Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress

July 30, 2017

stressStress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodge ball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

Here are Vanderkam’s seven steps to help you check off your to-do list and find time for the things you truly enjoy.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

Here’s a list of additional techniques to help you build your toolbox.

6. Pick off the negotiables from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities, or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes, and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, ““Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser like me, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn. Here are some tips to help. And if you tend toward people-pleasing, these tips can help, too.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it,” whereas caring is taking action. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.”

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, LeJeune includes an activity where readers list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As researcher Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth” and it’s not self-improvement.

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. We couldn’t agree more.

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The Art of Not Being Offended

April 23, 2017

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There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness which the Great Ones have known for centuries. They rarely talk about it, but they use it all the time, and it is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called The Fine Art of Not Being Offended.

In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. Usually, it has more to do with all the other times, and in particular the first few times, that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they were young.

Yes, this is psychodynamic. But let’s face it, we live in a world where psychodynamics are what make the world go around. An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a spiritual person really needs to understand that psychology is as spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means the study of the soul.

All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing—we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else.

This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering—even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no Velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing. People who are suffering on the inside, but not showing it on the outside, are usually not keen on someone pointing out to them that they are suffering. We do not have to be our loved one’s therapist. We need only understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves experience less suffering and at best, we have a chance to make the world a better place.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. Many of the seeming abusers of the world start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can only happen if we believe what the other is saying. When we know nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can say, “Thank you for sharing,” and move on. We are not hooked by what another does or says, since we know it is not about us. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment, regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills for being a practical mystic. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.

Source: http://theunboundedspirit.com/how-not-to-be-offended/
“The Art of Not Being Offended,” from shemsi-prinzivalli.blogspot.gr

 

 

10 Things Alpha Women Need In A Relationship

March 26, 2017

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Alpha women are strong of mind and independent in every sense of the word. They are used to taking charge and can intimidate some people. They are confident and ambitious and not afraid to tell people what is what. That kind of power can be off-putting for some partners who are either overly competitive with the Alpha Woman or too submissive to be a true partner. So what does a true Alpha Woman need to maintain a strong and healthy relationship?

Here are 10 things alpha women need in a relationship:

1. They Need To Be Challenged

A partner to an Alpha woman needs to be able to hold their own. The Alpha woman needs someone to compete with and who is secure enough in their own abilities to be gracious in victory and a good sport in defeat.

2. They Need Trust

They need to know that what they tell you in confidence will stay in that relationship vault. They need to be able to vulnerable and let their guard down once in a while. They need to trust someone not to stab them in the back for their own personal gain.

3. They Need Respect

They need their partner to respect their decisions and not to second guess them at every turn. It is okay to challenge them before the decision is made but not afterward. They need their space and their boundaries respected as well. This also includes not being lied to for whatever reason. They need someone who doesn’t belittle them when they are angry or put them on a pedestal they will fall off of eventually.

4. They Need Their Independence

They need to be able to enjoy their personal passions, their friends and do what needs to be done. They don’t need a clingy person who can’t survive for a few hours without them. They want someone like them who also has their own life outside of the relationship.

5. They Need Someone Who Can Keep Up

Alpha women have things that have to be done and no one is going to do those things for them. They are moving at a high speed. They are time-efficient and booked solid. They need someone who can hang with them and their high-pressure and high-intensity environment.

6. They Need an Equal Partner

They need someone who is an equal partner; someone who carries their own weight in the relationship. They need someone who has their own opinions, who has their own finances in order and who has their ego in a healthy place. They need someone to walk with them, not behind them or in front of them. They don’t have to be the same or have the same opinions, hobbies or friends. They have to be a complete and self-sufficient person on their own though before they can be a partner.

7. They Need To Laugh

They need someone who can make them laugh and lighten the mood in their often stressful and high pressure lives. They need someone who can bring a smile to their face, who can tease them and be teased in return without hurt feelings on either side.

