Posts tagged with "mental health"

Hudson Yards, New York City, 360 MAGAZINE, Vaughn Lowery

Miracle-Minded Mojo?

It’s More than Looks and Appearances that Attract You

By John J. Murphy

In this fascinating world of innovative music, stunning fashion, eccentric new looks, and digital methods of expression, we are often mesmerized by the physical appearances of things. Stop and consider the amazing images we share with one another every day. Music videos. YouTube clips. Instagram messages. And photographs. Ahh, yes, the photographs! Foods. Sunrises. Sunsets. Mountains. Rivers. Beaches. Animals. You get the picture (pun intended).

Now stop and consider that there is a lot more to what we see than meets the eye. In fact, everything we see with our physical eyes is over 99.9% empty space. That glorious mountain. That riveting sea. That rising moon. That graceful butterfly. That beautiful celebrity. That delicious plate of pasta. Just ask your favorite physicist. At the atomic level, everything physical is predominantly empty space. Take an atom, for example, and enlarge it to the size of the Superdome. The nucleus of the atom is now the size of a grain of sand on the 50-yard line, while the electron circles the outside of the stadium. The rest? It appears to be empty space.

So, what are we really seeing, and experiencing, when we are wowed by an image, a person, or a sound? What is it that we are connecting with? The answer in a word is energy. We are feeling something that is unseen. We are resonating with an energetic frequency, like a song on the radio. Some will enjoy it, because it resonates with their “vibe.” Others will not like it and may even change the channel to find something that appeals to them. How beautiful is that? Can you imagine this world if everyone were the same?

Contrast is exciting and enriching. And it serves as a positive teaching aid, too. How are we supposed to know up without down, or day without night? Thus, the more we can learn to appreciate and respect diversity, in one another and in the multitude of expressions we see day to day, the more at peace we can be. This is the essence of miracle-minded thinking and behavior.

The Miracle-Minded Manager™ sees beyond the physical. She recognizes the sacred light in others, and she lights up the room because others now see the sacred light in her. What goes around comes around. She knows that her perception of the world and her “vibration” is the only thing she really has any control over. So, she manages her “signal” in a loving, helpful, kind and generous way. She appears as a ray of light in a dark and frightening world because she lets go of criticism, judgement and condemnation. She embodies joy and enthusiasm and hope, fully aware that she could join in the “misery loves company” crowd if she so chooses. Some may call this charm or charisma or inspiration. It doesn’t really matter what we call it. We know it when we feel it. Some people, without even saying a word, simply bring us hope and joy and renewed faith because they are present.
We also know now that we can measure it. The late Dr. David Hawkins did brilliant work on this, ultimately developing a “Map of Consciousness.” Put simply, Dr. Hawkins used a method called Applied Kinesiology to test and measure the various energetic frequencies of everything from animals to songs to books to vegetables and to people. With people, he measured the frequencies of feelings like shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, lust, anger, pride, courage, acceptance, love, joy, bliss and enlightenment. In other words, we send out a signal – a vibration – everywhere we go, and it is this signal that is the only thing we really have any control over. We have no control over anyone else’s signal – only our own. And we can change our signal by changing our minds about things.

This is the essence of miracle-minded management. When we shift our thinking about someone or something, we shift our vibration, and when we shift our vibration, we alter our experiences in the world. Think of this like changing the radio channel from an angry, violent song to a relaxing, soothing song. Or, turning off a news story of something horrible and negative, and taking a walk on a beach or sitting in a garden, listening to songbirds rejoicing to life. Peace is ever-present. All we need to do is tap into it.

Once we begin to realize that we live in a field of energy, and we are energetic (spiritual) beings – beyond physical time and space, we can begin to manage ourselves in more miraculous ways. A Course in Miracles defines a miracle as a shift in perception, a correction of wrong-minded thinking. It is something we all have the capacity to do. We just need to surrender the root cause to our problems – the fear-based, dualistic ego thought system, and awaken to an alternative that is always right in front of us. A shift at this level changes everything. A shift at this level turns the mundane into the miraculous. A shift at this level attracts more beauty into our lives by sharing more beauty with others.

