1. Happiness and Better Health

    September 5, 2013

    Happiness Leads to Better Health

    Lately, physicians, researchers, and even economists have embarked on a journey to unveil the secrets of achieving better health. What could be deciphered from the secrets of nature is that happiness leads to better health. Well, modern research just validates what was established ages ago by sages.

    What exactly is happiness?

     

    Happiness as a concept is fairly subjective and dynamic. It often revolves around various vague aspects and so there are innumerable definitions of happiness. What has been derived from myriad definitions is that happiness is a felling of elation that protects you from stress and ill-thoughts, instilling the spirit with joy and jubilation.

    Many scholars categorize happiness as a sense of inner peace, comfort, an positive attitude that paves way for a healthier, more balanced and a long lasting life. If you are a religious person than, according to saints and spiritual teachers, happiness is a feeling of gratitude towards God for showering his blessings on our poor souls.

    Hundreds of writers, poets, and intellectuals have used their pen to describe what happiness means to them – I personally like this one:

    “Under the deep blue sea

    It’s always better my darling

    Down the wetter lines

    Take me further O my Lord – So I can either find you or happiness!”

    Does happiness really affect our health?

     

    Amusingly so, most of really happy and cheerful people comes across as exceptionally healthy for their age. Once in a blue moon we get news of our distant relative (Uncle Cheerful – almost every one of us have one) suffering from cardiac arrest.

    Statistics show that happiness is correlated with better health for individuals, communities, and even countries. So what could be the secret? Is it inner peace and comfort? Is it a positive attitude to the outside world? Is it positive thinking? Happy people certainly have less negative thoughts that cause negative emotions. It is well known from medical studies that these negative emotions ruin our psychological and physical health. As per medical researchers, happiness is the surest way to stimulate the release of anti-stress hormones and improve your immune system.

    Research studies by the Harvard’s School of Public Health in Boston and University College in London correlate happiness with longevity and show that optimistic and happy people live longer and healthier years.

    Secrets of happiness

     

    What does it take to be happy in your life? Not much, just follow these golden rules and let happiness come to you.
    1. Find Positive in everything around you
    Positive Psychology teaches us to focus on positive aspects of our life. Every moment we have a choice of focusing on positives or on negatives… this choice is yours. Positive thinking and positive attitude to others is a key to happiness.

     

    2. Eat the diet of happiness

     

    Scientist and dietitians recommend one key ingredient for your diet: Essential fatty acids or EFAs. These acids are the building blocks for your brain and deficiency causes anxiety, depression, and even dementia. EFA supplements and a diet rich in Olive oil, fish, and seasonal fruits and vegetables is essential to keep you in a positive mood.

     

    3. Sleep to heaven

     

    Sleep sets the tone and mood for the following day. Sleep is shown to be the most important factor for your mental health. Statistics prove that those who sleep well can find their joy even in the garden of hell. The insomnia or inability to sleep causes devastating impact in the life of people.

     

    4. Live and Let live

     

    The ultimate mantra to instill loads of bliss and joy within yourself and others is through adherence with the policy of ‘live and let live.’  It is a contagious policy and profits one and all for an entire life.

     

    Can we measure happiness?

     

    Assessment of happiness is subjective and depends on what you consider a happiness scale.  There is no particular criterion other than the glow on your face.

    The indicators of happiness are life satisfaction, health, community engagement. Person need some basic wealth to be happy, yet high income doesn’t really increase the level of happiness.

    The level of happiness could be measured based on surveys. In 1972, Bhutan introduced a Gross National Happiness (GNH) scale, a parameter which is closely monitored by government and considered very important to the development of their economy.

     

    Author Bio: Mike Chapman a happiness expert & fitness consultant with 5+ years of experience working in clinics and gyms and dealing with health, pain and injuries. He is delivering talks on happiness and writing articles telling people how happiness can benefit their lives and the environment.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/7824209576

     


  2. How To Find Meaning In Your Day To Day Life

    August 31, 2013

    In search for meaning

    by Amanda O’Donnell

     

    Maybe when it comes to meaningful life you’re already set and have your goals defined. Maybe you have several things you’re working towards long term that you know will eventually bring you great life satisfaction. Maybe you’re raising kids and providing for a family. Maybe you have two years until that big promotion, or five until retirement. Maybe… Regardless if you’re lucky enough to have definite direction, playing out your daily life can be disheartening. Reminding yourself of your eventual accomplishments or the future enjoyment you’ll take from your life can get less and less easy. Your mind wanders, fills with doubt. What if this isn’t worth it? What if you never make it to the part of your life you’ve worked for? What if you’re wasting the right now?