8. They Need To Be Called Out When Necessary

They need someone who is strong and secure enough to call out an alpha woman on her own bullsh*t. Someone to remind them that they are not perfect and that they can in fact make mistakes from time to time without being a jerk about it. Everyone needs their ego checked occasionally and the alpha woman is no exception. Their power and personality makes it necessary to have someone who will reign them in a bit when they go off the rails.

9. They Need Someone Who Is Informed

In order to be all of these things, a partner of an alpha woman has to be informed about things from current events to esoteric knowledge. They have to be able to have an intelligent conversation with the alpha woman and express ideas on her level. In the age of social media and information bubbles, it is important for the partner of an alpha woman to have a well-tuned bullsh*t detector.

10. They Need Someone With Tact

Most importantly, they need someone with tact, someone who knows when to have that intense talk about something important and when to let it go for now. They need someone who can handle their moods and emotions without ruffling feathers any more than they already are. They need someone who is thoughtful and sensitive enough to pick up on how they are feeling and to broach difficult subjects in private.

Article sourced here: https://www.powerofpositivity.com/10-things-alpha-women-need-relationship/

Stop and Smell the Roses by Glen Barnett

October 18, 2016

Ageing Sucks, So Stop And Smell The Roses roses.jpg

 Someone said to me the other day that ageing is unimportant unless you are a cheese. This person was 70 had a lovely weathered face and a life behind them that was filled with achievements, experiences, adventures and many different pathways.  Just like most people their age.  So why do I think ageing sucks – because I don’t want this life to ever end.

Yes, I know I could drop dead tomorrow but as you age there is that awareness that you are heading closer to the exit sign than you were a few years ago.

How fantastic is life. That is not a question it is a statement. There are so many wonderful things to explore, enjoy and experience.  Now that exploration and those experiences may not always be enjoyable but they do allow us to gather the knowledge and insight to so much more than we started out with.

Next time you go out and about take a moment or more to look, feel and listen.  Look at life around you. Close your eyes and feel life around you. Open your ears and hear life around you. Even draw your breath in and smell life around you.  Get saturated in life. Sometimes this experience will be overwhelming to all your senses. Other times you may feel one sense is more enlightened than another.  This is a simple process that we don’t often pursue because we are too busy, to rushed or to blinked in our pursuits.

We all have favourite things to do that bring contentment to us or put a smile on our faces.   Watching children play, listening to favourite music, singing loudly in the shower or car, smelling the flowers at the florist, browsing through your favourite magazine at the newsagent even doing something crazy like when your money comes out of the ATM shout “I Won, I Won”.

Everyday indulge in one of these but don’t see this indulgent time as a treat, because it is your right. Your right to stop and smell the roses and fully enjoy, experience and explore every minute of your fantastic life.

For any other crazy ideas on how to live life to the fullest, call Glen Barnett at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222.

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Like a Baby by Glen Barnett

October 11, 2016

sleep
Sleep like a Baby? Not Likely!

Sleeping like a baby may be something Baby Boomers would dream about, if only they could stay asleep, or at least get to sleep in the first place.

Having trouble sleeping is not uncommon especially as you get older.   The average person needs 7-9 hours of good quality sleep regardless of their age.  This may vary person to person but the quality of your sleep is what’s important.

There are many factors as we age that can affect the quality of our sleep from side effects of medications, sleep apnoea, prostate or incontinence troubles, stimulants from food or beverages we consume or even restless leg syndrome.

Lack of good quality sleep can exacerbate some of these issues resulting in a vicious cycle. Lack of good quality sleep may cause irritability, depression, weight issues and possibly make you more prone to illnesses and accidents.  One of the most common causes of poor sleep quality is stress.  Some people reading this article will wake at night tossing, turning and stressing about how to have quality sleep. As I said it’s a vicious cycle.