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Majority of Adults Stressed by Mass Shootings

ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS SAY FEAR OF MASS SHOOTINGS PREVENTS THEM FROM GOING TO CERTAIN PLACES OR EVENTS

Hispanic adults more than twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they experience mass shooting-related stress often or constantly

A large majority of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events, according to a new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association. “It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”

To better understand the impact of mass shootings on stress and health in the aftermath of the recent tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, APA commissioned the nationally representative survey. It was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S. The survey found that more than three-quarters of adults (79%) in the U.S. say they experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. Additionally, many adults report that they are changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings. Nearly one in three adults (32%) feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, while just about the same number (33%) say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.

When asked which places they are stressed about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring, adults most commonly say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. “Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”

Hispanic adults (32%) are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Hispanic adults and African American adults also are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults to say they do not know how to cope with the stress they feel as a result of mass shootings (44% of Hispanic adults and 43% of African American adults vs. 30% of white adults). Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults). Women report feeling stressed more often than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.

7 Things To Give Up To Help You Get Pregnant This Year

by Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at Yale University

Unfortunately, a simple do-it-yourself plan doesn’t exist, but fertility specialists and women’s health experts agree that certain measures can create the best possible chances for fertilization to occur. So, without ironclad guarantees, here are 7 things to give up to help you get pregnant this year:Every couple mired in infertility, every woman who has ever spent hours scouring the Internet for new breakthroughs and conception tips has had the same wish: For a clear-cut, easy-to-follow program that would guarantee a healthy pregnancy. 

    • Alcohol. Studies focusing on alcohol’s effect on conception have produced mixed results, with some indicating that pregnancy is more likely if women give up drinking entirely and others suggesting that those who drink moderately might increase their chances of conception – perhaps because an occasional glass of wine makes them more relaxed. But experts agree that women who give up alcohol will increase their chances of a healthy baby once conception does happen, and that alone is reason enough for most women to quit.

 

    • Tobacco. Unlike alcohol, the data smoking’s correlation to pregnancy is undisputed. Both primary and secondhand smoke are detrimental to a woman’s chance of conceiving and to a developing fetus as well. Quitting is never easy, but resources and support to help you find a plan and stick to it.

 

    • Caffeine. As the daily substance of choice for most Americans, dependency on those morning cups of coffee is difficult to break. Try cutting back on your intake if you drink multiple cups a day- a recent study confirms ACOG guidelines that one standard 12 oz. cup of regular coffee (200 mg of caffeine) is safe for pregnancy. 

 

    • Your Spot on the Couch. In other words, get up and move around! Couch potatoes aren’t helping any aspect of their health, but women who are trying to conceive have an extra-compelling reason to kick it into high gear. Experts agree that women who stay within their ideal weight have a better chance of becoming pregnant, and a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women who exercise 30 minutes or more a day had a reduced risk of ovulation disorders, which often lead to infertility.

 

    • Junk food. Generally speaking, any change that moves you toward a healthier lifestyle will promote fertility. But when it comes to diet, advice seems to fall all over the map. Specific fertility diets advocate for eating foods like oysters, garlic and yams, but an extensive 2009 study advised women to follow simpler guidelines – healthy fats, selective proteins, whole grains and plenty of iron and other vitamins. It’s important to start taking supplemental folic acid to help prevent birth defects. The sooner you can start taking a prenatal vitamin with sufficient folic acid like vitafusion, the better! You should begin taking prenatals even before you begin trying to conceive. And, obviously, putting down the potato chips and the candy bars is an excellent first step to take to help you get pregnant this year. 

 

    • Excessive Stress. Granted, this step is easier said than done, especially when the chief cause of the stress is the infertility itself. But if external factors are causing undue anxiety, a woman’s chance at conception can decrease, and the stress of waiting for that positive pregnancy test month after month could be the last straw for her emotional health. Give up extra responsibilities whenever possible, talk to your boss about reducing your job stress and work in regular “mental health” days to be refreshed by activities and people you enjoy.

 

  • Lubricants Containing Glycerin. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) “Guidelines for Optimizing Natural Fertility”, several leading vaginal lubricants (e.g. K-Y) may decrease fertility based on their observed effects on sperm survival. Another study showed that lubricants containing glycerin had an adverse effect on sperm motility. Fertility experts recommend using a fertility friendly lubricant like Pre-Seed that is specially formulated without glycerin that will not harm sperm and allows sperm to swim freely. 

