The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Four. Exercises for Stress Management.

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. In this fourth and final chapter we cover details on beneficial exercises and practices that may help decrease levels of stress and increase happiness and well-being. We have detailed a few relaxation and meditation exercises that be may used in stressful situations.  At the end of this chapter there is a list of websites you may want to visit.

Here are some guidelines for using relaxation exercises:

1. Try to practice whichever exercise you prefer at least once or twice a day. Expect your ability to relax to improve as you continue practicing, and expect to practice two or three weeks before you become genuinely proficient. Once you learn how to do one of the exercises, you may no longer require the recorded instructions, and you can tailor the exercise to your own liking.

2. Avoid practicing within an hour before or after a meal (either hunger or feeling full may distract you). Also avoid practicing immediately after engaging in vigorous exercise.

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3. Sit quietly and in a comfortable position, with your legs uncrossed and your arms resting at your sides. Or, if required lie down on your back, with your arms beside you. This is especially important when you are first learning the exercise.

4. Adopt a calm, accepting attitude towards your practice. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing or about possible interruptions. Instead, know that with repetition your ability to relax will grow.

5. When you are ready, close your eyes, begin listening to the recording, and follow the directions. As you complete the exercise, you can expect your mind to wander a bit—when this happens you can simply re-direct your focus back to the recording.

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6. Once you’ve finished, stretch, look around and remain still for another minute or two.

7. As you become skilled with your chosen exercise, try applying it to specific situations that might otherwise be anxiety provoking, such as tests, oral presentations, difficult social situations, job interviews, insomnia, and so forth.

Exercise Tips:

1. Initially, until you become familiar with the exercise, it may be best to have someone read the exercise to you while you close your eyes and sit in a comfortable chair. Alternatively, if you would like to do it alone, you can record the exercise and play it back to yourself.

2. When you tense your muscles, you should hold that tension (as comfortably as you can) for around 5 to 10 seconds. Then, stay in the relaxed state for at least 10 seconds.

3. A very important piece of this exercise is bringing awareness to the feelings of tension and relaxation. Therefore, throughout the exercise, make sure you are paying attention to these feelings and noticing how different your muscles feel when you move from tension to relaxation.

Practice mindfulness in 15 minutes (1)

4. Practice regularly. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit, and the quicker you will be able to bring about relaxation when you are tense.

5. Make sure you do at least two cycles of tension-relaxation for each muscle group.

Progressive body relaxation exercise using tension/relaxation

Relaxation exercises can be a very effective way of reducing your stress and anxiety. One relaxation exercise called progressive muscle relaxation focuses on a person alternating between tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body. In this way, relaxation is viewed like a pendulum. More complete relaxation of your muscles can be obtained by first going to the other extreme (that is, by tensing your muscles). In addition, by tensing your muscles (a common symptom of anxiety) and immediately relaxing them, the symptom of muscle tension may become a signal to relax over time.

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Difficulty: Easy;

Time Required: At least 30 minutes

1. Sit in a comfortable chair and bring your attention to your left hand. Clench your left hand to make a fist. Pay attention to these feelings of tension. Then, let go of your fist, letting your hand rest against your side or the arm of the chair. Be aware of how different your hand feels in a state of relaxation as compared to tension. Then, make a fist with your left hand again, then relax it, continuing to pay attention to how your hand feels in states of tension and relaxation. Repeat this procedure with your right hand.

2. After you have finished tensing and relaxing your hands, bend both hands back at the wrists in order to tense the muscles in the back of your hand and in your forearms. As before, pay attention to what this muscle tension feels like. After you have tensed these muscles, relax them, also paying attention to what this state of relaxation feels like. Repeat.

3. Make a tight fist with both hands, and pull your hands toward your shoulders. This will bring tension to your biceps. Be aware of this tension and then relax, allowing your arms to drop loosely to your sides. Pay attention to how your arms now feel. Repeat.

4. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Pay attention to the tension as you do this. Hold it, then relax your shoulders. Let your shoulders drop. Notice how different this state of relaxation feels compared to when your shoulders were tense. Repeat.

5. Now, bring attention to your face. Wrinkle your forehead. Tense those muscles and hold this state. Notice the feelings of tension. Then, relax those muscles completely, being aware of these feelings of relaxation. Repeat.

6. Close your eyes as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your eyes. After holding this state, relax. Recognize differences in how relaxation feels as compared to tension. Repeat. Clench your jaw, biting your teeth together. Hold this tension and then relax. Repeat. To finish relaxing the muscles of your face, press your lips together as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your mouth. Examine how this tension feels. Now relax your lips, and in doing so, let go of that tension. Be aware of how this feels. Repeat.

7. Move your awareness down from your face to your neck. Put your head back and press the back of your head against the back of the chair you are sitting in. Feel the tension in your neck and then bring your head back to relax it. Repeat. Now bring your head forward. Push your chin against the top of your chest. Feel the tension in the back of your neck. Hold it, then relax. Notice how different tension and relaxation feel. Repeat.

