Tag Archives: stress-reduction

Your Body Is Wise But Needs You to Pay Attention

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Although complementary medicine has made strong advances, mainstream medical practice still keeps faith with drugs and surgery as the default methods of treatment. The way forward for anyone who wants to establish a high level of wellbeing isn’t going to come via the family doctor but through self-care. The first rule of self-care is to trust in the body’s wisdom and to make choices in line with it.

Living in accord with your body’s wisdom is simple and natural, which is why practices that hovered on the fringe when I was first practicing medicine in the Seventies are now tried and true.  The following points are unarguable: Continue reading

Gabrielle Bernstein: Miracles and A Rad Guided Meditation

Sat Nam Spirit Junkies! This week I’m sharing a clip from my Miracles in LA lecture. In this video I discuss how stress blocks us in every area of life. Watch this video and follow the guided meditation on how to eradicate your ego, release stress and powerfully activate your energy. Practice this meditation daily and your life will begin to flow.

Ego Eradicator Meditation from gabriellebernstein on Vimeo.

 

More from Gabrielle:

How to Reduce Stress

A Meditation for Irrationality

A Meditation to Help Treat Addiction

Can Adaptogens Help Us Reduce Stress – For Good?

If there were an herb believed to help reduce stress and increase our ability to adapt to new circumstances, would you try it? Couldn’t hurt, right?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses questions about adaptogens, which are plants and herbs that may be able to modulate our response to stress and any discomfort caused by changes in the environment. He examines the history of these substances and some recent studies on particular adaptogens which he has been involved in. How can these substances be used to improve our response to stress?

Dr. Mark Hyman encourages the use of adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress and calm the mind. Such herbs might include ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng, cordyceps, ashwagandha, and others that are nontoxic, nonspecific in action, and generally healthy and high in antioxidants.

Studies on the medical viability of adaptogens to reduce stress have been somewhat sparse but nonetheless promising.The more we learn about these plants and their healing potential, the closer we may get to finding real, long-lasting relief from stress and anxiety. And wouldn’t that be a treat!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and leave your comments below!

Five Beautiful Things: A Practice to Reduce Stress and Be Present

Smells like FlowersBy Tara Sophia Mohr

I’m always looking for new ways to wake up to the life in front of me. This week I started playing with the idea of “five beautiful things.”

In any moment, particularly if I’m feeling stressed or out of sorts, I look for five beautiful things in my midst. I really look at them. I take them in—not just with my eyes but also with my mind and my breath and my heart. I spend a few moments just looking.

This morning, I’m in a bustling café. It isn’t particularly beautiful. But in a moment of feeling kind of bummed out and rushed and anxious, the thought popped up: look for five beautiful things.

The moment I raise my head, I see the red-gorgeous leaves of the trees out the window. Intensely rich as bowl of dark cherries. Hovering slightly in the wind, patiently waiting for our attention. Bold and unapologetic as they wait. Had I looked at them before this morning? Yes. Had I seen them? No.

Next, the face two seats down from me at the café. Clear, pale, freckled, trustworthy, unusual and familiar feeling all at once. Beautiful.

The bright green skirt of the woman walking past me, the green of summer.

The photos above the espresso bar, which I’ve seen at least a hundred times before. Three in a row, frame in arches. In looking at them I start to appreciate the miracle of someone taking the photograph, and the miracle of someone else framing them that way, the miracle of someone conceiving a design for this place. And then I start to feel the miracle that it is all here, and I’m here too. The miracle of a Saturday morning that is, that is now.

By the time it’s time to look for item number five, everything is looking beautiful. The white coffee cup is beautiful. It’s all starting to feel vibrating and alive and miraculous and now. (And I’m not even caffeinated yet).

So number five is, shockingly, the stop sign, right outside the window. It’s become stunningly gorgeous sometime in the past five minutes. It probably couldn’t have been beautiful thing number one, but through these eyes it’s a vibrant red. It’s the perfect shape composed above the green vines below and the brick building behind.

I’m left with this: There’s a way in which life is about looking. Looking closely. Looking with the intention to see beauty. Looking with curiosity and alertness. Looking with reverence for now.

Looking changes everything.

Right now, before you finish reading this post, and click over to the next window, will you find five things of beauty, of striking mystery, in your midst? Five things that are amazing out of their aliveness? Start with one or two, and take them in through your eyes, your mind, your heart and your breath. Spend a few moments with each, and the rest will take care of themselves.

What does “life is about looking” mean to you?

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Tara Sophia Mohr is the founder of the global Playing Big leadership program for women and the author of the free 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook. An expert on women’s leadership and well-being, Tara helps women play bigger in their work and in their lives. Visit www.taramohr.com to learn more.

3 Surefire Triggers To Help You Get Unstuck

Salutation Nation - 088A stressor which inflicts great physical and emotional pain is the perception that you are stuck, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one ever complains about being stuck in a good place. The connotation of being stuck is usually the negative mindset or the pain pathway. Here are situations of people who have confided that they are stuck:

  • The doctors don’t know how to help me regarding my back pain. Nothing works ranging from steroid shots to physical therapy to strong pain meds. The doctors won’t do surgery because they don’t know the root cause of the raw nerve endings. I live in pain 24/7.
  • I keep breaking up and then going back to my boyfriend who doesn’t care for or support me. He’s such a dreamer and the consummate salesman – always promising that his next scheme will hit it big. However, he never quite makes it. Everyone asks me what I am getting out of this relationship, and I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’m afraid that I will end up alone.
  • I was let go from a job in the human resources department of a big apartment building management firm because I just turned 60. Although no one mentioned my age, my replacement is half my age. I always had such good reviews, so I didn’t see it coming. They claimed that they were letting me go in order to take the firm in another direction. What are the odds I will find another comparable job?

Thoreau once said, “With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul?”

3 methods for getting stuck in a good place:

  1.  We are nothing much on our own, but rather are mutually dependent. Align yourself with realists and dreamers. Reflect on and find what resonates just for you like peering into a gallery or knick knack store window looking for the right souvenir when you are on vacation. It is the painting or objet d’art that you must buy, or otherwise it will haunt you if you don’t. Similarly, whatever resonates for you will spur you on to move forward. Find your hidden treasure.
  2. You don’t need others to validate what your heart and soul advise you to do. Don’t  give away your power to do what others tell you to do or want for you. What do YOU really want? When you know the answer, you will be motivated to pursue your answer.
  3. Take walks in nature to prepare to move forward in your life’s journey. When you are taking purposeful steps in a park, shoreline, or cityscape, you can think about moving forward in another aspect of your life. Great musicians know that the pauses between the notes are where the artistic skill lies. Enjoy the process because arriving is not as much fun as the journey.

How Biofeedback Can Revolutionize Your Health

Salutation Nation - 135

Biofeedback is a new method of self-care based on several key foundations:

  1. Our body is constantly under stress
  2. This stress is largely psychologically/emotionally based
  3. Such stress manifests as physical symptoms (such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, chronic pain)
  4. Thus treating the mental source of stress should be a primary method for treating physical ailments

It goes back to something we’ve known for many years, which is that our bodies and our minds are not separate entities, but rather interwoven mechanisms of a whole-person ecosystem. You’ve probably had the experience of feeling inexplicably nauseous or tense after an argument with a friend, or feeling irritable or emotional in the face of some relentless physical pain. Even if you practice plenty of meditation and keep excellent care of your body, the one is bound to encroach at some point on the other.

And this is where biofeedback comes in. This burgeoning method of care focuses on relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help patients deal with certain health concerns. Patients begin working with a doctor who can teach them the techniques, which they can in turn take home and practice on their own.

Here are 5 sample biofeedback exercises to achieve whole-person wellness:

Relaxation Sample Exercise (Kansas State University)

Biofeedback for Heart-Rate Variability (Livestrong)

Biofeedback Therapy Relaxation (Inner Health Studio)

Biofeedback Five Finger Exercise (Emporia State University)

Stabilizer Biofeedback Lower Abdominal Exercise (Holistic Sam)

 

By harnessing the mind’s power, you can potentially achieve noticeable improvements in your health, happiness, and overall well-being. It is similar to the way in which meditation, as we know, can have a profound affect on a person’s total wellness by helping reduce stress, increase focus, and lower heart rate. The first step to healthy living is setting the intent and investing the time and energy you deserve.

Try these exercises out and let us know how it goes!

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5 Stress-Reducing Foods to Add to Your Diet

oatmealThere are several ways to attack stress, and the symptoms of stress in our bodies using food. The trick is getting all the nutrients we need to fight stress, without eating excessive calories. This is easy to do, by substituting unhealthy foods with these options, and watching your portions. So instead of eating a super-sized burger and fries, then gobbling carbs and nuts, and stressing over weight gain, simply replace meals and snacks during the day with healthier, stress-reducing alternatives.

1. Boost Serotonin Levels With Whole Grains

Serotonin is the chemical in our brains that tells us we’re happy and content. Lots of foods boost our serotonin levels, including comfort foods like complex carbohydrates and milk. You can get healthy complex carbs from whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, and oatmeal. Whole grains are also filling, so these foods help prevent over-eating.

