Tag Archives: stress relief

6 Household Stress Busters to Beat the Stress Monster

stress monster ballFeeling the stress monster coming to get you? In our fast-paced, results-driven world, it’s a common complaint among working adults to experience stress. Consider the following things you should keep around your home to send that pesky monster on its way.

Use a Sunrise Alarm Clock

If the thought of your alarm clock going off in the morning adds stress to bedtime, consider getting a sunrise alarm clock, such as the Philips Wake-up Light. These types of alarm clocks are designed to gradually add light to your room and help your body gradually wake up rather than being jarred awake.

The best part about it is you can decide when the “sun” rises. For 30 minutes before the set time to wake up, the light will gradually get brighter and brighter. It’s especially helpful in the winter, when you might need to wake up before the actual sun rises.

Essential Oil Diffusers

It’s been found the essential oils have many useful properties, and diffusers are a great way to add the lovely scent of essential oils to the air while relieving stress. Common stress-relieving oils include lavender, citrus fruits, and vanilla. There are a few options when it comes to diffusers.

Some use ultrasonic technology to break the mixture apart and diffuse it into the air. Others use the heat from candles to diffuse the oil into the air. By using essential oils, not only will it help relieve stress, but it will also help disperse unpleasant smells in the air without using chemicals.

Comedies

Did you know that the average a child laughs 300 times a day while an adult only laughs 17 times a day? According to a paper published on the National Institutes of Health website, laughter and positive emotions produce improvements in how your immune system functions. Those people who choose to cope with stress by laughing have a greater daily positive attitude and are able to deal with stressful situations easier.

There are a variety of ways to increase the amount of laughter you experience every day. One of the easiest ways is to watch comedies, whether TV shows or movies.

Meditation Apps

With today’s technology, it’s no surprise that there are apps designed to help you relieve stress and anxieties. One of the best ways to relieve stress is with daily meditations. When we feel stressed, the adrenal gland produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Prolonged exposure to cortisol results in adverse effects.

According to a study through the Center of the Mind and Brain, meditation helps to decrease the resting levels of cortisol. Meditation apps help you to focus on your meditation and take you through the steps to relax your brain.

In addition to meditation apps, there are other apps that you can have on your phone to help reduce stress. Breathe2Relax takes users through diaphragmatic breathing exercises that are known to help interrupt stress receptors in the body. The Worry Box app is a great way to control stress caused by worrying. In the app, it asks questions about what is worrying you, whether that worry is something within your control, and gives you techniques for dealing with worries.

Exercise Equipment

According to the Mayo Clinic, almost any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever by increasing the amount of endorphins in your brain. When you focus on a specific exercise, whether racquetball, running or yoga, it acts as a form of meditation to help you forget about the day’s stresses. For that reason, having exercise equipment in the home is a great way to beat the stress monster.

There are a lot of options with an exercise ball to work out your entire body such as push-ups and abdominal tucks. If you love aerobic exercises that get you moving, get a Wii or Xbox Kinect and some dance games like Just Dance to work off stress.

Start a Compost Pile

Environmental awareness and lowering your carbon footprint can contribute in making you feel better about your lifestyle and help to alleviate stress. In addition to recycling and switching to eco-efficient lightbulbs, starting a compost pile in your home or apartment is a great way to do your part for the environment. According to energysavings.com, keeping a 50/50 ratio of both brown materials and green materials in your compost heap is the most efficient way to break down the organic waste. Brown materials include everything from yard waste, newspapers, peanut shells and compostable paper products. Green materials include grass clippings, egg shells and fruit and veggie scraps.

With so many ways to relieve stress, there’s really no reason for stress to build up and weigh you down. These are just some items for your home that help you release that stress that you can use whenever you start feeling tense.

6 House Cleaning Tips to Reduce Stress

springcleaningFor most people stress and mess are unremitting realities in daily life. In fact, the various stressors and disarrays share a common denominator – clutter – both the physical and mental kind.  Why not then kill two birds with one stone? As long as you have to clean your place, why not use it as a targeted method for coping with stress?

Cleaning carries emotional benefits: Catharsis, clarity, control and change. These good feelings lead directly to self-improvement and empowerment. For example, when you clean out your space, you can distinguish between what inspires you and what no longer serves you.  Getting rid of what you no longer need, makes room for positivism and invites good things into your home, including friends, as you are no longer embarrassed by the mess.