Like we said, there is no checklist you can complete that guarantees a healthy pregnancy, but giving up these 7 things can help you get pregnant. It’s all about creating the ideal environment for the pregnancy to happen; a healthy, happy and active lifestyle is a solid base and giving up the aforementioned things will get you there.

Wellness Expert Shares Personal Struggle with Addiction & Depression

ADDICITION. Doesn’t discriminate.
ANXIETY. Indifferent to credentials and achievements.
DEPRESSION. Blind to where you live.

By: Dr. Natacha D. Nelson D.C, M.A.

“Look at you, your parents should be disgusted by you”, voices whispered solely for my ears.

“Your black daddy and your white mommy should be ashamed, to get married, to have you…”, their unapologetic words punctured my naive heart. The seed planted.

“A half breed, black girl shouldn’t be raised by a foreign, white woman. You should be taken and given to a proper home”. Their sentiments pierced every cell of my seven year old body. The terror became real.

***

I Attended a private high school and college. And I was an addict. An eating disorder, compulsive exercise and alcohol consumed my life. Desperate to distract myself from painful and uncomfortable feelings, the addictions led to academic probation and ultimately, dismissal from college.

Determined to become successful, I redeemed myself as the doctor of a large successful practice. I became an internationally competing athlete, married, had a family and good friends around me. None of my achievements dissolved the terror restless below the surface. The image I portrayed eclipsed my fear. Not even I noticed the hibernating rumblings.

Skilled at detecting possible threats against me or my mom (whether real or imagined) I blotted out the physical and emotional consequences of undetected anxiety growing fierce. My duty as a protector and provider devoured my time, money, energy and resources. In attempt to thwart perceived threats, I bankrupt myself; physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Unable to force myself out of bed, depression ensued.

The proverbial earthquake jolted my life. Demolishing the comfortable walls I erected for safety. Raw and vulnerable, I allowed myself to feel the heartbreak, the grief and the rage. Courageously, I engaged one feeling, one emotion, at a time. Finally willing to acknowledging the terror and pain, I desperately tried circumvent.

Giving my hurt permission to breathe, I began to write. And the healing balm, called Love, soothed my aching heart. Through writing, I was able to sift through four decades of actions and behaviors of my life. Eventually, the “A-Ha” moment revealed itself to me.

*****

The insight that my choices and decisions were unconsciously driven by the need to prove to myself and others, that I was lovable. I wanted to feel accepted, at least tolerated enough, to dissuade others from harming me or my mom.

Unknowingly, my efforts could never hush the unloved parts of me I refused to accept. Other people’s beliefs- about me, my parents and my life- I accepted as true. As long as I held the misbelief that I was unlovable, nothing I could do would override my inner judgments of myself. My outward actions would follow my unconscious beliefs.

My only mistake was to believe the false words of strangers and neighbors. Accepting their judgments as true and accurate. Believing I was bad, wrong, worthless and to be ashamed of. My parents’ marriage-one year after interracial marriage was legalized- to some, was deemed a disgust and my black and white mixed skin was a disgrace.

Once I forgave myself, for choices I made from fear and misinterpretations about myself, the healing began. I could not prove I was loveable if I didn’t believe I was. Accepting I am loveable, I no longer felt the need to prove it; not to myself, to my parents, to anyone. I forgave myself for buying into the unkind words of strangers and neighbors. I Forgave myself for the actions and behaviors I engaged in as a result of the misinterpretations I believed about myself. I Forgave my parents for the mistakes I believed they made in raising me. And forgave the authority figures of my childhood whose unkind words hurt me.

Addictions thwarted my college experience.

Anxiety bankrupt me.

Depression forced me to look at every aspect of my life, lovingly guiding me through the necessary emotional process. The healing work was worth the time and effort. I am finally free.

To you, Beloved Reader. You, too, are loved, are loveable and your life matters.

With Loving,
Natacha.

