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New Year, New Habits

 

Many people have given up on making New Year’s resolutions because they’ve grown tired of not being able to make them stick. I’ve even seen people defend that there’s no need for “a new year, a new you” attitude, because there’s nothing wrong with the “old” you!

And that’s true! But if you do believe that you have some areas needing improvement, an event or a milestone like a new year can be a good time to implement new habits. Mentally, it just seems like a good time to make a fresh start, and that can work in our favor. According to an article in “The New York Times,” here are 7 science-based strategies to help create new habits in the new year.

1. Think big picture. We’ve been told for years that goals need to be specific and manageable and measurable. So rather than saying, “I want to lose weight,” it’s better, in theory, to say “I want to lose ten pounds by the end of June.” 

But scientists suggest taking a different approach may work better. Think about next December 31—what changes will you be most grateful for making? (I like this—thinking about how something will feel if…) Then create an intention for the year. So, for example, if your goal is to reduce your stress, you can have some flexibility in that. If you try meditating for 10 minutes every day, and you hate it, you can try something else—like yoga or a gentle daily walk—rather than giving up on your goal completely.

2. Understand your bad habits. Science says the best way to change behavior is not to simply “break” a bad habit, but to transform it into a better one. To do this successfully, we need to understand what causes a behavior and what we get out of it.

Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” says there are 5 cues that trigger a habit: a time, a location, people, an emotion or a ritual. That’s fairly easy to figure out. The more perplexing piece is the reward that we get from our behavior. Take, for example, a person working in an office always having an afternoon snack. Is it real hunger? Boredom? Or a desire to socialize in the break room? Duhigg writes, “Any habit can be diagnosed and shifted. You need to give yourself time to really figure out the cues and rewards that are driving that behavior — and oftentimes the only way … is through a process of experimentation.”

3. Start small. Really small. In his book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear describes a 2-minute rule. If you want to read a book a month, for example, start by reading a page a day. Taking “the art of showing up” to a new level, he believes that even taking the tiniest first baby steps helps put a new habit on autopilot. He tells the story of a guy who wanted to work out every day. He would drive to the gym, work out for just a few minutes and then drive home. While that might sound frivolous, he was committed to doing it for 6 weeks. And little by little, he increased his time and became the guy who exercises daily!

4. Look for instant gratification. Experts say that new habits are easier to form if we give ourselves small “rewards” along the way. But the best rewards are intrinsic, not things we buy. (I love this, again, thinking about how something makes us feel!) 

Naming what you’re feeling helps build positive associations with the new activity—strong, accomplished, victorious, etc. If you’re not feeling an intrinsic reward, you may be doing the wrong activity. So if, for example, your goal is to volunteer more or exercise more, you must find something you enjoy doing. Clear says in “Atomic Habits”: “Choose the form of the habit that brings you joy in the moment. Because if it has some immediate satisfaction, you’ll be much more likely to repeat it in the future.”

5. Control your environment. My sister always says, “My willpower is at the store.” Meaning: if she doesn’t want to be tempted to eat foods she shouldn’t, she simply doesn’t buy them. Not having them in the house makes it easier to avoid indulging!

Science bears this out. The people who appear to have the best will power actually may be best at simply eliminating temptation. Want to shop less? Unsubscribe to promotional emails from retailers. Want to watch less TV? Unplug the thing. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to embrace—then it becomes “normal behavior” and helps your new habits stick.

6. Plan for failure. No one is perfect. Despite our best efforts, at some point, we’re going to slip up. The key is to have a recovery plan. Experts recommend a couple of strategies. One is to write down any obstacles you foresee and decide in advance how you’ll cope (if you’re trying to drink less, for example, how will you deal with stressful times?). Another is to tell others what your goals are and how they can support you. Let your tribe help when you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed.

7. Celebrate often. Celebration tells our brain that something is beneficial and should be done more often, which definitely helps reinforce new habits. It doesn’t have to be grand—it could be anything from telling a friend you finally did something you’ve been putting off, or taking a sweaty selfie after a great workout. 