8. Direct your attention to your upper back. Arch your back, sticking out your chest and stomach. Notice the tension in your back. Recognize what that tension feels like. Then, let go of that tension, bringing about deep relaxation. Allow those muscles to become loose. Be aware of what that relaxation feels like. Repeat. Take a deep breath. Breath in as much as you can. Fill your chest with air until you can feel tension throughout your chest. Hold it and then release. Repeat. Notice your muscles in your chest getting more and more relaxed.

9. Then, tense your stomach muscles. Notice how that tension feels and then relax those muscles, again paying attention to that state of relaxation and how different it feels from tension. Repeat.

10. Now move your awareness to your legs. Lift your legs up and stretch them out. Feel how tense the muscles in your thighs are. Then, let your legs drop, relaxing your thigh muscles. Pay attention to the different sensations of relaxation and tension. Repeat. Tense both of your calf muscles. You can do this by pointing your toes upward. You should feel the pull of your calf muscles as they tense. Notice that feeling. Then, let them relax. Let your feet fall, bringing about relaxation in your calf muscles. Notice that feeling, too. Repeat.

11. You are now done tensing and relaxing all muscles in your body. Scan the different muscles groups covered, and bring attention to any lingering muscle tension. If you find any, bring relaxation to those muscle groups, continuing to notice how different your body feels in a state of relaxation.

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One step at a time

Walking meditation when experiencing strong feelings. Often when we walk we do this to get somewhere, it is a means to an end. In a walking meditation the aim is not to reach a goal, but to draw awareness to the walking itself; it is an end in itself. This means walking slowly and with awareness of every step you take. It is a great way to calm down or simply take your mind of things that are bothering you. This walking meditation is adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh (1991), who is a Vietnamese monk working in France. He called the book in which this is explained Peace is Every Step. Making peace through walking can be used when you have strong feelings that are bothering you; whether it is anger or sadness. Walking with awareness, especially in nature will help you to come to terms with those feelings. Recite to yourself whilst walking: Breathing in, I know that anger is here Breathing out, I salute the anger Breathing in, I know that anger is unpleasant Breathing out, I know this feeling too will pass Breathing in, I draw strength from nature Breathing out, I focus on the walking

Note that anger is there, it doesn’t say you are angry, in other words, you don’t interpret your anger, identify with it or otherwise let it dominate you: anger is there, that is all. From this perspective there is a distance between you and the anger and it becomes just another emotion that is sometimes there, and sometimes will not be there.

Nutrition Nourishment hopes you’ve enjoyed the Mindfulness Series and found useful information on managing stress levels and self-care techniques. It’s important to take time out of your day, even 15 mins to recharge and nourish your soul. Whether it’s going for a short walk, making a cup of herbal tea and sitting outside, meeting with a friend or taking a long bath. Self-care will reduce the likelihood of burnout and lead to a happier and more productive life.

If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out the Other Chapters in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Chapter Two: Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-two-self-care-and-building-resilience-against-stress/

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Three. How Meditation and Mindfulness Beat Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-three-meditation-and-mindfulness-to-beat-stress/

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

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The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Three. Meditation and Mindfulness to Beat Stress

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. In this chapter we will discuss how meditation and mindfulness can help to manage stress levels.

Emotions, meditation and mindfulness It is easier to deal with the stress and hassles of life when you’re also aware of what is right in your life (Carlson, 2007) Although most of us try to avoid stress and suffering, we all have times in our life where we have to engage with stressful situations and suffering. It is how we engage with suffering and how we feel about what is happening to us that plays the central role. Some people are blown this way and that, according to the strength of their emotions. But we all know others who seem to be more resilient even in the face of outwardly similar experiences. How can this happen? It is true that some people have a ‘naturally’ calm and peaceful disposition and others are less resilient, more volatile and reactive. Medical research has confirmed the age old knowledge that meditation and relaxation practices increase our resilience and coping skills, enhance our sense of well-being and happiness in spite of life’s tribulations.

Kabat-Zinn (2005: 320) agrees that how well we deal with stress and suffering depends on our ability to be aware. In fact, he says that ‘awareness is the defining characteristic of our species’. It is important to understand that suffering cannot be taken out of life: e.g. sickness, death and loneliness cannot necessarily be made ‘better’. However, with mindfulness we can learn to take the reactivity out of our relationship to such experiences – whether they be positive, negative and neutral.

Mindfulness is a ‘deceptively simple way of relating to experience’ (Germer, 2005: 3) or, in other words, it can support ‘a special relationship to suffering’.

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What is it to be mindfulness?

Mindfulness implies conscious awareness, but more than awareness, it also suggests care, memory and intelligence (Kearny, 2008: 1-2). He distinguishes three aspects of mindfulness:

1. The present experience must be clearly registered, as it is… without judging it

2. The present experience must be held within the context of the whole, including past experiences

3. The present experience must be seen in the light of unfolding, continuing engagement as it changes over time

The mind has been dubbed ‘monkey-mind’. It has been depicted as a horse in full gallop with the rider (the ‘I’) having no control. And the Buddha likened the mind to a wild elephant, which needed to be trained by tying it to a strong post. The nature of the mind is to move, to follow clues and so wanders into the past and the future and often is not at home in the present. By doing that the mind is taking a holiday and we are mindless. So, why would we want to steady the wandering mind and not just enjoy the ride, the holiday? To gain some clarity, let’s have a look at mindlessness.