To learn more about my story, my services, visit:
www.adancingzebra.com
www.lifedoctor.guru
“Finding Courage to Let YOU Out” is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About the author
Dr. Natacha D. Nelson D.C, M.A., has dedicated her career to understanding the connections between physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being through principles of Chiropractic and Spiritual Psychology. A practicing chiropractor for over 20 years, she is the owner of Inside Out Wellness Center, as well as a former professional beach volleyball player and advisor on health and wellness for the Santa Clara Fire and Menlo-Atherton Police Departments. She is a Mental Health and Wellness consultant and educator who keeps up on the latest research and attends continuing education seminars and scientific symposia, and has a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology. She lives in Los Angeles, with her daughter.

Unique Stress-Relief Methods You Should Try

Over 40 percent of Americans report dealing with stress on a daily basis. Working a full-time job and raising a family can be overwhelming at times. Waiting too long to get a handle on your stress can result in physical and mental health issues.

Finding a hobby is a great way to take your mind off of stress. Most people completely focus on the enjoyment of performing an activity they love, which allows them to focus less on what is going on at work or with their personal finances.

Here are some unique stress relief methods you may want to try out.

Going to the Gun Range Can Be Enjoyable

Are you looking for a hobby that can offer a rush of adrenaline? If so, going to the gun range on a regular basis may be just what you need. Establishments like Bellevue Gun Club offer a safe and enjoyable environment for their clients to shoot guns in.

Not only can you take up gun shooting as a hobby, but you can actually compete as well. If you feel like you have what it takes to be the best shooter in your area, start to participate in tournaments. Even if you don’t win, you can make some new friends and make memories in one of these competitions.

Taking a Trip Can Help You Get Away From Stress

Getting up and going to work day in and day out can start to wear on a person after a while. If you feel like you are stuck in a routine and need a break from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, then taking a vacation is probably a good idea. Luckily, there are tons of vacation destinations to choose from.

If you are trying to be economical, you need to do some research about accommodations in the area you will be visiting. Websites like Airbnb offer luxurious homes for a very affordable rate. The key to having a good vacation rental experience is checking the reviews the property in question has received. Taking the time to look at these reviews can help you avoid getting taken advantage of.

Let’s Get Physical

If you are looking for a way to blow off some steam after a rough day in the office, you need to think about hitting the gym. Not only can working out help you reduce the amount of stress in your life, but it can also help you get into great shape. Participating in more extreme workouts like kickboxing or even the ever-popular CrossFit can be a lot of fun.

When you are working out at a fever pace, you will not have time to dwell on the stress in your life. If you can afford it, you may want to invest in a personal trainer.

Volunteering Is a Great Idea

Do you have a number of social causes that you are passionate about? If you answered yes, then volunteering to help with these causes is a great way to reduce stress.

Not only will you be helping yourself by relieving stress, but you will also be helping your fellow man. Most charitable organizations are always looking for a helping hand, which means you should have no problem finding volunteer opportunities in your area.

Being Consistent Is Key

If you don’t stick with your new hobby, you will be unable to reap the stress-relief benefits this activity can provide. This is why you need to focus on being consistent regardless of the hobby you choose.

The app teaching anorexics to eat

More patients go into long-term remission by re-learning how to eat,
than through CBT or drugs

The Mandometer app connects to a weighing scale, and guides patients’ eating behavior by providing visual feedback. Redistributed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 from J Vis Exp. 2018; (135): 57432.

Swedish scientists say that eating disorders should be considered just that – eating disorders, rather than mental disorders. The proof, they say, is in the eating.

“Anorexic patients can learn to eat at a normal rate by adjusting food intake to feedback from a smartphone app,” says Per Södersten, Professor at the Karolinska Institute and lead author of an article in Frontiers in Neuroscience defending his pioneering method. “And in contrast to failing standard treatments, most regain a normal body weight, their health improves, and few relapse.”

The approach is based on the theory that slow eating and excessive physical exertion, both hallmarks of anorexia, are evolutionarily conserved responses to short food supply that can be triggered by dieting – and reversed by practicing normal eating.

Which came first: the diet or the anorexia?

Attempts to treat anorexia as a mental illness have largely failed, claim the authors.

“The standard treatment worldwide, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), targets cognitive processes thought to maintain the disorder,” explains Södersten. “The rate of remission from eating disorders is at most 25% one year after CBT, with unknown outcomes in the long-term. Psychoactive drugs have proven even less effective.”