Here are 6 cleaning tasks and their emotional/intellectual/spiritual rewards:

* Washing the dishes helps you to wash away the grief. Circular motions correspond to the circle of life.
* Vacuuming gets rid of the dust and the cobwebs, the regrets which cling and keep you stuck, as you inhale stale air and allergens. Vacuuming helps you to move forward and breathe a purer air, a more authentic version of yourself.
* Cleaning the windows lets in the light when you feel sad, unable to step outside. Afterwards, you can sit or stand by the window, relax and watch others. Moreover, when you open a window, you get ready to step outside and join the good energy – first you rehearse it in your mind and then you do it.
* Cleaning the bathroom helps you to get the crap out of your life or neutralize what pisses you off.  You need to move toxins out of your body and your mind.
* Mopping the floor keeps you in the moment, an opportunity not to think about your worries; otherwise, if you are not fully present to what you are doing, you can slip and slide and fall back into an old issue.
* Overall, housecleaning is great exercise to be envied by gym goers. And exercise efficiently alleviates anxiety and moves stress hormones out of the body.

The next time you clean your space, create a specific intention, a stress-reducing mental component corresponding to the physical act. For example, when you are clearing out spoiled fruit in your refrigerator to make room for fresh, new fruit consider if there might be some spoiled, toxic relationship you need to throw away? Or when you are dusting, polishing your furniture to a brilliant shine, consider what might be holding you back from shining?

5 Steps to Break Negative Thought Patterns

Road RageBy Dr. Kulkarni

Here is a simple, five step process to recognizing and breaking negative thought patterns:

1. Catch yourself in the act.

Most people don’t even recognize when they are having a negative thought, because it is so ingrained they don’t even perceive it as “negative”. They see it as Truth. As reality. Most people also erroneously assume that other people would have the same thought/reaction if faced with a similar stimuli or circumstance. For example, take the thought, “This traffic is so terrible. I am wasting so much time. I can’t believe I have to deal with this.”

While it may seem logical and true, this thought creates a stress response in the body. The basis of this thought is, “I have been put into an unpleasant circumstance that I cannot control. I will attempt to fight back by reacting negatively and with resistance.” Feel the emotional space of helplessness and anger that this thought places you in. If you hold this negative emotion strongly enough, and for long enough, you will find yourself in many, many other circumstances where you feel helpless and out of control, because Law of Attraction naturally continues to draw to you what you are most dominantly feeling. That’s why it is so important to catch yourself in a chronic, negative underlying thought pattern.

2. Recognize that you are thinking the thought; the thought is not thinking you.

This gives you some immediate relief as you realize that you are thinker of this thought – it did not just think you (although sometimes it seems as if our thoughts are thinking us). This also almost instantly diffuses the negative energy associated with thought because as you shine a spotlight on it, it loses its power. As you begin to observe your thoughts, you gain a more objective, detached perspective that helps you assess the situation more rationally.

In the example above, you may say to yourself, “I may not be able to control the traffic, but I can control how I feel. I recognize that this thought is not serving me, and I choose to not allow it to overwhelm me.”

3. Consciously release the negative energy or emotion associated with the thought.

As you release the negative emotion and tension associated with the negative thought, it has less of a negative influence on your vibrational frequency. This is an extremely important step. Remember, this is not some intellectual exercise of seeing the glass half full. You are trying to consciously change your thoughts and emotions to change your vibrational frequency and energy pattern. Releasing negative emotion at its core releases resistance so that you begin to attract more positive energy automatically.

What are the underlying emotions of being irritated in traffic, for example? Lack of control, helplessness, anger, frustration – to name a few. Are there other aspects of your life in which you feel this way? Chances are, one of these emotions might be a chronic negative emotional pattern for you. This is when you begin to see that it has nothing to do with the traffic. It never did. The traffic is just a consequence, a mirror, to what you are already feeling and vibrating. This is a powerful realization.

4. Replace the negative thought, with a more positive (but believable) one.

For this concrete example, you might say to yourself, “Well the traffic is bad, and I would rather not be here, but maybe I can use this time to take in some deep breaths and relax. Maybe I can listen to a nice song or program on the radio.” Anything can be a meditative experience, if you will let it be. Releasing resistance and negative energy is all about accepting the moment as it is, rather than fighting it. The key here is to begin to soothe yourself by telling yourself things that you can actually sort of believe – otherwise the exercise will seem disingenuous and forced.

5. Feel the positive energy or emotion associated with the new thought and then place conscious focus and attention on it for as long as possible.

This is the last and most important step. Focusing on the positive emotion and feelings of the new thought is what allows a new energy pattern to replace the old one. Your new thought might have made you feel more relaxed, less stressed, less anxious. You are now in a completely different emotional and vibrational place than you were a few minutes ago.

* * *

smallprofilepicDr. Kulkarni is a New York City based physician, spiritual author, and personal coach.  Find her @Dr_Kulkarni or visit www.leveragingthought.com to learn more.

Teaching Children Meditation & Mindfulness

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.35.56 PMIn today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, it’s pretty easy to become over-stimulated. Busy schedules directing us to go, go, go and electronic devices constantly in our hands, sucking us into scattered digital directions make inner-peace a fleeting want. Enter tension and fatigue. This is true for us, as adults, so imagine children as they absorb the energy of their parents and of the environment which they live in. Then, we send them off to school where they are expected to concentrate and focus.

