#206 Take a Mental Day Off

Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

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.

#206

Take a mental health day off

When was the last time you took a day off for no reason other than to stay home and binge watch T.V., go on a hike, or picnic by a waterfall? All too often we save our vacation days for purposeful tasks or family vacations where the only thing that is different – is the scenery. Sometimes, we just need to have a mental health day.

Use sick days

All too often I find that people accumulate sick days in anticipation of having a major illness. I’ve known people to sell back more than six months of time that was accrued. While that was a nice ‘bonus’, most of us would have been better off taking one or two of those for no other reason than we wanted to have a champagne lunch with a friend.

Taking a Break

Everything is easier when we take a break. When we exhaust ourselves physically, we take a break. When we sit too long, we take a break, and when we’ve worked our fannies off – we deserve a break. Even taking a half day can make a difference. Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

New Perspective

The little break you take with a mental health day can help you get a new perspective or at the very least, it can give you the metaphorical deep breath you need from work and the people there; stepping back from stress, controversy, or uncertainty. If we are seeking clarity or solutions, it may be the break that offers it to us.

Take a look at your work schedule as soon as you can and identify a time when you can…

Take a mental health day off.

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

#210 Sit by a Waterfall

Adding the element of water is akin to icing the best cake. It improves stress reduction techniques that are proven to increase happiness.

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.

#210

Sit by a waterfall

Much of the USA is draped in sweltering heat this time of year and other than air conditioning, only a few options for relief exist. One of them is any location in close proximity to a waterfall. Often, there are shade trees to soften the intensity of the sun and as the water moves over rock and falls, it stirs the air and simultaneously cools.

Moving Air

Even if you live in a major metropolitan region, there are water features available in the form of fountains that serve much the same function as a natural waterfall; water – colder than air temperature – moving the air and cooling it. There may be less natural shade in that environment but it’s a close second. In the event that you live a more suburban life, there is a good chance that a waterfall exists within a drivable distance. A basic Google search for waterfalls near Philadelphia returned an article listing 11 that were an easy drive away. Pack a picnic, put the kids in the car, and escape the heat with a little hike leading up to a cool lunch location.

Liquid Music

The sound of falling water is a known soother. Rain, creeks, and waterfalls are options on a variety of white noise machines advertised to calm our nerves and induce relaxation. It acts as a buffer to city noise or the chatter in our brain. It connects us to nature in the most elementary way.

De-Stress

Eliminating the stress and misery that comes with bracing the summer heat will certainly improve one’s disposition and overall sense of well-being. Getting outdoors and into air that moves – a little at least – compounds the benefit. Adding the element of water is akin to icing the best cake. It improves stress reduction techniques that are proven to increase happiness.

Escape the heat – reduce the stress – and make your way to the nearest location that allows you to…

Sit by a Waterfall

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

#231 Re-read your Favorite Book

This suggestion is one of those things that we don’t think of often, perhaps a quick and easy way to get your mind off daily stressors and into an imaginary world that you are familiar with.

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.

#231

Re-read your favorite book

What is your favorite fiction book? When did you read it? Why is it your favorite? Would you enjoy reading it again?

The Favorites

In my late teen years I read ‘The Thornbirds’ and to this day, I remember being enthralled by the generational story. Later, I read and loved Michener’s ‘Chesapeake’ and again, I remember the ending as clearly as if I had just finished it because it was so vividly depicted. And then there were the Fern Michaels trilogies that told of cousins in various parts of the country; stories that, to this day, are remembered and thought of as if they could be real people in real time in Texas, Las Vegas, or Kentucky.

Re-runs

Why is it that we watch favorite movies over and over, or television series – how many times have you watched the same ‘Friends’ episode – but rarely read a book a second time through? Summer is a great time to visit the library and check out that book that you remember loving from a long time ago. Did you ever pick up Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Master of the Game’?… it’s another of those memorable fiction stories that stuck in my mind because of the intense graphic visual that came to my mind as I read the words.

Comfort Zone

This suggestion is one of those things that we don’t think of often, perhaps a quick and easy way to get your mind off daily stressors and into an imaginary world that you are familiar with. Re-reading a book you’ve enjoyed in the past means you’ll go directly into a ‘happy place’ without the struggle of making it past the first few chapters as can happen in some stories. Do yourself a favor and take some time for simple enjoyment this summer and …

Re-read your favorite book.

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

#248 Sit in a park

The temperature falls instantly by ten degrees as the air is cooled and pushed by the water cascading 20 feet across the entire back of the park.

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.

#248

Sit in a park

So, it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re at the park. Perhaps you’re walking through. Maybe you’re having a picnic. Could be you’re biking, running, or playing your way through the terrain… when was the last time you simply sat??

Why a park?

Generally, parks are green spaces created with our pleasure in mind. Pleasure because they offer an open space (open is relative here) where we can go for an outdoor experience. Of course that often means some kind of activity and yet all those benches that we see in parks aren’t only for rest in between activity. You might also sit on a blanket in the park or on a rock. Perhaps you prefer to plunge right down in the grass, allowing yourself to feel the ground specifically beneath you. The goal is to find a spot in the park and to sit alone and quietly there; contemplating or observing everything in your sight.

Parks are a great place to find a few quiet moments – perhaps not quiet from the perspective of sound – but from our individual lives. There in the park, we can slip away from responsibility, from demands of work and family, and utilize the energy of the outdoor environment to rejuvenate.

Be Mindful

As you sit there – in the park – take time to be mindful. Notice the grass, the sky, the people, the sounds, the temperature, and the textures. Pay attention to details… color differences, movement, and decibels.

Allow it all to move through your sight line without attachment and if you can… practice gratitude or compassion with each observation. (i.e., “I’m so grateful for the sensation of the sun on my face.”)

