7 Steps to Forming New Positive Habits




 

What better day than today to start making positive (and lasting) changes in our life. When we do something consistently, and without even really thinking about it, we call that a habit. Of course there are good and bad habits, but today we are going to focus on the good – though removing bad habits is very important too.

Here are 7 steps to start building more positive habits in your daily life!

1. Evaluate

Take the time to think about the areas in your life that you’d really like to improve. It can be anything from eating healthier to working out more to limiting your screen time. List them out and refine them with more details.



2. Choose one

You’ll be tempted to select more than one habit to improve, but studies show that focusing on one specific area primes you more for success in achieving it. The key is “single-tasking” over “multi-tasking”. So choose the one that most jumps out at you – it will likely be very obvious.




3. Achieve small wins

You aren’t going to build that new positive habit overnight, but with small victories along the way your brain will start to feel like it is the norm to perform this way. Each small win will build up your muscle memory on the way to making it a habit.




4. Limit “activation energy”

This means to make it as simple as possible to build your new habit. A great example for those looking to exercise daily is to have your workout clothes and shoes already setup and ready to go. If you have to wake up in the morning and take additional time to get going, you may not actually get those positive habits forming. By limiting your activation energy you’ll find far fewer excuses blocking you from getting going.




5. Remind yourself

A trick I love to use here is setting up daily reminders or calendar notifications on my phone where I’ll be alerted throughout the day of my new positive habit. Simple nudges along the way can have a massive impact.




6. Accountability

Tell your friends, family, social media contacts, etc. about what you are looking to achieve. We are designed to not like letting down others – once we make our goals public, we have hacked ourselves into a higher likelihood of achieving them.




7. Reward yourself

You remember back in grade school how much you loved getting rewards (stickers, candy, trophies, etc.) when you achieved something. That positive feedback hasn’t changed, it’s just far less common in our adult lives. Bring that back and reward yourself once you’ve achieved your goal of setting in a new positive habit in your life.



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5 Ways Foam Rolling Decreases Stress and Depression




Getting a massage is definitely one of the best things you can do for yourself and if you’ve ever had a massage, then you know how amazing it feels for both your mind and body. A massage makes you feel more relaxed, clear headed, and relieves tight muscles.  Unfortunately, a massage can get costly and can be time consuming when you try to do it on the regular. Wouldn’t it be great if you had an effective, inexpensive tool you could use DAILY that gave you the same benefits as a massage?? Insert the foam roller! Foam rolling is a form of massage that is cost effective and saves you a ton of time. The benefits of foam rolling go way beyond relieving muscle tension because foam rolling is also great for your mind. 

Below lists ways foam rolling helps to relieve stress and depression:




1. Decreases tension

The main stress hormone, cortisol, is increased after hard exercise as well as with stressful situations and leads to tension buildup in your muscles. As your cortisol is coming down after hard exercise, use the foam roller to releases the tension in your muscle tissue. The act of rolling out those knots of tension in your muscles will give your mind a sense of release as well. 



2. Increases happiness

Rolling out tensed muscle tissue may increase the joy inducing neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain. Next time you feel like your muscles are tight and you are feeling down, give yourself a massage by using the foam roller to boost feel good hormones!



3. Mood boosting

Serotonin is the main mood stabilizing hormone in your brain and when serotonin levels are low this causes feelings of anxiousness and depression. Grab the foam roller when you are feeling down and start massaging out those tight muscles to boost your mood.



4. Promotes calm

Focus your attention to your tight muscles and use the foam roller to give yourself a massage to those areas of tension. Massage decreases the excitatory neurons in your brain to promote a calm and peaceful state. 



5. Increases mindfulness

Foam rolling is an extremely effective way to practice mindfulness because as you are massaging out the tense areas of muscle, it forces your mind to draw your attention and focus to the muscles you are working on. 