As an adult, to be able to accomplish all of the above is a pretty remarkable feat. Imagine learning these tools as a young child and then being able to use them your entire life! What if an entire generation of children were blessed with this gift? While mindfulness is catching on and currently being taught in a handful of schools across the country, it is largely up to the parents to teach this powerful tool. And studies have linked mindfulness to better concentration, increased focus, and boosts of memory – so it’s well worth it.

The tips I’m about to share are my own experience as a parent and what has worked in our family. They are geared towards younger children, but much of it can apply to older kids as well. (If you are an adult looking to learn more about meditation, you may want to check out this article.)

Introducing Meditation and Mindfulness to Young Children

  1. Lead by example. As a parent, it is most important to first develop your own meditation practice and then show your children the way. They will naturally become curious as they so often want to emulate the behaviors they see in their parents and others whom they look up to. My five year old daughter has grown up her whole life witnessing meditation, and I even have many fond memories of her as a toddler coming out of bed in the morning and plopping herself down on my lap while I was in the midst of meditating! Once there is a genuine and natural interest, you can begin to help guide them into a better understanding and foster the growth of their own practice.

  2. Make it relatable, on a child’s level. There is a wonderful book about meditation called Peaceful Piggy that I’ve read with my daughter many times and would highly recommend. The story-telling approach is a wonderful way to connect with young kids. Above that, they suggest a really simple do-it-at-home experiment to demonstrate what meditation is all about. It says to take a jar and fill the bottom with a bit of sand. Then, cover with water. Shake the jar so that all the grains of sand begin swirling all around. Tell your child that each of those grains of sands represents a thought. It could be a happy thought, a sad thought, an angry thought. But, the grains swirling around represent all of the thoughts buzzing around our heads throughout the day. Next put the jar down and allow the sand to settle. See how the sand “thoughts” become calmer and the water becomes clearer? The thoughts are still there, but they are no longer all “crazy.” Peace and stillness have taken over. Explain to your child that this symbolizes the effect of meditation on the brain.

  3. Encourage discussion of their own feelings and emotions. Ask them for examples of different experiences: when something made them really happy, or really sad, a time they felt upset or their feelings were hurt, a time they felt scared. Give a few of your own examples to show them that we all feel this same array of emotions on a regular basis. Even young children, who seem to have such simple lives, still have a lot to sort through and deal with. They may share some emotions such as: happy on a fun family adventure, upset when mommy or daddy wouldn’t let them do what they wanted, sad when a family member or pet became ill, or feeling hurt when a friend in school said something mean. For children who are a bit older, the standardized testing system seems to be a source of worry. Meditation can help settle the overwhelming feelings and bring them to a calmer place in their thoughts. Being able to get outside of the whirlwind to just observe instead of being engulfed is truly a powerful gift.

  4. MinfulnessRealistic Expectations. It’s important to cover that there is no way to do this right or “wrong.” Like exercising, results become more apparent with repetition. Frequency is key to really seeing benefits over time. That being said, this should be an enjoyable experience for them and not feel like a chore or something they are being forced to do. Encourage their interest, efforts, and willingness. If you are into reward systems, this could be a good time to implement some small ones. “Let’s practice a few minutes of meditation and then we can play a little game” or “have a little treat.” This type of system is very encouraging for young children. Make it special! Designate a specific area for them in the house that will be their meditation spot. Make it welcoming with their own pillow or special pillowcase. Encourage them to bring a few trinkets that have special meaning to them: perhaps a family photo, their favorite artwork, a remnant of the earth such as gemstone or even a plant.

  5. Use a Timer. It’s great to have a goal time, but start small. Depending on the age, 3-5 minutes can be a reasonable beginner goal. A timer is nice because it is finite and they know to expect an end time. There are many great meditation apps that you can download for your smartphone. I like ones that use singing bowl sounds for start and finish. Let your child start the timer and put it somewhere they can see it. Encourage them to not worry about the time. Instead, just relax and know their meditation is over once they hear the singing bowl ring again.

  6. Guide them. Sitting down in lotus posture with eyes closed is not a must (although that is perfectly fine). Like I said, there is no right or wrong way. The point is to get them into a practice of settling their minds and become more mindful. Keeping the eyes closed allows for deeper relaxation, so would be suggested. Naturally, they will want to peek – this is okay! Lying down while meditating presents an opportunity to become a little too relaxed and possibly even fall asleep, so some sort of sitting position is best. Small children will be fidgety. Just encourage them to try their best to sit still with eyes closed until the timer goes off. Most important is to focus on the breath. Breathing is something we always take with us, so this can literally be practiced anywhere. Have them simply notice their breathing as their chest rises and falls. Then, start to encourage long, deep, slow breaths where their belly rises up on the inhale and contracts to small again as the exhale it all out.

