Monthly Archives: January 2017

Take a Walk on the Mindful Side: Visual Imagery

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It’s been a tough day. There is too much going on and your emotions feel frayed. At this moment, you would like nothing better than to get away from it all. However, you only have a few minutes to decompress. So you decide to revisit your favorite place without leaving your current space.

A Peace of the Forest

Taking a deep breath, you close your eyes and settle yourself comfortably in your chair. Your feet are planted on the floor and you can feel the connection to the earth.

Taking another deep breath, you visualize walking through the entrance to your favorite park. There is a brick and metal arch that you walk through, pausing to feel the texture of the brick that has been in this place for over 100 years. The bricks feel warm to the touch and you feel the sun warming the back of your hand.

As you pass through the arch, the sun becomes filtered by the branches of the old growth trees that fill the park. The sidewalk comes to an end and you find yourself on a well groomed path covered in bark chips. You slow and take a deep breath, savoring the smell of the pines.

Your feet are quiet, there is barely a rustle to be heard as you walk along.

Soon you reach a place where the trail splits into four directions and you pause to choose which way to go.

You take a deep breath as you consider which of the four paths to take.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

You feel calm and the peace that being in nature brings and you make your decision easily.

As you begin moving forward, you feel confident in your choice.

The path narrows and winds through a heavily wooded area. Scents of pine and damp earth fill your senses. You can hear squirrels and chipmunks running through the branches of the trees and birds calling back and forth to each other.

As you approach a bend in the path, a new sound begins to tease your ears. A soft trickle. The sound of water.

Around the corner, the forest opens up to a small creek which whispers quietly as it passes over rocks in the river bed.

A large flat rock sits on the edge of the stream and you climb up. As you sit, you can feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the solid warmth of the rock underneath.

Breathing deeply, you imagine breathing in the peace from this moment in time and breathing out any worries that you have carried with you into the forest.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

Breath in, breath out.

After a time, the sun begins to fade and you stand and begin your journey back. As you pass through the woods and to the intersection of the paths and then to the metal and brick arch that frames the entrance to the park, you notice that you still carry with you the sense of peace that you found on your journey.

7 Ways to Have More Fun Everyday

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Life is hard sometimes. We work, attend school, home repairs, shopping, shuttle children, go to the gym, clean the toilet, attend community meetings and repeat it all again tomorrow. Without conscious effort, life can become an endless to do list that we are simultaneously checking off and expanding.

What we need is a little bit of fun!

Fun: noun

1 : someone or something that provides amusement or enjoyment <the twins were fun to have around> <picnics are great fun>

2 : a good time : AMUSEMENT, ENJOYMENT <have fun> <plays cards just for fun>*

Imagine that you are cooking dinner day after day and the only seasonings you have are salt and pepper. Not bad, but kind of boring. Then one night you open up the cupboard and there is a small jar of curry powder. Wowza!  Dinner has just become much more interesting.

“The opposite of play is not work it is depression.” ~ Brian Sutton-Smith, The National Institute for Play

Adding a bit of fun into your day is a simple way to boost mood and energy. The science backs me up here. The sillier it feels, the more it boosts mood.

  1. Sing in the shower or in your car.

Hit play on your favorite playlist and belt it out with the music. Are you “All About the Bass?” Or do you want to “Whip it, Whip it good?”

  1. Color

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. You can pick them up at your local bookstore or local discount store. Tuck one in your tote and pull it out when you have a few minutes between appointments or during your lunch break. Keep colored pens in your bag and use them to take notes rather than the standard blue or black. A reminder to call the doctor is more interesting in lime green.

  1. Dance Around

On hold with the cable company?  Dance.  Blow drying your hair in the morning?  Dance.  Can’t sit still any longer? Dance.  Take a dance class at your local community center. Classes range from Hip Hop to ballet to belly dance. Get moving.

  1. Learn Something New

Try out a free app like Duolingo and learn Norwegian or Swahili or Klingon. Take a music class and learn to play the ukulele or the trumpet.

  1. Write

Make up a story and write it down. Make it as crazy and unpredictable as you can.

  1. Smile More

Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smile at the person you pass on the street when you go to get a cup of coffee. Smile at the grocery store clerk, the bank teller, the person in the car next to you at the light. The average adult smiles 15 or fewer times per day. How many times can you smile?

