Archive for February, 2016

Self-Care Sunday: Disconnecting from Our Devices and Reconnecting to Our Lives by Margarita Tartakovsky

February 28, 2016

laptop-in-bed-e1456060418848We take our devices—namely our phones—everywhere with us: to dinner, to bed (so they’re the first and last things we see before slumber), even to the bathroom. But at least for me, this is a (too) noisy way to navigate the world. When I check my phone in the mornings, in bed, my mind starts to feel packed: packed with information from social media and websites I’ve visited, packed with what I need to do. Often I find that I’m not even reading what I’m seeing. I’m just scanning and scrolling down, very quickly, trying to absorb everything. Everything. Which naturally makes my mind feel all jumbled up and overwhelmed.

I feel most at peace when I’m not with my phone (or at least when I’m not checking it every few minutes for texts or email). Rather, I feel most at peace when I’m writing without any distraction, riding my bike with Brian and breathing in the breeze, participating in a challenging workout, and, if you can even believe it, sometimes while washing dishes. Basically, I feel most at peace being present to my mind, my body or my world.

This doesn’t mean that I hate technology. Like Sherry Turkle says in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, “So, my argument is not anti-technology. It’s pro-conversation.” (I featured her book in this piece on talking face to face.)

That is, I’m pro-space, pro-joy, pro-being mindful, pro-looking at each other and the stars, pro-wondering and wandering, and pro-listening to our loved ones.

That is, technology becomes problematic when it starts to spill into every area of our lives and stops us from tasting and touching and seeing and savoring our lives. When it overshadows that. When it takes us away from a project that’s really important to us, or time with our families, which is precious.

If you can relate and are looking for more space in your life, here are some suggestions for gently removing devices from your life, while gaining a whole lot more.

  • Create tech-free zones—both times and places where technology isn’t welcome. This might be not checking social media and email after 6 p.m. This might be no phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom.
  • When you’re working, put your phone in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Think about what your mornings and evenings could look like, if you aren’t waking up to your phone, mindlessly scrolling, or tucking yourself into bed with one last check of email. What would you do? What would you have time for? What would you enjoy? What do you look forward to?
  • Think about what you’d personally gain if you weren’t so plugged in and tuned in with your devices. If it helps, make a list.
  • Carve out 15 to 30 minutes of quiet time every day. You might listen to calming music and just be with your thoughts and feelings. You might listen to a guided meditation at this time. You might journal. You might simply sit outside and listen to the sounds, and look at the sky.
  • Use programs like Ommwriter, if you’re having a hard time concentrating, and keep checking other websites. I’ve used this program to write my last few blog posts, and it really helped me to fully focus.
  • Schedule when you’ll use the Internet (instead of working around your distractions). In the new book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport suggests writing in a notepad the next time you’re allowed to use the Internet. You’d keep this notepad by your computer at work. “Until you arrive at that time, absolutely no network connectivity is allowed—no matter how tempting,” he writes. (I’ll be featuring the book in an article for Psych Central.)
  • Do something every day with your hands, and by that I don’t mean touching a screen. I mean cook dinner, write a letter, write in your journal, sew, create a collage, play with Play-Doh (seriously). Do something that grounds you and takes up most of your attention.

Again, I’m a big fan of technology. But when we’re constantly plugged in, we aren’t connected to what really counts, which for you might be anything from meaningful work to your surroundings to your loved ones to peace to joy to excitement to love. When we regularly disconnect from our devices, we reconnect to ourselves and to our lives.

I’ve written more about using technology mindfully in this piece and in this piece.

How do you manage technology? Do you start the day with your phone in hand? Do you have boundaries around technology use? What works for you?

Article Sourced here:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Mushroom Stuffed Trout

February 25, 2016



Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Getting Up

February 23, 2016

04_d_woman getting off floorPicture this, you are enjoying a late afternoon walk in the park as you go around the next corner you slip and fall to the ground.  Good news is you haven’t hurt anything. Bad news is as you have avoided getting onto the ground for years because your flexibility has become limited, your knees hurt and you feel foolish with the amount of effort it takes you, you can’t get up.  So you find yourself toppled over, no one about and nothing to hoist yourself up.  What do you do?
Lets take you back to that time when your Doctor/physiotherapist/class instructor said that “today we are going to do some floor exercises for strength and mobility”.  That was the time you left the room and opted for the upright exercise bike for your workout.