(A fun visual: “Blowing out the Candle.” Have them clasp their hands together and raise their two index fingers, holding them in front of their mouth. Inhale slowly and deeply. On the slow exhale, have them imagine blowing out a birthday candle. Blowing out a candle is something all children can relate to, and it’s pretty fun too! When my daughter is having a tough time with something, I can simply tell her “breathe, blow out your candle” and she knows exactly what to do to calm down.)

  1. Let it be. Sitting still may not comes naturally at first. It is okay for minds to wander. It is okay to fidgety. As a matter of fact, expect it. Just encourage them to try their best to relax and refocus them back to focusing on their breath as often as needed. Know that over time and with regular practice, they will be able to sit still longer and they will begin to experience many of the other wonderful benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Don’t push it, but gently encourage them to practice regularly.

Our children are the future, and we have infinite love for them. What a beautiful gift to give them and to the world by teaching them to meditate. Namaste.

Do you meditate with your children? Do you have any of your own tips to add? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!

For more by Dawn Gluskin be sure to get on the free email list for exclusive content direct to your inbox and join the inspiring Dawnsense Facebook community.

photo by: AlicePopkorn

7 Tools to Resolve Any and Every Conflict That Arises

Cat VS. DogMany of us dread conflict. We wish we could just get along.

Life, however, has other ideas for us. Everyone is here to be there true selves, have their own opinions, likes, dislikes etc. How boring things would be if we all agreed on everything all the time. Where would our creativity be needed?

The exciting thing about conflict is that it forces us to expand into a greater creative expression of ourselves. Every time I have found the courage to call someone to task and have a discussion about our conflicting opinions, good things have happened. It doesn’t mean I always get my way, but I do put myself in a position to express my opinion, speak my truth, and listen to their side. Then I have a CHOICE: find an agreement, or walk away from the relationship/situation. And, importantly, I feel good about myself, that I have made every effort to find a resolution.

If we don’t speak up, we are sitting on an energy of resentment, fear, or frustration which can lead, later on, to unconscious expressions of that same energy which will probably not have good outcomes. Conflict is not inevitable. Conflicts are created by people and people can choose to end them. This cannot happen if the parties are set on victory instead of compromise or while they prioritize self-centered interest over the highest good of everyone concerned.

When the willingness to be available for discussion exists, there is no conflict that cannot be resolved.

If conflict is rooted in an ‘us’ and ‘them’, or ‘me’ and ‘you’, approach, then peace-building is precisely the opposite. We have to get past the adversarial mind-set and involve everyone concerned in addressing the common challenges, listening to other points of view, and seeing where we can meet, with an emphasis on what we DO agree on, and not on what we don’t agree on. When the focus is on what we all want, and not on what we don’t want, there is a higher possibility of success.

Our personal histories are all, in one way or another, shaped by the legacies of conflict. But as profound and deep-rooted as our differences may be, it is in our power to redefine those legacies, and, in so doing, redefine ourselves. Wherever we live in the world, we must recognize that ‘peace’ is not something you can win; it is something that has to be built and shared.

Here are 7 suggestions for conflict resolution:

1. Start with the points you all agree on. This sets a positive foundation of agreement to build upon.

2. Can you all agree that the outcome you want is for the highest good of everyone concerned?

3. Are you willing, if necessary, to set aside your personal interests for the highest good of everyone concerned?

4. Can you allow yourself to admit you are wrong? And/or admit that you hadn’t seen the situation from the other person’s point of view?

5. Are you speaking from wisdom or from self-centered ego?

6. Do you want to be right, or be happy?

7. Before starting a conflict resolution do one of the following meditations, either alone or with the other people, to release tensions and emotional charge, and to help bring your wisest self to the table. The more you are at peace within yourself, the more likely you are to manifest a positive outcome.

Laughter Expressive Meditation – Two Minutes
Step One: Laugh for no reason (one minute)
Step Two: Sit in silence (one minute)
After releasing stress and tensions with laughter, you experience joy, oneness, and creativity.
You can do this for longer than two minutes; just be sure and do an equal amount of time for each step.

Gibberish Expressive Meditation – Two Minutes
Step One: Gibberish (one minute)
Step Two: Sit in Silence (one minute)
Express your frustrations, resentments and tensions in the gibberish. You then find it much easier and quicker to drop down into a state of inner peace, clarity, and wisdom.

Setting an Intention Meditation – Two Minutes
Set the intention that you want the outcome of your discussion to be for the highest good of everyone concerned. Sit silently, eyes closed, relaxing into acceptance of what is, with compassion for yourself and everyone involved.

I look forward to your comments below.

And Join my Laughing Buddhas Network – it’s FREE!

5 Ways Your Smartphone Can Improve Your Mood

You pick up a cell phone several times a day, but can you imagine a cell phone picking you up? Well, they do it all the time. We all know your cell phone makes your life easier. You can order pizza, get directions, chat with friends and even send photos when you feel like doing so, but this little device can also make you feel better when you feel blue. There’s truly no limit to what technology can do these days. Next time you feel down, pick up your cell phone. It will return the favor.

Hunt for Feel Good Music

Music - an art for itself - Headphones and music notes / musical notation system

If you are feeling low, the easiest way to pick yourself up is to play a song. With Music Hunt, an app for smartphones, you can find the right song to pick you up. Search for an old favorite, such as a hit from the 80s, or surf through a variety of recent hip-hop hits. Satisfy your craving for some feel good rock ‘n roll, sure to blow your blues away in a heartbeat.

This app is perfect for rainy day blues. Add this to all of your work phones and give your crew something to smile about on those long flights. You can do this in a few clicks (or taps) with using just your tablet or smartphone.

Stream a Video, Enjoy a River of Laughter

Streaming videos on your phone is a great way to improve your mood. With today’s phones, you have hundreds of video apps to choose from. Open the YouTube app and search for funny, short videos for a quick laugh to lighten your mood. It’s also free, which will make you smile.

Hulu Plus is also available on select smartphones. You can immediately brighten your mood by watching your favorite sitcom on your phone. You can also download and watch comedies on your phone for a minimal price of around $7.99.

Crack a Joke a Day

laughter

Many apps feature jokes to force you to look at life from a different perspective. Try YoMama Jokes or go for quantity with the app 5000 Jokes, or Best Bar Jokes. All of these apps will make your mood improve immediately.

Chat With a Friend

Another mood-booster is to have a chat with a friend. Open up your favorite messaging app and send a quick note to a friend, or repair a damaged relationship with a nice text. It’s a little easier to start a conversation using texts.

Relive Feel Good Moments

Grand Cayman Vacation

Load your phone with your favorite pictures of friends, family, and great moments. Put them in a folder called “fun photos” or something similar and browse photos when a blue mood strikes. You’ll start thinking about all the fun times in your life.

You always have your phone with you. When you feel blue, use these suggestions and add a little creativity to turn your smartphone into your personal mood-booster.

 

Image Via Flickr by photosteve101

Image Via Flickr by gagilas

Image Via Flickr by c&rdunn

Raging with Prince Harry

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dylanjeavons/7843936144/
Photo: Photoshop Politics by Dylan Jeavons

This is #24 of 108 Ways to Livin the Moment. Let’s take back our lives one beautiful, funny, and delicious moment at a time.

#24 of 108: Before Raging in Vegas, Try the Pinata

At some point this weekend, Prince Harry is headed for a conversation with his father about his recent exploits in Sin City.

I know what you must be thinking and I agree: how Harry is going to justify his choice of hotels, The MGM, over some of the gleaming jewels on The Strip…is beyond me.

But the press, especially in Britain, has been mostly glowing about Harry’s courageous blaze through the desert.

The Daily Mail told readers: “Why everyone — royals included — should visit silly Sin City at least once.”

Another newspaper offered a guide to “Las Vegas: where to party like Prince Harry.”

VegasInc said: “Your pool-party shenanigans fell squarely into the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s marketing strategy to attract attention to the place that regularly celebrates your kind of fun.”

Clearly, Harry wanted some attention.

God knows there’s a person in you who can relate, who wants say to F You to some authority figure or family member in your life.

And y’know, sometimes we all need to let loose.

Or we become subverted freaks and our bodies turn into a slow burning conflagration of rage…and that’s when sickness happens.

Clearly, a naked bender in Vegas is never a healthy, wholesome idea.

So if you are needing to let loose, here are 3 tips on releasing unhealthy emotions in a more dignified style:

1. The Pinata

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/cleanplatecharlie/musings_1/
Photo: blogs.browardpalmbeach.com

When is the last time you took a whack at a pinata? It’s cathartic to let er rip and then indulge in a lollipop rainstorm. Plus, pinantas with gluten-free candy are now available in bulk at Costco.

2. The Clearing

One very famous yoga teacher told me every night before she goes to sleep, she and her husband clear any thoughts of the angry, racy, lustful, resentful variety.

Try it. Make time for a daily clearing, because the weekly clearing can be ugly, the monthly clearing can be dangerous, and the annual clearing…see pic.

3. A Disney Song

Sometimes when I get really mad or frustrated, I listen to the Aladdin theme song “I Can Show You the World.

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Greek tragedian Euripides said, “The fiercest anger of all, the most incurable, is that which rages in the place of dearest love.”