    Finding solace in the everyday life can offer you relief from what can sometimes feel like the mundane passing of days and tasks. Here are some simple steps in the direction of your personal fulfillment.

     

    Remind Yourself Of Your Good Fortune

     

    Create a schedule or some system of expressing appreciation and thankfulness that best works for you. For instance set aside five minutes three times a day to sit and ruminate about the good things in your life. If your mind wanders and a good thing leads you to a less good thing and then a bad, refocus. Allow one good thing to lead to another good thing. Fifteen minutes a day might not seem long at all, but you’d be surprised about how many things you can give thanks for within a five minute of meditation. If you’re more comfortable writing the things down then do so. If you feel that actually saying the things aloud would mean a little more to you, then give yourself time in the morning to hear yourself say them. What might feel silly at first can really develop into a regular pattern of thought. Focusing your thought flow into a purely positive, appreciative stream (even if only for a few minutes) can make you more likely to naturally return to those thoughts later. You’ll find yourself thinking more positively about your life and situation, even when your five minutes are up!

     

    Make An Effort To Go Out Of Your Way

     

    Time and time again it’s been proven that people experience another level of fulfillment when helping others. It’s repeated back at us so often it’s become easy to write off this advice as cliched or empty. If you can’t see yourself taking all that much from an afternoon at the soup kitchen, then don’t spend an afternoon there. Sit down and really ask yourself what causes, groups of people or situations you have a vested interest in, and then think about what you could do to help. If you’re truly interested in the cause you’re helping, you’re more likely to know better how to help! And if you find yourself drawing up blank, then take it upon yourself to find something you have a passion for and make yourself of use. However, don’t think that helping people need always mean signing a volunteer list or setting aside three hours to hand out fliers on Saturdays. There are all sorts of ways you can lend a hand in your day to day life; take advantage of them! Bring a coworker coffee, hold the door open, ask someone who looks down how they’re feeling and offer an ear. When you start training yourself to consider others in various situations you’ll find yourself less focused on your own issues or dissatisfaction.

     

    Challenge Yourself

     

    Often feeling dissatisfied with your life or situation can just be a response to boredom. It makes complete sense. As your brain adjusts to the routine of your life and comes to expect certain daily things, the less stimulation you experience and the less chance for experiencing positive feelings! Some of the best feelings come from true accomplishment: setting out to do things we’re not entirely capable we can do and then doing them. You can challenge yourself and offer yourself these experiences in or outside of your daily routine. For instance, set personal goals for yourself in your daily work or at home. Assign yourself to create something. You haven’t read about something before? Do so! Set physical feats. Take weekend trips to places you haven’t been and do things you haven’t done and (better yet) are maybe afraid to do. Give yourself every opportunity to take something from your life and from each day.

     

    Author Bio: Amanda O’Donnell is a freelance writer for Zimmet Vein and Dermatology.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829334723

     


  3. How Yoga Can Improve Your Creativity

    August 25, 2013

    On Yoga and Creativity

    by Edward Lakatis

    Creativity is an important element in any job. However, there are really certain jobs that may require more of it than others. Inventors, artists, musicians and scientists are only a few examples of these kinds of jobs. Individuals who choose to pursue these career paths come to realize that to continuously do well in their fields, they constantly have to churn out new ideas, new concepts, and new works. Inventors have to come up with new inventions all the time, musicians are pressured to come up with a different kind of sound that would appeal to the masses, and artists who successfully think up unique ways to make art are the ones who are usually given more opportunities to show their work. Being creative, for these people, can spell the difference between failure and success.

    With that being said, it is important that these people take the time and effort to invest in their creativity. They have to constantly look for ways to harness their creativity, whether it be incorporating a new activity, or making a major lifestyle change such as altering the diet. This is where yoga comes in. Unknown to many, yoga is actually an excellent tool for creativity. Doing yoga can do wonders for one’s creative process. Allow us to explain how yoga can make a difference.

     

    Yoga encourages mindfulness

     

    People who do yoga can attest that there is always effort involved to be more mindful, and to notice more things. From observing how the body is positioned, to how it moves from one posture to another, up to paying attention to the breath, as well as the thoughts that go through ones head, yoga is all about mindfulness. After one achieves this state of mindfulness, yoga encourages a detachment from images and words that are normally associated with certain emotions. And in a way, isn’t this what being creative is about- letting go of old norms, and finding a fresh new approach to things? Once the minds gets used to this kind of thinking in the yoga studio, it can progress and take it out into the real world, resulting in more creative ideas.

     

    Yoga achieves a relaxed yet alert mind

     

    We all have those moments when our minds are so full of different bits of information that there doesn’t seem to be any room for new ideas to develop. This is a classic sign of a stressed out mind. When the mind is stressed out, ideas stop flowing, and the person ends up stuck in a creative block. This is where yoga becomes a great tool to relax the mind. Yoga exercises teach the mind to slow down and relax. By relaxing, it is given the opportunity to recharge and realign itself. The great thing about yoga is that even if the mind is in a relaxed state, it is still continually moving and thinking. It has to have a level of alertness to process the poses and the breathing. A level of alertness is equally important in the creative process, because if the mind is too relaxed, it may stop working altogether! Yoga gives the mind the balance to flow and make room for idea generation, but also makes sure that it is constantly functioning.

     

    Yoga Teaches Patience

     

    Not many people realize it, but the process of creativity relies so much on patience. For a creative idea to fully blossom, there must be nothing short of an alignment of all the perfect elements. Many creative ideas are born because the inventor’s state of mind is right, the timing is right, and something or somebody comes into his life that contributes to the overall idea. Waiting for all of the stars to align requires a lot of patience, and many may give up because they cannot be bothered to wait. However, if one is involved in an activity that encourages patience such as yoga, then he will not mind the wait so much, and the perfect idea can come about in its own perfect time.

    There may be different ways of upping person’s creativity, but yoga is one of the easiest ones to get into. It is available in many different places, and also has great variety. No matter what one’s lifestyle is, or their level of expertise, there should be a yoga class and style that will suit them. It would definitely not hurt for individuals that constantly struggle with being creative to give yoga a try. It just may be the perfect activity to get those creative juices flowing.

     

     

    Author’s Bio: Edward Lakatis run and writes for Idea Design Studio, an invention development and marketing company. He is passionate about all things related to creativity, invention, and helping other inventors realize their potentials. More of Edward’s writing can be found on http://ideadesignstudio.com/

    Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica – www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/5725279112

     


  4. 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Outlook

    August 20, 2013

    Improve Your Mental Outlook
    When we think of ways to improve our overall wellness we tend to think of big projects that tackle big issues head on. That kind of thinking is far to often a symptom of the problem, not a path to a cure. A healthy physical and mental outlook is based on a landscape we exist in, not a destination to achieve. I’ve come up with a short list of simple activities you can add to your routine that, over time, will alleviate stress and tension and help you build wells of positive mental and physical energy to rely on.

     

    Do Something With Your Own Hands

    For most of us hand eye coordination and dexterity are useful only in the context of operating our digital devices: computers, tablets, mobiles. Your hands aren’t made just for accessing more data and downloading your brain into an overheated frenzy. When is the last time you shaped wet clay, carved a piece of wood, kneaded dough? The interplay between hands and mind that only occurs from doing small jobs like this satisfies your mind and relaxes your body. Whether it’s making a birdhouse, preparing a meal to share, or just giving a tired friend a thorough back rub you will gain mental energy by performing simple tasks with your hands.

     

    Do Low Impact Exercise

    Our culture is geared to celebrate high impact exercise. TV Infomercials compete against each other to claim their program is harder, sweatier, and more extreme. Sometimes training for a marathon or getting buff is just what you want and need, but these high impact programs can be extremely stressful and require imposing aggressive forms of self discipline to complete. They are a great way to get ripped, but not always a great way to become more relaxed and happy. Take a slow, relaxing evening walk, or slow bike ride on a quiet road. If you have a place to swim find time to just splash around a little. No laps, no grind, no constant focus on goals and improvement. You’ll be surprised at how much improvement you get from less stressful forms of exercise, and the relaxation you gain will in turn help make you physically more fit.

     

    Perform Manual Labor

    Most of us spend our lives trying to find ways to eliminate manual labor from the equation. The problem is, sometimes we are too successful and we cut ourselves off from any form of work that isn’t intellectually focused. Working with your mind is great, but frequently involves long processes with difficult to measure results. When is the last time you cut your own grass, or picked up trash from a public space, or planted a garden? You don’t need to break your back, just find something simple that fits into your time schedule and work at it. Unlike massive work projects that can bog you down for months without verifiable results when you mow a lawn or weed a garden you have the immediate satisfaction of seeing a job well done. This can be a great way to build positive relationships too: do you know any elderly people who could use help maintaining their yard? A space that could be improved for local children to play in? And besides, who would turn down a basket of fresh picked vegetables from your garden?

     

    Play a Musical Instrument

    Before the invention of TV and Radio almost everyone in the US and Europe played a musical instrument for entertainment. We have gotten away from that, and now rely on unsatisfying time filler activities instead. There are parts of your mind and spirit that are atrophying away when you don’t express them, and actually making music, however simply, is a world apart from passively listening. You can buy beginners instruments fairly cheaply, and free lessons are available all over the net. Pick up a guitar, or recorder, or small bongo drum and dedicate some time into learning the basics. You will get to the point of playing along with favorite songs before you know it, and you will find that you always feel a little happier and more positive after a half hour of making music.

     

    Write Something

    Writing is one of the most popular forms of personal expression there is. There are lot’s of free blogger sites on the web, pick one and open a blog. Write in it at least weekly. Here’s the catch: most people will tell you writing is all about expressing yourself, or releasing inner thoughts and feelings, and you should just write whatever you want and let the muse take you where it will. That may help you and if you enjoy this please continue in your way. I recommend a little different approach though. Write with a little self discipline. Make sure that everything you write has enough of a plan to include two basic things: a format where you have a clear beginning, middle and end is one. A simple message, or point you are making is the other. Using this approach will force you to do one simple thing every time you write: organize your thoughts. Organizing your thoughts is difficult, and it takes practice, and the goal of writing like this often is to give you that practice. If you think of the people you know who are the calmest, happiest individuals who exude a sense of peace around them they will all tend to have very organized thoughts. No jumbled up nervous tension from them, just simplicity and peace. Using writing to practice this mental sorting and indexing of thoughts will give you a tool you can use to build an island of mental peace around yourself at all times.

     

     

    Author Bio: Hola Backgrinder is a freelance writer and blogger focusing on all things fun and relaxing at http://backgrinder.com/

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/4686167305

     

     


  5. Five Inspirational People We Can Learn From

    August 18, 2013

    by Ewan Mochrie

     

    Most of us live humdrum lives without a real shot at the big time, but this doesn’t mean that we can’t aspire to make a difference. In fact, all of us have aspirations… This post presents five incredible human beings who fought against the odds to stamp the world with their legacy. Quietly conquering the globe in their own unique ways, we want to take a look at five truly inspirational people who can teach us all something.

    JK Rowling

    JK Rowling JK Rowling shot to fame as the unassuming face behind the mighty Harry Potter dynasty. Rowling once faced nothing more than a broken marriage and empty bank account. Confronted with the prospect of single motherhood and a lifetime of regret, this indomitable author instead took to her battered old typewriter and began punching out the story of the century. The book was turned down left and right before one publisher took a chance…and the rest is history.

     

     

    Chris Gardner

    Chris_Gardner Chris Gardner takes us from children’s fiction to the chasing of an American Dream. Canonised by Will Smith in the recent biopic The Pursuit of Happyness (no, not a typo), this incredible man went from rags to riches by pure grit and hard work. Gardner slept rough with his child in an underground station and presented himself each day at the office, training industriously to be a stockbroker. He always wore a suit and somehow kept his child fed and clothed in nursery each morning until one day his luck turned and the ceaseless hard work paid off. He now leads as CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings.

     

    Jessica Cox

    jessica cox Jessica Cox is not your household name. She gives talks around the world on persistence in the face of adversity. Jessica is the Guinness World Record holder for being the very first individual on earth to qualify as a pilot…with no arms. Jessica is determined to overcome any obstacles with positive attitude and positive thinking and has never let her disability get in the way of her dreams, leading her to be seen as a shining light in the fight for the rights and opportunities for disabled people in our society. This girl has a degree, flies aircraft, drives cars, and plays piano… just like many others. The only difference is that she is doing all this with her feet. She also gives a great after-dinner speech.

     

    Malala Yousafzi

    Malala-Yousafzai

    Malala Yousafzi is only fifteen and she has already been called one of the future leaders of global unity. After the Pakistani schoolgirl was shot in the head by Taliban activists for challenging those in power, she survived and came back even stronger. Her reply to the rise of gender-based violence and terror was one of awe-inspiring defiance. ‘I want every girl, every child to be educated’ resonated across the world’s media and we certainly hope that she will continue fighting for women’s rights and equality in Islamic world and will have successful career in world politics.

     

    Nelson Mandela

    Nelson-Mandela It may be a cliche but no list can truly be complete without homage to Nelson Mandela. We can all learn something from the iconic leader’s gentle resilience and unceasing devotion to end the apartheid. He spent almost thirty years in jail for political rebellion and arose from mire to become South Africa’s first black President and to win a Nobel Peace Prize. His smiling image is well known all over the world and his refusal to condemn those who took away his freedom makes him a legend of inspiration across the globe.

     

     

     

     

    Author Bio: Ewan Mochrie is the founder and lead trainer of Inspire 360.


  6. 7 Most Notable Benefits of Yoga

    August 15, 2013

      benefits of yoga

    Do you frequent the gym and you are looking to expand your fitness horizons?  Are you an exercise newcomer struggling to find a place to start? Are you a yoga skeptic and have never taken the plunge to actually try a class? The truth is, yoga has many benefits and has the potential to bring a whole new level of health and wellness to your life.  Read on to discover seven significant benefits yoga can bring to you and has already brought to countless others. Let’s move past the stereotypes that say yoga is for hippies, people without any sense of athleticism and individuals with the ultimate skills in flexibility.  The fact of the matter is, and has been proven, that yoga is for everyone.

     

    • Optimism Yoga has a natural ability to increase levels of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter present in the brain which lowers anxiety and gives people a sense of calm and general well being. If you are naturally a more stressed and anxious person, yoga has the potential to truly change the quality of your life by helping you to relax and go about your days more calmly. In a sense, yoga can be a natural form of antidepressant.  Just as depression medications increase GABA levels, so does yoga.

     

    • Pain Relief When you are in pain, the last thing you are likely thinking about is exercising.  But wait! Incorporating yoga into your life as a part of your daily regimen can actually lower chronic pain.  How? There are “markers” in your body called Cytokines which indicate you are holding inflammation in that area.   After practicing yoga regularly, these cytokines decrease and you are left with less pain. Yoga has also been shown to lessen arthritis and fibromyalgia pain.

     

    • Quality of Sleep Regular yoga practice is known to cure several conditions, some of which include insomnia or abnormal sleeping habits. Yoga helps people to unwind and de-stress at the end of the day. When you feel more relaxed and have a clear mind, getting a quality night’s sleep is much easier.

     

    • Calmness Yoga is often times considered an alternative medicine practice offering a refreshing mind-body healing approach.  Yoga combines physical and mental disciplines to help yogis achieve peacefulness of both body and mind.  Post yoga, you are left feeling relaxed and better able to manage stress and anxiety.

     

    • Posture Poor posture can be attributed to the presence of many undesirable health conditions such as varicose veins, pinched nerves, heart strain and belly fat.  Many problems related to posture are caused by long hours spent each day at one’s workplace, hunched over a computer.  The good news is, many yoga poses help to counteract your tendency to slouch, increase your body awareness and, in turn, improve your posture.  There was once a (false) belief that yoga actually makes people taller.  While this is not exactly true, yoga can noticeably improve your posture, making you appear taller and thinner. Talk about a nice, simple confidence boost!

     

    • Strength Can yoga build muscle? During a yoga class, you are required to hold your body in positions in which you must support yourself for considerable lengths of time. You build muscle tone by holding and supporting your own body weight, much like you do during conventional strength training exercise. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, strength and range of motion. With this, you’re at a much lower risk for injuring yourself in other physical activities or in your daily life.

     

    Depending on what you are looking to get out of Yoga, there are many variations of yoga practices that can provide you with the specific benefits you are looking for.  All in all, yoga can be a great addition to any physical fitness routine no matter your fitness level or goals.

     

    This is a guest post by Strauman Chiropractic based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As the premier Minneapolis chiropractor, Strauman provides auto accident treatment, treatment for herniated discs, holistic care, kinesiology, physiotherapy and whiplash care. 

    Image Credit/Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yogamama-co-uk/3794867064

     


  7. Ten Benefits of Sadness

    August 5, 2013

    benefits of sadness

     

    by Derek Whitney

    Now more than ever before, there seems to be a multitude of things to make people sad. The economy, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorism and war are just a few of the things that have the ability to bring people down on a daily basis. Thanks to the Internet, tablets, smartphones and many 24-hour news channels, these tragic events are brought to us immediately in living color.

    Of course, this is not counting the personal tragedies that people have to deal with. The death of a friend or relative, the loss of a job, the death of a pet, bankruptcy, foreclosure and car accidents are much more painful than tragedies that you watch on the news. This is because you are directly affected by them.

    However, sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can have many benefits. While this may be surprising to most people, the fact is that humans need sadness in their lives. It is part of what truly makes people human. Here are some of the benefits of sadness:

    1. Better memory

    People that are in bad moods have a tendency to have improved memories. According to one study, people that were feeling sad remembered more than people in a good mood about the interior details of a shop. It is also more difficult to trick sad people with misleading questions. While scientists are not sure why these things occur, the results of the tests are intriguing.

    2. Less gullible

    Sad people tend to be less gullible. Studies show that they can detect when someone is trying to deceive them better than happy people. They are also less likely to believe urban legends.

    3. Improved judgment

    Sadness makes people have judgment that is more accurate. For many years, social scientists have documented the judgmental biases of people in different moods. Researchers are now indicating that sad people do not fall prey to those biases as easily as people that are in good moods.

    4. Increased motivation

    Sadness has also been shown to have motivational benefits. For example, studies indicate that sad people are able to persevere longer at tasks that most people would give up on after a short time. Scientists believe that the human brain, in an effort to block out all of the negativity and sadness, will focus on a particular task like a laser, no matter how difficult it is. People who were sad at the start of the task become so engaged in the activity that accomplishing their goal becomes their driving ambition.

    5. Lack of stereotyping

    Negative stereotyping is a behavior that is not commonly seen from sad people. They are also less likely to act on any negative stereotypical judgments. Researchers believe that this has something to do with sadness affecting the part of the brain that makes people more civil and understanding.

    6. Ability to appreciate their blessings in life

    Sadness can make people more appreciative of what they have. An example would be parents who have three children. If one of those children were to tragically die in a car accident, the immediate reaction would be sorrow and grief. However, the parents would eventually begin to appreciate their two remaining children more than they did before the accident. This would in turn lead to a stronger family bond.

    7. Analytical reasoning

    Analytical reasoning is enhanced by sadness. Complex problems are more easily broken down into more manageable parts by this type of intense thinking.

    8. Improved manners

    Manners have been shown to be improved when people are going through a difficult time. These people tend to ask for things in a more polite way than people who are at their best.

    9. Improved persuasiveness

    Sad people tend to focus their energy into getting what they want. Therefore, it is common for sad people to be more persuasive. They are generally very good at coming up with effective and believable arguments.

    10. Fairness is increased

    Research has also shown that sad people are generally more fair. For example, if people that are feeling down and depressed are allowed to allocate a particular resource any way they want, they will most likely distribute the resource more fairly than happy people.

     

    Author Bio: Derek is currently blogging for Aligned Signs, a site that helps connect like-minded people by using astrology, mbti personality type, and Chinese zodiac.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian

     


  8. What is Social Anxiety and How to Beat It

    July 13, 2013

    anxious and crying

    It is quite common for people to feel tense or awkward during social interactions. If this happens to you often or if you feel stressed before meeting other people, you might suffer from social anxiety. Do the following situations make you anxious?

    • Large crowds of people
    • Meetings
    • Social settings
    • Public speaking
    • Parties
    • Getting to know new people
    • Working in groups
    • People that praise or acknowledge you
    • Receiving attention from other people

     

    Varying degrees of social anxiety

    If one or more of these things make you nervous it doesn’t necessary mean you suffer from social anxiety. There is a bit of ambiguity here but you need to keep in mind that many people feel a bit nervous in one or more of these situations. There are varying degrees of social anxiety too. A good way to diagnose yourself is by answering the question: ‘Do I actively try to steer clear of social occasions?’ If your answer to this question is ‘yes’, you probably do suffer from social anxiety. If you really want to find out if you have social anxiety, the best way is to see a professional who can diagnose you properly. If you feel avoiding social situations is a daily disruption, it might be time to admit you suffer from a mental problem. The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem.

    Mental problem

    When you fear judgement by others, you may suffer from a social phobia. When you suffer from this, you fear you will be embarrassed or lose control in a social setting. The fear of embarrassment can cause people to actively try to avoid social situations. A social phobia will get worse when people find themselves in a social situation they don’t want to be in, which will cause them to act in an irrational way. After this happens they’ll try to avoid a social occasion even more. In certain settings, a lot of people will be nervous. Especially talking in front of groups of people is something not all of us are comfortable with. Many of us will feel self-conscious under these circumstances but still have the strength to push through. People with a mental problem have such a strong reaction to this that they physically will not be able to stand up and talk. They experience stressful days, weeks or even months before the event will take place.

    Control your inner voice

    Everyone has an inner voice that can give you positive messages or negative messages. You can say to yourself ‘I’m not successful with other people and in social situations.’ The more often you say this to yourself, the more you will begin to believe your own story. You’ve got the opportunity to have a positive life story or a negative one. You can treat social anxiety with visualization techniques and imagery. You can get rid of a negative belief by opposing it yourself. For instance, if you believe you aren’t good at meeting new people, try to think back of a time where you were successful on such an occasion. Meditate on it and write it down: every time you read this you’ll think back of something positive where you handled the situation well. This will challenge the negative belief you have about yourself and make you feel more confident.

    Do you really have a mental problem?

    You need to be absolutely positive you have social anxiety. It is dangerous to think that something is wrong with you when you’re perfectly normal. Unfortunately, some doctors are quite willing to prescribe drugs to you even when you don’t have a mental problem. You need to keep in mind that there is a difference between being a little stressed when you meet someone new versus having a mental illness. Therefore, if you’re often stressed in social occasions don’t run to the doctor immediately but rather try to control your inner voice through meditation and doing things that make you feel more confident.

    This is a guest blog provided by Chemist Direct, a leading online pharmacist in the United Kingdom. We provide products ranging from slimming and weight management products to pet prescriptions.

    Image Credit: Anaïs Nannini


  9. How to Ensure Relaxing Sleep Using Feng Shui

    July 9, 2013

    relaxing dreams

    by Emilie Whitmore

     

    Is your home a relaxed haven or a cluttered prison? Your home should be your sanctuary, the place where you go at the end of your long working day to relax, unwind and recharge your batteries. For some though, their house is a burden, a place where they feel trapped and confined, struggling under a mountain of clutter and chores – But it doesn’t have to be that way, and in this article we are going to discuss some great tips to help declutter your home and create Feng Shui to induce relaxation and encourage positive energy.

    Feng Shui improves your quality of life by encouraging positive qi, (positive energy). Feng Shui says that unused and unloved items collect bad energy and advises decluttering and arranging your possessions in a particular way which can improve your life by encouraging a more positive energy flow. Now who are we to argue! Feng Shui is based on the dynamics of Yin and Yang, these are the forces of energy around us constantly, Yin (feminine) soft, slow, relaxed and silent and Yang (masculine) aggressive, solid and fiery. You need a balance of both energies and they must exist and flow harmoniously throughout your home – but if you are struggling to relax in your home perhaps you need to encourage more of the relaxing and calming Yin and create less of the Yang.

    Relaxing sleep is the most important for your psychological health, so we are going to explore the use of Feng Shui techniques in your bedroom, an often overlooked but prime place to start your Feng Shui project as it is, or perhaps it should be, the most relaxing part of your home whereas in other parts such as in the kitchen you want a more invigorating and stimulating environment.

    Furniture positioning:

    The position of furniture is an important aspect of Feng Shui. You bed is your prime piece of furniture in your bedroom, according to these principals the ideal position of your bed is where you can see the door while laying in bed without being directly in front or in line with it. It is also always advisable to have a good supporting wall behind your head, or a strong headboard, grounding and balance across the room and no sharp angles pointing towards you. To create balance, have two bedside tables instead of 1, and reframe from pushing your bed up against the wall. These concepts make great sense as they promote a sense of safety while you rest which is conducive to relaxation and sleep; these are really instinctive safety measures, as only when you are truly safe can you feel 100% relaxed.

    Mirrors:

    Mirrors you might think are great for reflecting light and for creating the illusion of space in your home – but according to Feng Shui placing a mirror opposite the bed is a big mistake! A mirror opposite your bed drains your energy when you need it most when you are sleeping and relaxing. Mirrors reflect you – thus multiplying your energy, amplify tensions or worry. There is also the argument that a mirror opposite the bed creates the allusion of a third person in the bed and promotes infidelity!

     

    Doors:

    We mentioned the bedroom door but you do not want your bed in line with any of the doors in your bedroom such as en suite bathroom door, balcony door, any door! This is firstly because traditional Chinese feng shui masters say that a bed aligned with a door resembles a coffin that is always taken away feet first – Not the best image when trying to relax! But also because doors have an energy pull towards them and this is not what you want when trying to relax in bed.

    Head space:

    Whilst in bed you do not want to put anything hanging above it – again to promote the feeling of safety. Leave nothing hanging above your head. Beams, a ceiling fan or chandelier above the bed are all bad Feng Shui. Anything above the weight than a piece of soft fabric will create oppressive/heavy energy which is not ideal for inducing relaxing sleep.

    Clutter:

    According to Feng Shui, clutter can block the flow of chi leading to stagnation, disturbed sleep and generally prevent your life from moving forward – basically it’s weighing you down and holding you back – this if nothing else is bound to cause you stress and worry.

    The space under your bed shouldn’t be used for storage, it should be kept as clear as possible and wardrobes and draws should be kept clean and tidy – so the methodology of out of sight out of mind by bunging everything under the bed or in the wardrobe is really not an option. Streamline as much as possible or use some storage for excess possessions that you have no room for.

    Use your bedroom only as a bedroom; keep out any televisions, computers, and other distracting equipment that promote energy expulsion and brain power such as files and paperwork.

    Fresh air: Open windows and let in fresh air full of oxygen. If this is not always possible one of the easiest ways is to decorate your space with top air purifying plants such as the Areca Palm which is particularly easy to care for and leaves your space with a fresh feel reduced of toxins.

    Lighting: Use candles in the evening for natural soft lighting or use a dimmer switch.

    Colour palette: Decorate your bedroom with neutral/skin tone colours which are more relaxing. Use fewer Yang like, strong vibrant colours that are energy zapping and too stimulating for the bedroom environment.

