Are you in touch with your emotions?

Did you know that just maintaining a sad face drags you down? Your mind and body both are negatively by the a frown. The idea of “fake it until you make it” is more than cliche. Science backs it.

First, let’s examine the benefits of smiling. Did you know that smiling lowers your heart rate? Also
Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile. These make us feel happy.
It’s not easy to keep smiling in stressful situations, but studies report that doing exactly that has health benefits. When recovering from a stressful situation, study participants who were smiling had lower heart rates than those with a neutral facial expression.

A smile also makes one more attractive, easy going, and empathetic. In fact, a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that smiling actually makes you more attractive to those you smile at. A study found that smiling can make you more comfortable in situations you would otherwise feel awkward in.

Smiling even makes your immune system stronger by making your body produce white blood cells to help fight illnesses. One study found that hospitalized children who were visited by story-tellers and puppeteers who made them smile and laugh had higher white blood cell counts than those children who weren’t visited.

Studies have found that people are more willing to engage socially with others who are smiling. A smile and all the positive emotions associated with it are contagious. University of Pittsburgh study concluded that people who smiled were considered “more trustworthy” than people with non-smiling facial expressions.

Laughing too has a ton of scientific benefits. Levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine tend to decrease during bouts of laughter. Laughter is used to reduce stress, relieve pain and boost immunological responses by doctors and therapists.  Laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow. Laughing 100 times is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Similar to smiling, laughing also increases endrophines in the body and also makes a person more pleasant to be around.

 Laughter is relaxing to our bodies and muscles. In one study, students who watched a funny video in their classroom responded with lower levels of aggression in tense situations.
Negative emotions are bad for body. Science is beginning to confirm what certain wise men have said at different points in history. King David said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Prov. 17:22. Your mind and mental state can have a profound affect on your physical body, your spiritual experience, and your over-all quality of life. The mind, the body, and the spirit are all inextricably interconnected. When one is affected, the other two suffer.
Here is another interesting point. When you are stressed do you clench your right hand or left hand? Assuming you  are right handed, you probably clench your right hand. This is normal, new there is stress, the body gets more tense. A long clench on the right hand or many through-out the day, though could suggest too much stress.If you notice that you do this. Try something else: Try your left hand when you are stressed out. Some athletes may improve their performance under pressure simply by squeezing a ball or clenching their left hand before competition to activate certain parts of the brain, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Dogs do this too with their tails. When dogs are anxious they wag their tag from right to left, but when they are happy they wag their tail from  left to right! 
I leave you with one activity for you. Try this experiment, place a weight on a string and then hold your hand steady while holding the string and letting the weight drop. See how long you can hold it still and steady. Next, think about moving the string clockwise but do not do it, only think about it. Slowly the weight will move clockwise. Now, think about it moving in a counter-clockwise direction but do not actually initiate your muscles…slowly the weight will change directions!
This is an amazing proof that our mind and emotions do really strongly effect the rest of our body, if the science was not enough for you!

Coaching through Scripture Introduction

The Bible is a powerful tools of the Christian faith.

Did you know that the idea for the word “coaching” springs from an ancient Biblical Model called “mentoring?” 
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. 
Psalm 145:4 – One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. 
2 Timothy 2:2 – And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The Bible is an encouraging tool for discipleship and a tool for coaching! The Bible even encourages us to use the book for these tasks! 
1 Corinthians 9:24
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
This can be used to help with goal setting and in trying times to realize that life is a race, think big picture.
1 Timothy 4:8
8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
This one is awesome, it is a great reminder that we are spiritual beings with a physical bodies and emotional minds. This is the topic of  a book I am currently writing a manuscript.
1 Peter 5:5-7
 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Self-care in the Bible

The last several Fridays, I have continued the topic of Self-care. Today, as a Christian life coach, I address self-care from a Biblical angle. Let’s think about what Jesus did in the Bible.

While Jesus did spent a lot of time with his disciples and in teaching. He also had time everyday alone where he spend in prayer (Mk 1:35, 14:23, Lk 5:16, 6:12,13, 9:28,  Mt 14:32, etc). He modeled what it means to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and he modeled the principle in Psalm 46:10 (NIV) which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Another concept to realize is that our bodies are important:

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 (ESV) asks “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ” We need to take care of our bodies.

Finally, a key principle from a Biblical perspective is in regards to the Sabbath, a day of rest for the Christian. The Christian is called to keep this day of rest, holy (Ex. 16:23, Is. 58:13, etc).
Is this still true for in the New Testament?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Does it have to be Sunday? Not necessarily. John Piper puts it this way (2013):

“Now I think that the principle in the New Testament (Rom. 14 particularly) is that God ordains that one day in seven be restful. I think that’s a creation ordinance for our good, for our health.”
The key is on the importance of rest, God even had a day of rest after Creation, we too need to rest in order to be our best the rest of the week!

References:

Piper, J. (2013). What does it mean practically to keep the Sabbath Holy?
Retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-does-it-mean-practically-to-keep-the-sabbath-holy

Should you bring your work home?

Hit me like a light bulb!

I was in class today and my professor was telling me that he intentionally will leave his laptop in his car or office when he gets home from work. He does this so he intentionally has time to enjoy life away from work and to have time with his wife.