These celebrations can actually trick our brains into remembering something as more positive than we may otherwise have thought it was—and that makes us more likely to do it again! 

We could even send ourselves a thank-you note for our new behavior. Gratitude, authentic pride, hope, social connection, and compassion are the most effective emotions for promoting long-lasting changes in our behavior. All of these work better than shame, guilt or fear.

The most important emotion may be compassion. We need to be kind to ourselves as we endeavor to create new behaviors. “Habits are not a finish line to be crossed,” said Clear. “They’re a lifestyle to be lived.”

source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/smarter-living/better-habits-tips-new-year-resolutions-science.html

Category : Blog &Personal Growth

Giving Healthy Gifts

 

This is the time of year when many people are buying presents. While I don’t like how much emphasis our culture has put on shopping, it is nice to celebrate the holidays with a gift as a gesture of love.

So with that in mind, I appreciated a supplement in a recent “Parade” magazine—an “article” by Nicole Pajer to drive traffic to the site greatcall.com/gifts where you could get stuff for 50% off—highlighting healthy choices for gifts this year.

My own #1 recommendation would be to purchase a gift certificate for reflexology or massage therapy. Supporting relaxation and boosting wellbeing—presents don’t get any healthier than that!

My personal #2 recommendation would be to go to local galleries and shows that feature local artists. You might find a one-of-a-kind treasure that would be perfect for your unique loved one. Every time they see this piece, it will bring a smile. And you’ll be supporting an individual who loves to create rather than supporting the commercial engine of mass-produced merchandise.

Here are some of the recommendations from the article:

  1. A meal kit subscription. People are busy, and services like HelloFresh, Green Chef, and Blue Apron deliver ingredients needed to prepare healthy meals. The upside is that it’s convenient and there’s no waste because you receive exactly what you need for each meal. The downside is that there’s a lot of packaging that may or may not be reusable, and the shipping itself contributes to environmental stress.
  2. Popsicle maker. Using molds to create your own sweet treats allows you to use much healthier ingredients like whole fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts, honey, etc. There are “quick pop makers” that freeze the pops more quickly than putting them in your regular freezer. A fun endeavor like this can be a great family activity!
  3. Sponsor someone on a charity walk. This is a healthy gift that also gives people an activity to do together. A whole family or tribe of friends and neighbors can do a charity walk as a team.
  4. Pay for someone’s plot in a community garden.
  5. Host a dance party. Maybe your gift can be an invitation to a themed dance party—a fantastic way to have fun and get some exercise!
  6. Help someone connect to family. You could get a gift certificate to a DNA analysis service. It’s fun to learn about our own heritage, and some of the services will help participants find relatives they may not have known about.
  7. Give family-friendly games. Encourage game nights! Life gets busy and sometimes we need help making time/reasons to get together in person. Games can help multi-generational groups find common ground.

My hope is that we can find ways to keep joy in the holiday season, making wholesome choices that encourage togetherness, simplicity, and happiness. May your holidays be peaceful and healthy and fun! 

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

If the Shoe Fits

 

Recently I developed a painful callous or something on the inside of my “pinky” toe on my right foot.

Through some keen detective work (lol) I discovered that the achy spot is right where that toe rubs against a bony protrusion of the fourth toe next to it.

I’m scheduled for a long-overdue for a pedicure with a podologist, and I’m curious to learn his expert opinion about the sore place and its cause. But here’s what I think he’s going to say:

As we age, our feet get wider. My shoes that used to “fit just right” no longer do! They are too tight, and they’re pushing my toes into each other every time I put weight forward on my feet. 

I tested my theory by wearing my running shoes to work one day. When you buy running shoes, the knowledgeable salespeople convince you to get larger shoes than you normally wear. This is because when we exercise, our feet swell. (People who are on their feet all day, especially in the Florida humidity, also experience swelling.) Sure enough, when I wore my larger running shoes to work, my “baby” toe didn’t bother me.

Sometimes people choose to wear shoes that hurt (like high heels for instance) because they’re stylish. And sometimes people wear shoes that feel comfortable (like flip-flops for example) even though they’re not particularly good for our feet. While it’s not my place to tell people what shoes to wear, I do think it’s important for us to know what we’re getting ourselves into when we make our selections.

