Category Archives: Balance

Take a Nap

by Dr. Nancy Buck

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As a mother of twin babies I was always sleep deprived. During the early months of care I spent my waking hours feeding, burping, bathing and diaper changing one baby only to be followed by the same routine with the next baby. It felt as though I barely sat down for a breather when I would hear hungry cries coming from the first baby. And so I would start the routine all over again. Caring for an infant is surely an act of love and devotion.

As my babies got older the days became more fun. Our time was spent not only sleeping, eating and eliminating but were filled with great adventures and play. However, lunch time was always followed by an afternoon nap.

Whether my children needed a nap or not, I put them down to “rest.” I always needed a nap!

They are both now grown men and fathers. However, my need for a daily nap has not diminished. I’m betting the same is true for them and for YOU!

If you believe napping is too sloth-like and something you could never admit to or indulge in, then call it something else. Close your eyes, turn off your phone, and if you are in an office or cubicle put out your “Do Not Disturb” sign. Tell anyone who asks that you are meditating. Or claim this as your “creative problem solving” time.

Twenty minutes is all it takes to renew and revitalize you. Trust me, this is a much more effective and self-nurturing solution than indulging in one more cup of coffee or power drink that is filled with caffeine! There is now plenty of research to support this notion if that is what you need to convince you.

Why should kindergarten students, puppies and high powered executives who have the ability to lock the door and lay their heads on their desks be the only ones to benefit from this essential habit. Daily napping is an effective strategy for improved mental health & happiness for all!

Performance Stress

Contributed by Denise Daub

The Pressure To Perform Is Destroying Our Well-Being

The more stress we feel, the more out-of-touch we are with our health. Here’s how to fix it. — By Lindsay Holmes

Going Beyond Our Beliefs

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.;  Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

My whole life I have been limited by my own imagination. I mistakenly believed that what I could imagine was as good as it could get. I was convinced that my mind was showing me a future which was reality, not aware at all that it was my personal fantasy often based years of limited thinking and fear-based projection.

Not really understanding that has hindered me continually. When I think about a change in my life or aspiring to be more honest or thoughtful or loving, I need to realize that what I envision may have very little to do with the actual possibility of who I might become. If I let go of my own expectations and both trust the process and seek the advice of people who have what I want, I am much more likely to go beyond my expectations than if I assume they are real and finite.

This has played itself out in what I consider to be my personal mantra:  “ Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth and Release the Outcome.” Releasing the outcome is crucial in the process of personal change or we get to a place where we don’t see what is “there,” we only see what we expect to be “there.”

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A friend of mine has been in AA for years, and as we talked about this idea, he related the story of a member he respected who always said, “If you keep coming to AA, your life will be more beautiful than you can imagine. And if you don’t believe that, please believe that I believe that.” He told me that speaker gave him something to think about, and allowed him to piggy-back on that member’s faith in ways he was not yet able to do himself. He went on to say that he had listened to speakers who talked about their connection with a higher power in ways he never could have imagined. They helped him break out of his rigid “religion-based” view of a higher power and break open a new “spiritual” view that he was able to work with and today is the foundation of his life.

I continue to look for people who can help me dream beyond my own dreams.  At some level, I need to remember that “If you want to be a man you need to see a man,” or “If I want to be loving, I need to see loving.” There are so many people who don’t realize that their greatest gift to the world is just showing up and being themselves; just showing up and being willing to live life in their own unique way. By seeing lives that surpass our own in areas in which we want to excel emotionally , we are all able to forge new awarenesses of the people we might become.

Thanks you to those of you who showed me the kind of courage I never thought existed; to those of you who showed me the faith I never believed attainable; and to those of you who showed me the kind of honesty I didn’t think was possible in the real world. When I see these things, I can no longer pretend they are simply ideals with no foundation. I see they are real and I am challenged and drawn toward those aspirations myself.

My AA friend said it his own way: “I have become someone I never thought I could because I saw people in real life who were sober the way I want to be sober. “It’s simple, he said. “If you want to be sober, you have to see sober.”

 

 

Re-Set Button

By Denise Daub

Every year during the spring and summer I spend time at our camp by the lake.  I think of my time up there as my “re-set”, the place I go to think, reflect, relax, catch up on my reading and most of all disconnect.  There is no internet and no TV, there isn’t much to do but take walks and kayak.  Unfortunately, it is far enough away that I can only visit a few times a year and only in the warmer weather so I only get to “re-set” a couple of times of year.

I have been thinking about that.. disconnecting only a few times a year… I don’t think that is enough… do you?

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How many times a year, month or week do you disconnect?  Do you ever disconnect?  Just about everyone has a cell phone today and you can always be reached.  Everyone has a computer and we now get news 24 hours a day.  Social media has replaced letters and conversation and we now know what all our friends and family are doing every second of the day.

I decided that I am not waiting until May to hit my next re-set button… I am going to shoot for one a month.  I know that is really not enough… but I need to start somewhere.  I know I have to do something different because by the time May rolls around, I am burned out.

How about you?  When are you going to hit your re-set button?

You Have to Age But; You Don’t Have to Rust or Rot*

By Jenny Lundak
WGI Faculy, Beachbody coach, artist,  windsurfer, and lifelong learner

Many people think of exercise and eating healthy as something you do to lose weight and look better. Many think of it as a sacrifice and a pain. I know I thought that way until I realized that exercise and eating good food gives me a much better quality of life now and as I get older.

You know the saying pay now or pay later? Well, you can pay attention to your fitness and nutrition now or you can pay attention to your illnesses, aches and pains later.

Look around you at the people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There is a huge difference in their quality of life. Some people move easily and have active, full lives. Others have limited mobility and are plagued with illnesses. Accidents and genes play a role in this. But lifestyle plays a major role and we have control of that.

There was a time I thought that the good life was eating what I wanted and taking it easy with a good book. In my early 40’s, I found myself 50 pounds overweight, in poor cardio vascular health with lots of aches,pains and no energy. So began my journey, first to lose weight, then to gain health.

At first it was all about giving up my favorite foods. Then it was about finding new healthier foods. And finally it became about being healthy and happy.

But it was very hard to eat well when I thought I was giving up the good stuff.

Luckily I married a very smart man who said the oddest things like, “There is no better treat than a good grapefruit.” You have got to be kidding! A grapefruit? Then I started thinking about how we decide what is a treat and what isn’t. In the United States anything that is good for you is not very desirable, and all the junk food is a treat. Who decided this? Do they get to make that decision for me? I set about changing how I think about foods.

Good fresh food is delicious. Sugar, fatty foods mess up my system. When I eat well I am not setting myself up to rot from the inside out. My reward is that I feel good. I feel well. I feel energetic.

canstockphoto2082282And what about rust? If I don’t move it, I lose it, or it just rusts. My body needs exercise to know I am not ready to give up and die yet. I need to send a signal, “I have things to do and places to be.”

Beyond that, I feel so good to be stronger and more fit in my 60’s than I was in my 40’s. I am limber. I can do push ups. I can walk, windsurf, and ride my bike. I can be a role model for my kids. It wasn’t quick and it isn’t always easy.

Now I ask myself, “What kind of quality of life do I want for myself going forward?”

It isn’t giving up anything but poor health, when I choose to eat fresh fruit and veggies. I don’t need to make myself exercise; I just choose to challenge myself to be stronger and more fit each year.

What about you? What do you want for yourself?

*You have to age, but you don’t have to rust or rot. I got the inspiration for my motto from a book called “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge M.D. It explains the science of aging and how we can reduce or eliminate many of the symptoms of what we have considered “normal” aging.

Shift Your Bad Mood

Contributed by Denise Daub

8 Ways to Shift a Bad Mood and Feel Better Fast by Nathalie Thompson

Have you ever heard the phrase: “as within, so without”? It has become something of a mantra to me lately because it’s a reminder that whatever is happening outside of me is a direct reflection of what is happening within me, on the inside.

Our thoughts affect our beliefs and expectations, which affect our actions, which, in turn, affect our physical reality. In a way, we create our world through the thoughts we think; our external reality becomes a reflection of our internal landscape.

miserable_kenThis effect works with all of our feelings — good or bad. So when we start finding ourselves feeling down or pessimistic about things, or when something we’ve come across in the media upsets us, it’s really important to head the snowball off and look for ways to shift our focus into a better-feeling place before we get trapped into only being able to see the crappy stuff in life.

Read more http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathalie-thompson/8-ways-to-shift-a-bad-mood-and-feel-better-fast_b_8201180.html?ir=Healthy%20Living?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

 

Nourishing the Different Parts of Ourselves-Part 3

By Barnes Boffey

As we get clearer about our sub-selves and what they need, we can look at our lives and decide whether we are doing and being things which nourish them, or there big gaps? Is one  nourished a lot and the others ignored? Are we trying to pretend to ourselves or others that one of our sub selves does not really exist and therefore does not need to be attended to?

Nothing good can come of ignoring or disavowing the pieces of ourselves. The same is true in loving those pieces of ourselves. If we hate one of our sub selves, are simply doing harm to our self. It is like taking poison and hoping someone else will die. The goal is to appreciate each of the pieces of ourselves and to nourish that sub self in appropriate ways.

How can I arrange my life to take into account both the Warriorand the Artist? If I am too old to play football, or wrestle around or drink too much and dance the night away, what can I do to take care of that Warrior?If I am not in an intimate relationship, how can I nourish that Artist/Lover?If I have limited mobility, how can I give the Cowboythe fun and freedom he needs to be strong and healthy?

Part of being happy and healthy is knowing the answers to difficult questions about life, relationships, work and growing older. But another big part is getting the questions right. If we have the wrong questions, we will get the wrong answers?

daydream3Part of what I am encouraging you to do is to think about the major sub selves in your personality. Think of them as actual people who have needs and wants. Think about how much you have accepted them as part of who you are and how much you treat them as really good friends. If they were friends, you would do different things which each of them; some you would go to museums with, some you would play sports with, some you would plant a garden with. Give yourself the time and flexibility to treat these friendswell, and remember that there are consequences if you do not.

There is a story of a wise shaman who spoke to a young man which reminds me of some central issues in the thoughts above.

A young Cherokee man was going through a difficult time in his life. In search of guidance, he went to the Elder of his tribe.

After sitting with the young man for a while, the Elder spoke. A fight is going on inside you.He said to the young man. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.The first wolf is evil he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego” “The other wolf is good he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This is the fight going on inside you and inside every other person too. This is the struggle you feel.

The young man thought about it for a while and then asked, Which wolf will win?

The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.

When you think about your sub selves, the ones that will be healthy and happy will be the ones you nourish.

Nourishing all the Parts of Ourselves

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Within each of us are many sub selves which have identifiable personality characteristics. Each of these sub selves represent different energies and forces within each of us and are ways we express our personalities across a spectrum of traits. Each sub self needs an arena in which it can be expressed as well as emotional and behavioral nourishment to maintain its strength and resiliency.

There are many people who have written about archetypes and sub selves, and some say there are basic ones for all of us and other are less specific. What matters in terms of our own happiness and strength is that we are clear about the energies within us. Let me give some examples in my own life.

It seems to me that the major sub selves within me are my Artist, my Helper, my Teacher, my Cowboy and my Warrior. Each of these has a different energy and each needs different input to be nourished and different arenas in which it can express itself. Right now I am writing about myself as a man; women may have similar or different names or characteristics for their sub selves, but the most important thing is to recognize that in each of these are the psychological pillars of who we are.There may be a dark side to each of these sub selves also, but for now I want to focus on the positive aspects of each.

canstockphoto12706268Some of these sub selves are more appreciated in the world than others and some are harder to nourish than others. My Cowboy, for example, is the part of me that wants freedom, the open range, lack of domestication and lots of playfulness and guy stuff. My cowboy can live in the culture for extended periods of time, but after a while must hit the road, live with less rules, have tos and shun tedious routine.

If my Cowboy does not get a chance to be appreciated and have the space and energy he needs, he starts feeling trapped and boxed in, and may push boundaries in less healthy ways. My Cowboy was not greatly appreciated in the classroom when I was an adolescent. He was, however, appreciated in the world of drama and sports and just screwing around with my friends. My Cowboy also had a few scrapes with the law; he doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules that others demand, and very often says, “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”

When my Cowboy is nourished and has space to be, he is positive, fun, creative and expansive; without that he can become less positive. When he gets boxed in, he pushes back.

In the next few blogs, I would like to share a description of each of my sub selves so that you can begin to identify your own and make sure each has arenas in which they get appropriate input and express themselves in the world. In so doing we have more opportunities to cultivate our mental health and happiness.

What does Fido do?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

A recent New Yorker Magazine cartoon I read showed a psychiatrist asking his patient if he had tried taking long walks. Upon more careful inspection it is revealed that the psychiatristis a dog.

Perfect!

mansbestfriend0373668Although not an original thought, lets consider the lessons a dog can teach us about improved Mental Health & Happiness.

  1. Take long walks dailyAlthough daily exercise does not need to be only long walks, getting up, out and moving not only helps our physical health, it also lifts our spirits, shifts our focus and does wonders for improved Mental Health & Happiness
  2. When reunited with a loved one, always greet them Are you lucky enough to be living with a dog right now? If you are then you know the glory of coming home after an absence of short or long duration. The dog greets you with unbridled joy and delight. Now imagine regularly giving and receiving this same level of enthusiasm, love and affection when greeting and reuniting with all those you love. Just imagining this scene improves my level of Mental Health & Happiness. How about you?
  3. Get lots of rest Even if youre living with a puppy you know you dont have to ask your dog to nap, rest or sleep. It is true that some dogs need some help and encouragement to lay down and calm down when they are overly enthusiastic. But every dog will nap, sleep, and sometimes dream on the hardest floors, in the coldest drafts or most ragged make-shift dog beds. Dogs are champion sleepers, resters, and nappers. Following this lead can help our physical and mental health and happiness.
  4. Show compassion If you have ever lived with a dog you know their remarkable instinct to come near you when you are upset, distraught and sad. They seem to know that their very presence, that might also include a full body leaning into you or putting their head on your knee or in your lap, will help to offer you some comfort and compassion that you sorely need. I want to be able to do the same with the people in my life who are experiencing unhappiness and sadness. Just as a dog knows the best therapy at this time is being close and silent, I want to be the same.
  5. Listen more than speak Even if the dog you hang around a lot is a yippy dog, I bet she listens more than she barks. This is a lesson Im concentrating on learning and incorporating into my life. I am a talker. But just as a yippy dog can become tedious, I know my talking can rub people this same, wrong way. My Mental Health & Happiness will improve when I can listen more than I talk.
  6. Love unconditionally Has your dog every told you that she loves you but just wishes you would stop clapping your hands when you call her or start feeding her the better, more expensive dog food? Have you ever told your dog that you would love him more if only he were a little softer or more obedient? My experience is that the closest most human beings will ever get to unconditional love is in their relationship with a dog. Dogs dont ask us why we didnt call when we promised we would. Dogs dont accuse us of loving the cat more than them. Dogs dont hold a grudge against us for skipping todays long walk because of rain. Dogs simply love and adore us, are happy when we play catch with them, and will happily sleep at our feet or on the couch if we will let them. I want to learn to give and receive love as unconditionally as a dog. I know this would be great for my Mental Health & Happiness and my relationships.

What Mental Health & Happiness lessons are you learning from your dog or cat? Please share. . .

Alone Time

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How did you spend your time yesterday? What’s on your “to do” list for today? Do you consider yourself to be a busy, hurried and harried person or is relaxed, slow and steady a more apt description?

Nether of the above approaches to your days and life is better than the other. In fact, if you are a high energy hare-type person attempting to handle life as a tortoise you may increase your level of stress.

But with either of these life styles the chances are that your life is very full. Your obligations include work, your many relationships, time and energy spent on maintaining your physical and mental health, and hopefully hobbies and other entertaining activities. In the midst of all of this, how much time do you spend alone?

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Let’s clarify that question. How much time do you spend alone without looking at or interacting with a screen? Do you spend any time during your day alone, without looking at your phone, electronic pad, television, or computer screen? Do you ever sit on a park bench simply watching what there is to see? The activities could include other park visitors, children playing, squirrels scampering, birds flying or ducks and pigeons foraging. And if not the park, you could sit at the mall, the lake or beach, community garden, or even your own porch, back yard, or living room.

You don’t need to meditate to gain the benefits of spending time in solitude every day. At first it may feel strange and uncomfortable. But the more you practice quiet reverie the more you may begin a journey into unknown parts of yourself. Nothing profound needs to happen, and yet it might. At the very least taking this time away, time alone for solitary time out may very well  rejuvenate, revitalize and replenish your personal imaginings and even your soul cravings.

The surest way to hear the soft strains of harmony is in the Silence.                                                                                          —      Sarah Ban Breathnach

Try seeking the love, belonging, and connections you desire by spending time every day alone, in solitude. Incorporating this simple yet challenging practice into your life may very well improve your Mental Health & Happiness.