you. But when a big change hits, you feel jarred and destabilized.Continue reading →
Imagine that a dear friend calls you in distress. How would you respond? What would you say? What would your tone of voice sound like? Now, consider how you talk to yourself when you are distraught, or when you’ve made a mistake. Do you treat yourself with the same kindness and warmth you would offer to a friend? Is it easier to be understanding and kind toward someone else than to yourself?
If you tend to approach yourself with criticism and harshness, consider how you can be a better friend to yourself. When you support a friend, you likely see your friend more holistically. You see your friend’s struggles and strengths. You see his/her mistakes in a broader context. You can be merciful toward your friend. How might you bring this Friend Mindset to your own self-observation?Continue reading →