Karen Ball, board certified reflexologist and long-time reflexology instructor recently contributed an article to “Massage” Magazine: “Tips for Buying Shoes that Fit.” She shares the idea that the two inventions that contribute most to modern-day chronic pain are the chair—and shoes!

She offers these tips for wearing the best shoes for YOU:

  1. Since our feet swell as the day warms up, always buy shoes in the afternoon. If you’re going to a store where they don’t measure, have someone trace the outline of your feet on a sheet of paper as you stand on it. (You can’t do it yourself because you have to stand tall and support all your weight on the full length and breadth of your feet.)
  2. If your feet are different sizes, as most people’s are, buy shoes to fit the larger one.
  3. Be willing to get the right size! It’s really OK if you need a larger shoe—our feet get bigger over time. You’re not going to wear the same size in middle age that you wore in your 20s.
  4. Once you’ve purchased your shoes, don’t wear the same pair all day every day. Different shoes will challenge different muscles, so changing them up will help ensure that every part of both feet (and ankles and on up the chain) stays strong.
  5. Sometimes we can’t SEE how our shoes are breaking down internally. It’s important to replace shoes before the outer soles appear worn.
  6. Shoes with inflexible soles will not allow our feet to move naturally in all the ways they need to: flexing, extending, rocking side to side a little, expanding and contracting. Ball writes, “You should be able to take a shoe in your hands and bend it nearly in half.”

It’s almost time to break out the winter shoes—do yours still fit? It’s super important to keep our feet healthy and happy, supported and not squished!

Source: https://www.massagemag.com/tips-for-buying-shoes-94045/

Category : Blog &Health &Reflexology

Your Brain on Autopilot

 

Have you ever had a brilliant idea while you were taking a shower? Or thought up a solution to a perplexing problem while you were driving? 

This is not a coincidence!

Researchers are learning more about our brain’s “default mode,” which basically is our brain at rest.

The thing is, our brain is never really at rest! When our minds are not concentrating on something outside of ourselves—when we can be more introspective—our default network has a chance to make valuable connections that we can’t make when we’re actively engaged.

In her TED talk, “How Boredom Helps You Do Your Best Thinking,” Manoush Zomorodi says, “By doing nothing, you are actually being your most productive and creative self.”

She cites studies of young people who “multitask” by checking their phones even while they visit with friends or do their homework. Making these constant demands of their minds and NOT giving their brains any “rest” actually makes them less imaginative about their futures and in solving societal problems.

The more time we spend switching quickly from thinking about one specific thing to focusing on another specific thing, from doing one active task to doing another active task, the more we drain our brains. 

We ALL need time to reflect, to daydream, to pause and think about nothing in particular. This is one reason why meditation is so good for us. Or quiet walks, or repetitive activities. 

The next time you’re “bored,” don’t reach for your phone or tablet to distract yourself! Look out a window, or just sit with your thoughts. Zomorodi says, “Boredom truly can lead to brilliance.”

Who knows what great ideas you’ll come up with?!

Here’s a link to Zomorodi’s TED talk:

www.ted.com/talks/manoush_zomorodi_how_boredom_can_lead_to_your_most_brilliant_ideas

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

A (Reflexology) Path to Good Health

 

Many people (me included!) believe walking barefoot is good for us. It builds strength in our feet and ankles and knees and hips and thus helps with balance. 

And many people (me included!) believe foot reflexology is good for us. By putting pressure on reflex points in our feet, we can access all the organs, glands and parts of the body, improve circulation and nerve communication, and help everything function better.

Very smart people have figured out a way to combine both walking barefoot and putting pressure on reflex points in our feet—reflexology paths! 

Imagine a path made entirely of smooth river rocks. Or some combination of stones and smooth glass pebbles, and maybe some other textures to stimulate the bottoms of our feet as we walk along.

