Smile More

 

Laugh

 

Stress and Smiling 

            There are many benefits of smiling. Smiling is good for your health as it can actually make you feel happier, reduce stress and help you live a healthier life.  Check out these fifteen benefits put together in more detail at Charlie Pulsipher:

  • 1Lower Heart Rate
  • 2 – Reduce Stress
  • 3 – Better Mood 
  • 4Increase Productivity
  • 5 – Encourage Trust
  • 6 – Produce Empathy
  • 7 – Avoid Regret
  • 8 – Kill Pain
  • 9 – Increase Attention
  • 10 – Contagious
  • 11 – Build Attraction
  • 12 – Earn Success
  • 13 – Look Younger
  • 14 – Longevity
  • 15 – Boost Immune System

That is a wonderful list! Better yet, it is not the only list.  Inspiyr.com offers 9 benefits of smiling and About Health offers 10 reasons as well. The research is  bright and shiny. So this should be a good reminder to offer your teeth to those around you, not only could you make their day, but you will be benefiting yourself also.

Join a religion

 

faithbrain

Religion and Stress

            Obviously, as a Christian life coach I bring some bias to the table and I will be up front about that, as my own personal faith has helped me through some very difficult and stressful times in my life. I wanted to share some sources that are from more neutral sources. These studies below represent ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ and not only Christianity.

          According to more than one study, “Religious people have  a thicker section of brain tissue in cortex which  helps prevents depression.  According to another group of studies, religious people take fewer sick days,  are less anxious and have a greater sense of purpose and mission in their work. Prayer and meditation also have made their ways into recent studies. Doing these two activities can help relieve stress.

Think about the bigger picture.

              Part of this, no matter what a person’s take on religion or spirituality is, is about finding identity. Once a person knows who they are and what they are all about, they are better able to manage the difficulties and stress in life. Having a foundational  starting point of morality, community and theology can be a wonderful place to learn about yourself, your purpose in life, learn about humanity and God. Thus religion can be a huge benefit in life by simply helping a person discover who they are and what this world is all about.

Drink Lots of Water

Water is so essential to our human bodies.  Fortunately a lot of people have already said it for me:

Our bodies are made of mostly water:

bodyowater

Therefore it plays many roles in our body:

waterfunc

 

If that were not enough….

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Some added benefits…waterben

 

The old myth once was that we need drink 8 8 once glasses of water everyday:watermyth

 

Science is showing that is great if you are about 160 pounds. But that could be too much water for a kid and not enough for someone who is much larger. The new adage is to divide your weight in half in pounds then multiply by .8  then the number will be in ounces.

howmuch

 

So maybe an easier number to remember is 40% of your body weight. Here is a nice cheat sheet:

 

 

body
By drinking water you can literally sip stress away, while improving health 

Laugh More


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  • Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging. While more studies need to be done, studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity.
  • Laughter relaxes the whole body.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. 
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphin.
  • Laughter protects the heart.
  • Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones.
  • While  increases the level of health-enhancing hormones.
  • A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm,  abs, shoulders and the heart.
  • Laughter produces natural pain killers!
  • Laughter simulates many organs and soothe tension in the brain and body.
  • Laughter is contagious and can bring people closer together and happier together.

 

Laughter is an awesome distraction from negative emotions and stress. 

Laughter is an amazing  coping device in good times and in the  difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people. Laughter can improve mood, lessen  depression and anxiety and generally make you feel happier. Laughter is best practiced with friends but can be practiced simply by watching TV, searching the internet for entertaining stories and memes.  I recommend also going out to be entertained at a comedy club or enjoying an evening with entertaining friends. Finally, take life lightly, find humor in every day living. Why so serious?

 

Self-Care Priorities

Last week, I wrote about the importance of having a “second passion” or hobby in life.  Balancing work life with creative life and family life can be challenging. Time management is so important. In order to de-stress, this blog stresses the importance of prioritizing and learning to put the most important things in life in the proper order. So here is a list to summarize on what should be near the top of your list. These are all things the most successful people do but they are also vital for self-care. if a person is not taking care of himself, then they will not ever be successful and productive. Here is a list of priorities to consider for your own personal self-care plan.

1. Make time for family and friends.
2. Exercise.
3. Pursue a passion.
4. Use your Vacation time to relax.
5.  Disconnect from technology periodically.
6. Volunteer.
7. Get enough sleep/Recharge.
8. Plan ahead.
9. Socialize.
10. Enjoy a hobby.
11. Network.
12. Reflect/ Meditate. Join a religion.
14. Laugh and smile more. Try better posture.
15. Celebrate success.
16. Stay hydrated.
17. Learn to listen better.
18. Eat healthier also enhance diet with anti-oxidants and amino-acids.
19. Learn/Try New Things.
20. Reduce clutter.

 

Self-care needs to be holistic. So think of all areas of your life: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, recreational, close relationships and more. Here is a nice Self-care checklist from Lucille Zimmerman.

selfcarecheck

Enjoy a Hobby

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 A Hobby Outside of Work

             It is great when we find a career that we enjoy. It is nice to get paid to do something you love doing. If you  are blessed to be in a position that you like, congratulations! Not everyone is passionate about what they are doing in the daily grind.  In any case, it is important to have a hobby away from or outside of work. This is for several reasons. First, having a “second passion ” or hobby in your life is extremely healthy and can make you more healthy, more social and more productive. Second having a fun hobby prevents burn-out and also prevents workaholic syndrome.

               Randi Zuckerberg coined the phrase “Second Passion” at Vocus Demand Success 2014, to describe the importance of having an excellent hobby away from work. Randi is not the only productive person to live by this principle. Lots of famous, creative and productive people have balanced work life with creative work (or something fun, like a hobby). See the image below from Podio:  

While Podio’s chart (above) is based on research, it is not the only research that supports the idea of getting into a hobby. If these charts interest you a lot check out Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, RJ Andrews at Info We Trust. But it truly is mind-blowing how these famous people balanced their time. We all have 24 hours in a day. The key is in how we use it.

creative routines edit

Based on compiling and analyzing all of the research here is an ideal  24 hour schedule or outline to try to follow. Now of course not everyday is going to fit perfectly to this schedule….

Fortunately  created this image, seven-day chart, so we can fill in our own schedules based on each day of the week!

Some Ideas for you “second passion”

  • Improve the mind
    • Brain Training
    • Informative podcasts
    • Open and Free MOOCs
    • Meditations/Relaxation techniques
  • Learn Something New
    • Toastmaters
    • Read great books
    • Stay informed in the news
    • board games/cards
    • magic tricks
    • dancing
    • foreign language
    • Work on cars
    • Yoga
    • Computer codes
  • Be productive and charitable
    • Rotary Club/ Lions Club/ Eagles/ etc
  •  Volunteer
    • church
    • non-profits
    • schools
    • hospitals/nursing homes
    • rec. leagues/sports
  • Get physical
    • Fencing
    • Kickboxing
    • Taekwondo/ other martial arts
  • Enjoy the outdoors
    • fishing
    • hunting
    • camping
    • hiking
    • jogging
    • swimming
    • photography
    • geo-catching
    • play sports
    • paintball
    • raise animals/farm
    • Archery/ Firearms
    • Fireworks
  • Listen to music
    • Go to concerts/shows
    • Learn to play an instrument
  • Journal/draw
  • Get a pet
  • Be grateful/thankful
  • Enjoy life

 

Enjoy a Social Life

toobusy

 

Social Activity and Stress

                    A study released by the JAMA ( Journal of the American Medical Association) “followed nearly 45,000 people ages 45 and up who had heart disease or a high risk of developing the condition. Those who lived alone, the study found, were more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes, or other heart complications over a four-year period than people living with family or friends, or in some other communal arrangement.” If being lonely does not kill you, it can also make you depressed according to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health study.

                    The science is strong that having social activity and support in life is extremely valuable to the human soul. Having positive and loving people in  life helps one bounce back after a difficult season in life. Having someone to talk to or vent about struggles can be literally life-saving.

Social Activity Ideas

                      Having positive social supports in life is vital. For some it can be easy to get lost in work, personal hobbies or even recreation time. Some people prefer to be alone and do these activities by themselves. Although, many studies are showing the importance of having positive social supports in life. There is always going to be more work that needs to get done. The workaholics need to learn to set boundaries and limits, to be able to create time that is primarily focused on being social. The introvert needs to maintain a balanced lifestyle which includes other people in their life.
Some suggestions for adding more social elements in life could include:

    • Dating your spouse
    • Using all of your vacation time
    • Finding Positive friends
    • Have friends outside of work
    • Find a mentor/accountable partner, life coach or counselor.
    • Get involved in hobbies/activities that force more social interactions.

