Plug into your energy source… or… How to give others by taking care of yourself first

Take time for self care, so you could better handle everything that comes your way.
Take time for self care, so you could better handle everything that comes your way.

When I first bring up the topic of self-care to my clients in individual sessions, groups, or public talks I often encounter replies that range from inhibited giggles to condescending smirks.  More often than not, somebody would say “of course I take care of myself! I take showers and brush my teeth daily!” While personal hygiene is defiantly an important and fundamental part of good self care, it hardly scratches the surface of what self care really means.  Continue reading Plug into your energy source… or… How to give others by taking care of yourself first

How Breath Makes Your Brain Work for You

BreathIn the last installment, we talked about the effects of gratitude.  This installment will address something much more basic and natural to all living creatures.  We all breathe and we all know what happens when we stop breathing.Not surprisingly, most of us have found ourselves at least in one situation where we were feeling anxious, angry, or stressed to the point that someone around us had to instruct us to “take a breath.”   We have known about the power of mindful breathing from the beginning of time.  It has become the basis for different forms of meditation in both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions.  We commonly tell each other to “take a breath” when we try to help each other relax.  But, what many people do not consciously realize is that focusing your attention on your breath is the one most effective thing for relaxation.So, while the basic instruction to staying alive is to “keep breathing,” the basic instruction to keeping calm is to “keep focusing on your breath.”How about just trying it right now?  Here is the very simple way to do it:

  •  Slowly, draw in a breath, and notice your lungs and belly filling with air.
  • Slowly, let the breath out and notice the release that happens in your body.
  • Repeat over and over again.

(Some people find it helpful to count while drawing the breath in and out.  Try counting to 4 while drawing the breath in, and to 4 again on the way out.)

When you focus your attention on your breath, you take your attention off your anger, fear, stress, and worry.  You become one with the perfection of the present moment.

Moreover, ( very simplistically stating,)  the more you practice mindful or conscious breathing, the more you strengthen those “relaxed” pathways in the brain.  In other words, the more you practice this technique the more you train your brain to respond with calm to stress.

Do it for just a few minutes in the morning, and then stop and do it a few times a day, especially when things get a little much for you.  Let me know what you noticed and have fun breathing!

Continue reading How Breath Makes Your Brain Work for You

How Gratitude Makes Your Brain Work for YOU

IMG_0764-9smallRemember that saying – “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?  Well, that’s still may be true for dogs, but when it comes to humans, science begs to differ.  New brain studies prove that not only can we learn new tricks at any age, we can also learn to train our brains to deal better with stress, anger, fear, anxiety, and depression! 
In this section of the blog I intend to bring you information, suggestions and exercises that will help you make your brain work for you
Studies show that gratitude is good for our mental health.  Focusing on the positive helps our brains create new “positive” neural pathways, and replace old (automatic) negative responses to stress.
I often use gratitude as a technique in my private life, but I’m still amazed at the difference the exercise below makes in the lives of my clients.  One client recently told me “when I do this in the morning, it sets my mind for the rest of the day. Then, when something stressful or upsetting happens during the day, I remember what I was grateful for and it helps me relax and approach my problem with calm.”
This  is a simple and fun exercise .  Why not try it for yourself?
Try this exercise for the next 7 days. 
1.       Start every morning with writing down 5 things you are grateful for.
Some people may not feel particularly grateful at first.  One way to find what you are grateful for is to look around you and ask yourself “what if I didn’t have this_____________(this roof over my head, this bed, these legs and arms, this toothbrush, this friend, etc.)”
2.       At the end of the day, right before bed,  write down 5 things that went right that day.
 It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular.  It could be little things such as “my hair looked really good today,”  “my lunch was tasty,” “I paid the electric  bill,” “the handsome guy next door waved and smiled at me,” and “I had a great talk with Sara.”  
This is simple: the more you do this, the more your awareness of the positive things in your life will grow. The more your awareness of positive grows, the better you feel and the easier it is to deal with challenges and stress.
I am looking forward to finding out how it worked for you!