References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16162447
  2. https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/healing-the-adrenal-system-the-effectiveness-of-massage-therapy
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/03/08/healthmag.massage/
  4. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-sweat/foam-roller-moves-for-stress-relief-lauren-roxburgh/




 

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Top 5 Supplements To Treat Depression




Depression is one of the most common mood disorders out there, and definitely one of the most common mood disorders I’ve seen in practice. Anti-depressants can work amazing for many individuals, however, no medication comes without side effects and side effects are the number one reason that medications fail from my experience. For that reason, for those with mild depression who need a slight boost and don’t want to go straight to a prescription medication, a supplement can be perfect.

As always, I recommend lifestyle factors first when it comes to dealing with depression, most notably exercise because exercise gives you energy and releases feel good hormones. There are other supplements out there that may also help with depression, however, I ONLY recommend supplements that have a very low risk of side effects and very low risk for interactions with other medications. That being said, it is still important to consult with your primary care provider before starting any new supplement and definitely no new supplements if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Below lists the top supplements to help decrease depression:




1.  5-HTP

How it works: Boosts serotonin in the brain which is the main neurotransmitter involved with regulating mood.

Dose: 100 mg up to three times daily as 5-Hydroxytryptophan 

How to take: Before a meal(s)



2. SAM-E

How it works: Boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain which are key neurotransmitters that regulate mood and increase feelings of happiness.

Dose: 400-1600 mg as S-adenosylmethionine

How to take: Daily 




3. L-tyrosine

How it works: Increases the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which help to boost feelings of happiness and increase focus.

Dose: 500 mg one to four times daily as L-tyrosine

How to take: With a meal




4. Vitamin B6

How it works: This vitamin helps your body to make serotonin, the main neurotransmitter involved with regulating mood.

Dose: 2.5+ mg daily as pyridoxal-5-phosphate

How to take: Daily



5. Vitamin D

How it works: Low vitamin D is strongly linked to depression. Read more about this here.

Dose: 2,000 IU daily as Vitamin D3

How to take: with a fatty meal



References

  1. http://www.epocrates.com/
  2. https://examine.com/supplements/5-htp/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-same/art-20364924
  4. https://examine.com/supplements/l-tyrosine/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/




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Top 5 Supplements To Treat Your Insomnia




 

Just about everyone has experienced a night or two of restless sleep, and so you know how awful it can be to be so tired yet unable to shut down and fall asleep – literally the worst!  Insomnia is extremely common and is usually a symptom of stress, anxiety, worry, jet lag, or all of the above. Lifestyle factors are the best for treating insomnia, which include exercising daily and managing stress, but when lifestyle factors are not helping, sometimes an over the counter supplement can be very helpful. As with any new medication or supplement, always consult with your primary care provider first before trying anything new, and definitely no new supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.



Below are the top 5 supplements to treat your insomnia:

1. Vitamin B12

How it works: Vitamin B12 helps to induce melatonin, which is the main hormone for sleep.

Dose: 1,000 mcg daily as methylcobalamin

How to take: Morning or night 




2. Melatonin

How it works: Melatonin is the main hormone that induces sleep. Read more about this here.

Dose: 1,000 mcg or less only as needed

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Possible side effects: Morning grogginess 



3. Passionflower

How it works: Activates the neurotransmitter GABA which is a calm inducing neurotransmitter in the brain.

Dose: 200 mg nightly as Passiflora incarnata

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Note: Speak to your provider before taking, it may interact with several medications including those involved with blood pressure, blood thinners, and sedative drugs. Do not take if pregnant or breast feeding.




4. Lemon balm

How it works: Activates the neurotransmitter GABA which is the calm inducing neurotransmitter in the brain. Read more about lemon balm here.

Dose: 500 mg or 60 drops tincture nightly as Melissa officinalis

How to take: Night time




5. Valerian root

How it works: Several chemicals within this root are thought to cause sedative effects. This root also may activate GABA in the brain to induce calm. Read more about valerian root here.

Dose: 400 mg capsule

How to take: 60 minutes before sleep

Possible side effects: Morning grogginess




Try one or more of the above out next time when you are having a bout of restless sleep!




