#110 Learn Origami

Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#110

Learn Origami

When was the last time you even had a thought about folding big paper into little paper? For many, it was the last ‘cootie catcher’ you made in middle school or the last paper ‘football’ you made for the high school lunch table. Some of you may have folded paper in more appealing shapes in girl scouts or a crafting class, perhaps as part of a scrapbooking project. Origami though, takes folding paper to a whole new level.

Art

Origami is a true form of art. It’s attributed to the Chinese dating back to the 1600’s but there is reference to the process in different forms as far back as 1000 A.D. in a couple of cultures. Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

giang-nudeback
Vietnamese artist Giang Dinh

Origami as therapy

Paper folding is a favorite de-stressing activity for a lot of hobbyists. It’s recommended as a ‘tool-box’ item for anxiety and depression. It’s attributed to lowering blood pressure, increasing attention capacity, and improves dexterity in people who’ve had injury to their hands. Some therapists recommend Origami for ADHD, Addictions, and raising self-esteem. It fosters creativity.

Mindfulness

Origami can be instrumental in the development of mindfulness as it brings your attention directly to the present moment and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and by anybody who has a piece of paper. It can help us let go of our need to be perfect and may foster a form of meditation as the skills develop and focused attention is deepened.

Family time

Some of the basic Origami folds can be accomplished by children as young as four years old. It’s a great activity that can bring the entire family to the table with very little – if any – expense. It has the potential to become a familial hobby – or one that is shared in an adult relationship – fostering time away from electronics and societal noise.

Real Deal

Origami as an art, a hobby, and a therapeutic tool is a real thing. There’s a National association, several annual conventions, and Meetup groups that allow lovers of paper folding to connect and share. So, if you saw the title of today’s suggestion and raised your eyebrow, I suggest you find a piece of paper and find out what all the fuss is by getting started on a basic fold as you watch the video and…

Learn Origami

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#123 Adopt a New Coping Skill

Just when we may feel like we would be better off in our sour mood alone, or when we don’t want to trouble anyone with our ‘issues’, that is the precise time to lean on our social support system.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#123

Adopt a new coping skill

Coping skill – those things that help us deal with the crap that life throws our way. They happen sometimes without much awareness and at others, with great intention. Some are health – others … not so much. Self awareness of the coping skills that we use to deal with things are super important. It’s necessary for us to distinguish between those things that work for us and those that don’t.

Dysfunction Coping

There are a handful of common ‘coping’ skills that are generally dysfunctional. Perhaps the most popular is avoidance. More often than not, when we avoid something – prevent ourselves from facing the problem – we do nothing more than save the discomfort for later. We deny ourselves the knowledge that we can exist simultaneously with the problem or better yet – solve it.

Overeating / Excessive anything

Another coping mechanism that we often turn to is that of comforting ourselves by over indulging in things that make us feel better like wine, chocolate, cookies, beer, and comfort food in general. Our overindulgence in the things that make us temporarily forget our problem doesn’t erase the problem and may raise our risk of developing unhealthy addictions.

While there are a number of other undeniable coping strategies that aren’t helpful, there are a number that are!

Functional Coping

There are a number of great ways to work through stress, problems, and life challenges that are immensely effective and have overall positive effects. Exercise, Me Time, and Self Care are at the top of the list. They are the some of the things that create balance in life.

Meditation / Mindfulness

These strategies are perhaps the most efficient and effective when it comes to overall feeling better. The research about mindfulness and its helpful effect on health, emotions, stress, and pain is overwhelming but it take practice and perseverance to be truly beneficial.

Laughter

Learning to laugh, to find humor in the mundane, and to appreciate silly is also a great coping strategy. When we become so stressed that our tempers flare, humor can generally take the edge of negative feelings if not neutralize them all together.

Social Support

Just when we may feel like we would be better off in our sour mood alone, or when we don’t want to trouble anyone with our ‘issues’, that is the precise time to lean on our social support system. The friends and family members that love us, that know us at our core… those are the people who can stand behind us when times are tough. When we need to ask for help… they are the ones we ask. And yes… learning to ASK is a functioning coping mechanism.

Assess your current repertoire of positive coping skills and research one that you’ve yet to develop. Practice, practice, and practice in the pursuit of

Developing a new coping skill.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#133 Practice Loving Kindness

Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#133

Practice Loving Kindness

The practice of loving kindness stems from the Buddhist practice of the Metta prayer. It’s a specific method of meditating that promotes compassion for others and for the self. It’s easy, and it makes a difference.