Point being, emotions are beyond understanding. Don’t even try to apply ration to what you are feeling or you will go insane.

Just take small daily actions so you can avoid the big yearly ones.

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WHAT THE HECK IS A MOMENTEER?

If you can relate to feeling frustrated, like you are not moving forward, like you have gone rogue… GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. Everyone has their particular grind, but only some choose to enjoy the journey. While the giant leap forward may or may not come today or tomorrow, every single day is an opportunity to CELEBRATE LIFE! I invite you to become what I call a Momenteer, and take back your life one beautiful, funny, delicious moment at a time. To find out how you can become a Momenteer, email yeahdave@mac.comand write Momenteer! in the subject.

RETREAT WITH ME…(December 6-9)

If this idea of a night sky speckled with stars sounds like just what you need…I’m leading a retreat to Sedona, Arizona. There is no starrier sky than one overlooking Grand Canyon country.  Taking place December 6-9 at Mii Amo (rated #1 Destination Spa in the World by Travel & Leisure Magazine, this is a dreamy winter getaway to soothe the mind, luxuriate the senses, and ignite the spirit! Visit here

How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

 Why are you so hard on yourself? Over the last two weeks I’ve been exploring this.

What can you do about it? A lot.

The opposite of Perfectionitis is what researchers call "healthy striving." Studies show that healthy strivers set realistic goals that are the natural next step from where they are now. You can too! Go ahead and way you can work smarter, not harder.

Not only that. You get to acknowledge yourself for completing each step along the way. That adds up to a lot of positive internal reinforcement. The more often you declare something done and done well, the more you build your self-image as someone savvy and successful. And that feels great. Instead of rewarding yourself only when you reach the mondo outcome, you savor the delights of the journey. Since it’s a pretty fab expedition, you take the flubs and toe stubs into account as part of the adventure.

Stop "Shoulding" On Yourself

Healthy striving goes along with healthy self-esteem. And when your self-esteem is alive and well, you tend to live from the inside out. You "pick a game you can win," as my friend Kathryn Allen says. You go for things that have juice for you inside and are attainable outside. You pay attention to the smarts inside of you. You let go of the "shoulds" and let the dreams of your heart have a say. When you do, you can’t help but take better care of you. And, miracle of miracles, you cut yourself some slack and others too.

Contentment can’t tell the difference between a Cadillac and a Camry.

Sounds like the perfect way to live? Are you beating yourself up because these three paragraphs don’t seem to describe you? Watch out. Perfectionitis may be infecting the way you read this. It’s easy to be a perfectionist about not having Perfectionitis! But there’s an antidote. Read on.

The good news is that no one is unblemished. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a single perfect person on the planet. Everyone has zits or cellulite or both. Everyone gets angry and disappointed. There isn’t a person around that doesn’t have some weird quirk or secret they’d probably prefer to keep to themselves. Hallelujah! Those vulnerabilities make each of us unique and even more lovable.

There are no perfect people. Everyone has zits or cellulite or both.

Eli Davidson

Who would want to live in a world of Stepford Wives? Not me. So why not give yourself a little break today? Let whatever isn’t as good as you want it to be, be okay. Take a few minutes to let yourself just be. Be fab. Just as you are.dream big. Then lay out a set of reasonable steps that

Treatment: The Get a Life Game

Now it’s time to kick off your Perfectionitis treatment plan. 

Pick one or two of the the following items. Do it for three days and watch yourPerfectionitis.subside.

Please don’t try to do this perfectly … small steps are the surest way to succeed.

1. Center Yourself. Take in three deep breaths of tenderness. Let out three deep breaths of fatigue. Brava! You just took a step toward replenishing yourself. Way to go!

2. Ask for the Greater Good. As Mayor, take a moment and claim your office, and ask that your choices that are aligned with the highest good for all concerned.

3. Set Your Intention. Set the intention to be gentle with yourself and to honor all of you.

4. Just Say No. Take a look at what’s on your schedule. Write down what you plan to get done today. How much time have you marked out for each item? Double it. Stuff takes longer than you think. What items on your list need to be removed? Say no to those tasks and renegotiate their timeline. Dr. Andrew Jacobs, one of the country’s top sports psychologists, has helped many champions cultivate the mental attitudes that make them winners. He suggests to clients, "Learn to say no. Learn to let go."

5. Get Real. That’s not all. Where is your You Time? If you don’t schedule in time for yourself, who will? As Mayor, plan a recess break of at least 15 minutes. And make sure you keep it.

6. Get Really Real. Take a peep at your To Do List. Are your goals realistic? Or would you need to clone yourself to get everything done? Take a tip from my friend David Allen. Make a Maybe Someday List of those items you’d like to get to but can’t at the moment. Check your Maybe Someday List weekly to see if the status has changed. 