References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9622603
  2. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep
  3. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/passionflower
  4. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/lemon_balm-page2/vitamins-supplements.htm
  5. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/#en20




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How To Become A Morning Person




I love the morning because you can get so much more done in a shorter amount of time – mostly due to the fact that everyone else is still sleeping! Getting up early on a daily basis is easier said than done, and it definitely takes some skill and planning to become a morning person.

Below are my top tips to make you a morning person:

1. Exercise within 30 minutes of waking

Don’t think about it, just get your workout clothes on and go. The longer you stall to workout, the greater the chance you will talk yourself out of it or you will lose that time to work out. Exercise is one of the best ways to boost energy in the morning.



2. Listen to music

 

Listening to music in the morning is energizing and helps to wake up your mind and body. Studies have shown that playing upbeat music during exercise enhances the quality of the workout as well – anyone who exercises with music understands this first hand!



3. Cold shower

Turn on cool water at the end of the shower. The cool water splashing off of your face is like a jolt to the system and an instant way to wake you up.



4. Go to bed earlier

If you want to get up earlier, sorry but this means you probably need to go to bed earlier. How much sleep you need is highly individualized, and it may take trial and error to determine your specific bed time. Figure out how much sleep you need by first counting back 7-8 hours from the time you need to wake up.

If you wake up too early this means you need to go to bed later, if you wake up from your alarm clock this means you need to go to bed earlier. Goal is to wake up right around the time your alarm clock would typically go off.



5. Avoid carbohydrates in the morning

Avoid carbs in the morning because carbs trigger hormones in your body that promote sleep, relaxation and calm – not what you want when you want to feel energized. Carbs will also spike insulin which sets up the rest of your day on a blood sugar roller coaster. Go for protein and fat which do not spike insulin, are slowly digested, keep you full, and do not induce the same calm-inducing hormones carbs do.



6. Drink water within 30 minutes of waking

During sleep, you breath out up to a liter of water meaning when you wake up you are likely dehydrated. Try to make it a habit to drink 1-2 glasses of water first thing in the morning. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue and lethargy.



7. Get direct sunlight

Sunlight shuts off melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) production, and increases energy. Open the windows or go outside for a 10 minute walk to get the energizing effect and decrease sleepiness.



8. Consistent and bed time wake time

Yes, this includes the weekend. A consistent bed time and wake time makes it easier to wake up, fall asleep, and keep your energy level consistent. If you normally need to wake up at 6:30 am every morning you should aim for this same time on the weekend.



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15 Tips You Need to Know For Better Sleep




Getting quality sleep is one of the most important factors for both your physical and mental health, which is why practicing good sleep hygiene is so important to your health. Sleep hygiene refers to things you can do to set yourself up for a restful sleep.

Below are 15 of the best tips to get a good sleep tonight:

1.Turn electronics off 30-60 minutes before bed, this includes your phone, tablet, TV, basically anything with a screen





 

2. Dim the lights 30-60 minutes before bed





 

3. Do not engage in upsetting conversations or read or watch the news at least 60 minutes before bed





4. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room





 

5. Exercising daily





6. Avoid exercise 2-3 hours before you want to sleep





 

7. Allow 2-3 hours from eating to when you want to fall asleep





8. Listen to lyric-free music before going to sleep





9. Meditate before sleep 





10. Set the thermostat to 64-68 degrees to keep your room cool





 

11. Consider using white noise to drown out other noise, such by using a fan or an app





 

12. Make your room as black as possible and consider getting a black-out curtain






13. Take a warm shower before bed

14. Avoiding caffeine at least 6 hours before you want to sleep





15. limiting naps to under 30 minutes





 

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Top 9 Supplements to Decrease Anxiety




Anxiety is one of the most common mood disorders (if not the most common) and definitely one of the top conditions I’ve seen in practice. I always ALWAYS advise lifestyle changes as first line treatment, which include exercise and eating healthy foods, but when that is not enough I will recommend certain supplements before jumping straight to medication.