Instead, they say, we need to flip our perspective: to target eating behaviors that maintain dysfunctional cognitive processes.

“This new perspective is not so new: nearly 40 years ago, it was realized that the conspicuous high physical activity of anorexia is a normal, evolutionarily conserved response – i.e., foraging for food when it is in short supply – that can be triggered dietary restriction.

“In striking similarity to human anorexics, rats and mice given food only once a day begin to increase their running activity and decrease their food intake further to the point at which they lose a great deal of body weight and can eventually die.”

More recently, the theory has been elaborated and validated by studies of brain function.

“We find that chemical signaling in the starved brain supports the search for food, rather than eating itself,” reports Södersten.

How to eat

To prove that the evolutionary perspective works in practice, Södersten and his team have put their money where their (patient’s) mouth is. Their private clinics – which reinvest 100% of profits into research and development – are now the largest provider of eating disorders services in Sweden.

“We first proposed teaching anorexics to eat back in 1996. At the time, it was thought that this was misplaced and even dangerous; today, no-one can treat patients with eating disorders in the Region of Stockholm without a program for restoring their eating behavior.”

At the Mandometer clinics, the control of eating behavior is outsourced to a machine that provides feedback on how quickly to eat.

“Subjects eat food from a plate that sits on a scale connected to their smartphone. The scale records the weight loss of the plate during the meal, and via an app creates a curve of food intake, meal duration and rate of eating,” explains Södersten. “At regular intervals, a rating scale appears on the screen and the subject is asked to rate their feeling of fullness.”

“A reference curve for eating rate and a reference curve for the feeling of fullness are also displayed on the screen of the smartphone. The subject can thus adapt their own curves in real time to the reference curves, which are based on eating behavior recorded in healthy controls.”

Through this feedback, patients learn to visualize what normal portions of food look like and how to eat at a normal rate.

Satisfying results

The method has now been used to treat over 1500 patients to remission by practicing eating.

“The rate of remission is 75% in on average one year of treatment, the rate of relapse is 10% over five years of follow-up and no patient has died.”

This appears to be a vast improvement compared to the current best standard treatment of CBT. All the more so, considering that overall Södersten’s patients started off sicker than average.

“The difference in outcome is so big that, according to our medical statistician, a randomized control trial [RCT] is now redundant. Nevertheless, we invite a head-to-head RCT by independent researchers – so far, there are no takers.”

10 Ways to Keep the Family Physically and Mentally Active This Summer

With summer break upon us, many parents will be scrambling for ideas of how to keep their families active over the next couple of months. Staying active, both physically and mentally, can help families avoid the dreaded summer brain drain, where kids tend to lose some of what they learned during the school year, and it can help keep the body healthier. Plus, you can make some great family memories and everyone can learn something. There are numerous ways for the whole family to keep active this summer in the Pigeon Forge area.

“Summer is a great time to engage your family in something new,” states Ed Shaffer, General Manager for WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. “By seeing and experiencing different things over the break, their mind and body will stay active and challenged. The Pigeon Forge area offers plenty of opportunities for the family to make memories together.”

Here are 10 ways to keep the family physically and mentally active this summer in the Pigeon Forge area:

  1. Explore Art. Check out the illusion artwork at WonderWorks, some of which have hidden objects. You can also play brain games by answering riddles along the way.
  2. Get climbing. WonderWorks offers a 50-foot tall indoor ropes course, where you can be challenged and have fun. The four stories of ropes over over 50 different obstacles and activities.
  3. Play tag. There’s nothing like a family-friendly game of laser tag to create fun memories. WonderWorks offers offers an interactive laser tag option that is a great experience for the whole family.
  4. Be awed. Don’t miss The Wonders of Magic show at WonderWorks, starring Terry Evanswood. Considered the best magic show in the state, it won’t disappoint!
  5. Start digging. Visit the interactive sandbox at WonderWorks, where every hand motion and sand movement leads to more to explore.
  6. Take a hike. The wonders of nature and benefits of spending time out in it cannot be overlooked. Pick a trail that is appropriate for all ages of those in your family, and head out for a nice hike.
  7. Learn something new. Visit a nature center, where you can take part in guided activities, learning about things in the environment.
  8. Family bike ride. Head out on one of the area’s paved bike trails, such as Riverwalk Greenway, and explore by bike. Those who are not local can rent bikes for the journey.
  9. Visit goats. Give the kids a hands-on experience with animals. Families love stopping by to see and feed the animals at Goats on the Roof.
  10. Go downriver. A fun family experience for everyone, head out for a couple of hours of family tubing or rafting. This experience provides an exhilarating experience for all.