Usually, people enjoy breads with butter, and pasta with a rich sauce. Up the nutritional value, and lower the calories by enjoying bread with sugar-free jam, and pasta with a tomato based sauce flavored with oregano, and other herbs and spices.

2. Cut Stress Hormones With Citrus and Black Tea

Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones. They make us feel horrible, and over time eat away at our good health. Black tea is a great way to lower these hormones, and unlike coffee and some other peppy drinks, it don’t raise our heart rate or blood pressure. Foods containing high levels of vitamin C also cut cortisol and adrenaline, such as citrus fruits.

Fortunately, black tea has no calories, and citrus fruits are very low in calories. Read about other foods that reduce cortisol and adrenaline at the Best Drug Rehabilitation Manistee blog.

3. Lower Blood Pressure With Nuts and Seeds

One of the most serious effects of stress on our system is high blood pressure. Even if you don’t ordinarily have high blood pressure, the effects of constant spikes in blood pressure through the day, in response to stressful situations takes its toll. You can lower blood pressure by avoiding too much salt, and adding foods like nuts and seeds to your diet. Pistachios are another good choice. Keep portions to a single handful, because nuts pack serious calories.

4. Stock Up on Magnesium in Spinach and Salmon

Low magnesium is linked to frequent headaches and fatigue, both of which add to stress levels. Spinach is packed with magnesium, as are soybeans, and salmon. These foods also have many other nutrients, some of which are healthy for the heart, such as Omega 3 acids in salmon.

5. Boost Your Immune System With Omega-3 Rich Foods

The vitamins in spinach also help boost the immune system, which takes a brutal hit in times of stress. You can also give your immune system a boost with the vitamins A and E found in almonds. Substitute two, or three servings of red meat per week with Omega 3 rich fatty fish, such as salmon, or tuna. These have the added benefits of lowering stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and improving heart health.

When you can’t eat your way through a stressful situation, consider other ways to calm your nerves. A brisk walk, cuddling with a pet, enjoying the outdoors, and engaging in a calming activity like painting all help relieve stress. When it’s time to eat, grab one of these healthy alternatives to candy bars and potato chips.

5 Tips To Survive Summer Vacation With Wild Kids

3766009204_8721a00ddeThere’s a picture of my sister in our family album that has inspired a family idiom: the purple kitty face. In the photo, my sis is standing in our driveway on a summer day wearing light blue undies and holding a tiny black kitten, scooped from a litter of mates produced by our ginger cat, Selena. In her sweet and quirky four-year-old way, she had convinced herself (and probably me) that the kitty was not black, but purple.

If you look closely at my sister’s expression, you’ll notice that her lips are pursed tightly in a sort of painfully loving grimace. Her teeth are clenched, as are her two little hands that are quickly crushing purple kitty’s spindly rib cage.

If a thought bubble could appear magically above my sister’s head it would say, “You’re so cuuuuuuttteee! I love you to deeeeeaaaaath!” Fortunately, no animals were injured in the filming of that scene. At least not that we knew of, anyway. I imagine that Mom swooped toward her daughter after snapping the pic, rescued the kitten from imminent death and returned her to the cardboard box from whence she came.

There’s a psycho-medical term for this exact situation I’m sure, but nothing quite pins the tail on the donkey like purple kitty. (Though that Looney Tunes scene with Daffy Duck and the Abominable Snow Man comes close, “I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.”)

The purple kitty is sort of like that feeling of being insanely cold. When you’re so cold that shaking is involuntary. Only when you notice that your teeth are chattering so much your jaw hurts and your thighs are sore from tightening them against the weather do you become aware of the tension and mindfully release it… only to squeeze up again with the next frigid gust. (I’m a lifelong New Englander, I know about these things.)

My children make the purple kitty face all the time. We just got a puppy and she is often the recipient of squeezey loving. But I know it’s not just a behavior reserved for my family. All kids do this. I remember one day my old boss came into work and told us that her beloved family pet, a hamster, was laid to rest in a shoe box that morning – a victim of her daughter’s loving embrace. It happens. And not just with animals.

I remember doing this with my neighbor as a kid. He was such an adorable baby. I remember hugging him a little to tight, sucking my breath in through clenched teeth, body shaking from the effort of physical love, releasing only when the little toe headed cutiepie squeaked rather than exhaled. Honestly, sometimes I notice myself doing it still. What can I say? Babies are cute.