I don’t love anxiety medication in general because some of them can lead to serious problems, such as addiction (ie. Xanax), and most can cause too much of a calming effect. Anti-anxiety medications also come along with a whole list of side effects (some more pronounced in certain individuals than others) and can end up causing more problems than what the individual started with. So for someone with mild to moderate anxiety, lifestyle changes and supplements are a great way to get your mood back in check.



Below is a list of the most effective and safest supplements I have come across and recommend.


1. Vitamin B12

What: Vitamin B12 helps with the production of major neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which work to modulate mood and decrease anxiety. Read more about this here.
Dose: 1,000 mcg daily as methylcobalamin sublingual, lozenge, or spray
How to take: Morning




 

2. Vitamin B6

What: This vitamin assists with the production of the major neurotransmitters that regulate mood, which include serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Vitamin B6 specifically assists with the production of serotonin’s direct precursor, 5-HTP – the more there is of 5-HTP, the more serotonin that can be made. Read more about Vitamin B6 here.
Dose: 2.5 mg daily as pyridoxal-5-phosphate
How to take: Once or twice daily

3. L-theanine

What: This amino acid activates GABA in the brain to induce calm without sedation. Read more about this here.
Dose: 100+ mg daily as L-theanine
How to take: With food

 

4. Lemon balm

What:​ This is an herb that may help to decrease stress and induce more feelings of calm. When combined with valerian root it’s anxiolytic and anti-insomnia effects may be pronounced – read more here.
Dose: 600 mg or 60 drops tincture daily as Melissa officinalis
How to take: Once daily




5. L-tyrosine

What: This is an amino acid that helps to boost dopamine and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters that help to calm the mind and decrease anxiety. Read more about L-tyrosine here.
Dose: 500 mg 1-4x daily as L-Tyrosine
How to take: With food




6. DHA/EPA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

What: Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the brain which may help to lessen anxiousness and perceived stress by the brain. Read more about this here and here.
Dose: 2,000+ mg daily as combined DHA/EPA
How to take: With a meal




7. Passionflower

What: This supplement helps to boost GABA in the brain, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for promoting calm and relaxation. Read more about passionflower here and  here.
Dose: 200 mg nightly as Passiflora incarnata
How to take: 60 minutes before sleep (can make sleepy)



8. Chamomile

What: Chamomile as a supplement has been shown to be an effective treatment of decreasing anxiety. Read more about this here and here.
Dose: 500 mg 1-3x per day as Matricaria recutita or chamomilla
How to take: Bed time (also good for promoting relaxation before sleep)




9. 5-HTP

What: This compound is the direct precursor to serotonin (main neurotransmitter involved with stable mood) and helps to boost serotonin levels in the brain. Read more about 5-HTP here.
Dose: 100 mg 1-3x daily as 5-Hydroxytryptophan
How to take: With a meal

 

Always speak to your health care provider before trying any supplement and be cautious whenever trying a new supplement because you don’t know how you will react.



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8 Simple Ways to Combat Depression and Anxiety Naturally




While anti-depressants and other medications can definitely be life-saving for people suffering from depression and anxiety, there are also many natural ways to help lift your mood.

Here are 8 easy and effective natural ways to help combat acute depression and anxiety: 



 

1. Exercise


The very best thing you can do for yourself is to get up and start moving. This does not mean running around with your kids, no, not the same thing. This means taking at least 30 minutes for yourself to decompress without distraction. The movement helps to get the anxiousness physically out of your body, while at the same time suppressing stress hormones and releasing feel good hormones and natural pain killers. Daily FitBot gives you daily workouts that don’t require a gym!



 

2. Meditation


Constant thoughts of the past and worry of the future are the hallmark of anxiety, which is why clearing your mind through meditation can be so effective. Give MeditateBot a try and start forming your daily meditation habit today!



 

3. Yoga


Also considered a type of meditation, focusing on your breath with movement helps to relax tense muscles and clear your head through the mind-body connection. Taking a deep breath also allows more oxygen into your body and to your brain to allow you to think more clear.



 

4. Make plans


The worst thing you can do is sit at home by yourself thinking about how depressed you are or going over and over something in your head. Get out and check out that new band, meet up with friends for brunch, whatever it is you like to do to, get out of your apartment.



 

5. Watch your favorite show


Reality TV gets a bad wrap for being brainless and mind numbingly dumb, but sometimes you just don’t want to think, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to sit back and relax and watch something ridiculous that has nothing to do with real life.



 

6. Eat healthy


Many people will turn to unhealthy food when they are feeling down or anxious. Think about your future self and how much worse you will feel after inhaling a pint of ice cream or pizza. You may not feel amazing after eating a bowl of vegetables with a lean protein, but you certainly will not make yourself feel worse. For a daily reminder to be “Healthy”, try out HealthyBot today!



 

7. Avoid the news


Turn off CNN and avoid trolling through Facebook or your Twitter feed, because chances are you are going to see something you do not like. Studies have shown that Facebook can cause feelings of depression and even more loneliness due to the social comparison.  And if you do find yourself down a Facebook hole, just remember that Facebook is not reality, it is a place for people to present their best self (in most cases), and no everyone is not always on vacation or getting engaged.



 

8. Avoid binge drinking


A glass of wine or two a day is considered to be heart healthy. However, many people turn to excessive alcohol intake to “numb feelings” or to be able to sleep. This will make you feel a thousand times worse the next day for a couple of reasons. One, alcohol is a depressant in itself and will make you feel more depressed. Two, when you drink alcohol before bed this inhibits deep REM sleep, and you will wake up less rested and more anxious the next morning regardless of how many hours you spent in bed.




 

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11 Must-Read Books To Help You Become More Mindful





To help you in your mindfulness journey, we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite and most accessible books on mindfulness. Each will help you apply various techniques to your daily life and bring peace within. 

1. Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking

Feel overwhelmed by your thoughts? Struggling with anxiety about your daily tasks? Or do you want to stop worrying about life?

The truth is…We all experience the occasional negative thought. But if you always feel overwhelmed, then you need to closely examine how these thoughts are negatively impacting your lifestyle.

The solution is to practice specific mindfulness techniques that create more “space” in your mind to enjoy inner peace and happiness. With these habits, you’ll have the clarity to prioritize what’s most important in your life, what no longer serves your goals, and how you want to live on a daily basis. And that’s what you’ll learn in Declutter Your Mind.  Get it here



 

2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values 

One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son.

A story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward. Get it here



 

3. When Breath Becomes Air

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. Get it here



 

4. Balance: Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1

Coloring time is calming time! Best selling coloring book artist Angie Grace invites you to relax and explore the intricate and exquisite world of stress mending circular whimsical art. Stroke by stroke, shade by shade, tension and worries fade away as you transform Angie’s beautiful black and white lines into your own unique, personal and beautiful keepsake art piece.

This book has been drawn for connoisseur colorists and is suitable for adults and older children coloring with fine tipped markers, colored pencils or brush tipped markers. 50 delightfully detailed original designs printed on one side of the page. Get it here



 

5. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Through Dale Carnegie’s six-million-copy bestseller recently revised, millions of people have been helped to overcome the worry habit. Dale Carnegie offers a set of practical formulas you can put to work today. In our fast-paced world—formulas that will last a lifetime!

Discover how to:

  • Eliminate fifty percent of business worries immediately
  • Reduce financial worries
  • Avoid fatigue—and keep looking you
  • Add one hour a day to your waking life
  • Find yourself and be yourself—remember there is no one else on earth like you!

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living deals with fundamental emotions and ideas. It is fascinating to read and easy to apply. Let it change and improve you. There’s no need to live with worry and anxiety that keep you from enjoying a full, active and happy life! Get it here



 

6. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Copublished with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being.