So what to do?  I’m always a believer in looking at lifestyle changes to help you so try going to the bed and waking at the same time every day.  TV and computers may be too stimulating for your brain so choose another activity to wind down with at night.  If your nocturnal mental ramblings are the culprit get up and write them down, then tell yourself you will ‘deal’ with them tomorrow.   Don’t look at the clock when you wake – it sets your mind alarm into the pattern of always waking at that time.  Decrease the amount of liquid you consume a couple of hours prior to going to bed to reduce the need to pay a penny during the night. Investing in a body pillow to wrap yourself around may help with your physical aches and pains.  Talk to your naturopath or GP about your need for magnesium and calcium which may alleviate those restless legs and ask if your other medications may be adding to your sleep woes.  Put a peg over your husbands (or your) nose to prevent the snoring – just kidding. Talk to your GP about this problem as it may be more serious than you think.  If you’re a Nana napper,  rethink or reduce your nap duration.     Avoid caffeine and sugar at bedtime and get your stimulus from daily exercise and a good old fashion dose of direct sunshine to help with your wake/sleep cycle.

If all else fails have some peace of mind in knowing that people who say they ‘sleep like a baby’ probably don’t have one or remember what it was like, to have had one.

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

March 13, 2016

Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
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Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.

The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.

Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book “The Science of Happily Ever After,” which was published earlier this year.

Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were.

Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

Psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers. For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City. Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.

With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects’ blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.

But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger.

Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other. For example, each member of a couple could be talking about how their days had gone, and a highly aroused husband might say to his wife, “Why don’t you start talking about your day. It won’t take you very long.”

The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.

Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.

He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner’s ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”

In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored.

The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.

“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

John Gottman elaborated on those spears: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”

For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married each June — and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not — the lesson from the research is clear: If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often.

When people think about practicing kindness, they often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then. While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved.

One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.

Or say a wife is running late to dinner (again), and the husband assumes that she doesn’t value him enough to show up to their date on time after he took the trouble to make a reservation and leave work early so that they could spend a romantic evening together. But it turns out that the wife was running late because she stopped by a store to pick him up a gift for their special night out.

Imagine her joining him for dinner, excited to deliver her gift, only to realize that he’s in a sour mood because he misinterpreted what was motivating her behavior. The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.

“Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” psychologist Ty Tashiro told me. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”

Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. When one person in the relationship shared the good news of, say, a promotion at work with excitement, the other would respond with wooden disinterest by checking his watch or shutting the conversation down with a comment like, “That’s nice.”

We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructiveactive destructivepassive constructive, and active constructive.

Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”

If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”

If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.

In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”

Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”

Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.

Active constructive responding is critical for healthy relationships. In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.

In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.

Written by: EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH, The Atlantic
Nov. 9, 2014, 3:20 PM
Read the original article on The Atlantic. Check out The Atlantic’s Facebook, newsletters and feeds. Copyright 2014. Follow The Atlantic on Twitter.

For Seniors Only – Test Your Fitness At Home

August 24, 2014

Older adults need to have adequate strength, flexibility, and endurance to accomplish everyday tasks. Assessing these components of fitness can detect weaknesses which can be treated before causing serious functional limitations.

How can you test your fitness, flexibility or strength as you get older?  Most health clubs have a standard health assessment that incorporates some of these components but you can always assess yourself at home.
Margaret-Todd-Senior-Center-Chair-Aerobics.1

For instance, time how long it takes you to go from A to B on your morning walk? Then assess how you feel at the end of it eg slightly breathless, huffy and puffy or very breathless.  Wait 1 minute then assess how you feel again, eg back to normal, slightly breathless or huffy and puffy.  Plot your progress over a 6 week period doing this activity 2 x week and see if you improve your time from A to B,  how you feel when you finished and how you feel 1 minute afterwards.  

Below is a strength assessment taken from a LifeSpan Wellness Program at Fullerton University in the USA, by Dr Roberta Rikli and Dr Jessie Jones in 2002.   Make sure you go for a 5 minute warm up walk before your start and stop if anything hurts.

Place a chair against a wall, or otherwise stabilize it for safety. Sit in the middle of the seat, with your feet shoulder width apart and flat on the floor. Cross your arms at your wrists and hold close to your chest.  Count how many completed chair stands you can do in 30 seconds.
          Men’s Results         Women’s Results
Age 60-64     av 14-19        av 12-17
Age 75-79     av 11-17        av 11-17

Record your results and repeat these 2 assessments in 6 months to see if you have increased or decreased your abilities in these areas.

Get started on your Seniors Fitness Assessment as soon as you can and then redo in 3 months to gauge the changes.  Give Glenn a call at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need a hand.

 

Written by Glenn Barnett, Coffs Coast Health Club
   

Benefits of Mindfulness

July 29, 2014

 mind1

Practices for Improving Emotional
& Physical Well-Being

 

Understanding mindfulness

Key Points

  • Practicing mindfulness improves both mental and physical health.
  • Mindfulness involves both concentration (a form of meditation) and acceptance. Deliberately pay attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment.
  • It takes practice to become comfortable with mindfulness techniques. If one method doesn’t work for you, try another.

It’s a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that forsythia is in bloom along your route to work?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness.

Ancient roots, modern applications

The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.

Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.

Mindfulness improves well being

  • Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
  • Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
  • By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

Mindfulness improves physical health

If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:

  • help relieve stress
  • treat heart disease
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve sleep
  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

Mindfulness improves mental health

In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:

  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders
  • couples’ conflicts
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.

It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes good sense, since both meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, maladaptive, and self-defeating thoughts.

Mindfulness Techniques
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.
Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.
Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.
Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.”Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.

Meditation and other practices that foster mindfulness

Mindfulness can be cultivated through mindfulness meditation, a systematic method of focusing your attention.

You can learn to meditate on your own, following instructions in books or on tape. However, you may benefit from the support of an instructor or group to answer questions and help you stay motivated. Look for someone using meditation in a way compatible with your beliefs and goals.

If you have a medical condition, you may prefer a medically oriented program that incorporates meditation. Ask your physician or hospital about local groups. Insurance companies increasingly cover the cost of meditation instruction.

Getting started on your own

Some types of meditation primarily involve concentration—repeating a phrase or focusing on the sensation of breathing, allowing the parade of thoughts that inevitably arise to come and go. Concentration meditation techniques, as well as other activities such as tai chi or yoga, can induce the well-known relaxation response, which is very valuable in reducing the body’s response to stress.

Mindfulness meditation builds upon concentration practices. Here’s how it works:

  • Go with the flow. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.
  • Pay attention. You also notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.
  • Stay with it. At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with a wider and wider range of your experiences.

Practice acceptance

Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Gently redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydream, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.
  • Try and try again. If you miss your intended meditation session, you simply start again.

By practicing accepting your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.

Cultivate mindfulness informally

In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

Exercises to try on your own

If mindfulness meditation appeals to you, going to a class or listening to a meditation tape can be a good way to start. In the meantime, here are two mindfulness exercises you can try on your own.

Practicing mindfulness meditation

This exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.

  1. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
  2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
  4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

Invest in yourself

The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you do, the more effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start. If you’re ready for a more serious commitment, Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends 45 minutes of meditation at least six days a week. But you can get started by practicing the techniques described here for shorter periods.

Learning to stay in the present

A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you to stay in the present and fully participate in your life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild. Attending to these points will help:

  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.

When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

 

First viewed here: http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm
Adapted with permission from Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulness, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.

Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day

February 19, 2013

talking

They’re small things, but each has the power to dramatically change someone’s day. Including yours.

Want to make a huge difference in someone’s life? Here are things you should say every day to your employees, colleagues, family members, friends, and everyone you care about:

“Here’s what I’m thinking.”

You’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.

Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.

Authority can make you “right,” but collaboration makes everyone right–and makes everyone pull together.

“I was wrong.”

I once came up with what I thought was an awesome plan to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. The inconvenience to the crew was considerable, but the payoff seemed worth it. On paper, it was perfect.

In practice, it wasn’t.

So, a few weeks later, I met with the crew and said, “I know you didn’t think this would work, and you were right. I was wrong. Let’s move you back to your original shift.”

I felt terrible. I felt stupid. I was sure I’d lost any respect they had for me.

It turns out I was wrong about that, too. Later one employee said, “I didn’t really know you, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”

When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.

“That was awesome.”

No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone–pick anyone–who does or did something well and say, “Wow, that was great how you…”

And feel free to go back in time. Saying “Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month, and you still think about it.)

Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.

“You’re welcome.”

Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?

The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.

“Can you help me?”

When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you help me?”

I promise you’ll get help. And in the process you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.

And are all qualities of a great friend.

“I’m sorry.”

We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support…

Say you’re sorry.

But never follow an apology with a disclaimer like “But I was really mad, because…” or “But I did think you were…” or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.

Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.

Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts.

“Can you show me?”

Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.

When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.

Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.

Then you both win.

“Let me give you a hand.”

Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.

But everyone needs help.

Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will give you a version of the reflexive “No, I’m just looking” reply to sales clerks and say, “No, I’m all right.”

Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say “I’ve got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.

Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.

“I love you.”

No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it–and every time you feel it.

Nothing.

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does.

That’s especially true where your employees are concerned. Results come and go, but feelings are forever. Criticize an employee in a group setting and it will seem like he eventually got over it, but inside, he never will.

Before you speak, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made because of faulty data or inaccurate projections.

You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on an employee’s self-esteem.

Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what affect your words will have.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry.
Information sourced from http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-things-extraordinary-people-say-every-day.html?nav=pop

8 reasons to make time for your family to eat together

September 2, 2012

Soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts make family mealtime seem like a thing of the past. Suddenly, we’re feeding our kids breakfast bars during the morning commute, sneaking 100-calorie packs at our desks, and grabbing dinner at the drive-thru window.

If you’re finding it difficult to get together with your family at the dinner table, here’s a little inspiration.

Dinner together can be a stress reliever

Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.
In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM workers and found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office. (Interestingly, the effect wasn’t as pronounced among dads.) Alas, the study didn’t take into account the stress of rushing to get out of the office, picking up the kids, and getting a meal on the table.

Kids might learn to love their veggies

A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.
Family dinners allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” says Matthew W. Gillman, M.D., the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School.

It’s the perfect setting for new foods

A family meal is the perfect opportunity for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes.
In a 2003 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children were offered some pieces of sweet red pepper and asked to rate how much they liked it. Then, each day for the next eight school days, they were invited to eat as much of the pepper as they wanted. On the final day, the kids were again asked to rate how much they liked it.
By the end of the experiment, the children rated the pepper more highly and were eating more of it — even more so than another group of children who were offered a reward for eating the pepper. These results suggest that a little more exposure and a little less “You can leave the table once you finish your broccoli!” will teach kids to enjoy new foods, even if they don’t like them at first.

You control the portions

Studies show that families spend more than 40% of their food budget on meals outside of the home. Eating out can be convenient but it’s also caloric — portion sizes in restaurants just keep growing! The average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal. When we are presented with more food, we eat more food, possibly leading to our expanding waistlines.

Healthy meals mean healthy kids

Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention.
This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents. “If a child eats with his or her parents on a regular basis, problems will be identified earlier on,” she says.

Family dinners help kids “just say no”

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report.
“While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it],” says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report’s researchers, and the center’s vice president and director of special projects.

Better food, better report card

Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20% get C’s or lower on their report cards, according to the CASA report. Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school.
Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child’s vocabulary.

Put a little cash in your pocket

In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When you take into consideration that the $2,668 spent on meals away from home only accounts for about 30% of meals (according to historical data), that’s about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per each meal made in your own kitchen. You do the math!

By Sarah Klein, Health.com
October 25, 2011 — Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)