Sitting alone in a park can be an experience all in its own.

Paley Park

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One of my most favorite memories is finding the jewel of Paley Park in New York City. Walking east along 53rd street, just past MOMA, there’s a small break in the storefronts – almost unnoticeable – and yet with a glance you are immediately lured into an open square canopied by trees and flanked by a wall of water falling into a pond. The sounds of Manhattan cease and your senses are filled with nature. The temperature falls instantly by ten degrees as the air is cooled and pushed by the water cascading 20 feet across the entire back of the park. Without hesitation, I pulled up a chair and allowed that space to evaporate the metropolitan energy from my mind; replacing it with a lightness and freshness that can only be induced by Mother Nature.

Create your Own Moment

Understandably, most readers won’t be running to Paley Park anytime soon (highly recommended if you find yourself in NYC) and yet there are dozens of options near you at any given time as our culture is rather park-minded overall. A local town square, a community green space, a state game land, or a national treasure all offer opportunities to get grounded if we just take a moment and …

Sit in a park.

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.

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

Technology makes it super easy for us to include laughter in our lives today. At any point, we have instant access to videos like I’ve included above or a plethora of websites with jokes.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.
#353
Laugh every day

Laughter really is the best medicine. The health benefits of laughter are well documented and the focus of legitimate scientific research.

A good belly laugh releases endorphins similar to crying that are known to promote healthy functioning. One study indicated that people identified to have a good sense of humor literally live longer. A sense of humor is defined as being able to see the funny side of things and to appreciate jokes or funny things. The people known to have a good sense of humor may burst into laughter over something as simple as a pun…

…What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
… Nacho cheese!!

Or a solid, comedian proven joke…

An Irishman is struggling to find a parking space.
“Lord,” he prayed. “I can’t stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I’ll give up the Guinness and go to mass every Sunday.”
Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shines on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the Irishman says: “Never mind, I found one!”

But one doesn’t necessarily have to be a comedian to experience laughter in the ways that it becomes a benefit. We all can laugh, we just have to connect to the things that we find funny. Perhaps it’s a television show (or their YouTube clips) such as America’s Funniest Home Videos…

Sometimes it the spontaneous moments of innocence and/or ignorance that we can all relate to that are the funniest.

Perhaps it’s the variety of programs that dupe us as in Candid Camera …

Personally, those get me almost every time!! I laugh so hard that I cry. (I wonder if that means double the endorphins?)

Or for those of us who laugh at just pure cuteness of babies and/or animals…

 

Technology makes it super easy for us to include laughter in our lives today. At any point, we have instant access to videos like I’ve included above or a plethora of websites with jokes. We have memes and GIFs in our streams on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Laughter is only a swipe away at any time we want it.

The trick is to include it. Sign up to receive a Joke a Day with the LMAO app for iphone or the LOL Jokes app for Androids. Instead of surfing Facebook – spend a few minutes on YouTube searching funny videos. Check out Reader’s Digest collection of humor – some of the funniest written jokes I know of. Make it a habit!

Laugh every day!

Quick Stress Relief – There’s an APP for That!

When we don’t get a break between perceived stressors, we need to FORCE our bodies to chill out.

I am taking a brief departure today to address stress. In the last two weeks, I’ve had a surge of clients making last minute appointments to cope with feelings of elevated anxiety and stress over the current political climate. I’ve shared this information so much in private sessions that I feel it may be beneficial to help alleviate accruing tension for any of us.

The Process

Any time your brain perceives a threat it stimulates the flight or fight response (FOFR) – there doesn’t have to be a REAL threat – just a perception of one. The FOFR is a series of chemical reactions in the brain that activates the sympathetic nervous system by pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream creating a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, faster respiration, etc…  That’s the first thing and it happens in microseconds – before your eyes or ears fully process what is happening. To keep you in a state of readiness, more chemical reactions take place until the adrenal gland starts to produce cortisol.  It is cortisol that sustains your readiness.

The Problem

Our bodies are not designed to sustain high levels of cortisol. In fact, a continuously elevated level of the stress hormone can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, impact sleep, cause weight gain, impact your libido, and much more.

Typically, after the threat passes, our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) naturally takes over, returning our heart rate and breath to normal.

When we don’t get a break between perceived stressors, we need to FORCE our bodies to chill out. The chemistry works like this:  By extending your exhale longer than your inhale – the vagus nerve is activated and signals your brain to activate the PSNS, calming you down.

I know some people can’t pull themselves away from news or are surrounded by people who have differing opinions and so they stay stressed. Aside from the obvious… get away from news and people who suck your strength…. There is another solution to offer immediate relief…

Breathe

I recommend the app RELAX LITE to everyone I see who has difficulty with stress.

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I love it because it has calming music and a great visual to follow. Let’s face it, when we are stressed, it can be hard to find focus without a little help. Relax Lite has offers both breathing and meditation. Start with the BREATHING.

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Choose Beginner – and then set the length of time you want to focus on your breath. Even 5 minutes at a time is helpful. Start there.  LEVEL THREE is designed specifically to induce the PSNS by extending the exhale longer than the inhale.

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Sit quietly for a minimum of five minutes even if you must lock yourself in the bathroom stall at the office or on the pot at home. No excuses!

Not sleeping?

High levels of cortisol prevent melatonin production so you may find that you have a hard time getting to or staying asleep. Here are a couple of quick tips:

No news or bright lights at least two hours before bedtime.

Use a meditation CD or app as you lay down – guided meditations that use progressive relaxation are great!

Make sure you have actively made an effort to engage your PSNS.

Use synthetic melatonin – but sparingly.

Focus

Don’t forget to focus on what you DO have control over. Taking control of your body is first and foremost but there are other things as well. When you become proactive on any front, your stress is mitigated!

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