The Untethered Soul has already touched the lives of countless readers, and is now available in a special hardcover gift edition with ribbon bookmark—the perfect gift for yourself, a loved one, or anyone who wants a keepsake edition of this remarkable book. Get it here



 

7. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

There is no better person to show a beginner how to harness the power of meditation than Sharon Salzberg, one of the world’s foremost meditation teachers and spiritual authors. Cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, author of LovingkindnessFaith, and other books, Ms. Salzberg distills 30 years of teaching meditation into a 28-day program that will change lives. It is not about Buddhism, it’s not esoteric―it is closer to an exercise, like running or riding a bike.

From the basics of posture, breathing, and the daily schedule to the finer points of calming the mind, distraction, dealing with specific problem areas (pain in the legs? falling asleep?) to the larger issues of compassion and awareness, Real Happiness is a complete guide. It explains how meditation works; why a daily meditation practice results in more resiliency, creativity, peace, clarity, and balance; and gives twelve meditation practices, including mindfulness meditation and walking meditation. An extensive selection of her students’ FAQs cover the most frequent concerns of beginners who meditate―“Is meditation selfish?” “How do I know if I’m doing it right?” “Can I use meditation to manage weight?” Get it here



 

8. The Miracle of Mindfulness

In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness–being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness. Get it here



 

9. Wherever You Go There You Are

When Wherever You Go, There You Are was first published in 1994, no one could have predicted that the book would launch itself onto bestseller lists nationwide and sell over 750,000 copies to date. Ten years later, the book continues to change lives. In honor of the book’s 10th anniversary, Hyperion is proud to be releasing the book with a new afterword by the author, and to share this wonderful book with an even larger audience. Get it here



 

10. From Stressed to Centered

 

As your stress increases, the first thing to go is often what would help the most – your self-care. If you are feeling more tired, overwhelmed, distracted, or overextended lately, there is a simple first step on the journey to feeling better: read From Stressed to Centered: A Practical Guide to a Healthier and Happier You.

From Stressed to Centered offers a uniquely comprehensive approach to stress management and self-care by helping you understand and tackle your stress at all levels. It covers the trifecta of stress – assessment, management and future prevention!

Written by Dana Gionta, Ph.D. and Dan Guerra, Psy.D., two experts with over 30 years of combined experience, this groundbreaking book is solidly based on science and utilizes anecdotes, exercises, and practical strategies to help you:

  • Assess your current level of stress
  • Build up your resilience to future stress
  • Develop a lifestyle program of guilt-free self-care
  • Live a healthier and more fulfilling life

Get it here



 

11. Taming the Drunken Monkey

In today’s busy world, the mind can often behave like a drunken monkey―stressed, scattered, and out of control. Instead of falling victim to frustration and anxiety, learn to be calm, focused, and free of unwanted thoughts with this easy-to-use guide to mindfulness.

Drawing from Western and Eastern psychology, health systems, and wisdom traditions, Taming the Drunken Monkey provides comprehensive instruction for developing and improving three basic behaviors of the mind: concentration, awareness, and flexibility. Discover the power of breathwork exercises based on yogic pranayama, Chinese medicine, and Western respiratory science.

Apply meditation and other mindfulness practices to your life for newfound focus, creativity, body awareness, and spiritual awakening. As you progress from novice to master, you’ll effectively enhance the health of your mind, body, and spirit. Get it here



 

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8 Easy Meditation Tips To Help Beginners





Meditation has so many amazing benefits (that you can read all about here) to help improve your mind and body. Though many meditation beginners get frustrated with the difficulty of completing a practice without their mind constantly wandering – which is actually entirely normal!

Here are 8 tips that will help you begin and improve your practice:

 

1. Get Comfortable

Feeling uncomfortable throughout your practice will distract you and pull your attention towards it. Try using pillows and others props to help support an upright and attentive posture.



 

2. Relax your body

For your mind to be able to effectively concentrate on your practice, you need to begin by relaxing the body. Try taking several deep breaths prior to beginning your practice. This will help release the tension in your body.