I left class that day thinking about this comment. This really is a  great statement about life-balance and self-care. He admitted that he loves his job and it is not “stressful” to him but his wife, family and colleagues tell him to work less and relax. For my professor, his work is fun. He enjoys it. So just stopping to spend time with his wife away from his work has been a challenge to him.

After class, I was still thinking about what he said, as I ate dinner, I had a topic worthy of more research:
Has having internet access been ruining our marriages? Just because we have access to our work and the internet 24/7 with Wi-Fi and data plans and hot-spots, does not mean that we should be on it all the time, at least not on our work and research. A recent popular internet meme is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with “Wi-Fi” tacked onto it at the bottom and most essential need. It is hilarious but sadly seems true to many of us.

The principles of self-care and life balance are not new. And the problem of bringing work home is nothing new either. The solution is also the same as before. Time management and priority setting skills are still essential.

What has changed with technology is access to the internet and our work or studies. Just the mere ease and convenience of having this access is an amazing thing. We can be more productive and get more things done more quickly. Along with the advantages come some problems.

Again, we have to have balance and boundaries in our life. To build and create healthy marriages, we have to have time alone with our spouses in communication, intimacy, passion and in honest commitment to each other. If work and.or technology is getting in the way of this, it is time to create boundaries to protect what is most important in our lives, especially our marriages.

Overcoming Roadblocks to Self-Care



There are several common roadblocks to self care:
-For some people time is their biggest road block.
-For others self-esteem or value is hindering.
-Guilt is a very common roadblock. For using time on self.
-Lack of Assertiveness or not knowing when to say ‘no’ is another common roadblock. 
 –Perfectionism can have a reverse effect in self-care, the lies is that if we cannot do it perfectly, there  is no sense in trying.
-A major myth is that self-care is in definition. What is self-care? Why care? Self-care is holistic. Some people get caught up thinking it is one thing or another and end up neglecting something obvious.
              -The Questions of what to do first? Who to listen to? What is the best thing to do? How do I do it?
              –Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of commitment. Fear of taking the first step….

All of these and others are things to look-out when beginning or continuing on in the path of self-care. One of the most difficult things for a busy individual is motivating them to spend time that is not “productive.” God created us to be productive and being productive is a good thing. Remember though, that God also created us to be healthy and live a balanced life. It can be tough for some people to find a hobby or a distraction because they want to live so obsessed with making money or making a lasting impression, that having a hobby seems out of the picture. But the truth is having a hobby can be productive and altruistic. It can make you a better person and a better worker. There are countless amounts of organizations  and volunteer opportunities that are worthy!

There are three parts of happiness:
1. Being good (Your own self-care in health, happiness, character, personal growth, etc) 
2. Doing good  (Full effort, productivity, high quality and hard work, etc)
3. Creatinggood (This is our volunteering/giving back/paying forward, etc)
To be fully healthy and happy you need all three aspects. So finding a hobby is so essential for creating good as well as in living a balanced life.
Suggestions for Creating Good:
1. It could be service-driven activity that builds into the community, Volunteering at a church ministry, a kitchen soup, food pantry, homeless shelters,  health clinic, service project groups: like Lions Club, Eagle Club, Kiwanis Club, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brother/Big Sister….the list goes on and on
2. It could be something that you enjoy doing, a passion or art. And contributing it to the community….book club, writing a book, playing in a band, leading worship at church, writing music, creating a coffee house event or do poetry readings, or other art/dance.

3. It could look different for everyone. It may not be your typical art or service project. It could be volunteering  at a gym or working at YMCA and offering yoga, martial arts, gun safety classes, presenting  research data, this could look like something very practical and tangible in information or in actual practice. 

Time Management and Priorities : Finding Time for Self-Care

 We are all only given 24 hours in a day, everyday. That is an equal for all of us, no matter what the situation is, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, rich or not as fortunate.
  It can be challenging to find time to take care of yourself, especially when you have enough things to do already! Your 24 hours quickly disappears! Many people are great care takers of children or of their elder parents, there is not enough time in the day to serve everyone that needs to be served or earn enough money that needs to be earned. So the main skills that are correlated with self-care are priority-setting and also time-management.
This box demonstrates a simple way blending these two elements: time management and priority-setting. The four boxes center around two thoughts: Urgency and Importance.
            1. Urgent, Important
            2. Important, Not Urgent
            3. Urgent, Not Important
            4. Not Urgent, Not Important
With these two ideas in mind, I can replay every action, that I did in my mind and categorize which box that action goes in.
For example, activities that go in the first box are: Putting out stressful “fires,”crises or deadlines. Work deadlines, family emergencies, project/homework is due, major complaint from large company,  
             The second box is my “Creative pro-activity.” Here is quality time/production, Preparation, prevention, planning, career development, long-term strategy, relationship building, personal fulfillment, quality family time and taking care of myself by going to gym or reading a self-development book. The third box may be my least favorite box. These activities are red herrings (plausible but not important or relevant) , Interruptions like phone calls, some office meetings, some mail, chose of colors on a wall, etc.  The fourth box is time wasting: TV, Internet, Video games, fun, relaxing, does not add much of any other value, distractions, trivial activities and “escapes” from reality. We need to spend some therapeutic laughter and pleasure time in life, but we need to limit this category or we will become its slave. 
 Here are a few more of these charts to help bring home the point: