Amazing Evidence, Meditation Changes Your Brain

Harvard researchers are showing regular meditation can change your brain in key areas affecting anxiety, executive decision making and more. Sarah Lazar, Meditation Changes Your Brain, Washington Post

Ms. Lazar studies at the same Harvard institute as famed meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. Build your meditation from 10 – 40 minutes a day to see decreased anxiety, improved memory, and increased empathy and compassion.

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Stressed about politics? President Trump? Feeling helpless?

The past week has been a roller coaster of change and upheaval. No matter who you voted for or did not vote for, the reality is here, and many people are having difficulty dealing with it.  The key here is to think about why you are allowing these events, news, issues to distress you?

First ask:
Is there anything I can personally do to change this right now?

(i.e. did you already vote for the other person? Then yes, you tried. Also, can you vote in upcoming elections both local, state, and national to make changes? Yes, you can.)

If there isn’t anything you can do right now, then you are creating stress for yourself for no reason. Only focus on what you CAN do, what you CAN control, what you CAN change.  When you choose to focus on these three key factors, then your stress begins to diminish greatly.

What are some examples of actions you can do? For example, have you written to your state, local, and national representatives to express your views and feelings respectfully? Write a post card, they are more likely to be read, short and sweet, and emphasize what you are wanting changed. Write weekly, daily, monthly, whatever makes you feel better, and you think will make a change.

Donate to causes that help make changes possible. i.e. ACLU, refugee orgs (ARC), etc. Be sure to research charities for their “grades” online and pay attention to where money goes in all orgs you donate to.

Take action in your life and local community. Give time to those in need, volunteer for organizations you care about, and share about them on your social media.

After you’ve done something, ask yourself, am I still feeling stressed out about ______?  If you are still feeling residual stress even after taking actions, try to release it with positive self-care (meditate, listen to music, do something creative, take a bath, make a list of your favorite things to do to relax and do them).

Finally, go on a news diet. Stay informed, read good, objective news…I like the Guardian, and the Washington Post. Only watch the national and local news for basic info no more than 30 minutes a day.  Don’t read news on Facebook and other social media, as it is sometimes wrong, biased, and fed to you based on algorithms that will not give you ALL info.

I hope this helps you feel more in control, empowered to make change, and gives you some ideas to help mitigate your stress in these crazy times.

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2017 Make it the Year You Put a Boundary Between Work and Life

Leisure Harmony

Salon.com reports that by 2020 we will no longer have any concept of the demarcation between work and non-work life. The article, here , entitled, “Work stress is the saddest American status symbol” explains the differences between America and other cultures like Italy, where the amount of leisure time indicates the highest status. Busy is not better.

2017 can be the year when you begin to reverse this negative trend in your life. It is called boundaries, and we all need to learn how to make them and keep them. Work is 40 hours a week if you’re lucky in the U.S. In other countries like France or the UK, it is more like 35, especially if you figure in the 30 days of mandatory paid leave a year. We in the U.S. are lucky if we get 10 paid leave days a year with most jobs. How can we fight this cultural divide which leads us into early graves (Carrie Fisher just died on her way back from finishing her Star Wars role and being on a book tour, all leading up to Christmas…tell me she wasn’t stressed when she had her heart attack).

You shouldn’t feel guilty playing Lego with your kid for a few hours if it means you don’t mop the floors. You shouldn’t feel awful spending a couple hours vegging with your hubby watching movies on Netflix just because your boss wants you to have something done earlier than later. That seems like it’s easier to say than do, but ultimately we do have a CHOICE. Choice theory by William Glasser endorses the idea that we give up our control to external sources by choice. We choose to have the house that requires us to work a certain amount to pay the mortgage, and not have any extra time with our families, etc. We don’t see it as a choice because we let society tell us that these are the things that should be most important to us….success, a career, not relationships, stable mental and physical health.

So remember in 2017, you do have a choice. If someone says you have to work 50 hours a week or not have a job, remember…you can get a different job….you can, if working less and having more time to live and enjoy your friends, family, hobbies, nature, are important to you. You don’t have to check your work email outside work hours…unless maybe you are a physician or nuclear plant monitor…you get my drift. We make these things important, we allow our culture to define us….for me…I choose the Italian approach…the more leisure time I can afford, the better. I’ll take two hours on the floor playing Legos over finishing that project over the weekend any time.

 

 

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That Vitamin Movie – MegaDose Vitamins and Stress

Please check out this movie, That Vitamin Movie  if you are tired of treating symptoms with medications, and not ever getting to any level of health that feels good. Most of us are extremely deficient in critical vitamins such as B vitamins (critical for mental health and memory), D, and C.  Our bodies were meant to heal themselves with whole foods available to us locally. I recommend watching the film, and consider buying Andrew Saul’s book, Doctor Yourself.

 

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LifeHack.Org- Stress Relief Guide

LifeHack.org has published a complete guide to stress relief, and it’s here.
The best recommendation they make which I have tried, and when I do it, it works is making a daily schedule. If you’re like me, and it is impossible for you to have an absolute routine week (I take care of a 4 year old at home, run a side IT consulting business, and am finishing my masters), then it helps a lot to just take five minutes at the beginning of the day to note down a realistic schedule. It will kind of resemble a to-do list, but should include times, because that helps you focus on changing activities on-time (hard to do when immersed in Mine Craft).  I say realistic, because I have a tendency to overload myself, or expect too much of myself. So I have tried to engage in mindful self-compassion, and just focus on absolutely one or two achievements a day, and the rest can flex, move, or maybe not even get done. This helps me not  beat up on myself too much when the schedule doesn’t go as planned (like your 15 year old calling you at 6pm to take him to the ER for a broken hand).To Doist task list and schedule features relieve stress

So take a peek at that article for further tips, and also take a look at Christopher Germer’s site and free downloads for mindful self compassion! Relieve yourself by being a little more structures (the daily schedule), and letting go of all that stuff you can’t control.

A great app is called To Doist, and it allows you to make great lists and attach times/calendar dates to the items as well. You can use desktop/phone/tablet versions and they are always syched.

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