Archives for March, 2012
People know that exercise can improve physical health. Exercise is regularly recommended by medical professionals to prevent and combat diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. But exercise is also a great outlet for stress. When you’re stressed, it’s important to remember that your body’s stress response originally developed during times when survival depended upon your ability to quickly and physically respond to dangers, such as attacking animals or warring tribes. Because of this, when we become stressed, chemicals in our brains and bodies prepare us for action.
Usually, when you are feeling miserable, you have good reason. Events in life, such as unexpected circumstances, loss, relationships turning out badly, finding that circumstances are worse than you expected and being separated from loved ones can cause anguish. At times, it can feel like you barely pick yourself up from one emotional crisis when the next hits. As much as we’d like to avoid these painful situations, they are a part of life. It’s impossible to fully anticipate, plan for or avoid loss and other circumstances that can make you feel miserable.
Today is the first day of spring. Although there are fluctuations, in many parts of the country, in many areas, the temperatures have been spring-like. When you work inside, have a long commute or lead a busy lifestyle, you may find that you spend little time outside. Instead of soaking up the sun's rays, you may spend your days primarily exposed to artificial lighting, indoor noise pollution and a controlled climate. And rather than sitting outdoors, we are often consumed by digital media that surrounds us. The average American spends several hours a day watching television as well as additional time with other digital media.
Each of us makes sense of the world through our past experiences, internal expectations and beliefs. We think about the events that occur in our lives and interpret their meaning based on our history, past learning and our own personal tendencies. Sometimes our thoughts about our lives serve us well. They help us maintain our moral compass, weather adversity, form strong relationships and find happiness. But sometimes we get stuck in negative thoughts or a narrow set of beliefs or expectations. At these times we may find ourselves in repetitive patterns of conflict with others or feeling angry, stressed, anxious or fearful much of the time. At these times, shifting how you think can have a big impact on changing how you feel.
Do you find that you have little free time? In a recent survey of women, Real Simple Magazine found that one-half of American women don’t have enough free time and what little free time we do have is constantly interrupted. Does this sound familiar to you? Children, parents, partners and chores all seem to infringe on what little free time women have today. Not to say that we don’t love and cherish those important people in our lives, but for our own well-being it’s essential that we have some time to care for ourselves and recharge.
I had the pleasure, this week, of reading a new book on mindfulness. Focused on participating in the present, right now, this book described how we can be more connected to our lives simply by paying attention. It sounds so simple: pay attention right now. And maybe it sounds like it’s not that big a deal. What difference does it make if you are aware of your actions as you pour milk into your coffee each morning or if you focus on future goals all the while losing touch with what you are doing right now? In his new book called The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life, Elisha Goldstein describes just how being in the present, right now, can enhance our lives.