What does it mean to be mindless?

• Rushing through life/activities without being attentive to what is happening right now

• Day dreaming, killing time and escaping in fantasies

• Treating people or things carelessly, without attention, because the mind is somewhere else

• Failing to notice (subtle) sensations in the body, such as physical tensions or discomfort

• Being out of touch with one’s (subtle) emotional states and affects

• Forgetting people’s names as soon as we hear them

• Snacking or drinking without being aware of tastes and textures

• Having accidents (small and large) due to inattentiveness

• Having superficial relationships with oneself as well as with others

• Craving and addictive behaviour

• Disassociation and boredom with life’s experiences

This list doesn’t describe a healthy sense of self, nor of a rewarding relationship to the world. It rather describes a dull, unimaginative life, where there may be a constant chase for more experience, craving, disappointment and eventually dissatisfaction. It is not hard to see that this may be the foundation of much of the unhappiness and stress in our world today.

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In being present to each moment we create a new list that now looks like:

• Being attentive- to life and to what is happening right now

• Treating people and things with care and attention, because the mind is present

• Noticing (subtle) sensations in the body, such as physical tensions or discomfort – so we can take appropriate actions

• Being in touch with one’s (subtle) emotional states and affects – so we can take appropriate actions

• Knowing people’s names as soon as we hear them

• Snacking and drinking with awareness of tastes or textures

• Having fewer accidents because there is attentiveness

• Having more meaningful relationships with yourself as well as with others

• Less craving and addictive behaviour, because it can be seen into

• Engagement with life’s experiences

Mindfulness creates an experience of ‘aliveness’, which is a major source of much of human happiness and well-being. Whatever the external circumstances, being in the present moment changes our relationship to those circumstances.

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Meditation

We can become more mindful and present in many ways, but the common denominator is the intentional practice of focusing the spotlight of our attention (mind) gently on what we intend to observe. Although it doesn’t really matter how we train the mind, the Buddha wisely focused on the breath as ‘the post to tie the elephant to’ (the elephant being the restless mind). Meditation is steadying the mind and practicing being present by quietly following the breath.

Mindfulness can also be learned by ‘walking meditation’, participating in any attentive relaxation practice, such as: scanning the body; focusing on an object (eg candle); observing our thoughts; writing mindfully about our thoughts; dancing or painting with awareness. It is in the nature of mind to go over and over things and to wander aimlessly around the same few thoughts. It is the job of the practitioner to notice this and to say to oneself: ‘the mind is wandering again’. At this point the practitioner goes back to the breath. Be aware not to let mind training the mind become another source of suffering or comparison. You do not need to measure yourself up against others, to ask ‘am I doing this right?’ or ‘she seems to be doing it better than me’ or ‘I have failed because I haven’t achieved a calm mind’. Remember, it is the sitting that matters – not how well you sit. As you practice, it will become easier to sit quietly and steady the mind. It is also nonsense to say ‘that was a bad meditation’, meaning the mind was all over the place. Simply noticing the distraction is useful in itself. If one thought persists or a pain is in the foreground, abandon following the breath and make the exploration of that thought or discomfort the object of your meditation. Explore all aspects and levels of this event mindfully, again training the mind to pay attention rather than to wander. Acceptance needs to come before change can happen. Only then can we respond to life, rather than to react. And the change will be a greater sense of well-being and ease. Meditation helps us to be at peace and to accept life as it is.

We hope you are enjoying the Mindfulness Series. If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out the Other Chapters in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Chapter Two: Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-two-self-care-and-building-resilience-against-stress/

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Carlson, R. (2007) Don’t sweat the small stuff: 2007, Day to Say Calender, Andrew McMeel Publishing, Kansas City

Germer, C. (2005), ‘Mindfulness: What Is It? What Does It Matter?’ in Germer, C. Siegel, R. and Fulton, P. Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, The Guilford Press, New York

Kabat-Zinn, J. 2005, Coming to our Senses, Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, Piatkus, New York

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Two. Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Second Chapter of the Mindfulness Series. In this chapter we will discuss self-care and how to build resilience against stress.

Self-care Relaxed people can still be super-achievers, and, in fact, relaxation and creativity go hand in hand (Carlson, 2007). There are many ways to prevent burn-out and to restore a lifestyle balance that produces ease rather than stress. Self-care involves paying attention to the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. The following lists include many suggestions which are adapted from a website dedicated to stress release and relaxation that is worth visiting as it has some excellent resources (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf).

Not all of these suggestions need to be applied, but one area of self-care may come more naturally to you than others. That way it will be more pleasurable to do which increases the likelihood of you doing it. Becoming less stressed involves being kind to yourself, so it is important to choose activities that do not add to a list of demands you cannot fulfill (and thus bring additional stress). Looking after yourself can be fun if you choose pleasurable and easy suggestions which may involve the body (a long, hot bath), the mind (listening to lovely music) or giving yourself the time to sing or paint. Most of these self-care activities involve some sense of personal growth, expansion and validation of your personal needs. Like any development, it needs practice. Sometimes it helps to document the journey of self-care, as a way to count blessings, to review deep beliefs and to affirm one’s own strengths and needs. It means a conscious engaging with some of the ideas mentioned above.