As a parent of small children, I’ve noticed that my purple kitty face, once associated with over-loving, has become one of Holy-Shit-I-Can’t-Take-It-Anymore-You-Are-Driving-Me-Crazy-And-I-Need-You-To-Stop-Screaming-At-Each-Other-Before-My-Eyeballs-Eject-From-My-Skull. I think the more common term for this is frustration, but frustration is not a rich enough word for the exasperation, disheartened-ness, desperateness, and anger that I can feel when my kids are totally obnoxious.

So I admit it. I’ve been known to occasionally squeeze my kids. And not because they’re cute. Thanks to a committed mindfulness practice, I can typically defend them from my clenching grip, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never sent my kids off to school praying that their teachers wouldn’t roll up their sleeves and find red stripes around their biceps from where I grabbed and squeezed, imagining that my vice grip would somehow convince them to stop screaming, listen to my words, or clean up their blasted Pokemon cards.

It’s summer vacation now, and all this quality time with our unscheduled babies, as delightful as it is, provides us with endless opportunities to feel emotionally overwhelmed by their antics. So there are a couple of things I’ve done that have helped me to stop the squeezing and relax my purple kitty face, and I wanted to share them with you all.

I have three small children ages 4 through 8, and I mother each of them differently, but these five things work consistently for me with all three.

  1. Meditate. Your reaction to your babies is not about them, it’s about you. When you’re composed, no amount of nagging, screeching or spoiled-rotten-American-kid complaining will offend you.
    • A meditation practice takes time to develop, so in the meantime try this: The second you reach for that little arm, breathe into your squeezy hand and let the irritation melt like butter on plain pasta with no red sauce. Think these words: “This will be over soon, and we will be happy again.”
    • Another great mindfulness trick is the 10-10-10 rule. Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this in 10 minutes? In 10 days? In 10 years?” Probably not so great. So loosen up the tourniquet and know that this too shall pass.
  2. Make sure they’ve eaten. Hungry kids are CRAZY. We all know this, but somehow we all forget. Feed them. I always have a bag of apples and a slicer wheel nearby. It’s the perfect emergency food. But even with that, I still forget, too.
  3. Whisper or speak very softly when you’re explaining or disciplining. They’ll be like, “What? What, Mommy? What?” and they’ll stop screaming long enough to listen. Most of the time, they start modeling my volume and instantly the stress level dissipates – mine and theirs.
  4. If whispering doesn’t work, try crying. Channel your inner soap opera diva. Most likely, fake tears will not be hard to conjure, but feel free to give yourself over to real ones. There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids see you cry. They should know the effect their behavior has on others. And when you’re teetering on the edge of an emotional volcano, a sobbing mommy meltdown can be a great side effect – they stop flipping out and turn their compassionate focus on you. “I’m so sorry, Mommy. I’m so sorry,” complete with hugs and kisses and sympathy. Then they can stop being lunatics long enough for you to regain composure and control.
  5. When all else fails, put them in water. My neighbor, an experienced mother of several, taught me this and I am ever-grateful. Draw a bath, toss in a few face cloths and buckets, turn on some Mozart and leave the room – bathroom door open, of course.

5 Natural Ways to Boost Total Body Wellness

GingerSoothingBath

There’s a reason we often refer to “wellness” instead of “health,” though both words in essence refer to the same thing. The difference is that the former connotes a whole-self vitality that brings mind, body, and spirit into alignment for optimal health. And in most cases, the path to wellness is paved with natural products and practices, making the individual the expert on his or her own well-being.

If you struggle with any health concerns, or if you just want to boost overall wellness, increase your energy, and get that “glow” people are always talking about, then you may benefit from introducing some new practices into your daily routine.

Here are 5 natural tools to boost overall wellness:

1. Introduce spices and herbs into your diet.

Many common seasonings pack antioxidants and polyphenols, which can curb inflammation in the body, relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and more. In addition to that, spices and herbs add so much flavor to recipes that you’ll find yourself reaching less and less for the salt, sugar, and other unhealthy additives. A win-win all around!

Our tip: Ginger is the perfect spice to start with. With its spicy kick and subtle sweetness, ginger adds delicious flavor to savory and sweet dishes, alike! We love Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger powder, which is 100% pure ginger naturally sourced from the beautiful island of Wakaya.

2. Start a mindfulness practice.

“Mindfulness” can mean different things to different people, but the intention is always the same. Be aware of your thoughts and biases, practice listening, practice gratitude, and challenge yourself to speak, think, and act mindfully throughout the day. Mindfulness techniques, which can include meditation, focused awareness, and yoga, have been shown to help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety (along with other conventional treatments.)

Our tip: Find a time of the day that works for you to sit, be still, and just breathe. Maybe it’s right when you get up in the morning and are still sitting in bed; or perhaps it’s a few quiet moments after the kids have gone to sleep and the computer is turned off. Return to this inner space every day, and feel the effects the practice has on your life.

3. Try natural remedies for common ailments before turning to chemical-based drugs.

There is certainly a time and place for conventional medicine, don’t get us wrong! But many common, daily ailments – like headaches, nausea, sore muscles, and morning sickness – can be more easily (and effectively!) remedied by natural products. If there is a specific chronic condition you struggle with, do a bit of research to see what herbs, spices, and practices might help alleviate discomfort.

Our tip: Ginger has been proven to be an extremely effective product for easing nausea and related ailments. Try Ginger-Eze, a natural ginger remedy, as your go-to for alleviating motion sickness, cold symptoms, sore muscles and more.

4. Incorporate fitness into your daily routine.

For some people, having an allotted hour at the gym or in a fitness class is what they need to make sure exercise makes it into their schedule. But for many of us this strategy can be daunting, and we either skip it altogether or over-work ourselves when we do make the time to exercise. Staying active can be surprisingly easy, though, when we incorporate fitness into our lives by walking and biking for transportation, doing exercises that promote practical strength, and enjoying fun weekend activities that get us moving!

Our tip: Opt for “functional fitness” workouts, either on your own or at a gym that specializes in this kind of exercise. Functional fitness focuses on whole-body strength, balance, and stamina for daily life.

5. Use natural products for beauty and skin care.

Many commercial beauty and skin care products are terrible for your health. Some products have even tested positive for mercury, lead, bacteria, and other toxins. Yikes! Thankfully some of the most effective, powerful, and beautifying products come right out of the earth and don’t carry the same side-effects at the drugstore variety.

Our tip: To nourish and moisturize your skin, as well as treat rashes and minor burns, try Dilo Cream, made with oil from the super-plant Calophyllum inophyllum. This tree has so many amazing properties, and its oil has been used as a skin treatment throughout the Pacific and tropical regions of Africa for years.

We hope these tips give you some creative and empowering ideas for boosting your own wellness practice. What are your favorite tools for overall health? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to Let Go Instead of Giving Up

Sunset Party Dancing Girl SilhouetteThe greatest stress in life is the stress we cannot control. Perhaps, it is no coincidence that at some point so many of us experience a painful, debilitating back pain which is actually the corresponding physical symptom of feeling like we have lost control of a situation or relationship. In other words: We want to be “back in power.”

Consequently at night, we cannot control our thoughts and have trouble letting go of what we should have said or done during the day. This is evidenced by our difficulty to stay asleep once we fall asleep. And when we don’t sleep, we are even more stressed and achy the next day. Basically, we are stuck.

The good news is that the body sends us signals regarding those stuck mindsets. The inability to let go of anger, negative thinking and that sense of failure tends to create inflammation in a specific body part, usually our weakest link. When you have a specific pain which the doctor has difficulty addressing, consider the emotional counterpart. Awareness of what your pain is trying to tell you  makes it go away as soon as you figure out the message. For example, when you are angry with another, you are most angry with the self for letting this person hurt you or take advantage. Ultimately you give up on the special relationship or quit the dream job instead of letting go of the hurt/anger. Isn’t it time to stop the self-sabotage?

You don’t have to give up on a relationship, quit a generally solid job, or give up a professional educational track because you feel powerless or diminished. A proven remedy is to let go of your self-criticism, your “perceived” hurt and humiliation, while you work through the uncomfortable situation or relationship with a kinder interpretation.

Consider these two questions:

* How much time and energy have you spent absorbed in all this negativity?
* What have you given up due to these negative emotions?

Know how to let go of self-blame while at the same time working on self-correction to do better. When you know how to let go of anger and shame, you can speak to yourself and to others like a compassionate coach or mentor with words of encouragement to transform a failure into a success. The ultimate question always is: Can you have compassion for yourself? When you are kind to yourself, you will be kind to others. Transform criticism into correction.

To let go instead of give up:

  • Have a heart to heart dialogue with yourself: “What am I not seeing about this situation?”
  • Be aware of your habitual reactions, breathe deeply, reconsider, and respond.
  • Stop putting yourself down. It’s time to lift yourself up and you will act from this higher vantage point instead of low down stressed out emotions.
  • Use humor to reinterpret the negativity. Seeing the inherent humor or the ultimate absurdity will most likely help you to find a solution.
  • Benjamin Franklin said that there was never a good war or a bad peace. Aim for peace in your own life and the lives of others.
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