Notify Yourself!

Notifications. They flood our inboxes, ding from our phones, and buzz from our smartwatches. They keep us informed β€” and on edge. That’s life, though, unless you’re the type of person who doesn’t do social media and says so with a wrinkled nose, like you’re handling someone else’s dirty tissue. Are these our only two options? Is there a happy medium? I think there is.

Imagine your friend, or perhaps only a casual acquaintance, calls you on the phone several times a day to tell you what they just ate or to recommend a song they just heard or to tell you a stupid joke someone just told them. Imagine if ten friends did that. Or twenty. Annoying, right? But many of us allow this constant bombardment from our social media accounts and call it normal. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real. But missing out is not always a terrible thing.

Several years ago, I turned off all my notifications. It doesn’t keep the apps I use from trying to strong-arm me into turning them back on again. But it’s been worth it. Now, it’s up to me to check my Facebook pages, websites, and other social media sites for activity. What a concept! Choosing to notify myself. (Of course, there’s still the real danger of getting sucked in and spending way too much time scrolling. I keep telling myself to put a timer on before I log in. Do I always listen to myself? No. But at least I know it’s possible to practice healthy distancing from my newsfeed.)

If you’re looking for a way to de-stress in this new year, may I suggest taking control of and responsibility for your own notifications. Stop allowing the apps that are there to enrich your life have so much control. Notify yourself, instead. And happy new year. πŸ™‚

Gratitude Spiral: Day 365

Today, I’m grateful for Thanksgiving Day and the completion of a year of traveling the Spiral path of Gratitude.

It began on Thanksgiving Day 2019 and has come, day by day, to Thanksgiving Day 2020. As I stated in the first Gratitude Spiral post, I wanted “to come around to gratitude over and over again, but be moved forward or outward, like a spiral.” I was aiming for a new place. A more grateful and appreciative place. And I think that’s where I’ve landed. What about you?

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 311

Today, I’m grateful for flowers in my kitchen.

I bought them for myself. Grocery shopping is not a pleasant task for me, made more uncomfortable by the Covid-19 pandemic. Feeling like I needed a pick-me-up the other day, I chose a deep red bouquet just for me. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. πŸ™‚

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 265

Today, I’m grateful for neighbors stopping to admire our hibiscus flowers.

At first glance out my window, my grumpier self thought that the dog-walking neighbors were letting their dogs use my corner bush as a dumping ground. Then, I realized they were photographing the hibiscus flowers. What a happy thing to have something that brings joy to passers-by! And a few minutes later, I saw another neighborhood family doing the same thing. πŸ™‚

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 154

Today, I’m grateful for wall decals β€” specifically the ones on the wall in my writing/ craft room.

They’re larger than life and just make me smile. Especially on cold, rainy spring days.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 19

Today, I’m grateful for all the little facial muscles that I use to form a big smile!

Did you know that, even if you don’t feel like smiling, breaking into a wide grin can actually make you feel better? Using those smile muscles releases brain chemicals thatΒ  will lift your spirits. Really!

What are you grateful for today?

Thinking Outside

I saw on the news recently that being outdoors is good for one’s mental health. Duh! This is news? There’s something about the trees, the birds, the expansive sky above, the grass or the mountains under your feet. Right? Why do we need studies to prove what we all already know? Just stepping outside, after being cooped up in an office, in front of a computer screen, or in a house doing dishes and laundry, can make your whole being sigh!

So, I try to take daily walks outside, as much for my brain as for my body. When I finished walking this morning, I picked pea pods, a single cuke, a handful of raspberries, and a decent bowlful of blueberries from my gardens. And I brought them inside. But, as I passed all the flowers in the yard, it dawned on me that I never think to bring them inside. I know people who bring cut flowers in all the time. Why haven’t I? I had no answer for myself, so I grabbed the kitchen shears and went back outside to collect a bouquet.

My point is, if being outdoors can make you happy, then why not bring some of the outdoors in? I’ve got garden-fresh fruits and veggies and a lovely bouquet to boost my spirits. What kind of outdoor treasures do you bring indoors?

You know, they don’t even have to be living things. Just reminders of your connection to the great outdoors. Think about it! Think outside! πŸ™‚

 

About Stress…

DSC_0358In this new chapter of my life, I keep discovering things I wish I’d learned thirty or forty years ago. If you’re on the far side of fifty, like me, you can probably relate. But since we can only move forward (or so they say), we must forge ahead without regret. Much of my recent self-directed education has been focused on learning how to live a healthy, happy life. Stress-reduction is key to reaching that goal.

Seven or so years ago (time flies, so maybe it was closer to ten??), I read Dr. Kathleen pnpDesMaisons’s books, Potatoes, Not Prozac and The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery System. They changed my life. I discovered my sugar-sensitive self and was able to change my eating habits, break my addiction to sugar, and step out from under the heavy cloud of depression. I’ve become so much more aware of what and how I eat and of how that affects the way I feel. It took years to get where I am today and, of course, the journey continues.

Last weekend, I attended a workshop lead by the author of two bhbsother books that I’ve read more recently: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and The Placebo Effect. In these books, Dr. Joe Dispenza teaches that through meditation it’s possible to break the cycle of thinking and feeling (and feeling and thinking) the same way everyday in order to create a new, happier, healthier future. And now I’ve just started reading Dr. Christiane Northrup’s brand new book called Goddesses Never Age. In it she postulates that there’s a difference between growing older and getting old. She sites the work of Dr. Dispenza within the first few chapters of this latest book and of Dr. DesMaisons in at least one of her previous books.

All three of these authors are proponents of meditation as a means to balanced health. And all three discuss the devastating effects of stress hormones on the body. I’m sure we’re all aware on some level that being “stressed out” is not the best thing for us. But the more I learn about what the body goes through when those stress hormones are released, the more I understand the value of learning how to de-stress.

We can experience physical stress, like not getting enough sleep, or emotional stress, like losing a loved one, or chemical stress, like consuming a high-sugar diet. Adrenaline and/or cortisol rush to our aid to sustain us and strengthen us in our momentary need. But they’re only meant for short-term use. If we’re constantly stressed, then we’re not giving ourselves a break from these hormones. And that can wreak havoc in the long-term. It can literally wear out the body, organ by organ, system by system.

It’s important to take stock of the stress in one’s life and to assess it as a very real health DSC_0703threat. There are small, but effective ways to de-stress, like taking a walk, enjoying the scenery, playing with your dog, cuddling your kitten, or just taking a few deep breaths. New habits could be formed: learning how to meditate, eating healthier foods, unplugging from your electronic social connections once in a while, or investing time in a hobby, to name a few. For some, there may be a need to take even larger, more difficult steps to let go of stress, like getting counseling, changing jobs or marital status, quitting smoking, or moving away from a bad situation. The goal is to learn what it feels like to be truly non-stressed and to make that the norm for your life.

I know that de-stressing is often easier said than done, but ultimately it’s our health we’re talking about here. It’s the quality of our lives that’s at stake. And who doesn’t want to live a long, healthy life? So, I encourage everyone (myself included) to take the time to make the changes that will lead to stress reduction and improved health. Check out one of the books I’ve mentioned above or take a pottery class or put your iPhone on silent for an hour…or do whatever it takes! And enjoy your life!