  1. Embrace Your Quirks

Is there something that others point out to you as, well, a little bit different?  Embrace it.  Love pine cones? Keep a small basket of pine cones in your reading area or your office. Love purple? Wear it every Monday. (PS: This is one of my quirks!) Love travel?  Frame and hang a map from your favorite trip above your desk.

I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate fun into my life and the life of my clients. Do you have a favorite fun manifesting activity?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

*  Definition from: http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/student?book=Student&va=fun

3 Ways to Improve Wellness Today

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Small steps forward are more productive than immobility.

The last few weeks, the Pacific Northwest has been hit by several unusual weather events. Many areas of the country are accustomed to dealing with snow and ice and life continues to move forward, albeit a bit more slowly. In Oregon, anything resembling a white flake in the sky is cause to shut down schools and send people running to the grocery store in a panic. You must stock up now for Snowpocolypse 2017.

Tens of thousands of people become immobile. People cancel medical and mental health appointments. They hole up in their homes, drinking hot chocolate and hoping that the weather will return to normal by tomorrow and secretly praying for another snow day.

Choosing wellness means choosing to move forward, even with the smallest of steps. In fact, experience shows us that small steps are usually more sustainable than giant leaps forward.

Wellness is the fruit of planning and commitment to the plan. You must make time to create wellness in your life:

to think

to play

to do

Think

Slow down. Stress and burnout is fueled by over action. Take time each day to simply think. Develop a daily ritual which includes meditation, prayer and journaling. Read deeply and widely about many subjects. Give yourself time to reflect on your reading, your wellness, your relationships, and your community.

Time to think gives you space to work through problems, generate ideas and just be.

Play

Play and fun are the fuel of creativity. Dance, sing, skip, exercise and move your body daily. Draw, paint, color, cook, and dream. Take vacations, travel to cities and countries that you haven’t visited before. Attend community theater, poetry readings, and art gallery receptions.

Fill you mind and body with color, light and energy.

Do

Create a plan to accomplish the tasks on your wellness plan, to build relationships, manage self- care, and achieve your career goals. Use a planner or bullet journal and identify 2-3 tasks that you can accomplish each day to move you closer to your wellness goals.

Mind Over Stress: One Minute Mindfulness Activities

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Stress happens to the best of us. There are pressures at work and at home. Daily meditation and mindfulness practices help to reduce overall stress and anxiety and support focus. Sometimes, however, you just need a quick reset to get grounded. Below are seven of my favorite mindfulness activities that can help you to regain balance.

  1. Paced breathing

Find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on an immovable object in the room. Take a deep breath in for six counts, filling your belly. Hold the breath for four counts and then breath out for eight counts. Repeat 4-5 times.

  1. Visual Imagery

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine you are in your favorite place. It could be the beach, your garden, on a mountain top, anywhere that you find peace. Notice the sounds and smells of your favorite place. The temperature? Is it cold or warm? Look around at the things that makes this your peaceful place. Take a deep breath and slowly open your eyes.

  1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Sit or lay down in a comfortable space. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Beginning at your toes, tighten your muscles and hold for 5-10 seconds and then release. Continue to your calves, thighs, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and face. Tense your muscles, hold and release.

  1. 3 Senses

Your senses ground you to this place and this time. Look around the room and notice three things that you can see. Then identify three things that you can hear. Finally, notice three things that you can smell.

  1. Cup of Tea

This activity may take a bit longer than a minute if you need to heat the water, but is well worth it. Choose a tea of your liking and breath in the scent. Slowly pour hot water over tea in a cup. Notice the change in aroma. Hold the cup with both hands, absorbing the warmth as the tea steeps. Focus on each step in the process of making the tea.

  1. Candle Watching

The light of fire is mesmerizing. Light a candle and focus on its flame for one minute. Notice the way it flickers in the air. See the changes in color from the center to the outside of the flame. Extinguish the flame and notice the scent that remains on the air.

  1. Eating Mindfully

Need a chocolate fix? Chocolate is a great stressbuster, especially if you take time to eat it mindfully. The goal is to eat the chocolate as slowly as possible. Open the wrapper slowly, inhale the aroma of the rich chocolate. Take a small bite and focus on how the chocolate melts on your tongue, filling your mouth with smooth sweetness.

What Give You Hope?