 

3. Prepare your surroundings

It is important to find a meditation location that is free from external interruptions (think phones, tv’s, etc.). Find a private space where you know that you won’t be disrupted. Using headphones is a great way to minimize distractions.

 

4. Watch your breath

Focus on the inhalation and exhalation of each breath. By doing this, you’ll be less likely to have your mind wander. You can also count in your ahead with each inhale, then count back down with each exhale.



 

5. Re-center your focus

Your mind inevitably will wander during your practice, this happens to even long time meditation practitioners. Simply let your thoughts and emotions come into presence, observe that they are there (that’s all they really want!) and then let them go. Try and refrain from identifying and holding onto them.



 

6. Keep a half-smile

Adopt a simple half-smile throughout your practice. A ton of stress and tension is actually held in our facial muscles – a subtle smile can help relieve this.



 

7. Bring attention to your heart beat

Following your heart beat will not only help you from wandering your mind, but also brings an aliveness as our heart pumps blood throughout our entire body. Be grateful for the power of the heart.

 

8. Don’t judge your practice

You are never doing it “wrong”. Meditation beginners often get turned off because they feel they aren’t doing it right. Remember, there is really no wrong way to meditate – it is simply just you being at one with your own self.



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16 Mindfulness Tips You Need To Know





Mindfulness has been shown to help with stress, depression, and overall well-being. Here are 16 tips to help get the most out of your day and be more mindful!

 

1. Mindful means living in the moment, observing feelings and thoughts from a distance, without judging them as good or bad.




 

2. Exercise increases the feel good hormones while at the same time decreasing stress hormones, and is one of the best ways to prevent and help with depression and anxiety.




 

3. Train your brain to stay on task by limiting distractions. Turn off your phone, sign out of your email, and clear your desk to concentrate on the task you are trying to tackle.





 

4. DID YOU KNOW? Listening to lyric-free music engages the attention regions of the brain.




 

5. Active listening is one of the most important communication skills you can have because it establishes trust and shows interest in what another is telling you. Active listening is not merely hearing words, but understanding and interpreting what is being told.




 

6. One way to concentrate and understand better what another is telling you is to try repeating their words in your mind as they are speaking them. This will reinforce their message and keep you more engaged.




 

7. When you try to suppress feelings of unhappiness, this leads to more anxiety and stress buildup in the body. Instead of suppressing unhappy feelings, practice mindfulness by acknowledging the feeling exists, and understanding what you can do to move past it.




 

8. If thoughts and tasks are going through your mind keeping you up at night, keep a notepad next to your bed to write them down instead of making mental lists.




 

9. The stress hormone cortisol is generally highest within the first thirty minutes of waking – combat this stress response by practicing deep breathing and meditation first thing in the morning.




 

10. Mindfulness can help you to accept criticism better because it allows you to slow down thoughts, breath, listen and hear what is being told, and respond in a more thoughtful manner rather than just reacting.




 

11. Slow down your eating and practice mindfulness with your meals – it takes about 20 minutes for your body to send a satiation signal to your brain.




 

12. When we are distracted or multitasking while eating, it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about satiety and satisfaction. With your next meal, limit distractions and pay full attention to the eating experience.




 

13. Avoid mind wandering while working out. Instead, focus on the muscles you are working as this will enhance the effectiveness of your workout.




 

14. Mindfulness allows for us to make better choices. When the mind starts wandering under stressful situations it makes it more difficult to think clearly, and we tend to react rather than reflect.




 

15. Practice mindfulness for a better complexion. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and is a reflection of what is going on inside. Everything from your mood to your daily meals can make your complexion clearer, smoother, and younger.





 

16. Heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol increases inflammation and oil production, which leads to breakouts and inflamed skin. Lower stress naturally with daily exercise and meditation.