Love

The essence of a loving kindness meditation is to conjure up a sensation of deep love, of significant loving energy and then metaphorically – send that love out into the universe toward humanity as a whole or to specific people. There are a number of amazing websites (linked below) and YouTube videos that can walk you through in a guided meditation as you get started.

Imagery

As in many other mental health wellness practices, loving kindness utilizes imagery. It is suggested that as you begin your meditation, you imagine people who love you, surrounding you and sending vibrational hugs toward you until you can essentially feel the loving energy coming from them. You may imagine the swell of love that you felt as you held each of your children or married your spouse. Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Well Wishes

Each phrase found in most scripts begins with “may you…/may I”. The concept is that while in an envelope of loving energy, you send some of it out or reflect it back you yourself in phrases that represent wishes.

“May you feel loved, may you be happy, may you be healthy’

“May you find acceptance, may you feel joy, may you live with ease”

In each phrase, the “you” can be replaced with “I” for the experience of self-compassion.

The objective is to build upon the empathy and compassion that is an innate element of your spirit. The more you practice, the more it grows.

Peace

Those who cultivate a practice of loving kindness speak about the sense of inner peace that develops over time. It is attributed to a deeper sense of happiness. It works to evaporate anger, resentment, and past pains. It becomes a coping mechanism for those times when our humanity loses perspective and emotions become overwhelming.

There is much benefit for you personally, for those people you love, and for the collective consciousness that comprises our universe when you commit to …

Practice loving kindness

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Mindful

The EI Institute

CMind

#189 Go to a Salt Room

Halotherapy has indicated benefits for a number of respiratory and skin ailments; in-particular allergies and eczema.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#189

Go to a Salt Room

You may ask “what?” as you conjure images of a nice big Porterhouse steak hot off the grill with a shaker of pink Himalayan salt… but no – that’s not the intent, goal, or process behind a ‘salt room’.

Halotherapy

Salt rooms offer Halotherapy which, is a process of sitting in a room filled with fine particles of salt. In doing so, you inhale micro particles (similar to breathing ocean air) and it settles on your skin as it does after an ocean swim. Salt is known to reduce inflammation both when inhaled and on your body. [Mosquito bites heal much faster after ocean swimming.]

Relaxation

During your stay at the Salt Room, you’ll be sitting comfortably in a chair or on a yoga mat and the session is often coupled with a guided meditation, shifting your relaxation into high gear. Taking this ‘quiet’ time for yourself is a fantastic addition to your self care regimen.

Benefits

Halotherapy has indicated benefits for a number of respiratory and skin ailments; in-particular allergies and eczema.  It’s safe for people of all ages and there are no reported negative side effects. So far, there is only anecdotal evidence for the benefits of Salt therapy but the testimonies from people who have experienced their benefit is difficult to ignore.  

Popularity Increasing

Prior to a year ago, I’d never heard of halotherapy and I’m now aware of two rooms within reasonable driving distance of my home. There’s a high probability of one near you. At the very least, a number of spas have introduced some form of salt therapy in their offerings. The combined benefit of meditation would direct me toward a full functioning location and so I encourage you to take a step out – try something new – and …

Go to a Salt Room.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#302 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

The low light condition of a room lit by candles resembles dusk to our brain – creating a reflex to begin winding down – and our body naturally starts to relax.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#302

Light candles

For more than 5000 years, candles have been a part of our lives – first for providing light, then ambiance, and in more recent time – they have offered us a way to make our environment smell better. Additionally, candlelight is attributed to romance, relaxation, and focus.

Candle meditation is beginning to rise in popularity as the flame offers a specific point of focus and is naturally soothing to our brain. Candle yoga is offered in some studios for the same reason. Our faces and bodies look softer (and younger?) in candlelight. The low light condition of a room lit by candles resembles dusk to our brain – creating a reflex to begin winding down – and our body naturally starts to relax.

Companies have made giant fortunes on the business of providing us with candle options. From the home party company Candlelight that many of us were familiar with as it made its rounds through suburbia in the early 2000’s, to the Yankee Candle Co. storefront in malls across America – businesses are marketing to our adoration of soft light and nice smells.

