Balance

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When No Means Yes

When No Means Yes

Many folks these days have a case of the terrible "toos".

Too busy. Too many. Too much.

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Three Ways to Find Calm in a Busy World

Three Ways to Find Calm in a Busy World

The holiday season is drawing near. Does it feel like your life is speeding up?

There is no doubt that we live in an increasingly busy world. More speeding up is not what most of us need!

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Self-Care Lessons from my Cats

Self-Care Lessons from my Cats

Last week I shared some self-care reminders that I've picked up from my dog, Princess. So, this week, I thought I'd give my cats some credit too.

There are those who firmly identify themselves as "dog-people" or "cat-people", but my family lives in an mixed household. This has provided me with an equal opportunity to appreciate the distinctions in my pets' approaches to life, and to notice some of the particular habits that serve them well. Here are a few self-care tips from Samantha and Angel that I have found helpful:

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Self-Care Lessons from my Dog

Self-Care Lessons from my Dog
If you’ve ever spent any time on social media, you know how much people love their pets. We view and share photos and videos of our four-legged friends with enthusiasm, and the images are sure to bring us smiles of affection and enjoyment. What is it about our animal companions that is so heart-warming? Of course, it feels good to be connected to other creatures, and the health benefits of having a pet are well-established. A number of studies have explored the ways that pets improve our cardiovascular and emotional health. Pets can also be good teachers of self-care, if we pay attention. They are naturally vulnerable and authentic - characteristics that experts like Brené Brown associate with “whole-hearted living”. Here are a few of the self-care lessons that I’ve learned from my dog, Princess:Be Curious — Even if you’re in the same place with the same people, stay present and engaged. If you want to keep growing, don’t assume you know everything about anything. Allow yourself to ask questions and take in new information. Curiosity is a key ingredient of mindfulness and a critical tool for creating breakthroughs in thinking and behavior. When I take a walk with Princess, she models a vivid experience of living in the moment.Relax — You probably remember from science class that the automatic part of our neurological system is designed with two complementary parts — one which helps us respond to challenges and emergencies (i.e. the sympathetic system which activates the stress response) and the other which promotes rest and repair (i.e. the parasympathetic system which activates the relaxation response). To maintain optimal health, we need a balance of stimulation between the two. Our busy culture often promotes overstimulation of the stress response. Our pets are great reminders to slow down and balance things out.Cuddle —Dogs have obvious physical needs like food, shelter, water and exercise. They want more though. They want to be petted and cuddled. It’s not just that we help them scratch in places that they can’t easily reach. It is also apparent that they enjoy our company and our touch. Research demonstrates that cuddling helps meet important physical and emotional needs. In this age of electronic interaction, we need to make sure we’re getting some cuddle-time too! Ask for What you Want and Need — When our pets sidle up to us for some love and attention, who can resist? They aren’t shy about asking, and even if we can’t accommodate them at the moment, they’ll try again later. They don’t seem to worry about what we think or whether we’ll reject them. Did you ever notice how good it feels to be able to make them happy? People like to be of service. Next time you get stopped from making a request, consider this: When you don’t ask, you are denying someone an opportunity for kindness and generosity.Show Appreciation —  The sight of our dogs bounding to meet us, tails wagging, brings us joy. It embodies a warm sense of welcome, love and belonging that never gets old to us. To our delight, it never gets old to our companions, either! We know what makes them happy — seeing us come home, scratching them in their favorite place, taking them on a walk, feeding them - because they show us. Fortunately for both of us, their expressions of appreciation help reinforce our desire to do more of what they like...which is good for us too (see #4).What about you? What self-care lessons have you learned from your pet? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Five Ways to Avoid Electronic Overwhelm

Five Ways to Avoid Electronic Overwhelm

Have you found yourself in the habit of constantly checking your phone, tablet, or computer for emails, texts, or other electronic communications? Do you respond to various chimes and ring tones with the same predictability as Pavlov's dog?

For better or worse, modern life has given us a new set of tools that can be wonderful servants, but terrible masters. Many of us can start to feel like we are "reacting" to our lives rather than creating them. Even worse, we can find ourselves distracted by the perceived demands of these virtual communication tools -- and miss out on connecting with the important people who are around us. If we want to live with more mindfulness and intention, we have to set some limits on our electronic tools and develop practices that keep us in the driver's seat.

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Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

In the last couple of months there has been a lot of buzz about the new documentary, Fed Up. The film, narrated by Katie Couric, takes a hard look at some of the factors that are driving preventable chronic diseases in our country. It's no secret that we are seeing dramatic increases in chronic metabolic diseases — like obesity, diabetes, lipid disorders and hypertension. But is our approach to dealing with these problems on target? The answers may surprise you.

Obesity gets a lot of attention because it is a visible disease. From the outside, people can't see if someone has diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Obesity can increase someone's risk for these conditions, but it is also important to know that people can be at risk even if they don't have a high body mass index (BMI). Body mass index can be useful information, but it doesn't distinguish between lean and fat tissue. You can actually be "thin on the outside but fat on the inside" (TOFI). In fact, an Italian study published in 2009, found that BMI tended to underestimate someone's risk for metabolic disease.

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Balance

Balance

"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact.And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act." ~ Dr. Seuss

At Christmas last year, I received a wonderful gift that had been on my "wish-list" for some time. It was a balance board. If you haven't ever seen or tried one out, it is a simple device, but not as easy to master as one might think. It is a short, rectangular board with a non-slip surface on top. On the bottom are strips of wood that create a groove which fits onto a round cylinder that is placed below it. Imagine a plank laid on top of a barrel.

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