Let’s change that picture and say you decided to give it a go.  For the first couple of weeks you used a chair to help you down and up.  As you gained your confidence and were taught how to get up you switched the chair for a helping hand until you found that a few weeks along you had the strength in your legs and improved mobility everywhere else to get up with limited assistance.
Playing with the grandkids became more interactive.  Gardening was easier and even picking up dropped items around the house was now not a problem.
There are many reasons why people don’t/can’t get down onto the floor. Is your reason one that can be worked on to improve your quality of life so you don’t get stuck?  With the right strengthening exercises, mobility exercises and a step by step process to get you up again,  this common scenario won’t be a problem for you.

What stops you from getting down?  Is it sore knees, a restrictive back, stiffness, vision problems or have you lost your confidence?  In some cases people who have had a hip or knee replacement have a genuine reason why getting down and up is difficult but at the end of the day if you fall you need to have some solutions as to how to get up again.

How to get up. Start by:
Rolling onto your side.
Push yourself into a seated position and then onto your knees.
Then curl your toes back under;  and
Either put your hand on your strong leg, brace your tummy and push up through your feet or pull yourself up by using a piece of furniture or a sturdy tree.
If all else fails ask someone for help.
Practice regularly getting down and up and it will become easier, restoring your confidence. The alternative is of course that you stay on that ground in the park until someone comes along.  Hopefully a dog won’t mistake you for a garden ornament!
Give Glen or Jacqui a call on 66586222 if you need some help.

Is Anger Ruining Your Health?

February 21, 2016

Constantly losing your cool can hurt more than your relationships.

People who are habitually angry also report feeling sick more often.

Sometimes anger can be good for you, if it’s addressed quickly and expressed in a healthy way. In fact, anger may help some people think more rationally. However, unhealthy episodes of anger — when you hold it in for long periods of time, turn it inward, or explode in rage — can wreak havoc on your body. If you’re prone to losing your temper, here are seven important reasons to stay calm.

1. An angry outburst puts your heart at great risk. Most physically damaging is anger’s effect on your cardiac health. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” says Chris Aiken, MD, an instructor in clinical psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“Repressed anger — where you express it indirectly or go to great lengths to control it, is associated with heart disease,” says Dr. Aiken. In fact, one study found that people with anger proneness as a personality trait were at twice the risk of coronary disease than their less angry peers.

To protect your ticker, identify and address your feelings before you lose control. “Constructive anger — the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner — is not associated with heart disease,” and is actually a very normal, healthy emotion, says Aiken.

2. Anger ups your stroke risk. If you’re prone to lashing out, beware. One study found there was a three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst. For people with an aneurysm in one of the brain’s arteries, there was a six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm following an angry outburst.

Some good news: You can learn to control those angry explosions. “To move into positive coping, you need to first identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response,” says Mary Fristad, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University. Instead of losing your temper, “Do some deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills. You might even need to change your environment by getting up and walking away,” says Dr. Fristad.

3. It weakens your immune system. If you’re mad all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often. In one study, Harvard University scientists found that in healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the cells’ first line of defense against infection.

If you’re someone who’s habitually angry, protect your immune system by turning to a few effective coping strategies. “Assertive communication, effective problem solving, using humor, or restructuring your thoughts to get away from that black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking — those are all good ways to cope,” says Fristad. “But you’ve got to start by calming down.”

4. Anger problems can make your anxiety worse. If you’re a worrier, it’s important to note that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In a 2012 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy, researchers found that anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life. Not only were higher levels of anger found in people with GAD, but hostility — along with internalized, unexpressed anger in particular — contributed greatly to the severity of GAD symptoms.

5. Anger is also linked to depression. Numerous studies have linked depression with aggression and angry outbursts, especially in men. “In depression, passive anger — where you ruminate about it but never take action — is common,” says Aiken. His No. 1 piece of advice for someone struggling with depression mixed with anger is to get busy and stop thinking so much.

“Any activity which fully absorbs you is a good cure for anger, such as golf, needlepoint, biking,” he says. “These tend to fill our minds completely and pull our focus toward the present moment, and there’s just no room left for anger to stir when you’ve got that going.”