Some of the ‘side effects’ of the activities mentioned above will be that you are more able to:

• Set realistic goals

• Be assertive and maintain your boundaries

• Change negative thought processes into positive ones

• Avoid ‘toxic’ situations

• Engage in positive conflict resolution

• Maintain a sense of humour and good health

• Practice forgiving, also of self

• Develop positive relationships

• Improve your communication skills

Petrea King suggests that looking after yourself must be your highest priority. Do you think that it is selfish to put yourself first? It certainly sounds like that and especially women are taught to look after everyone else before taking a rest themselves. As a result, women (and men too) often from suffer stress related illnesses or feel depressed and unhappy. How productive can you be if you are not at peace, not relaxed and happy? Looking after yourself means that you can give from an overflowing well of energy, love and care. It also means giving everyone else permission to care for themselves well.

Physical Self-Care

• Eat regularly (eg breakfast, lunch, dinner)

• Eat healthy, fresh food with plenty of fruit and vegetables

• Find a pleasurable exercise routine

• Get regular medical care for prevention and health

• Take time off when sick

• Have a massages, acupuncture or beauty treatment

• Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun

• Take time to be sensual and sexual–with yourself, with a partner

• Get enough sleep

• Wear clothes you like

• Take vacations, day trips or mini-vacations

• Make time away from telephones

Psychological Self-Care

• Notice your inner experiences — listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings without judgment

• Let go of perfectionism: do something silly or be simply imperfect

• Talk with friends and have a buddy support system

• Practice receiving from others

• Write in a journal: Be curious about life

• Do relaxation exercises, get a relaxation CD that you like

• Have your own personal psychotherapy or counselling

• Read literature that is unrelated to work and uplifting

• Do something at which you are not expert or in charge

• Decrease stress in your life by removing the clutter

• Make to do lists and prioritise them giving yourself plenty of time

• Let others know different aspects of you

• Say NO to extra responsibilities 8

Emotional Self-Care

• Be kind to yourself, engage in self-nurturing, self-mothering

• Spend time with others whose company you enjoy

• Stay in contact with important people in your life

• Give yourself affirmations, praise and love

• Find ways to increase your sense of self-esteem

• Acknowledging strength, positive points

• Boundaries: learn to feel OK about saying NO and putting yourself first

• Change thought processes that are not self-affirming

• Avoid negative people or negative communication

• Re-read favourite books, review favorite movies

• Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships and places

• Allow yourself to cry

• Find things to make you laugh

• Express your outrage in social action, letters, donations, marches, protests

• Contribute to causes in which you believe

• Play with children, animals or grown-ups Spiritual Self-Care

• Make time for self-reflection

• Practice acceptance and kindness for self and others

• Spend time with and in nature

• Find a spiritual connection or community

• Be open to inspiration from teachers and people you admire

• Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

• Cherish your optimism and hope

• Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life

• Practice forgiveness for self and others

• Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life

• Meditate, sing or pray

• Be open to Not Knowing and experiences of awe (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf)

A side effect of learning to look after yourself is that you learn new skills that can be used in your personal as well as in your family and professional life. For example the ability to turn adversity into an opportunity becomes a change for personal development. It also means that you are developing life skills that contribute to greater happiness and well-being of all people around you. Paradoxically, looking after yourself means becoming more able to be of service for others!

Nutrition Nourishment Hopes you’re enjoying the Mindfulness Series and taking what information is important and beneficial for you at this time in your life. It’s  never too late to begin to understand yourself better and to find happiness for your soul

If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out Chapter One in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Healthiest regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

The Mindfulness Series: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. A holistic guide to self-care and stress management. There are five chapters in this series. The first chapter explains what burn-out is and the signs to look for. The second chapter look at how to build up resilience against stress and how to better look after oneself. The third chapter explains how meditation and mindfulness can decrease stress levels. The fourth chapter details some exercises and practices that may be useful to decrease levels of stress and increase happiness and well-being. The last chapter points to web-sites that contain relaxation exercises, audiovisuals and other interesting information.

Stress is endemic to the human condition, whether it is inflicted upon us or self imposed. Even if we take good care of ourselves, there may be times in our life where it is all too much. In fact, many contemporary issues such as information overload; news programs about war and suffering, global warming and economic down-turn all add to our stress levels. Old age, sickness, death and pain all involve suffering related to the physical body. Stress can also arise because of mental activity (our thoughts about things) and involves our needs for security, safety and relationship not being met. Although we all share these needs, the impact upon us is depends on many inter-related factors: genetic; conditional; societal.

Burn-out is the result of being exposed to undue stress or not being able to cope with the demands of work and life stress. According to (Tagar, 1999) there is a simple stress equation. The ratio between ‘demand’ and ‘stamina’ determines the stress levels. Simply put, the stress levels equate to the gap between what you can do and what is expected of you (or what you expect of yourself). However, it is more complicated because stress, a serious problem for health care workers, is not equally experienced and some people are more prone to burnout.