A reflexology path can be as plain or elaborate as the designer chooses. Florida International University in Miami just installed a 75-foot path featuring sections representing the Chinese elements of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal (with different levels of texture intensity). It showcases the mascot’s paw and an infinity sign, stones from all over the world that were very intentionally placed by school faculty and staff, instructions in multiple languages, and even ways for those unable to walk to enjoy the path.

It’s not hard to create a reflexology path for ourselves. We could literally just make a simple path of smooth stones, or we could set stones in mortar, create a border and even shape it into a labyrinth. There’s a book titled “The Dao of Foot Reflexology Paths: A Global Self-Care Tradition.” (See the link below if you want more information.)

If you’re intrigued but not ready to commit to constructing your own path, we have a wonderful alternative here in St. Augustine: the beach! Try walking barefoot in the sand. Walk on soft, dry sand and firm, wet sand. Place some smooth shells round-side-up to create several stepping “stones.” 

How do these different sensations feel on your feet? How do your feet feel when you finish? How do YOU feel after walking on a sensory path?

If you could do this every day for a couple of weeks, you would likely notice a difference in how your feet feel—and how you feel overall—after you walk the “reflexology path.” Some enjoy the contemplative aspect of walking mindfully as well.

Whether you enjoy strolling barefoot on the beach or not, I’m happy to give your feet a thorough reflexology treatment whenever you’re ready. And I won’t leave any sand between your toes!

Resources:

https://news.fiu.edu/2018/08/fiu-debuts-east-coasts-first-reflexology-path-at-a-public-institution/125720

https://www.amazon.com/Dao-Foot-Reflexology-Paths-Self-Care/dp/0615626289

Category : Blog &Health &Reflexology

Have a Healthy Autumn!

 

Sometimes in Florida, it’s hard to believe that autumn is here (it’s close to 90 degrees outside as I type this in mid-October!).

But the days are getting shorter, peach season is over (bummer!), and once in a while we can feel a hint of, the cooler, drier weather that WILL eventually be coming our way.

If you want to make the most of this season, here are some tips for having the healthiest fall ever:

  1. Eat the pumpkin. Sure, pumpkins are fun to carve into jack-o-lanterns. But they’re also good for us! The pulp is high in vitamins A and C, and the seeds may help lower cholesterol. Have fun with a new recipe—something other than pie!
  2. Enjoy other seasonal produce. Try all the squashes, and Brussels sprouts, and beets. Roasted veggies are delicious. And apples are at their peak in the fall!
  3. Boost your immune system. School starts, people spend more time together indoors and bam—it’s cold and flu season. Wash your hands a lot. Drink a lot of water. Get sufficient rest. Boost your immune system with healthy foods (like seasonal produce!). And book a massage or reflexology session!!
  4. Get outside. The more comfortable temperatures make this the perfect time to unplug and enjoy the outdoors. Walking, hiking, jogging, cycling, sports leagues—even yard work—provide opportunities to burn some calories.
  5. Go easy on the Halloween candy. It’s easy to slip into a sugar addiction.
  6. Eat well on game day. If you like watching sports, snack on veggies and dip instead of chips. If you really want something like pizza, go for a thin crust and avoid fatty toppings—and cut it into smaller pieces to nibble rather than gorge. Go for smaller helpings of chili or other favorites. Drink water in between other beverages.
  7. Have a smart Thanksgiving. Start the day with a healthy breakfast of protein and fiber so you’re not ravenous. Then have a plan for the big meal—what do you REALLY want to enjoy, and what could you do without? Include the seasonal produce—cranberries and persimmons have a LOT of nutrients. Again, go for smaller helpings and go for a walk. You’ll be glad you did!
  8. Set goals. We don’t have to wait for January! What new habits could you start practicing now? Eating healthier? Exercising more? Meditating regularly? Keeping a gratitude journal? Spending more time with friends? Volunteering—and not just for Thanksgiving? Think of what we could accomplish by the end of the year!

Maybe it’s because we grew up feeling like fall was the beginning of a new (school) year, but for whatever reason, autumn really does feel like a good time to regroup. What other things will you do to have the best season ever?

Source: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/tips-for-a-healthy-fall?onepage

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Why Napping Is Good For Us

 

I don’t know about you, but as the days are getting shorter, I feel more sleepy.