7. Get Really, Really Real
. Stop being the Lone Ranger. Pick up the phone. Ask for help or advice. You probably have a pal who excels in an area that isn’t your best. 



8. Keep It Real.
 Sharing support is a sure sign of being in Perfectionitis recovery. There is nothing like pairing up with somebody to help you get real. Check in with each other. Having a buddy will help you to keep your commitment to take care of you while setting more realistic goals.



9. Praise and Prize.
 Congratulate yourself often. Even for the silly little things. " Boy, what a good job of flossing I did today." "Bravo, that was a superb meal I prepared for the cat." The more you praise yourself, the less you will be driven to seek praise from others.

10. Thank Yourself. Thank yourself for making any fabulous choice to take back your life.

What have you done to stop being hard on yourself? Please share your tips and tricks with us!

* Excerpted from Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy

and Swamped
 (Oak Grove Press) with permission.

You can receive notice of my blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top. Ask Eli a question atinfo@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and executive coach. Her book, Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her 10 trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results. Check out her blog athttp://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/

 

Stress Much This Season? 8 Ways to Be More Centered for the Holidays

‘Tis the season… for stress?  NBC Dateline reports that 41% of people interviewed said that the holidays are as stressful as a job interview.  In other words, “very stressful.”  It’s not hard to imagine why this is the case.  Besides our normal work schedule and routine, add to that the traditional holiday obligations: office parties, cooking, eating, shopping, wrapping, traveling, visiting and general socializing, and our capacity for stress tips the scales on the verge of overload. 

 Then of course, there’s the economy.  A Los Angeles radio station does an annual poll of its listener’s resolutions.  Every year “Get Fit” or “Lose Weight” ends up being the most popular goal.  But this year “Get Out of Debt” ranked the highest.  How do we reconcile this with the barrage of store catalogs and television ads broadcasting all the great deals we can get on all kinds of stuff?  It’s enough to make a person cringe every time Jingle Bells plays in the grocery store.

We can’t fast forward through the season, even if we wanted to.  But we can manage our stress, and find ways to relax and enjoy the beauty of this special time of year. 

1.  Fold your hands in prayer behind your back.  When we get stressed we tend to tense up, and cave our chest in.  This opens up our chest, so we can breathe more freely.  Pull the shoulders back, tilt the head back, and breathe deeply.

 2.  Rub the circumference of each ear with your hands.  Right hand rubbing the right ear and left hand rubbing the left ear.  According to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old Science of Life, there are marma points (like acupuncture points) in the ears that correspond to the various parts of the body.  Rubbing the ears in this way is like giving yourself a little mini massage!

 3.  Stop and smell the flowers.  Keep some lavender essential oil in your desk or purse.  When you feel stressed, bring it out.  Close your eyes and breathe in the fragrance.  Count to 5.  Then exhale through your mouth to the count of 5.  According to Aromatherapy, lavender is very calming.  and when we close our eyes it isolates the sense of smell so that we feel it more intensely.

 4.  Present moment awareness.  Most of the time, when we’re stressed it is because we are living in either the future or the past.  Bring yourself into present moment awareness by focusing on the now.  Use your senses, which connect us to our environment.  Hug yourself, to be more "in your body" instead of in your mind where the stress is.  Look at something beautiful, a flower, a bird, the sky, and just be with that for a moment.  Take a sip of sweet tea, and really taste it, and enjoy it.  Be grateful in that moment, and stress just washes away.  Gratitude and stress cannot be present at the same time!

 5.  Sit in your desk chair, or kitchen table chair – left foot on the floor, put your right ankle on your left knee, and learn forward with a stretch.  Hold it as far as you can go, then bend forward a little more.  This opens up your hips, and again balances that tensed up muscle feeling.  Do each side equally.

 6.  Pay attention.  Understand that it is our choice where we place our attention.  We can look at the source of our stress, or we can look at the white snow, the blue sky, the green pines, the twinkling stars.

 7.  Release expectations.  Simplify.  Is it important to send out 100 cards with personal notes?  Or would you be happier contacting a few close friends?  Do you need to have the house decorated like something out of a magazine?  Do you need to make a seven course meal?  What expectations do you have of yourself, and of others?  Rather than striving for perfection, allow things to just be, however they are.  Know that whatever it is, it’s all good.

 8.  Remember these words: love, peace, joy.  This is what the season is all about.  When those other words creep into your consciousness, the ones that set off stress, replace them with what you know to be important: love, peace, joy.

 Wishing you love, peace and joy this holiday season, and always.

 Meditation techniques at: http://www.psmeditation.com

Serenity Through Bath Therapy: 9 Ways to Enjoy a Relaxing Bath

If it wasn’t for a relaxing bath at the end of the day, I think I would be a crazy woman. I lived for 2 1/2 years without running water  (while living in a tipi on a commune where I bathed daily in an ice cold creek.) I still marvel the blessings of hot running water for its calming and healing effects, and am careful to not be wasteful.