Some of us have even been introduced to the correct ‘way’ to care for our candles, depending on how many wicks it has and what kind of ingredients it is made of. Craft stores have dedicated entire isles for candle making supplies as the creatives among us take on the challenge of personalizing our little wax lights. And the combination of scents have matured from Rose and Cinnamon to Roasted Nutmeg Butternut Squash and Cucumber Melon Ocean Breeze… tantalizing us with the idea that an ocean breeze could actually be contained in a jar filled with wax.

Nevertheless, there does seem to be validity behind the idea that lighting a candle at home – for a variety of reasons – may add to your sense of well-being. So, if you are seeking relaxation, aromatherapy, or a nice romantic evening I’ll offer the simple suggestion of…

Light Candles.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#306 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Just keep coming back to your point of focus; and coming back; and coming back – without judgment about how well you’re doing or if you’re doing it wrong.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#306

Meditate

Wikipedia says that meditation has been “practiced since antiquity” – it’s the exercise of being still and directing all focus to a single object or thought. If you haven’t heard about meditation and its benefits, you’ve been living in a cage without WiFi!

Developing a ‘practice’ of meditation will reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It will increase your sense of calm, peace, and ultimately… happiness. When meditating daily for more than 30 minutes, one develops control over mind processes and is potentially able to reverse heart disease and well as other ailments that are caused by over-activation of  the parasympathetic nervous system.

Research in recent years has demonstrated that meditation may be significant in the reduction of anger, pain, stress, fatigue, depression and more. A well developed meditation regiment may be just shy of a magic pill for most of what ails our sick and tired, fast paced and distracted society.

Most of the time, I find that people who don’t have a regular practice actually misunderstand the process of quieting the mind. People say “I can’t stay focused” and “My brain is too active” – indicating that those elements must prevent them from having any success. Actually – we all experience those barriers when we begin.

I think of meditation as the art of noticing thoughts just like the lights that pop up on a peripheral vision test while I am focused on the white dot in the middle… I see – and stay trained – on the dot in the center, not allowing the other lights that pop in and out of my field of vision to redirect my attention. It’s not NOT having other thoughts that is the goal… it’s to NOT pay attention to those other thoughts that we work to accomplish as a beginner. I was once told that after 10 years of dedicated meditation practice, a teacher was excited when as much as 5 whole minutes passed without a recognized thought – 10 years!

Just keep coming back to your point of focus; and coming back; and coming back – without judgment about how well you’re doing or if you’re doing it wrong. Using an app like Headspace or guided meditations like those of Ron Seigel are great ways to begin. The challenge is to add dedicated time to your day in pursuit of meditation.

It’s like anything else though… what you prioritize – you WILL make time for. It’s a universal law. So think about what ails you and do a little research. I’m sure you’ll find that relief may be as simple as some still time. Set aside some time, get comfortable, find a focus, and …

Meditate.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Six Ways to Cope with Crap

Here are six constructive and helpful ways to manage all that stinky stuff:

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” ― Alysha Speer

We can’t control everything that happens in our life and there are times for all of us that we turn a corner and run full on into crap. For some, we are just getting cleaned off and another pile of dodo drops from the sky like a storm that blows in on a hot summer day without any warning. The kind of crap I am talking about doesn’t distinguish between gender or class, race or religion, age or vocation… it comes slowly and quickly sometimes with notice, other times suddenly and abruptly. At all times, the only part of the crap that we actually can control is how we cope with it. Here are six constructive and helpful ways to manage all that stinky stuff:

ONE: Use the skills you have.

Remember that you’ve made it through every rough day you’ve ever had before. Chances are, the thing you are going through now is not the first load of crap you’ve encountered. Remind yourself of the coping skills you’ve used in the past. Generally speaking, crap causes stress – stress can be mediated by utilizing traditional and somewhat basic coping tools. Meditation, exercise, therapy, social support, writing and the like are fantastic resources that help us deal with stressors both big and small. Use them! Use several of them at once if necessary and use them often.

TWO: Eat right and sleep right.

Both of these are relative ‘no-brainers’ and we all know them intellectually but the first thing that people under stress tell me is that it is preventing them from eating and sleeping. Then we face the bigger problem of how magnified the basic stressor becomes when we haven’t slept and/or we aren’t providing our bodies with the nourishment that makes our brains work. Furthermore, it seems as if the basic stress point births more stressors that in and of themselves, become big and problematic when we allow ourselves to become run down physically.