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Happiness by Removing “Second Darts”





We’ve all been there before…sitting at the airport…patiently waiting at the gate for our flight to board…excited to kick off our “much needed” vacation…then the announcement…

“This flight has been DELAYED” Of course, just as soon as you hear the word “Delayed” a series of negative reactions ensue:

“I told her to book the earlier flight, why did she not listen and book this one!”
“This always happens to me!”
“Who is responsible for this!?”
“There goes my vacation!”[sound familiar?]

These reactions are referred to as Second Darts. Second darts most often serve no real purpose and disproportionately harm us compared to the inevitable first darts. Simply, they are a result of the mind reacting negatively to the experience.



 

When first darts don’t even exist


One of the saddest parts of all is that many first darts don’t even exist — they are entirely drummed up in our mind.

Have you ever thought about the scenario of your boss calling you into their office to tell you that you’ve been laid off. Perhaps you’ve been called out in meetings the past few weeks and are feeling less than comfortable about your work product. On top of that, you’ve heard rumors circulating around the office that layoffs are coming soon! So what do you do???
Naturally, you fire off a first dart → I’m going to get laid off. Then, the second darts ensue….

“How am I going to pay for my son’s school!?”
“We are going to have to move in with my parents because I can’t afford our mortgage!”
“The market is terrible, how the heck am I going to find a job!?”
“My wife is going to think I’m a failure!”



Wait. Wait. Wait. You are now thinking about moving in with your parents (which is more than likely depressing you and affecting your current mood) based of an entirely hypothetical situation — getting laid off. Doesn’t this seem crazy?

 

Negative reactions to positive events


Sometimes we actually react negatively to situations that are inherently positive in nature. Think about a time whenever something that was supposed to be great for you actually resulted in you thinking about it in a negative light.

So your boss just offered you a great opportunity at work to step up and take on a bigger role → you can’t stop thinking about whether or not you’ll fail and disappoint (second dart)…



“What if I look dumb in a meeting with Executives?”
“I’m not supposed to be in charge of something this important?”
Am I even smart enough to do this?
“So what’s happening in the brain”

​It is extremely important to realize that even just thinking about a first dart kicks off a series of effects on the body. To paint the picture a bit more, here is the chain of events that occur once a first dart is set off in the untrained mind.

 

First Dart: Getting laid off from work…

  1. The thalmus (this is the “relay station” in the middle of your brain) sends an alert signal to your brain stem — causing a release of norepinephrine throughout your brain.
  2. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) sends signals to your major organs and muscle groups preparing them to“fight or flight”.
  3. The hypothalamus (the brain’s main regulator of the endocrine system) prompts the pituitary gland to signal the adrenal glands to release epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol — better known as the “stress hormones”.





 

How to avoid second darts


The good thing about all of this is that with a little bit of self-awareness and positive filtering of your thoughts, you can save your body and mind from the negative physiological and psychological impacts.Here are a few ways:




  • Accept the inevitable (first darts) — no use crying over spilled milk. Pain and heartache are some terrible aspects of life, but are outweighed by the greatness of it all.
  • Look on the bright side — find the positive side of what just happened. Your flight got delayed…go walk around the airport and get some exercise before you have to sit for 4hrs. You are getting laid off…finally you get a chance to find a job you actually want!
  • Be mindful of your thoughts — start by noticing when a second dart (or hypothetical first dart) arises and just acknowledge that it’s there. Over time, you’ll notice the second darts won’t try to come in anymore because they know you won’t grasp on to them. Try MeditateBot to start forming a daily meditation practice.
  • Practice makes perfect — your brain is a muscle and needs to be trained. The more you act or believe a certain way those neural pathways are strengthened.
  • Think about what’s happening in the brain — just knowing that these negative thoughts are sending signals to your body and causing unnecessary stress is sometimes all you need to catch them before you start.
  • Relax your body and breathe slow — by doing this you will activate the calming part of your nervous system and halt the fight-or-flight area.
  • Understand second darts are unnecessary — our brains have an evolutionary bias to focus on the negative. This was of course back when we roamed with deadly lions and bears and needed to focus our attention on what might harms us.

“There is only one way to happiness,” Epictetus taught the Romans, “and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living



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