 Soaking in a warm fragrant tub can be a sensual delight, offering time to retreat, reflect and refresh. A bath right when you come home from work can make you more pleasant to be around. If you take a bath in the middle of the day and expect to get any work done, make it cooler and shorter, or you might be too relaxed to accomplish much else. It is best to bathe at least a couple of hours after a big meal, to avoid interfering with digestion. Baths before bed aid sleep as they elevate the body’s temperature and the body will compensate by lowering its temperature, thus making one ready for sleep.

We don’t want to waste resources, so it’s not necessary to fill the tub too high. Placing a warm wet washcloth on the chest area can help infuse warmth through your body. If you use natural products, you could even collect some of the "grey water" to water the garden.

 Baths can be an opportunity to merge with the herbs, or remedies of your choice.

To use herbs, or substances such as uncooked oatmeal, for the bath, simply tie a handful of either fresh or dried herbs, into a washcloth and secure with a hair tie. Use a dark cloth so you don’t stain your light colored ones. If you have a stash of clean lost “single” socks, those also work great for bath bags. Use the herb filled cloth to scrub your body as you deeply inhale the benefits.

An even easier way to prepare the bath would be to use five to ten drops of pure essential oil, as a substitute for the desired herb. For example you could make a bath with lavender flowers, either in a sock, or a tea, or simply add about seven drops of lavender essential oil. Add essential oils after filling the tub, so that the fragrance does not dissipate and swish before getting in so the oils are dispersed and not likely to stick on one part of your body.  Close the curtain to hold in steam. Not all of these herbs are available as essential oils. Turn off the water while you floss, brush, or check email. When the bath has cooled to a comfortable temperature, get into it. If you choose to use any of the citrus products such as lemon peel, or orange essential oil use these at night, as getting exposed to sunlight afterwards can make one more photosensitive. Also if using fresh or dried citrus peels were sure they are organic if coming in contact with your skin.

Here are a few bath ideas with specific concerns in mind.

Apple Cider Vinegar Bath: This helps relieve sore muscles, itchy skin, and sunburn. Vinegar helps draw pollutants out of the body. It is an acid medium and contains alpha hydroxy acids. It is also mildly antiseptic, antifungal and naturally deodorizing.

Athlete’s Bath: Use these ingredients to relax sore aching muscles. Bay leaf, Epsom salts, eucalyptus leaves, ginger root, juniper berries, lavender flowers, marjoram herb, mustard seed powder, rosemary leaves, and sage herb.

Baking Soda Bath: This alkalinizing and detoxifying bath can help calm allergic reactions, chicken pox, eczema, hives, itchy skin, insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, and fungal infections. Use one pound per bath.

Cold and Flu Bath: Try these bath additions when you want to soothe deep muscle aches that often accompany viral infections. Epsom salts, ginger root, marjoram, mustard seed powder, pine needles, and thyme leaves.

Dry Skin Bath: Herbs can have a soothing lubricating effect from the outside. Moisturize with calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, comfrey leaves, elder flowers, fennel seed, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, oatmeal, rose buds, and violet leaves.Epsom Salts Bath: This method is lymphatic cleansing, relaxing for sore muscles, softening to the skin, and detoxifying after bodywork. Epsom salts help to get drugs, chemicals and pollutants out of body. Those with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease should rinse off after the bath.

Itchy Skin Bath: To calm itchy skin, resulting from insect bites, chicken pox, and poison ivy, use with apple cider vinegar, baking soda, chickweed herb, lavender flowers, oatmeal, red clover blossoms or violet leaf. Essential oils to use in an itchy skin bath include cedar wood, Roman chamomile, lavender, peppermint and sandalwood.

Oatmeal Bath:  This calms irritated skin, poison ivy, dermatitis, high blood pressure, and stress, It is very simple to whiz plain uncooked oatmeal in the blender to make a bath powder. Or tie 1/2 cup into a bath bag.

Relaxing Bath:  Take the edge off a stressful day with calming botanicals such as catnip herb, chamomile flowers, Clary sage flowers, hops strobiles, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, linden flowers, neroli flowers, and rose buds.

Sunburn Bath: Adding black tea, or apple cider vinegar to a cool bath eases burns.

It is easy to create your own Bath Salts by mixing together 1 cup each of sea salt, baking soda and Epsom salt. Add 1 teaspoon of a combination of essential oils. Mix well and store in a glass jar. Add 1 handful per bath.

 When done bathing, stay in the tub, visualize the tension draining out of you, as the water runs out of the tub and being soothed by the warm water and Earth Mother.

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.

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