This might seem strange that your skills would have anything to do with your well-being, but hang in here with me. It's important for several reasons.
Learning and practicing skills adds excitement to your life. When you're excited, you automatically have more energy without changing anything else. Your life satisfaction will increase when you're actively involved in learning and looking towards your future.
Do you remember when you were a teenager or young adult and people were always asking you about what your plans were and the future seemed exciting and limitless?
Why shouldn't it be the same now, no matter what your age?
Not only that, adding new skills or practices into your life works your brain muscle! Did you know that the more educated you are, the more information your brain stores, and the better it accesses what it's learned. In fact, the build up of information results in what neuroscientists refer to as "cognitive reserve," meaning that added connections and pathways between neurons give a boost to the brain which can counteract dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Step 1: Determine your primary field of interest.
Last week I wrote about clarifying who you want your future self to be and how that future self interacts with the people in your life. This week, we'll delve further into how to bring your future self into being.
Did you know that research shows that people who feel loved are more likely to enjoy healthier hearts than those who feel unloved? Love is the healthiest of all emotions, yet it takes effort to stay in love once the infatuation stage ends.
In fact studies in positive psychology show that the quality of your relationships can make you happier, perform better, and feel better.
So how do you make that a reality in both your intimate relationships, friendships, and family relationships?
When you interact with others are you intentional? The most successful people make a conscious choice on who they're going to be and how they are going to interact with people.
I'd like to start with the definition of well-being. According to Psychology Today, "Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.
Can you increase your sense of well-being? Yes, you can! Well-being develops from your thoughts actions and experience, most of which you have control over.
Through the next few weeks, I'll be covering some key components of positive well-being. When any of the components are lacking, your well-being is thrown out of balance. I'll be sharing some tools to help you discover where you should be spending your energy in increasing your sense of well-being.
Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of days here in the United States.
It's one of my favorite holidays because it's purpose is spending time with friends and family, eating a nice meal, and ideally expressing gratitude what we have in our lives. It's an innately positive experience, even when we factor in the family dynamics we might be dealing with. (-;
While it's nice to have a day focused on expressing our gratitude, practicing gratitude on a daily basis has many positive effects, some of which you may surprise you.
First, though, I'd like to give a little explanation about practicing gratitude, while understanding that it can take many different forms.
What is a gratitude practice?
Inflammatory bowel syndrome...what is it?
Anyone that's diagnosed with it, would say it's frustrating, because it isn't really a diagnosis.
Inflammatory bowel syndrome, or IBS, is the diagnosis you're given when everything else has been ruled out. It's a collection of symptoms with an origin that can't be identified. 40% of people that visit the doctor report gastrointestinal problems. 60 million Americans suffer from IBS and those are only those that have received the "diagnosis."
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms may also include headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and/or muscle pain.
To receive a diagnosis of IBS, the symptoms are chronic, occurring for at least three to six months.
What causes IBS?
Awareness is the first step to battling chronic stress. Have you been living your life at the same frantic pace for so long that it feels normal for you?
Are your struggling with chronic stress?
These are all symptoms of chronic stress.
I just spent an hour making dinner. It's one of my favorite new recipes, chipotle butternut squash and black bean tostadas. I've also made my favorite kale and strawberry salad. The meal checks all the boxes for me. It has plenty of vegetables, it's flavorful, and it's filling. Not only that, for my lunch the next day, I'll reheat a tostada and plop a fried egg on top. Delicious!
I set the table, since everyone's been in other parts of the house doing their thing. I'm fine with that, since I go into a meditative state when I cook, or sometimes I listen to podcasts or my music. I'll add one more thing: I'm sort of messy when I cook and my husband almost always cleans up after dinner. And we both want the kids to help more with the clen up. We agree on that point.
I call everyone to dinner and the first thing that happens is my husband states adamantly, "You kids are cleaning up tonight." Chaos ensues. My daughter has homework, my son already took out the garbage, plus he "always helps," and I get irritated because I just want everyone to enjoy the meal, especially me. Figure out the clean up later, after all, even if it's a mess, it doesn't take nearly as much time as making the meal.
And the worst part is that I know stress and conflict isn't good for digestion!
It makes intuitive sense that chronic stress would impact our health. Sometimes we can feel the physical manifestation of stress in our gut, that icky feeling in the pit of our stomach.
Yet many of us have become so accustomed to hectic lifestyles, that our baseline of stress is much too high and we may not even notice how stress is effecting us.
What Do You Consider Stress?
There are two forms of stress:
Stress can be from a real or perceived threat. Your nervous system is sounding an alarm and readying the body to respond quickly.
When I taught childbirth preparation classes, I talked about this quite a lot. When the body or mind senses a threat, non essential processes come to a halt. Back then I was talking about labor coming to a halt with stress, now I focus more on the effects of stress on digestion, which also can come to a halt with stress.
In both cases, what we think about, who is with us, and our psychological and physical histories play a part in how our systems function.
Stress is supposed to be a short term solution to increase our chances of survival, not a long term plan.
Ten Ways Stress Impacts Our Health
This week, I am presenting several stories, or case studies of how food can impact the behavior of children.
The reason I'm talking about children is first because that's how I came to focus on the impact of food choices and second because the gut-brain connection is more obvious in children because they are less capable of filtering their what they're feeling.
I begin with my story, but be sure to scroll down to my interview with Matt Wright. It's interesting to here his story of how his childhood behavior issues were solved by food changes from his perspective as an adult.
A little bit about the gut-brain connection.
I'll go deeper into the gut-brain connection in a future blog post, but I want to provide some background for the stories I'm telling now.
The gut is being considered the second brain. It has more neurons than the brain and the spinal cord put together. Neurons communicate and transmit information throughout the body. It was thought that the brain controlled the action of the neurons in the body, but now we know that they are controlled in the gut as well.
Commit to "A Quiet Space" in your life each day.
Click above to join my Women's Wellness Circle: From Inflammation to Vibrant Health as we meditate for 20 minutes each day for 21 days, during Deepak and Oprah's 21 Day Meditation Experience: Shedding the Weight Mind Body and Spirit.
PS. We're a nice group of women. 🙂
This article was originally posted on April 5, 2017. If you are newer to reading my weekly blog, you may not know that I travelled the world with my family for the 2016-17 school year. These are my thoughts on meditation, partly related to what I learned while traveling. Enjoy!
We were wandering around the old town of Granada. It's fun to get lost in these old areas, because around each corner could be a beautiful square or church.
It's hard not to be curious about what's inside, when standing outside a huge, thick, wooden door.
How often do most of us take time during the day to just be?
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Hi, I’m Crystal!