In a perfect world, we would follow our circadian rhythms and sleep when our bodies needed it, and be awake when we naturally felt wakeful. But, alas, our modern lifestyles don’t allow for that. We impose busy schedules on ourselves, and most of us don’t get enough sleep.

More and more research is showing that not sleeping is as detrimental as the worst bad-health habit you can think of. Nothing is as good as getting enough sleep at night—the very best routine is to go to bed and rise at the same time every day (yup, even weekends).

But some of us just can’t do that, and some of us struggle to STAY asleep throughout the night. The good news is that when we don’t get enough sleep at night, naps come to the rescue. Napping is actually really good for our health! Here’s how:

  • Memory. Sleep plays an important role in our ability to store memories. A nap can help us remember things we learned earlier in the day just as much as a full night’s sleep can! Studies show that napping also improves learning.
  • Productivity. Usually, when people hit a lull during the day, they think they need coffee or some kind of stimulant. Research shows a quick nap might be better to improve performance. Feel sleepy right after lunch? Take a 20-minute siesta—it works wonders!
  • Mood. Taking a nap can lift our spirits. Even resting for a bit without falling asleep can brighten our outlook.
  • Energy. If we have something coming up, like travel for instance, where we know we won’t be getting enough sleep, taking a nap ahead of time can help prepare us for the journey.
  • Stress. You may think when you’re stressed out you couldn’t possibly make time for a nap. But that’s when we need it most! Experts say a 30-minute nap can relieve stress, and that boosts the immune system. Naps have been shown to lower our blood pressure, even after stressful situations.
  • Creativity. Have you ever woken up with a great idea? REM sleep activates the parts of our brains associated with imagery and dreaming. Sometimes we can literally “dream up” big ideas and solutions to problems!
  • Sleep. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a nap during the day can help us sleep better at night. Studies found a 30-minute nap between 1-3 p.m., combined with moderate exercise like a walk and stretching in the evening, helped older adults sleep better at night.

The keys to successful napping include only nap for 10-30 minutes (longer than that makes us too groggy afterward), nap regularly, and nap at roughly the same time each day (usually in mid-afternoon, when we tend to have a dip in alertness anyway). 

Happy napping!

Source: Web MD, “Health Benefits of Napping ”https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-of-napping?ecd=wnl_spr_100118_LeadModule&ctr=wnl-spr-100118-LeadModule&mb=O3VPynMBBg%40z5JCe%2fHStYxXFE73IOX1ca5Fi1IEg1Vc%3d

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Good Fun for a Good Cause!

YOU are cordially invited to attend the 10th Annual Bratini to help raise money for local cancer patients! It’s October 12th at the Guy Harvey Resort in St. Augustine Beach starting at 6:00 p.m.

If you’ve never been to this event, let me tell you how it works. Very artistic people create beautifully decorated bras—these bras truly are works of art.

The bras are modeled by great-looking young MEN! It’s a hoot!! This year the “fashion show” will be emceed by a talented female impersonator from Hamburger Mary’s—the incomparable Sondra Todd. Be prepared to laugh!!

Audience members bid on the bras in a live auction. The more martinis they drink, the more they seem to spend! The bras are theirs to keep—some might wear them as a costume, some display them in nice acrylic shadowbox frames.

The martinis are just $5 each, and their sponsors get to create a fancy concoction and make up a name for it. 

Meanwhile, there’s a silent auction with fabulous items to marvel at and bid on, delectable appetizers to nosh, and an oceanfront patio to enjoy!

I’m on the board of the sponsoring organization Artbreakers, and here’s how the founders explain why we raise these funds: 

“We want to be there for the patient, both financially and emotionally. Whether we are navigating patients through the system trying to find the right agency or doctor to get the care they need, transporting patients to chemotherapy sessions, giving financial support for doctor visits, utility bills or anything else that is needed, or counseling with families and patients prior to surgeries. We tell the patients and their families what to expect because we’ve been there.” – Artbreakers

This year there’s even an after-party. Buy your tickets before they sell out, online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bratini-tickets-48421102822

 

Category : Blog &Events

Choose Happiness

 

Money can’t buy happiness. But we CAN use science—neuroscience—to cultivate happiness! We can deliberately choose to help our brains feel happier. Here are four practices to try—they’re pretty simple, and they don’t cost a thing.

1. Choose to be grateful. We have at least 50,000 thoughts per day, and 80% of them are negative! According to neuroscientists, this is because pride, guilt, and shame all light up similar chemicals in the brain’s reward center. In some parts of the brain, it feels appealing to heap guilt and shame upon ourselves. Even worry feels good because it registers as doing SOMETHING (“actively” worry), which feels better than doing nothing—for a while.

But too much of this negative activity starts to feel really draining after a while. So what can we do to reverse it? Deliberately ask ourselves what we’re thankful for.

Gratitude activates our brains to produce the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Even if we can’t think of anything to be grateful for, just asking the question and trying to think of things can stimulate happiness. And it becomes an upward spiral because we start to focus more on the positive aspects of our lives, and our social interactions and relationships improve.

2. Choose to acknowledge negative feelings. Usually, when we feel awful, we try to push those feelings away—who wants to feel yucky?

However, trying to suppress negative emotions is one of the worst things we can do. Because while we might appear better on the outside, on the inside the more primitive part of our brains are even more aroused and we become even more distressed.

Labeling negative emotions, on the other hand, takes their power away. Are we feeling sad? Anxious? Angry? Fearful? When we think about it for a few minutes, we activate the prefrontal cortex (executive thinking skills) and lessen the arousal in the limbic system (“monkey brain”).

Identifying emotions is a key component in mindfulness meditation. If you’re interested in a simple practice that is very powerful in handling difficult emotions, research the R.A.I.N. method of meditating developed by Tara Brach.

Brach’s practice, and others point out that not only is important to label our feelings, it’s also imperative that we allow them. Sometimes it’s completely appropriate to feel sad or angry or whatever we feel! Only then can we process those feelings, release them, and go back to striving for authentic happiness.

3. Choose to make a decision. Scientists say that making a decision reduces worry and anxiety, and each decision we make improves problem-solving skills—we create intentions and set goals. These processes engage the thinking part of our brain in a positive way that helps overcome the worrying and more negative patterns of the “monkey brain.”

If you have trouble making decisions, experts suggest taking the pressure off by allowing yourself to make a choice that’s “good enough.” Sometimes we get stuck trying to make the “perfect” choice. Hemming and hawing for too long can add to our stress level, whereas making a decision can make us feel more in control. The act of deciding actually boosts pleasure in the “reward” center of our brain.

If we choose something—like choosing to exercise, for example—we get more out of it than if we do something because we feel forced into it. And, the more choices we make, the more our happiness is reinforced. Neuroscientist Alex Korb explains, “We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.”

4. Choose touch. There have been many studies on the power of human touch, and the detrimental effects of not having enough touch (babies and elders, for example, can suffer from a phenomenon called “failure to thrive” if they don’t get enough touch—it can actually lead to early death).

People need relationships. Social exclusion (and rejection) can cause the same reaction in the brain as physical pain. This explains why we can actually feel a pain in our chest when we have a “broken heart” or are grieving.

And touch is an important part of relating to others. When we touch, we release oxytocin, which reduces pain, worry, and anxiety. Touch greatly improves our sense of wellbeing—touching has been shown to help people be more persuasive, improve team performance, boost our flirting skills, and even increase math skills!

One of the most effective forms of touch is a hug. Not a quick little squeeze, but a long hold. Research shows that getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases our happiness greatly!

And guess what neuroscientists recommend if you don’t have someone to hug—massage therapy! Massage decreases stress hormones (like cortisol) and releases all the feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin AND pain-killing endorphins.

If we can’t touch others, we need to at least connect through conversation. If your loved ones are far away, talking on the phone is far superior to texting according to scientists.

Choose happiness today! One simple thing we can all do right away that combines some of these elements is to send someone a thank-you email (connection + gratitude). This is enough to start an upward spiral of happiness—for you and for the recipient!

Here’s why, according to Alex Korb: Gratitude improves our sleep, and improved sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves our mood, and a better mood reduces anxiety and improves focus and planning. That helps with decision making, which further reduces worry and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives us more to be thankful for. It also makes us more likely to exercise and be social, which makes us happier—and so the spiral continues upward!

Source: “A Neuroscience Researcher Reveals Four Rituals That Will Make You Happier,” by Eric Barker, with material drawn from the book “The Upward Spiral,” by Alex Korb.
https://www.businessinsider.com/a-neuroscience-researcher-reveals-4-rituals-that-will-make-you-a-happier-person-2015-9

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Make One Change (Just as an Experiment)

 

At last weekend’s reflexology workshop (Say Goodbye to Headaches!), we talked about causes of stress, and how we can encourage clients—f they’re willing—to make little changes, to control what they can.

Often, the kind of language that works well for any of us, is something like: would you be willing to try this one (new thing), just as an experiment?

That’s a lot less intimidating than attempting a complete overhaul, isn’t it? 

This month’s “Better Homes and Gardens” has an interesting article called “What Happens When…?” It looks at some pretty questionable—but common—habits and breaks down why they’re bad for our health. Here are some examples:

  • Hitting the snooze button repeatedly. We could feel groggy for up to an hour afterward! The alarm signals our brains that it’s time to rise. If we keep going back to sleep after, we confuse our brains! Better to set a “real” alarm for a time when we can realistically get up, and keep the same routine daily.
  • Postponing going to the bathroom. If we need to pee and we put it off, we increase our chance of getting a UTI—urinary tract infection. This is especially true for women.
  • Brushing our teeth only once a day. Skipping a daily cleansing increases our chance of developing tooth decay by 33%! The bacteria in our mouths also increase our chances of getting gum disease.
  • Sweating and not drinking enough water. Hey, we talked about this in our headache class! What happens is we get dehydrated. In addition to headaches, this can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramping, constipation and more. Experts vary in their recommendations for how much water is enough, but as a general rule, we want our urine to appear pale yellow to almost clear. If it’s darker, you’re probably not drinking enough water.
  • Taking a break from exercise. The bad news is that just one or two weeks away from our fitness routine does have some negative effects: our metabolism slows a little, our muscles use less oxygen, and our speed and endurance suffer (strength doesn’t diminish as quickly, though). The good news is that just one or two weeks getting back into our groove reverses any losses!
  • Eating food we drop. Would it surprise you to know that there’s no “five-second rule”? Bacteria can transfer to food immediately. Perhaps what is a surprise is that the type of surface the food is dropped on doesn’t really matter—the moisture content of the food is what really determines the germiness. Wetter food picks up more bacteria. So, if you really want to still eat something after you’ve dropped it, let the cleanliness of the surface and the moistness of the food guide your decision.
  • Not covering our mouths when we sneeze. Germs in the droplets of our expulsion can travel up to 26 feet for a sneeze, and 19.5 feet for coughs—and they can stay suspended for up to 10 minutes! The best practice is to use a tissue to cover your nose AND mouth. If you don’t have a tissue handy, cover your lower face the best you can with the crook of your arm, not your hand. If you sneeze into your hand and then you touch something like a doorknob or handrail, you’re laying the germs out for someone else to pick up.
  • Scratching an itch. Scratching certainly provides temporary relief, but it backfires in the long run. We trigger a tiny bit of pain—just enough to numb the itch. But at the same time, we release serotonin, which sends an “itch” signal to the brain. So when the “pain” fades, the itch is actually stronger. Better to leave it alone, rub the area with your palm, or make circles on the affected skin for a few minutes with an ice cube.

Interesting, huh? Would you be willing to stop hitting the snooze alarm, stop scratching itches, start drinking more water, exercising more regularly or covering up better when you sneeze? Do you have any other unhealthy habit—just one—that you’d be willing to try a better solution for, just as an experiment?

Source: “What Happens When…?” by Karen Repinski, “Better Homes and Gardens,” September 2018.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth &Reflexology