Stop Multi-tasking

multi

 

Multi-tasking and stress

            We all are very busy individuals.  We all have phones, computers, tablets, oh yeah and we all have our own personal lives to live away from this technology also. Our work and our play have become so streamlined with technology that there is a fine blurry line between work and play. We use our gadgets all the time, everywhere we go.
Individuals have gotten so used to having the convenience of checking emails, texts and doing other work-related tasks right on their phone, in their hands, that it is just a natural, common-place occurrence.  Individuals have started doing these things while with their family at the dinner table, while watching TV before bed and even in the bathroom. Individuals feel empowered and accomplished as they “multi-task” at and even away from work.

The Problem with multi-tasking

                 The main problem with multi-tasking is that it simply is not real. Scientific studies continue to confirm that what is really happening in your brain is maddening! When multi-tasking,  your neurons (in the brain) are switching between two or three tasks very, very quickly. In all reality, you are not really ever doing two things at once. Your brain is just focusing on one thing at a time, but it does this for every little detail and then switches quickly to the next task and then switches back to the other task and then switches again very quickly. Talk about draining!
Multi-task enthusiasts have simply come accustomed to having your brains cells stressed out and fired on a daily or even moment-by-moment basis. They may even have an addicted to stress, anxiety or adrenaline. Or they may have a fear of boredom, despite exhaustion.  This is where it may be time to detox from multi-tasking and even consider taking a break from electronic devices for a hiatus.

Get Real

           Honestly, the problem that multi-tasking is not real, may not do anything for you. That is okay. Let’s get real about the real problems associated with multi-tasking. The real problems are with boundaries. We have attempted to adapt as our technology has evolved. This is a reasonable dilemma. Being able to accomplish more with technology is a great idea and it does happen. Although, we need to draw a line in the sand at some point and decide where the boundaries are in our life.
Moderation is key. It is important to set limits and priorities in one’s life. If family time is important, it may be time to set a rule that there will be no technological device at the dinner table during dinner time. This is a sacred time to spend with family, catching up, talking, eating and enjoying each other’s company. For others, a good idea may be to put away the devices for an hour and go for a walk with your significant other. Maybe for your own well-being, focus on one task at a time and do not move to the next task until every detail is complete.  Instead of watching TV, playing on your phone and trying to write a paper, try prioritizing the tasks. Finish the paper first, then move to the next device.

Learn Time Management

ui4

Stress and Time

Life is full of time commitments. We are all only given 24 hours in a day, everyday. Despite how many things need to get done, 24 hours is still an equal for all of us. We all have several roles and responsibilities to fill, whether they are related to our jobs, our family or our hobbies. With so many things that need to get done,  priority-setting and  timemanagement are essential skills to learn in this fast-paced busy age.

An age-old approach for priority setting is the “urgent vs. important matrix.” When we are able to prioritize tasks, we are more able to use our time more effectively. The chart at the beginning of this post explains this matrix. There are 4 quadrants to the box:

1. Urgent, Important
2. Urgent, Not important
3. Not Urgent, Important
4. Not Urgent, Not Important

Think through a typical day in your mind and place each activity that the you do in one of the four boxes. Here is how to decide where each item belongs:
1. Urgent, Important – Putting out stressful fires, Crisis or deadline. Work deadlines, family emergencies, project/homework is due, major complaint from large company.
2. Urgent, Not important – red herrings (plausible but not important or relevant) , Interruptions like phone calls, some office meetings, some mail, chose of colors on a wall.
3. Not Urgent, Important – Creative pro-activity,- quality time/production, Preparation, prevention, planning, career development, long-term strategy, relationship building, personal fulfillment, family time, going to gym…
4. Not Urgent, Not Important – time wasting. TV, Internet, Video games, Fun, relaxing, does not add much of any other value, distractions, trivial activities, “escape.” We need to spend some time in all of these areas but you are going to make a lot of money spending more time in the important category.

The trick is to find a proper and healthy balance. Living only in the urgent category will burn you out quickly. Living in the not urgent box  can be unproductive which can lead to more stress down the road.

Many type “A” personalities, can easily become workaholics who do not give time for themselves. This could mean spending more time doing things to relax that are not important and definitely not urgent. This could be enjoying some TV or time on social media. These can be therapeutic in some cases. So it is okay to have some time wasters in your life. But I suggest also spending some time on the “not urgent, but important” box, this could be going to the gym, spending quality time with family, because taking care of yourself is IMPORTANT. It is often just neglected.

While it is normal for  people to often feel guilty for leaving work early to spend time with family (as an example),  and it  is okay to feel that way, but what is more important is working through that guilt. Think of it this way, you are going to be even better employee once you have taken care of yourself and your family. You will be more energized and fulfilled if you, yourself are taken care of.

Another major issue can just be learning how to say “no,” especially for people pleasers. They love to serve and help and get things done but hate to disappoint people. We can work through this in session also with assertiveness training.

To-Do’s

 1. Define your goals. Goals give us the following:
a. meaning and direction for our lives
b. a means in which we can evaluate our progress
c. a plan to follow

2. Create a to-do list. Organize what you have to do. Split up large projects into small parts. Create a to-do list for each part. Take your goals and break them down into small, measurable steps.

3. Finish what you start If interrupted, return to finish your task.

4. Identify your time wasters. Time wasters are not only actions in Quadrant IV, but also can be indecision, lack of planning, jumping from project to project, a disorganized desk, procrastination, insisting on perfection. Finish one project before starting the next. You’ll save time not having to re-acquaint yourself with each project.

5. Use email filtering software. Stop wasting time scanning for junk email and deleting them.

6. Be project specific before you sit down at your PC . Have you ever sat down at your PC to work on one project, but after a half-hour or an hour passes by, you have accomplished nothing towards your goal? By being project specific at the computer, you can focus on one item and be more efficient. You can also avoid wasting time on Quadrant IV items.

7. Practice the “two-minute pick-up” every time you leave a room or your desk. Before you leave a room, turn around and quickly put away everything for two minutes. The more you put away before you leave, the smoother your transition when you return and the less you have to distract you at your desk!

8. Avoid procrastination. You can do anything for 10 minutes. To get yourself started on something that you have been procrastinating on, grab a timer and set it for 10 minutes. Then do that one thing for 10 minutes. If you continue on after that, great! If not, you at least put 10 minutes into that task.

9. Delay gratification. Give yourself some rewards for completing tasks. Treat yourself to dessert after you have avoided procrastination. Don’t go out to eat until you have completed items off your to-do list. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to buy that new pair of jeans if you haven’t completed your tasks.

Image

Focus on breathing

Breathing

Breathing in oxygen is an essential habit for human living. We need O2 for survival and basic organ functioning. Oxygen enters through our lungs but does not stay in our lungs.  It is transferred to our blood stream where the heart then pumps the freshly oxygenated blood to the rest of our body. With this fresh oxygen, all of our organs function healthier, including our brain.

Breathing and Stress Management

The number of scientific benefits  of proper breathing is countless. Many of these benefits play a part in lowering stress to the human body. Let’s first describe how it feels when we are stressed. Adrenaline raises our heart rate and we, without thinking about it, begin to take rapid and quick shallow breaths of air.

Fortunately, our bodies have this built-in stress-reliever, lungs. We can learn to manage our breathing, even during stressful occasions. When we can learn to slow breathing down by taking deep, long breaths of oxygen,  we encourage our nervous system and body to relax, which in-turn brings about a range of health benefits. The very basic ones are lowering heart rate and bringing oxygen equally to all parts of our body, helping our brain to focus.

Deep or Belly Breathing

Even if you are not into yoga, belly breathing is for you. And it is simple.  First get comfortable in a chair or bed, you can do this standing too. Though, in any case, keep your back straight. We are going to simply breath, but really slowly and only focusing on this exercise for a few minutes.

As you inhale slowly (through your nose) count to 5 or 6 in your head while taking in air. See if you can make it to 7 or beyond! As this is happening your entire belly should stick out a bit more than usual, because you are not just using your diaphragm, but your entire belly!  Next as you exhale (through your mouth), you need to also go really slow. Also see if you can count to the same number as oxygen leaves your body. Do this at least three times and you will begin to see results immediately. In future posts, I may refer to this as deep or belly breathing.  There are other exercises that build upon this to also reduce stress!