“We are blessed to live in an area that offers many family friendly activity opportunities,” added Shaffer. “Combining WonderWorks with some outdoor activities will help keep your loved ones physically and mentally strong and growing over the summer break.”

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge offers 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, billing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, log onto their site: https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. WonderWorks is also home to Wonders of Magic, starring Terry Evanswood, the award-winning and longest running performer in Pigeon Forge. WonderWorks hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Open daily from 9 a.m. until midnight. https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge.

Why Meditative Moments Are Perfect for Those Who Suck at Meditating?

Do you want to meditate but never seem to be able to find the time? Don’t give up. Meditation’s many benefits are worth pursuing, even if you have to use your time popcorn, those small random free moments such as waiting in line, that pop up randomly throughout the day and make us instinctively reach for a distraction.

There are so many reasons to meditate. The workplace has become a breeding ground for an epidemic of SADness—stress, anxiety and depression—three afflictions that meditation can ease. Smartphones have shrunk our attention spans to sub-goldfish levels and meditation can help us focus at least as well as an amphibian. And meditation can make pain feel less painful, help us sleep better, control impulsive reactions, and improve our relationships. But most of all meditation helps us live our lives as they’re happening, not as a background music to thoughts of the past and imaginings of the future.

Here are five easy yet powerful meditative moments that anyone, no matter how busy, can fit into their day.

Stoplight = Breathe + Delight. Do you ever feel the urge to reach for your phone at a stoplight to scan your email? Where I live, one of the toughest jurisdictions for distracted driving in the world, even touching your phone to turn off an alarm while your car is on the road can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for a first-time offence. Plus a 3-day driving suspension and demerit points. Rather than reach for your phone, take a deep breath and scan your environment for something pleasing to look at, or double-up on the meditative impact by combining it with the next meditative moment…

The Happiness Wish. This simple practice has resulted in countless cases of “my best day at work in years.” Whenever you encounter someone, say to yourself “I want this person to be happy.” Not only will you short-circuit a knee jerk reaction to view others with a critical mind, but with each person you encounter, you’ll be cultivating an aura of kindness that, if they’re attentive, they’ll be able to sense. If you can wish happiness for everyone you see in a day, you will get the same mood-elevating benefits as a formal meditation session in compassion where you imagine a wider and wider circle of humanity and wish them all well. Compassion meditation always begins with yourself, so while you’re wishing happiness for others, be sure to take a moment to wish for your own happiness.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Do you remember tasting anything today, or did you scarf down your food and drink while you were busy doing something else? Food is a pleasure that deserves to be savored. You’re eating anyway, so why not take a moment to smell, taste and feel the sensations that your food gives you. Savoring your food counts as meditation.

What’s happening in your left hand? “He lived at a little distance from his body” began James Joyce’s “A Painful Case,” the tragic story of Mr. Duffy, a man who never paid attention to the world around and within him. Many of us are Mr. Duffys who would prefer to be all orderly minds without nuisance bodies that repeatedly impose their needs on us and interrupt our productivity. But when we cut ourselves off from our bodies, we cut ourselves off from what Joyce called “life’s feast,” so reconnect with your body now and sporadically throughout the day. What’s happening with your left hand? It’s not an insignificant question. To begin to inhabit the body takes you out of inhabiting only the mind. If you can feel your left hand, you can also start inhabiting other parts of the body. Feel the aliveness in your left hand, and if you have time, travel up your arm and around your shoulders down to your right hand. You may discover that your body is a welcoming place of mental rest.

Just breathe. The simplest and most portable tip, just breathe is a meditation that you can do anywhere, anytime. Take a deep breath into your belly, and let your attention follow your breath as feel your belly rise, and fall as breathe out. It only takes a few breaths to signal your body to relax, recharge and energize.

Try one of these meditative moments, notice how it makes you feel, and soon you’ll be seeking out opportunities for more meditative moments that sown together over the course of a day will have a positive effect on your wellbeing. And if you ever decide that you have five minutes or more to sit quietly and just breathe, your meditative moment will have become the bridge to building a meditative habit.

Lynne Everatt is a recovering MBA, LinkedIn Top Voice in management and culture, and nominee for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for her first book, E-mails from the Edge, a novel with the theme of workplace mental health. She is a former careers columnist for Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail. An ardent advocate for mental health through physical fitness, Lynne is a certified personal trainer who has completed two sweaty half-marathons and a marathon six minutes and twenty-three seconds of stand-up at the Absolute Comedy Club. She served for three years as President of the Board of Directors of the women’s shelter Interim Place where she met and became friends with co-author Addie Greco-Sanchez of The 5-Minute Recharge. Connect with Lynne on LinkedIn and Twitter. Together, Lynne and Addie want to make the world a mentally healthier place through their friendship.

To learn more please visit, www.5minrecharge.com.

Stress Awareness Month: Alleviating Stress and Working Out

Natalie Durand-Bush, PhD, CMPC

Association for Applied Sport Psychology Executive Board Member

Full Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Co-Founder, Canadian Centre for Mental Health, Ottawa, Canada

Recovery plays a vital role in sport. It is necessary to prevent underperformance, overtraining, burnout, injuries, and illness. This is mainly due to the fact that athletes are subjected to ongoing physical and mental stressors while training in order to stretch their performance limits. However, it is important to balance such stressors with appropriate rest and recovery through the use of periodized approaches. Periodization programs are designed and implemented in sport to maximize the effects of physical and mental training over predetermined training cycles by varying key training variables such as volume and intensity.

The aim of these programs is to maximize long-term athlete development and peak performance during targeted competitions within identified periods or ‘mesocycles’ (e.g., hockey season, Olympic quadrennial). Each mesocycle consists of preparatory (e.g., off-season and pre-competitive season), competitive (e.g., regular competitive season), peaking (e.g., playoffs, national championship), and recovery (e.g., post-competition period prior to off-season training) periods or ‘microcycles’ that vary in length based on training objectives, athletes’ needs, and the amount of time available between peaking events. Issues often arise when periodization protocols are mismanaged and training responses are not properly monitored. For example, peaking may not occur if athletes do not respect built-in recovery activities (e.g., days off, sleep routine, naps, limited social media) as a result of fearing they will fall behind their competitors. Also, coaches who insufficiently pay attention to warning signs during high-intensity periods in which athletes require more time to physically and mentally recover can jeopardize athletes’ performance and health. The costs of poor or failed monitoring could be injury or illness, including low mental health and the onset of mental illness.

Athletes’ mental health reflects their psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Athletes who are mentally healthy are able to feel, think, and act in ways allowing them to work productively, reach their full potential and goals, enjoy life, contribute to their community, and cope with normal daily stressors. When stressors (e.g., physical, psychological) exceed athletes’ internal (e.g., resilience strategies) and external (e.g., parental and coaching support) coping resources, it can deplete them and lead to significant distress and impaired functioning. In other words, it can exacerbate an existing mental illness or trigger a new one. Symptoms to which coaches should pay attention when working with athletes include any significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, isolation from others, unusual low energy/stamina, intense mood swings, decreased enjoyment and concentration, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, inexplicable pain, and difficulties performing daily tasks, to name a few. Coaches noticing such changes in athletes should intervene, particularly if these changes last more than two weeks.

This entails having a private, respectful, and empathetic conversation with struggling athletes by (a) asking them specific questions regarding observed changes (e.g., “I have noticed that you look more tired and withdrawn than usual, are you struggling at the moment?”), (b) offering support (e.g., “Your mental health is important to me, what can I do to help you recover and regain your strength?”), and (c) referring them to an appropriate mental health care provider if necessary (e.g., “I’m not a mental health expert but I am seeing signs that concern me; our team has access to a mental health practitioner and I’d like you to see this person to make sure you have the resources you need to cope and get back to your normal self”). Given the crucial role of rest and recovery in the management of both athletic performance and mental health, coaches should discuss with any struggling athletes the benefits of adding recovery periods in their training program or of taking a complete break to prioritize and help them restore their mental health.