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to cherish a desire with anticipation”

“to expect with confidence”

“the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”

“to look forward to with desire and confidence”

“to place trust, rely”

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~ Proverb

Hope is not mystical, ethereal or magical. Hope is that small thing that makes life worth living. The thing that keeps us moving forward even when the days are dark and the nights are long, when the pain in our hearts feels unbearable.

There have been times in my life when it was difficult to hold onto the thread that connected my to my hope. Knowing what fills my cup with hope is critical for my sense of well-being.

Nature:  A walk in the snow, digging my toes into the sand at the beach, gathering leaves in the fall, deep breaths of cool morning air.

Faith: Believing in something greater than myself.

Optimistic people: Surrounding myself with others who have hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Create a greater sense of hope in your life.

  1. Take action: Engage in your community and meet people.
  2. Share the Love: Volunteer for your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food bank, animal rescue.
  3. Educate yourself: Learn a new skill or topic.
  4. Practice Gratitude: Be thankful for what you have already received and achieved in life and it will open doors for more in the future.
  5. Let Go: Let go of fear, anxiety and sadness. Find a good therapist who can help you build a bridge to hope by working through the history that holds you back.

So, tell me. What gives you hope?

Creating a Culture of Wellness: Emotional Wellness (Part 1)

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Wellness is a holistic way of managing life. When health permeates every part of the human experience, wellness is present. The National Wellness Institute (www.nationalwellness.org) identifies six dimensions of wellness including:

  • Emotional
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual

As we move into this new year and look forward to what will unfold for us, focusing on creating a culture of wellness will enrich our lives in 2017. Over the next several weeks, we will explore each of the dimensions of wellness, beginning with our emotions.

Developing Emotional Wellness

No matter how mature or “together” we appear to the world, each of us has the ability to improve our emotional intelligence.

  1. Set and maintain clear boundaries

The foundation of emotional wellness consists of setting clear boundaries. It is easy to agree to take on projects, join committees or do favors for others without thinking through the impact of the commitment on your time and energy.

Practice saying yes only to requests that you want to engage in and are willing to participate in. A firm but polite “no” will be accepted by most people without question.

  1. Know your emotions

Take time to identify the emotions behind your response. When you are tempted to react in anger, check to see if the anger is fueled by fear or sadness. When you recognize the underlying emotion, it is easier to advocate for yourself and get your needs met in a healthy manner.

Tend to the root of the emotions. Take time to journal, exercise, garden or spend time with caring people. Nurture yourself.

  1. Advocate for your needs

Sometimes you need a break or a helping hand. Asking for support when necessary reduces stress and helps to reduce emotional roller coasters. Ask early, ask often.

  1. Practice Radical Acceptance

Sometimes situations are beyond the scope of our control. Acceptance doesn’t mean approval or giving in It is recognition of the facts of a situation. We can rail against the rain and wind, but the storm will continue because it is out of our control. Acceptance is choosing not to fight the storm and invite more suffering into our lives.

  1. Resolve trauma history

If you have a history of trauma or abuse, find a qualified mental health practitioner to support you in breaking down the barriers to emotional health. Learn to tell your story, acknowledging painful times and joyous times.

  1. Give yourself grace

Healing, like life, does not progress in a neat orderly fashion. We move forward and make progress only to be tripped up and lose ground. If today was not your best day, be gentle with yourself, treat yourself well, and begin again tomorrow.

2017: The Search for Wellness

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2017: The Search for Wellness

The New Year’s festivities have wrapped up and like everyone else, I am beginning to slide back into that normal routine that existed before the holidays. Laundry, work, writing, groceries, the to do list has changed considerably from two weeks ago when it read: wrap gifts, make pie, find holly.

It’s time to pack up the Christmas ornaments and slide them back into the back of the closet for the next eleven months. It’s time to start the new year, with its mixture of hope and fear.

Like many, I have set intentions instead of resolutions as resolutions are often dissolved by mid February. Intentions have a way of moving us forward without us even realizing that we have moved.

It has become my practice to set my intentions for the year by choosing a single focus word. More on how to choose a focus word can be found at OneWord.com or MyOneWord.org and also at OneWord365.com.

And so this year, I begin the search for Wellness. In my search for wellness for myself and my community, I plan to explore the many dimensions of wellness including emotional, physical, social, intellectual, occupational and spiritual.

Many times I have heard “begin as you want to finish.” So, let’s begin strong.