This isn’t the time to worry about dieting… while I’m not suggesting that we all develop the habit of ‘stress eating’… keeping fruit, nuts, and juices available so that we have something healthy and quick to grab at any time, makes sense. When I know someone is going through a rough time, I take them a big bowl of whole fruits – I know… buzzkill.

Sleeping is difficult when our brains don’t ‘turn off’. You can help by making sure you create an environment conducive to sleeping. Many of us have really bad habits that don’t support healthy sleeping conditions. NO television in the bedroom! NO sleeping on the couch in front of the TV. NO caffeine (including chocolate ice cream and other hidden sources of stimulants – including alcohol). Yes, a single glass of wine can relax you but two may induce less ‘restful’ sleep. More than just a little alcohol of any kind will certainly help you ‘fall’ asleep but your slumber will be restless. Learn progressive relaxation (search in YouTube) and do it as you fall asleep. Use a fan or a white noise machine to help drone out the sound of your thoughts. Technology allows us access to so many helpful tools regarding sleep these days. Lastly, don’t forget to support melatonin production in your body as well.

THREE:  Self-care.

As simple as this sounds, it is the one thing I find goes unnoticed most often. Seemingly, the last thing we think about when we are experiencing a load of crap in life is taking time out for ourselves. I guess it isn’t second nature to stop in the middle of chaos and ‘fuel up’ but let’s think about this… how far does your car go without gas?? Would you let a leak in your roof go indefinitely or would you take time to fix it so it doesn’t get worse?? When I recommend to people that they take some time for themselves, they often tell me they don’t have time but we both know that is an excuse. Learn to look at your life with the intent of carving out small slices that belong to ONLY you. This is the opposite of selfish – the objection most everyone tries to lay out – if you run out of steam, you will be worthless to help anyone! Take five minutes an hour under extreme duress and 30 min. a day otherwise to devote to making sure that YOU are bringing your ‘stress level’ down to its base line. If not, your body will think that it needs an elevated amount of Cortisol in your system to function and a new base will be established – that won’t feel good either!

FOUR: Accept Help

Are you good at asking for or accepting help? I always recommend accepting any type of help that is offered even if you think you may not need it. Someone willing to come mow your lawn will probably be willing to run the kids around instead if you find that more helpful. If someone asks how they can help – don’t say “I’m fine” – ask them “what are you offering?” or “Sure, what did you have in mind?” or better yet, “That would be great! Would you please….”.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to ‘do it all myself’ and it eventually backfires. Asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH – because it unzips your vulnerability. When we ask for or accept help we are making a statement that we can’t do it all ourselves and that is OK!! We are social creatures, not designed to be isolated and alone, or draining every personal resource we have. As a single mom, I had a village – almost literally – neighbors, scout leaders, friends, coaches, and the occasional family member that I depended on because I was only one person and even though I tried – God knows – I couldn’t do it – not successfully. When I made the decision to actually respond affirmatively to people who volunteered their help – my life was instantly better. Those who hadn’t meant it learned a lesson and we probably didn’t remain friends. Those who did, learned that I am a loyal friend who gives back when it is possible.

FIVE: Breathe & Count

At the very least learn how to breathe and count to five. In those few seconds where I take a deep breath and slowly exhale to the count of five, I collect myself and create intention (most of the time anyway). I respond better in conversations that are stressful, to people who are hyper or ultra emotional, and when there is significant chaos or confusion. The time it takes me to breathe and count allows my brain to run through a variety of scenarios where it can choose the best response, or the most logical in that time at least. Sometimes I count to ten if there is room for the extra pause.

SIX: Practice Gratitude

Everywhere you look these days we see reminders to practice gratitude and yet I find that the habits are not yet developed in many people… no worries, start again to make appreciation a part of everything you do. No matter how dense or smelly your pile of crap is – find something in it to appreciate it. I realize that sometimes, this is done in retrospect for the crap as a whole but in your day… there are at least three things that you can be grateful for. Today, I had enough to eat, I hugged three people who love me, and saw a beautiful sunset. If I take some time to really acknowledge those three things, I feel better about my day – at least a little. If you do a gratitude just before bedtime, you’ll have something fresh on your mind that is positive – helping you to sleep more soundly.

 

If you liked what you read just now, please share it with friends and family either by email or through social media and know that I am grateful for your effort.