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Some of the risk factors are, according to Espeland (2006):

Internal factors:

  • Personality type, eg high achievers with a need for control and over commitment
  • Loss of control being with the outside world (victim) rather than with the self (capable)
  • Coping styles, eg passive or defensive rather than assertive
  • Attitudes, eg having high expectations and being negative rather than realistic and positive
  • Negative self image
  • Feeling low
  • Level of self development and self-efficacy
  • Level of leisure taken

External factors:

  • Unsupportive work or home environment
  • Stress and difficulties at work or home
  • Underpaid and overworked
  • Demands exceed possibility to fulfill them
  • Lack of intimacy with others

How we spend our days is, of course, How we spend our lives (Annie Dillard)

Some signs of burn-out and stress may include a loss of appetite or excessive eating,  Sleep disorders, Chronic feelings of ill health,  Irritation and psychological disturbances- negative emotions , Manic activity and procrastination, loss of purpose and meaning.

We know that in order to stay healthy, the body needs adequate rest, food and exercise. The body suffers under too much stress, because muscles tense, blood pressure rises, food is not well digested and sleep is disturbed. High levels of stress hormones are being released continuously. If not released, enduring stress can become ‘toxic’ with major consequences for health and happiness (Tagar, 1999). As a result our resilience, both physical and emotional goes down and we become less effective in the work we do, and more prone to accidents and eventually disease.

This all seems quite logical but, in reality, we often are not looking after ourselves well when stress mounts. On the contrary, we often become less able to do the ‘right’ thing for ourselves. We start eating more junk food, watch more TV and may even self-medicate with excessive drinking. We may sleep less, or more and can’t get motivated to exercise or do relaxations. In short, we don’t look after ourselves!

When to Seek Help

Stress is prevalent in modern life, especially in health care. This is ironic, as health care workers are trained to look after others, but often not themselves. It is recommended that you seek assistance from a counsellor, your medical doctor or from a mental-health professional who is skilled in the treatment of stress if:

  • You are experiencing high levels of distress
  • You are experiencing significant changes in relationships
  • You are not functioning well at work for longer periods
  • You are self-medicating with alcohol, too much sleep or drugs
  • You are unable to find relief with self-help strategies
  • You are experiencing physical problems

Barriers to Seeking Help/ Helping loved ones dealing with stress include the following:

  • Some people may feel that they are better off than those more affected and that they, therefore, should not be so upset or seek help
  • Some may not seek help because of pride or because they think that distress indicates weakness of some sort
  • Some individuals may not be open to support, if the intervention was not requested (eg a lecture, sermon or rituals)
  • Many individuals are more apt to seek informal support from family and friends, which may not be sufficient to prevent long-term distress for some

This can be an isolating condition and it’s important to know you don’t have to do this alone. Remember to speak up and seek help.

Healthiest Regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

References

Espeland, K. (2006) ‘Overcoming Burnout: How to Revitalize Your Career’, Continuing Nursing Education, Vol. 37, Issue 4, pp 178-185.

Tagar, Y. (1999). Stress. Medicine of the Mind. I. Gawler. Melbourne, The Gawler Foundation.

Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp: 10 Health-Related Benefits

Hello everyone,

I recently acquired my very first Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp, or Salt Lamp as some call them. The recent ionizing devices trend, which seemingly boost health by releasing negatively-charged particles into the air stems from the far East. A trend which I am not ashamed to admit I bought into and it’s easy to see why people love them, with their pinkish-orange colour emitting a soft, warm glow, and its natural crystal shape, the lamps certainly look attractive: but will they make you healthier? or Are they simply hyped up quackery? Let’s get to the nitty gritty.

But before we dive into the health benefits of using Himalayan salt lamps in your home, it may be helpful to first have a brief chemistry lesson:

All matter (the human body, air, water, etc) is made up of molecules which are made up of atoms which are made up of three types of particles: protons (positive charge), electrons (negative charge), and neutrons (no charge). Electrons orbit their molecules like planets revolve around a star. Occasionally an electron flies off and when it does, it leaves behind a positively-charged ion whose sole purpose in life becomes to fill the void left by its little lost electron. In other words: it wants to steal a replacement electron from another molecule. Due to differences in molecular structure (number of electrons in the outermost orbit, strength and structure of electron bonds, etc) some materials lose electrons much more easily than others.

With this basic understanding of the behaviors of positive and negative ions fresh in your mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 benefits of the Himalayan Salt Lamp.

1. Salt Lamps Cleanse & Deodorize the Air

Probably the most well-known benefit – and why the majority of people use them – is due to their incredible power to remove dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, and other contaminants from the air. “But how do they do this,” you ask?  “It’s just a big chunk of salt with a light bulb inside, right?”

Well yes, but no.  There’s much more to it than that.

Himalayan salt lamps purify air through the power of hygroscopy, meaning that they attract water molecules from the surrounding environment then absorb those molecules – as well as any foreign particles they may be carrying – into the salt crystal. As the HPS lamp warms up from the heat produced by the light bulb inside, that same water then evaporates back into the air and the trapped particles of dust, pollen, smoke, etc remain locked in the salt.

2. Reduce Allergy & Asthma Symptoms

Because Himalayan salt lamps remove microscopic particles of dust, pet dander, mold, mildew and the like from the surrounding air, placing a lamp or two in the rooms where you spend the most time can seriously cut back on allergy symptoms. Even people who suffer from asthma should notice a big difference after a week or two.

FUN FACT: Himalayan pink salt is so good for your airways, there are even HPS Inhalers!)

3. Eases Coughing

When the Himalayan salt lamp heats up and begins its hygroscopic cycling of airborne particles, it also changes the charge of the molecules which are released. (Remember our chemistry lesson?) The majority of homes are filled with positively charged ions which aren’t particularly good for a person’s health. The positive ions are created by a number of things, but the primary source for most of us is from our electronics.

One of the health detriments of breathing lots of positive ions in the air is that the cilia (microscopic hairs) which line the trachea (aka: windpipe) become sluggish and don’t work as well to keep contaminants out of our lungs. As a Himalayan pink salt lamp absorbs water and particles from the air, it also takes positive ions with them. Then, when the heated salt releases cleansed water vapor back into the air, it also expels negative ions which have the opposite effect on our airways – increasing filial activity to keep your lungs clear.

What all this means in a nut shell:  Besides removing contaminants from the air, Himalayan pink salt lamps also help your body to filter air more efficiently so any foreign particles you do happen to breathe won’t make it into your lungs.

4. Increase Energy Levels

Taking a drive through the countryside with the windows down, spending time at the beach or camping in the mountains, or simply taking a shower first thing in the morning are all things that many people find invigorating. It’s not a coincidence that these are all activities which expose us to increased concentrations of negative ions such as those generated by Himalayan salt lamps. The fact is, positive ions sap our bodies of energy. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for us to try to diagnose the problem as something else entirely.

Always feeling tired? If you constantly feel tired and don’t know why, try keeping a Himalayan salt lamp in the room or rooms where you spend the most time. After about a week, you should notice a difference.

5. Neutralize Electromagnetic Radiation

Nowadays, most of us are living in a metaphorical ocean of electromagnetic (EM) radiation which flows from our electronics (ie: television, computer, cell phone, tablet, appliances, sterio, etc). While they may be invisible, the long-term effects of EM exposure can be quite serious. Constant exposure to EM radiation is known to increase stress levels, cause chronic fatigue, and decrease the body’s immune response, among other things.

As they emit negative ions into the air, Himalayan salt lamps work to neutralize electromagnetic radiation. Keep one next to the computer, television, and any other electrical devices which you use frequently to reduce the potential danger to you and your family.

6. Better Sleep

Another side effect which results from over-exposure to positive ions in the air is that it robs you of quality sleep. This happens because those positively-charged particles can actually reduce blood and oxygen supply to the brain resulting in irregular sleep patterns. Himalayan pink salt lamps are natural negative ion generators, thus they can help to reverse this problem. Keep one or two around your bedroom to improve the air quality so you can get a better night’s sleep; Even if you’re like me and you can’t sleep unless the room is totally dark, you can always turn the lamp off at bedtime. Just leave it on for the rest of the day so it can do its work while you’re awake.

Take Care! People in humid climates should be aware that HPS lamps tend to weep when the salt becomes cool. You’ll definitely want to protect surfaces by placing a saucer underneath and be sure to follow the instructions for use and care which should be included with your lamp!

7. Improve Mood & Concentration

Himalayan pink salt lamps are a great way to naturally enhance your mood or to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day. At the same time and on the opposite side of the coin, HPS lamps are great for improving concentration. Again, this is due to the effect of the negative ions on your body, improving blood and oxygen supply to the brain and other organs, as well as providing a boost of serotonin – the neurotransmitter which makes us (literally) feel happy.

8. Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

In addition to generating negative ions which improve mood and energy levels, the soft, natural light given off by a Himalayan pink salt lamp is close enough to the warm glow of sunshine that they can even be used to relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This year when the days get shorter, fight back the lethargy by surrounding yourself with a few HPS lamps set on timers.

9. Reduce Static Electricity in the Air

While not a “health benefit” at first glance, static is pesky stuff. It causes stress, embarrassment, and frustration. Static zaps you when you least expect it, as you’re reaching for a door handle, kissing your husband or wife before bed, or trying to pet your dog or cat. Static can give you a bad hair day, make it impossible to clean crumbs or coffee grounds off of the kitchen counter, and even cause you to accidentally go to work with a sock stuck to the back of your shirt…

(Okay, so that last one may have been a little over-the-top.) The point is, static electricity can be a huge pain and Himalayan pink salt lamps are a natural way to neutralize the airborne ionized particles which cause it.

10. Environmentally-Friendly Light Source

Last, but not least: Himalayan pink salt lamps are environmentally friendly. While only an estimate, the reserves from which HPS is mined measure somewhere between 80 and 600 million tons and is projected to last for at least another 350 years at the current extraction rate. The base of an HPS lamp is generally carved from a sustainable wood such as neem. Some lamps use a low-wattage bulb which consumes very little energy while others are powered by a lit candle.

HPS Lamps: Bottom Line

Salt lamps aren’t a panacea and they don’t take the place of an air filter. They don’t create large amounts of negative ions like you’ll find in nature, especially around water. If negative ions are the goal, taking a hike or a swim in nature is a much more efficient way to get them.

Salt lamps are a beautiful light source that may offer the benefits of color therapy, by cleaning the air hygroscopically and in alleviating allergies. They are an inexpensive no-blue light source to use after dark and as a sleep-friendly night light for kids.

At the end of the day, they aren’t going to fix any health problems on their own or drastically improve indoor air quality. They are, however,  a beautiful and eco-friendly light source that produces a healthy spectrum of light. If you are choosing lamps for your home, they are a great option to consider.

As Always Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

New Year’s Resolutions: The Process Of Goal Setting

Hello Everyone,

We’re Back! Hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday, spending time with your loved ones, enjoying delicious food and spending time doing activities that makes you happy. Nutrition nourishment would like to welcome you to the very first blog of the new year. Our goal is to ensure you, the reader, have all the knowledge and tools available to you to help you achieve your goals and make 2017 a year full of gratitude, happiness, peace and success.

2016 has ended and many of us are gathering up our willpower for a brand new set of New Year’s resolutions. But have we learned from past experience? A large number, if not the majority, of previous resolutions were probably broken in weeks, days, or even hours. Well don’t feel bad because research shows only 8% of people actually achieve them.

How do those elite few actually achieve what they set out to do? Do they have a special system? More motivation? More time? What are their secrets? 

Nutrition nourishment is revealing the top 10 research-proven strategies to help you make 2017 your year of success; And it may not be as hard as you might think- there are some really easy ways to set yourself on the path to success.

1. Keep your Resolutions Simple

Sometimes people find themselves aiming for an overhaul of their entire lifestyle, and this is simply a recipe for disappointment and guilt. It may be understandable at this time of year, when self-improvement is on your mind, but experience shows these things can’t all be achieved at once. The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals.

2. Choose Carefully

But which to choose? Well, you might like to concentrate on those that will have the greatest impact on your happiness, health and fulfilment. For example, giving up smoking will obviously improve your health, but it will also give you a sense of pride and will make you happy (but perhaps not immediately!)

3. Be Realistic

Don’t aim too high and ignore reality – consider your previous experience with resolutions. What led to failure then? It may be that you resolved to lose too much weight or save an unrealistic amount of money. Remember, there will always be more opportunities to start on the next phase, so set realistic goals. Or if you don’t want to hold back, set clear short-term goals on your way to a big achievement. Which leads to tip number four.

4. Create Bite-sized portions

Break goals down to manageable chunks. This is perhaps the most essential ingredient for success, as the more planning you do now, the more likely you are to get there in the end. The planning process is when you build up that all-important willpower which you will undoubtedly need to fall back on along the way. Set clear, realistic goals such as saving $30 a month, or going for a run once a week. Decide exactly how you will make this happen.

5. Plan a time-Frame

In fact, the time-frame is vital for motivation. It is your barometer for success, the way you assess your short-term progress towards the ultimate long-term goal. Buy a calendar or diary so you can plan your actions for the coming weeks or months, and decide when and how often to evaluate.

6. Make Notes

Having made a note of your time-frame, you will have a physical reminder of what you’re aiming for. Now go further and write down the details of your resolutions in a notebook, remembering to add your motivations. You could keep a scrapbook for this purpose, and fill it with photos of your slimmer self, pictures of sporting or hobby equipment you are saving for, or even a shocking credit card statement to spur you into action! If your resolution will directly benefit your partner, children, colleagues or friends then add their photos too – anything to remind you of your initial motivation.

7. Don’t forget to treat yourself

When making your plan, a vital feature should be the rewards and treats you will give yourself at those all-important milestones. But be warned, don’t fall into the trap of putting your goal in danger – it’s too easy for a dieter to say “I’ve been so good, I deserve a few candy bars”, or a saver to throw caution to the wind with a new purchase. One slip, and it could all be over.

8. Seek Support

It is at such times, when you’ve temporarily fallen off the wagon, that your support network is crucial. Carefully choose those people around you who have shown themselves to be trustworthy, supportive friends and explain your plans. Let them know of ways they can help when the going gets tough, and if they’re truly caring they’ll know the right things to say during the hard times.

9. Don’t give up!!

Do bear in mind that a slip-up is almost inevitable at some point, and you must not let this become an excuse to give up. When it happens, you will need to draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, so build these qualities as often as you can. Really feel proud of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself. People with higher self-esteem and confidence are in a much better position to succeed, so immediately forgive yourself and say “I’m starting again now!”

10. Put yourself in charge

These achievements are under your control – other people can advise and support you but it’s your actions which need to change to see the results you want. Having a strong sense of control over your life is necessary to stick with your plans. Those who blame everyone and everything apart from themselves will not have the resources needed to change. Yes, it’s scary to take responsibility for your future, but surely it’s better than the alternative?

Now you’ve read these tips, you are in a great position to consider the best ways to improve your life this New Year. Your happiness is worth the time and effort, so get started, and good luck! If you would like more information on goal setting please click on the links below. Wishing you all the best for the new year, and a happy and safe year ahead.

https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

http://au.reachout.com/How-to-set-goals?gclid=CjwKEAiAkajDBRCRq8Czmdj-yFgSJADikZggmmey4YGrQqVgv_6PJnOBRmNf10Qe9CxzSD-W1d5DzhoCHlLw_wcB

http://www.yourcoach.be/en/coaching-tools/smart-goal-setting.php

Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

Finding Your inner spirit: Awakening your third eye.

Nutritionnourishment encourages a holistic lifestyle approach to health and wellness, exploring not only physical health but spiritual and emotional. In today’s blog we’re delving into the spiritual world to help heal your soul and your intuition. Everyone has access to his or her third eye, which is the ability to see what might be, to see potential. A natural part of every person, it consists of your mind and all your senses working together as a much larger, more powerful sensory organ. Our third eye is part of our energetic body, it has been with us since the very birth of our physical body, and it has always been activated, reflective on qualities such as confidence, truth, willpower, and trust.

How does intuition and knowing manifest in our reality?

We become more confident as we have a sense of knowing and understanding about our life’s path and there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing how to go about things, even when times are tough. We being to see life experiences more clearly, which allows for truth to manifest in our heart and mind. When your third eye is open and receptive, you can reap the many benefits of a strong sixth chakra including imagination, powerful dreams, mental stamina, strong memory skills, empathetic connections, deep wisdom and perceptiveness.

Below are some tools you may wish to utilise to rebalance your energy and support the flow to your third eye.

Look deep into your body

The third eye can become blocked with over-use of the analytical mind, with stress and over-thinking produces energetic build up of the mind. Try to stay in a more neutral, open state ready to receive and accept intuitive information by dropping out of your over-active mind and focus on body rhythms such as breathing. Meditation, taking a walk, enjoying a bath, lying on the earth and taking a moment to ground yourself can help to shift your mind’s energy into balance.

Release Competition

The intuitive mind is not competitive, take a few moments to runs through your current situation and support your inner welbeing. Letting go of any competitive energy that drains you will allow you to remain open to healing intuitive energy flow instead of closing yourself off to buffer against the competitive dynamic that is draining your energy.

Find wisdom from loss and pain

Life isn’t meant to be a strict linear path of good experiences, or good fortunes, or a path that doesn’t offer challenges; we wouldn’t be able to grow if it was. There are some amazing quotes, healing self help books and spiritual leaders out there that may offer comfort with their words and in their sharing, however, your third eye is there to assist you in finding your own meaning in life events. Nothing is as powerful and long lasting as connecting with your own intuitive wisdom. Take the time to sit with your emotions and open your own wisdom. Support from others can be wonderfully life-changing, but ultimately you need to connect with your own inner knowing in order to make that meaningful outlook last.

Find an exercise you enjoy

Similar to dropping into your body to help clear your third eye, there are lots of energy practice and physical exercise that you can do to stay in an open mental state. Find a decompressing routine that uplifts you most and make it part of your lifetime routine whether its in the form of tai chi, walking meditation, chanting, yoga, visualisation, art, music or dance.

Trust in spontaneous information

Intuition can come to us in many different form, for some people its very physical (feelings, sensations and bodily symptoms that pass over the body), for others it can be auditory, visual ( in the form of seeing auras or other energetic information) or for others intuition arrives as ‘knowings’. Everyone is capable of picking up on intuitive information, you just have to get into the habit of allowing and observing intuitive information, rather than discarding it automatically. Write down smells, sensations, knowings, feelings, hunches, urges, dreams and keep the list that shows you growing. When you read back over your journal you’ll be shocked and impressed with what you were able to pick up on.

Solitude

Intuitive individuals tend to be quite empathetic, picking up on the energy of others, and they can sometimes find crowds, smells, sensations, social interactions and public place over-stimulating. There is honour within solitude, recharging your energy and supporting your health. Read lots of books, meditate, star gazing, affirmations, drawing or colouring, light candles or incense, turn off the TV or mobile phones, take time in each day to be with yourself. This is not passive time, solitude is fortifying and strengthening to your third eye.

Support brain health

The third eye is in the middle of your forehead between your eyebrows, right where your brain and pineal gland sit. Support healthy brain function and you can automatically support your third eye. Vitamin D, from routine sunshine each day, healthy oils/fats in the diet/ antioxidants and fish oils are fabulous ways to boost brain health.

Good luck on your spiritual journey, finding a deeper connection with your mind and soul. The brow chakra is a magnificent tool that once opened and amplified with meditation, can bring about insights and understanding that will gently guide you and inspire you in the direction of your highest growth and evolution. For more information on Ajna chakra/third eye and meditation see below.

http://www.chopra.com/articles/trust-your-intuition-with-the-sixth-chakra

http://www.chakras.info/third-eye-chakra/third-eye-chakra-healing//

Heal Yourself: 6 Simple Ways to Heal & Balance Your Third Eye Chakra

10 minute self-love meditation (download to your phone and listen each night):

The Meditation Society of Australia offers downloadable podcasts and phone apps for guided meditation, along with an online community.

Finding Your inner spirit: Awakening your third eye.

http://www.meditation.org.au/

As always with healthiest regards

nutritionnourishment