6. Hostility can hurt your lungs. Not a smoker? You still could be hurting your lungs if you’re a perpetually angry, hostile person. A group of Harvard University scientists studied 670 men over eight years using a hostility scale scoring method to measure anger levels and assessed any changes in the men’s lung function. The men with the highest hostility ratings had significantly worse lung capacity, which increased their risk of respiratory problems. The researchers theorized that an uptick in stress hormones, which are associated with feelings of anger, creates inflammation in the airways.

7. Anger can shorten your life. Is it really true that happy people live longer? “Stress is very tightly linked to general health. If you’re stressed and angry, you’ll shorten your lifespan,” says Fristad. A University of Michigan study done over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger have a shorter life span than those who readily say when they’re mad.

If you’re not someone who’s comfortable showing negative emotions, then work with a therapist or practice on your own to be more expressive. “Learning to express anger in an appropriate way is actually a healthy use of anger,” says Fristad. “If someone infringes on your rights, you need to tell them. Directly tell people what you’re mad about, and what you need,” she says.

Article sourced here:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Moroccan Steak & Lemon

February 17, 2016


Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Incidental Activity

February 16, 2016

Do you know if we all just moved more , then we would be slimmer, fitter, less stressed and more confident.  Did you know that if you just did 30 minutes of activity a day, even if you break that activity down into 3 ten minute blocks you would be slimmer, fitter, less stressed and more confident.

So to do that all you need to do is to get smart and add some movement incidentally into your life. For instance use the stairs not the elevator or escalator. Park further from work or the shops so you can get a few minutes walk to and from your destination.  Take your grocery bags in to your house,  one bag at a time to make more trips.  Hand wash your car instead of using the drive through so you burn up more energy.  Walk your dog twice a day and watch him benefit as well.  If you arrive early for an appointment, go for a walk around the block rather than sitting and reading magazines in the waiting room.
All this extra movement will add up and after a couple of weeks you will notice the benefits.  Let’s see how you rate with your incidental activities.

Give yourself a point for each time during last week you did the following:
Used the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator (1 point)
Took your grocery bags into your house one at a time (1 point per bag)
Parked the car further from the shops and walked (2 points)
Walked around the block because you were early for an  appointment (2 points)
Hand washed the car (2 points)
Walked your dog twice a day (2 points)
Went for a walk with a friend rather than sat and had coffee. (3 points)

So let’s say each point equalled 5 minutes and you did each of the above suggested incidental activities last week.  You added 65 minutes of extra activity into your week.  Minutes you didn’t really even have to think about. Minutes that have boosted your metabolism and decreased your stress.  Minutes that will make a big difference to you long term, if you do them regularly.

Now all you have to do is work out how you can get 30 of those minutes, or 3 lots of 10 minute blocks, into your day to be making the biggest difference to your  health and long term longevity.

On the flip side you can see how when we become more sedentary and take these movement opportunities out of our days, weeks and lives, we become fatter, lazier and stressed.  Thank goodness those of you who read this article think smart and are always on the lookout to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
So get smart and give Glen or Jacqui a call at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 for a free activity session or chat.

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Kale, Avocado, Strawberry & Sesame Salad

February 11, 2016


Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Core & Your Pelvic Floor

February 9, 2016


Today I would like to give you some really simple tips on how to work your core muscles that anyone can do and no one will know you’re doing it!

Firstly, always think pelvic floor first when you are activating your core.  The pelvic floor is like a sling or hammock that runs from your public bone, between your legs and inserts up near your tail bone. Its job is to keep all your bits in place eg control the flow of your bladder and bowel movements, lift the scrotum and vaginal muscles and help stop you having a prolapse of any of the above.  Very important muscle but one that often gets forgotten.

Here are a couple of simple ways you can incorporate pelvic floor activation into your everyday life.  Firstly sit straight on a chair and it will help you if you imagine you are naked and the chair is made of cold steel.  Yep that’s right you straight away want to lift your bits don’t you!  So for men ‘lifting your bits’ is a little easier they just need to lift their scrotum and there is their pelvic floor activation!  For ladies imagine you have a full bladder or bowel and you need to hold on to it while you are sitting on that cold, cold steel.

Don’t worry about counting repetitions.   Just simply lift, pulse the lift, hold the lift even put some music on and ‘dance’ your pelvic floor lifting to the music.  Once you have the action happening, try it while you are standing in the supermarket aisle, at the traffic lights and during commercial breaks!  Now the only thing you need to do is check when you activate your pelvic floor you’re not squeezing your butt muscles. Try lifting your pelvic floor when you stand up, lift something, sneeze, cough etc. It will make a massive difference to you in more ways than one.

So next time you are at the supermarket and you see someone standing there with this faraway look in their eyes you will know what they are concentrating on ….  ☺ Give Glen or Jacqui a call at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need some more guidance.

I Stopped Staring at my Smartphone, & started Living.

February 7, 2016

Inspired by Essena O’Neill, I began to question my own handling of my smartphone and social media. What does it really do to me? What do I want? What am I even looking for online?

And even more, What happens if I just decide to quit?

And that’s what I did. I sold my iPhone. Yup. And I quickly realized the following: Everyone wants and needs connection. It is what makes us human. And it is why all these social networks work.

I personally feel a longing for meaningful friendships, for soul sisters, for beautiful connections with like-minded souls. I think this wish is natural and human. And while looking for these aspects of my life, I started, like everyone else, using social media. I used Instagram, Facebook and even Whatsapp to find a sense of connection.

Becoming addicted to it was not part of my plan.

What really happened to me when I used these social media tools is kind of fascinating. While I wanted to use them to fill my life with meaning, I slowly but surely “died” internally. It kept me f***ing busy all the time, yes, but I never felt true love or connection while browsing through other people’s perfectly polished lives.

Do you ever? You can lie to me, but come on, please be honest with at least yourself and answer the question.

Marianne Williamson says that with every big movement there comes a shadow. I believe that too. The internet is a big movement, and very present in our lives; it connects us faster than anything before. It not only brought us online shopping and chats; it also did us a favor in the areas of education, job searches, news and weather.

But it brought us some tough stuff as well: young teenagers who have no idea who they are allowed to be, because social media tells them all the time that they are not enough, porn addiction, and anonymous shaming and bullying, because everybody thinks they can offend anyone, if they only use a nickname and fake picture.

I learned that I no longer wanted to be part of the consuming public.

Yes, I love to watch other people, too, but can’t we all have a dose or two of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and then get over it and into our real lives?

I realized that I do not want to be a mother who is online all the time and never there for her daughter. I can’t. I do not want her to remember me like I had a disorder in my right hand called iPhone. Nope. I want to listen to her without tweeting a picture of us, watching other people on Instagram or reading text messages on Whatsapp. I want to be present in her life and by her side.

I made the switch.

And you can too, if you feel like you want to. The first days were quite tough. I felt left alone and disconnected, but then I felt a sense of relief, like I got back in my life and down to earth. I felt here in the now; I felt more present (still working on that one though), and with that I felt more alive.

I have more energy, I need less sleep and I even started dreaming again. (Yes, social media had quite an influence in my life!)

And with presence there came real and meaningful connections; friendships have been stronger ever since, and moments have been shared with 100 percent intention. It is possible to live without an iPhone, and it is a great way of life, too.

My tips on how to survive like this?

Because you start to live again, there’s no need to survive. You simply ask people where the next Starbucks is, when bus number three departs or at which gate your train will arrive. You buy your ticket from the bus driver personally, and you only send the photos from your children to your mother-in-law, because that’s where the pictures are meant to go, and not Facebook.

You rely and trust and connect. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

I now live—and plan to do it forever—without an iPhone. I use an old Nokia, on which I need at least seven minutes to write a text message. I don’t use Whatsapp or a personal Facebook account—no apps, no filters, no distraction, baby!

I only use my blog’s Facebook account to raise awareness and spread positivity. And with this text I want to do same, folks.

Go out and live. My best tips for you are the following.

1. Call!

Rediscover the beautiful magic that comes with phone calls. It’s—oh my God—so personal and nice to hear the other’s voice and feel the chills instead of reading a word or two. It will take you back to the first romantic days of your love—trust me.

2. Be a role model.

For whatever you believe in. Your behavior has an influence on other humans’ lives. Start with you. Make smartphone-free zones or days, and start to be present again. More presence, more love.

3. It’s tea time.

There is so much beauty found in holding a wonderful cup of tea or coffee and just chatting with friends. Just connection and joy. Yes, I really dare say it: Drink your cup of tea instead of photographing it.

Digital detox is the new luxury of this generation. Live like it’s not a coincidence; live like you f***ing mean it! Throw dance parties, invite strangers over, kiss someone you love, connect with people.

Do it everywhere, in reality—at home, in cafés, in the bus. Talk, smile, laugh, help an old lady crossing the street, breathe, look around, be present and, most important, be here for the people you love.

And this starts with yourself. The magic word is “unplug,” baby!

Author: Deborah Shkodra
Article sourced here:

Gratitude for the Wisdom of a Changing Body

February 7, 2016

Everything changes; nothing remains the same. And although we know, deep in our soul, that change is the only constant thing in life, we struggle against it and live as if time were our enemy.

As a Professional Oriental Dancer (a.k.a. the infamous belly dancer) who has always lived from and to her body, I find change is an intimate matter.

Dancers are in deep contact with their bodies. They know their creative tool like nobody else; they’re aware that everything is connected: the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual. They know cells die and are born at great speed—there’s no way to stop this perpetual Dance called Life. We can flow with it or die—our choice.

Seasons change; green leaves turn brown, and birds that once sang the loveliest tune will be silent dust by next winter. Human beings are no different. We are born, we mature and we leave our physical bodies behind, ready for the next chapter. That’s the only law, aside from Love, we cannot break.

I’ve often heard people criticizing their bodies, expressing their self-hate and fear of the future.

From here it’s all downhill!

From the age of 30, you start losing yourself, darling.

I hate my thighs, my arms, my nose, I hate.

This (useless) chatter never made sense to me. Why would people live in fear of tomorrow, torturing themselves with thoughts of doom, feeding the dread of one more year, one more wrinkle, one more inevitable change?

Although I’ve been trained to see my body as a creative tool, I am not immune to that mainstream self-destruction. I cried like a baby when I spotted a tiny vein on my leg, at the age of 11; once my body started to bloom in adolescence, I felt fat, awkward, unattractive, unlovable. Anorexia was no stranger to me.

It was Egyptian Dance, the language of the soul, that saved me from this trap. It keeps saving me every day.

While I was in Egypt—where I lived and performed for eight years—my curves were celebrated, my round tummy was considered sexy and my thighs were appreciated for what they were meant to be: healthy, strong, passionate, juicy, fierce. The fact that I didn’t fill my face and body with plastic surgery, a common procedure amongst dancers in Egypt, was a bonus. It gave me a wild look Egyptians found exotic—a novelty in a society where most people, women and men, are painfully domesticated.

I went on stage with a sense of worth and freedom—the same freedom that fascinates and scares people to their guts.

I noticed how my body remained connected with life events. The moon cycles expanded and contracted it; my emotions affected its shape and energy levels; love affairs moved cells and replaced connections in my brain. Year after year, my body expanded at the same pace and extent my life did. I loved every bit of it.

Freedom—absolute and unapologetic—is one of the things that terrifies people when they’re faced with Oriental Dancers; a shameless state of joy is another. I’ll add pleasure in one’s own skin—wrinkles, wobbly bits and all that jazz—as the cherry on top.

Oriental Dance reminded me that visuals are not the only aesthetic value. There are the aesthetics of emotion—how a dancing body reveals its beauty through the emotion it shares. The aesthetics of wisdom and alchemy, a journey through life where we celebrate every day as if it were the last, feeling thankful for changes instead of dreading them.

In the last couple of years, my body took me to even brighter levels of wonder. I gained weight and got healthier. My thighs grew wider, rounder, stronger, more demanding of my time, focus and respect. My breasts expanded in size and sensibility; my face changed—my eyes got wider and my cheekbones got higher.

Watching myself evolve (some would call it aging), exposed on stages around the world, is a gift I don’t take for granted. I call it growing up, because that’s exactly what change means to me. I’m the alchemist, and this blessed body is my stone—from rock to pure gold; from human to art.

I’ve never loved myself the way I do now.

I know changes, physical and otherwise, won’t stop—thankfully. It’s crazy to begin a war against an enemy that only exists in our heads.

I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep watching the seasons come and go with gratitude and everlasting curiosity, just as I’ll watch myself change—grow up—into shapes that escape every dogma, prejudice, self-hatred and fear. Particularly the fear of freedom—our final destination.

I’m the alchemist’s stone, rejoicing in the fire, dancing around the bruises and cheering the ascension. I hope we meet on the way up.


Author: Joana Saahirah
Editor: Toby Israel

Article sourced from:

The Alchemist’s Stone: Gratitude for the Wisdom of a Changing Body.