    Whilst it may seem a mean feat to incorporate all these techniques into your bedroom why not try a few tactics and see if this induces the relaxing Yin energy flow into your home and encourages you to truly relax.

    Author Bio: Emilie Whitmore is a Marketing Assistant and blogger for Cube Self Storage a trusted and experienced name in the UK storage, relocation, and crate hire industry

    Image Credit: marketing-deluxe @ Flickr


  10. The Single Most Important Factor for your Mental Health

    July 5, 2013

    sleep and mental health

    by Mark Kislich

    What is it? Good, healthy, deep sleep. If you’re looking for a magic solution to improve your life…well: this is it!

    Sleep is grossly underestimated in it’s importance for a productive, happy life and for a sound, balanced mind.

    The statement “You can sleep when you’re dead.” is typical, and complete nonsense. It’s more like “If you don’t sleep properly, you’ll not live properly.”

    Think I exaggerate? Look at a small child. What happens when they’re tired? They get cranky, they cry. Well, the same goes for adults. They might not cry (or they might), but given a lack of sleep, even the most positive people will eventually get sour. A tired person is a frustrated person, then -if the sleep deprivation continues- depression can set in.

    This is not just an opinion: serotonin is an important neurotransmitter tied to sleep and mood. So it looks like good sleep and good mood are intimately related. Well what’s new.

    “When you’re tired, you get wired” Sleep problems often result in a nervous, jittery kind of behavior, especially when the tiredness is temporarily offset by caffeine.

    People who can’t stop talking and pacing around are likely very tired and running on coffee. This is also the time when anxiety sets in. “Why did they look at me like that?”, or: “They didn’t have to say it like THAT!”…

    If you ever found yourself feeling like this -overly sensitive to others and your surroundings, taking everything very personally- you’ve probably been sleep deprived.

    As if all the above was not bad enough, clumsiness and reduced reflexes increase the risk for accidents and injury.

    Positive thinking and motivation are seriously hampered by lack of quality sleep.

    OK enough of the bad stuff, here’s the good news: you can do a whole lot to fix this and ensure a perfect slumber every time. Following are a few tried and proven tips that will help you do just that.

    Always Wake Up at the Same Time
    Regularity is important: even when you had a late night (which should be avoided wherever possible), try and get up when the bell rings anyway. In the long run this is better than over sleeping and ruining your circadian rhythm for it.

    In that Vein: Go to Bed at the Same Time

    After a while your internal clock will be so fine tuned, you fall asleep on cue and wake up without an alarm clock.

    Try to avoid Daylight and Artificial Light during Sleeping Hours

    In Scandinavia, the midnight sun can cause problems. Other places, the TV and electric lights do about the same: Your body’s sleeping patterns get disturbed by it, melatonin production is reduced (an important hormone related to sleep).

    Keep It Quiet

    There should be no noise at all whatsoever, total silence is what you want. If that’s not an option, a good pair of ear plugs can come to the rescue.

    Wind Down towards the Evenings

    Exercising too close to bed time can jack up cortisol and ruin your night. Do something relaxing instead: a nice walk in the evening, some Yoga, a massage, a hot bath.

    Here’s some herbals that can help you relax:  Fever few, Reishi, Wild Lettuce.

    Get into Physical Training

    Having said that you shouldn’t train too close to bed, doing some exercise during the day can sure help get rid of steam, get in shape and you’ll be nice and tired at the end of the day.

    Take some Magnesium

    Magnesium is an important mineral that many are deficient in. It’s involved hundreds of biological functions and also helps muscles -and you- to relax. Best taken in the evening.

    Meditate

    Like I said above, it helps to wind down at nights. Meditation can calm your mind, so that brain won’t keep you thinking and worrying through those valuable sleeping hours.

    Don’t Drink Coffee too Late in the Day

    Coffee can stay in the blood for around 12 hours, so that’s a good time frame to shoot for: if you go to bed at midnight, have the last cup of coffee at lunch.

     

    Remember the last time you woke up in the morning, all by your self -no need for an alarm clock- and you were totally refreshed and recuperated, ready to take on a new day?

    The world looks a better place when we’re well rested. A positive mindset and a positive outlook on life – require one thing, more than anything else: good, deep, beautiful sleep. Don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise!

    P.S.

    This is not about being selfish, and most definitely not about being lazy. If you’re cranky, you and those around you only suffer. That’s a lose-lose.

    So do yourself and your family and friends and coworkers a great, huge, great big favor…and sleep well.

     

    Author Bio: Mark Kislich is an Olympic Performance Coach and Fitness and Health Blogger. He helps people find appropriate solutions for their fitness and health issues.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian