Happiness — Find out what makes you happy so you can keep it going.

Find Your Happy Place

Are you happy? It’s such an important question because happiness has such a huge impact on your health, from your arteries to your heart, from the glow in your skin to the pep in your step. Happy feelings influence your brain and body chemistry in ways that make you better able to cope with pain and stress and to fend off colds, flu, heart disease, and even cancer. Follow these steps to help make yourself happier, day in and day.

Believe in Yourself

Finding true happiness requires taking a good hard look at yourself. The goal is to identify any off-the-wall beliefs about your self-worth and adjust them. When you’re at ease with yourself and open to others, friendships seem to blossom naturally. Just acknowledging secret self-doubts may help you develop enough humor and compassion toward yourself to reach out to others, who, underneath, are probably just like you: sometimes unsure and shy.

Hang Out with Happy Friends

Having someone in your immediate social circle who is upbeat ups your chances of happiness by 15%. Why? It seems happy people have the power to spread their feel-good vibes far and wide the same way a ripple spreads through a pond. Not only do immediate friends matter, but friends of friends, too. So make plans to have lunch with a friend or go for a walk together. It could have far-reaching benefits for your mental health.

Make Time for Play

Swap your endless to-do list for some spontaneous playtime. It packs big benefits for your health, mood, mind, job, and even your relationships. When you’re floating free, happy, and totally absorbed, you’re taking a mini vacation from deadlines, bills, and your crazy-busy schedule. Anything counts, from enjoying a silly moment with your spouse to hosting an impromptu gathering, to cooking up a new recipe in the kitchen.

Squash Negativity

Is your inner voice quick to snap out things like, “How could you forget that, you idiot?” Sometimes the noise inside our own heads is our biggest stressor. When negative thoughts crop up, imagine a stop sign in your head, and tell yourself, “Stop!” To turn things around, trade in put-downs for positive thoughts and affirmations. For example, when you feel tired during a workout, think, “I am strong” or when you start work on a difficult task, think, “I can accomplish anything.” Empower yourself to think positive.

Connect with Others

Make every effort to talk — really talk — to people you care about. If they’re far away, stay in touch through e-mail, phone calls, video chat, and, when you can, face-to-face visits; you’ll all benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” spreading a feel-good boost. Lovemaking does, too, in steady relationships (those couples report the highest happiness levels). Plus, connecting with others may keep you healthier by providing a coping mechanism for stress.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Simply writing down what you’re thankful for makes you healthier, happier and more optimistic. Feeling thankful comes, in part, from counting your blessings each day. If you’re not sure how to journal, start by answering: What three things am I thankful for? You might find that journaling gives you a better, happier outlook for each day because you’re looking for moments to include in your journal each night.

Lend a Helping Hand

Volunteering at a nearby school or retirement residence, running to the pharmacy for a sick friend, or lending emotional support to a loved one can give your happiness quotient a big boost. How? Giving back and bonding with others inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and can help you define your purpose in life. The secret to being happy may be realizing that true happiness isn’t about being high on life all the time, but slowing down enough to share your natural gifts with others. Plus, find out how volunteering can help you live longer.  (I’m volunteering for Hospice.)

 

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Spending time with awesome Mother Nature makes you feel alert, enthusiastic, energetic, and simply happy. Is it the fresh air, the sunshine, the greenery? No one knows for sure. But something about being al fresco appears to help people get even bigger benefits from their workouts and they’re also more likely to stick to their outdoor sports be it walking, bicycling, kayaking or an outdoor fitness class.

Turn On Some Tunes

If you want to feel happy, less stressed and more energetic, flip on your stereo. Whether you love Bach, Lady Gaga or The Beatles, music that makes you feel good increases your heart and breathing rates and makes your brain release dopamine, a lovely feel-good neurotransmitter. Plus, no matter whether you enjoy listening to your favorite music alone or with friends, it will more than likely give you the mood boost you’re looking for.

Meditate or Pray

For some, being spiritual means going to church. For others, it means finding a quiet place to meditate and think about life. No matter how you do it or what you call it, meditation and prayer can help slow breathing and brain activity, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, when you do pray or meditate, you’re more likely to be filled with peace, joy, and other positive emotions that can also lead to positive physiological responses throughout your body.

Ways to Like Your Body Better

Our self-image the way we feel and think of our body, life, accomplishment, etc affects our state of mind hence it can increase or decrease our state of depression.

Starting if our self-image and how we perceive our body.

Don’t like looking in the mirror? Then look in the mirror. Seriously. But this time, change what you say to yourself.

Instead of mentally muttering, “My thighs are so big they need their own ZIP code,” say something objective and nonjudgmental (“My thighs are fuller than my calves” works).

It’s not just wishful thinking: Changing the words can actually change the negative feelings behind them. In fact, just three sessions of this “mirror-exposure therapy” worked better than professional counseling at improving the self-esteem, body image, and even depression of a group of women. (And this female study group didn’t have just everyday “I hate my hips” reactions to their mirror image. Their body-image issues were serious enough to put them in danger of developing eating disorders.)

If talking to the mirror isn’t your style, there’s another easy way to improve how you see yourself, and it’s not liposuction. It’s weight lifting. When a group of women lifted a few times a week for 12 weeks, they emerged feeling much more confident about their bodies. It happened no matter what size the women were or what shape they were in. It happened even if they gained weight during the study! And it gave them a more positive emotional outlook overall. It also heaped health benefits on them: well-toned muscles, stronger bones, a slightly higher metabolism, and more. What’s not to like about a body that has all that?

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!.

I have to reblog  Sophie’s Feel-Good Worksheets.  I think it’s a great idea and can come in handy on these blue days.

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!

Hi All!

First of all.. lots of ♥ for everyone for following/commenting/liking/reading my blog! It is so exciting & humbling if you see that there are so many people that enjoy what you put out there. I only started this blog about 2 1/2 months ago and am soo thrilled by all the lovely responses. I’m having so much fun in discovering interesting content for the blog, its a blast!

More exciting news is that I am working on my own articles that are mind-body health related. As you all know I am all about creating health the not-so-obvious way; by creating more happiness & love in our lives. It’s amazing how much effect we can have with out mind over the body (for example, think placebo effect). I believe that our bodies are a reflection of our minds. At every moment, our bodies are continually responding to the messages from our minds.

Be careful what you tell yourself, our cells are always listening
~Sophie 

And… I created more worksheets! I like to print them out and keep them in my organizer and fill them out every morning.

How you start your day is how you live your day, and how you live your day is the way you live your life. ~Louise Hay

 

Feel Good Worksheets Color

You can also find them under the ‘worksheets’ tab, they are also available in black & white.

Standford Lecture and Girltime

A friend of mine forwarded me an email with the info below.  For most of us who have done their research on depression already know about serotonin etc. Still I thought it was worth posting.

They Teach It at Stanford

“I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was
on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease.

The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that
one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married
to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her
health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that
help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.
Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin
– a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general
feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form
relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk
about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are
going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But
their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our
sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said
that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health
as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing
something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we
are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged-not true. In
fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal
relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as
smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on
the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health!

We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with
our girlfriends.

These books will save your life

After I read the post below I had to share it.  I’m too busy these days to think much about how life can suck at times.  Being busy is my best cure for depression however sometimes these idle days just creep into your life and you find yourself dwelling on things.  At good book comes in handy in these moments.  Maybe you already read the post 30 Books I’m Glad I Read Before 30, if not take a look it’s a pretty good list of book.  All of them worth reading at least once!

These books will save your life

OK. So that’s a slight exaggeration. What I really meant to say was “these books will make you laugh / cry and thus fill an afternoon that would otherwise have to be spent nodding as Auntie Felicity shows your 400 of her holiday pictures from Tenerife, including several of her semi-clad that should really never have been taken.” Though in my day it was Uncle Richard and his interminable slideshows of Himalayan climbing trips (“Oooh look, some more snow!”).

So, in no particular order:

  1. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and ¾ by Sue Townsend.  Thirty this year but still funny and true, and to which Rachel Riley owes a huge debt.
  2. Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce. “In the Turtles” is guaranteed to make me snort with laughter. To find out why, you’ll just have to read it.
  3. The Escaped Black Mamba by Joan Aiken. The funniest of the hilarious Arabel’s Raven series. Even if you think you’re a bit too old, you’re not, you never are.
  4. Clarice Bean Spells Trouble by Lauren Child. Likewise. Never too old.
  5. Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine. Funny and sad and true and I so wish I’d written it.
  6. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. You might be too young for this though. Definite teen material.
  7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green. And this one.
  8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. But not this one. Just a thing of beauty and incredibleness.
  9. Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent. Kind of Rachel’s polar Essex opposite. And very very funny.
  10. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Only the first one, not the one pictured here. I would show you the original but Millie has snaffled it and hidden it somewhere.
  11. The Luxe by Anna Godberson. Kind of like Gossip Girl, as written by Georgette Heyer. In other words, Blair in a corset and Chuck in tight white trousers and leather boots. What’s not to love?

And I have just realized that there are eleven. But I am like Spinal Tap in that way… (and that’s something else to while away a long Wintry afternoon…)

12 Desserts That Are Actually Good For You

Thanks to Sophie and Kimerlysnyder.net we call can have guilt free desserts.  I had to pass it on.

12 Desserts That Are Actually Good For You

February 10, 2012 by Sophie @ Dailyhealthboost.com

Today’s Inspiration: Kimberlysnyder.net

“Living healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t eat dessert! It is important to also nourish your mind and give yourself a little treat sometimes, and yes.. it can be healthy! Here are some ideas fot some treats for yourself!”
~Sophie

 

12 Desserts That Are Actually Good For You

Sometimes you just have to have something sweet. The problem with conventional desserts, however, is they are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Not only that, but favorite desserts like cakes, pies, and cookies are usually made with wheat flour, which contains gluten, while creamy desserts like puddings and ice cream are made from dairy products. Gluten grains and dairy are two extremely difficult substances for the human body to digest, and they can clog you up with toxins and mucus.

People new to a healthier, plant-based way of eating often fear they have to give up dessert in order to pursue a healthier lifestyle, but you don’t! It’s okay to have a sweet treat, as long as you do it the right way.

So, what can you eat when you’re craving something sweet? I always recommend starting simply to see if that satisfies the craving. Before you dive into dessert, try a little stevia sweetened rooibos tea and see if that does the trick. If it doesn’t, it may be time to bring out the big guns. Here are a few to try.

1. Vegan Vanilla Latte

Try my Vegan Vanilla Latte. Warm a little unsweetened almond milk on the stovetop with the seeds from a vanilla bean or some organic vanilla extract. Add some stevia to taste. Grate a little fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

2. Hot Cocoa

Alternatively, try a little healthy hot chocolate. Try my Vegan Almost Raw Hot Chocolate.

3. Acai Rainforest Smoothie

This thick, satisfying smoothie is packed with antioxidants and flavor. I love acai berries, not just for how great they are for you, but for their complex, wonderful flavor that tastes like a cross between red wine and chocolate. To make the acai rainforest smoothie, blend 3-1/2 ounces frozen acai berries, 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, ½ tablespoon raw cacao powder and stevia to taste. You can also add ½ avocado to thicken the smoothie.

4. Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is so satisfying, and a little goes a very long way. Not only is it smooth and silky, but chocolate also stimulates serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter in your brain. It also contains resveratrol, antioxidants, and is a good source of magnesium. Make sure the chocolate is 72 percent or higher cacao, dairy-free, and organic.

5. Chia Seed Delight

Chia seeds contain high levels of antioxidants, as well as beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds also contain fiber, which slows down your body’s conversion of sugars. To make the chia seed delight, blend one cup of unsweetened almond milk, ½ tablespoon of raw cacao powder, and stevia to taste. Pour over chia seeds and allow to soak for ten minutes before eating. Here’s the official recipe for Chia Seed Delight.

6. Raw Cacao Fudge.

Avocadoes are creamy and make an excellent whipped dessert base.

7. Sweet Potato Custard

Combine a cooked, mashed sweet potato with ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and a dash of cloves in a food processor. Add stevia to taste and eat either chilled or warm.

8. Spirulina Smoothie

With protein, omega-3 fats, and natural electrolytes, this smoothie is just the dessert to healthfully eliminate your sweet cravings. To make it, blend two cups of natural, unsweetened coconut water, one tablespoon of spirulina powder, and stevia to taste.

9. Macadamia Nuts

Raw macadamia nuts are naturally sweet and make a great dessert by themselves. Don’t forget to soak them before you eat them to remove the inhibitor enzymes on their surface.

10. Raw Cacao Truffles

You only need one or two of these deliciously sweet treats to banish your cravings. Find the recipe HERE.

11. Organic Watermelon Slushie

Watermelon is very detoxifying. For this recipe, always use seeded, organic watermelons. To make, freeze three cups of watermelon chunks overnight and blend with 2-1/2 cups of coconut water.

12. Halvah

Use your food processor or blender to make this honeyed sesame treat. Don’t forget to soak your sesame seeds overnight before working with them, and rinse them well after soaking. Dry the seeds in a dehydrator on its lowest setting before using. Add ½ cup sesame seeds to the dry bowl of the food processor and begin to process to grind the seeds into a fine meal. Frequently scrape down the sides and stir seeds to ensure all are well ground. Mix in a little honey, a Tbs. of raw tahini and a pinch of Celtic sea salt by hand to form a dough, and then roll into balls.

Be present while you enjoy your sweet treat.

If you’re having an intense sweet craving, make sure you actually take the time away from distractions to enjoy it as you satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t turn on the TV or distract yourself from the pleasure of the sweetness in some other way. Instead, sit down and really allow yourself the full enjoyment of your dessert, being present and focused in the moment as you eat it. The best way to truly satisfy a craving is by giving the act of eating or drinking your attention so you can take full pleasure from the nourishment you are providing your body.

Read the whole article here

Exercises That Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue

I don’t have Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue however I came across this article and thought I pass it one maybe it will be helpful to others.

Exercises That Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue

 

Move Past the Pain

 

No doubt about it — physical activity can sometimes be tough when you’ve got fibromyalgia. You can’t do much on the days you’re feeling drained. And on the days you’re feeling good, you may be tempted to overdo it. But to cope better with your condition, you’ve got to exercise, even if it’s just a little bit, because grinding to a complete standstill is only likely to make your symptoms worse. But the trouble is, there’s no one-size-fits-all exercise guideline for folks with fibromyalgia. And strenuous activity may set you back. So you’ve got to be smart. But with a bit of trial and error — and guidance from your doc — you can determine what type of physical activities make sense for you, as well as how much, how often, and how intensely to do them.

 

Try Gentle Water-Based Workouts

Whether or not you’re a water lover, you’ll want to at least try water exercises. Numerous studies report that this form of low-impact exercise — especially when done in warm water — can help reduce pain, stiffness, fatigue, and depression in many people with fibromyalgia. And you don’t have to endure the back-and-forth monotony of swimming laps if that’s not for you. There are a variety of fun, get-wet workouts to choose from — including music-based aqua aerobics, underwater walking or jogging, strength training, stretching, and water-based relaxation therapies like yoga, tai chi, and Watsu. Heck, some spas and fitness centers even offer pool-based Zumba, hip hop, and country-western line dancing.

 

Aerobics for Land Lovers

If working out in water is not your thing, plug into a beginner fitness video a few nights each week. Research suggests that cardio-based aerobic exercise can be an effective way to curb pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in people living with fibromyalgia. Better yet, the options are endless. If you prefer group workouts, you can choose from a variety of low-impact dance-based aerobics classes, step classes, spin classes, kickboxing classes, and more. Prefer solo workouts? Try treadmill walking, elliptical training, or even roller-skating, hiking, or biking. Whatever exercise you try, check with your doctor first, and stick with low-impact aerobics done at light to moderate intensity. No aggressive workouts; you’ll just exacerbate your symptoms that way.

 

Strengthen Your Muscles for Relief

You don’t have to be a body builder. But lifting light weights or doing other types of resistance-based strength training might improve your symptoms. Fewer fibromyalgia studies have been done on strength training than on other exercise forms, but resistance training shows equal promise in its ability to relieve pain and fatigue, improve sleep, reduce the number of tender points, and dampen depression in people with the condition. Strength training also may prevent weakening and loss of muscle mass (atrophy) to boot.

 

Step Away from Pain

One of the easiest things you can do is lace up your walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. Research suggests that mildly to moderately intense walking may dial down pain and fatigue just as well as other forms of aerobic exercise do. But ask your rheumatologist or physical therapist how fast, how far, and how often you should walk when starting out. And build up your walks gradually. How much you should ultimately walk will depend on several factors, including your age, your fitness and activity levels, the severity of your fibromyalgia symptoms, and whether the activity worsens or improves your pain and fatigue. Keep in mind that it’s probably also best to do mini walks here and there rather than take one long walk.

 

Stretch It Out

Compared with aerobics and strength training, less research has been done on the benefits of stretching for people living with fibromyalgia. But a smattering of findings do suggest that stretching exercises, including those used in physical therapy and yoga, may help reduce overall stiffness, improve muscular flexibility, and enhance well-being in people with fibromyalgia. Consider consulting with a licensed physical therapist for prescribed stretching exercises that are safe for people with fibromyalgia.

 

Work with a Physical Therapist

If you’re new to exercise or just not sure what kinds are safe for you, ask your doctor or rheumatologist for a referral to a licensed physical therapist — one who is trained in working with fibromyalgia patients. This is not a fitness trainer, but a medically trained physical therapist. Working closely with this kind of expert may help prevent you from aggravating your symptoms with the wrong kind or intensity of exercise. That’s especially true if you have other physical conditions or injuries to work around. Plus, some studies do suggest that physical therapy helps improve flexibility and range of motion, emotional well-being, and muscle loss and weakness in people with fibromyalgia

 

Tai Chi and Chi-Gong (Qigong)

These two forms of ancient Chinese medicine combine gentle martial-arts-based movement, postural exercises, breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation. Tai chi is one of many types of chi-gong (qigong), and both disciplines were developed centuries ago as techniques for enhancing the body’s vital life energy (or chi) as a way to heal disease and increase well-being. Both activities have received some serious attention of late from fibromyalgia researchers. More study is needed to confirm whether the exercises have a direct effect on pain, but findings do suggest they might enhance the ability to cope with it. And both exercise forms have helped relieve anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia. Tai chi seems to enhance balance and lower body flexibility as well.

 

Stick with It

The best way to ensure exercise improves your fibromyalgia? Don’t stop once you start. Getting fit and controlling symptoms does not have a beginning and an end. And being a faithful follower of your exercise program is what brings continuous results. Research suggests that the symptom-improving benefits of any exercise program may take up to 4 weeks to fully kick in, so be patient. And remember, whether you are just starting out or have been at it for a while, if exercise ever hurts or makes your symptoms worse, stop. Break it up. Exercise in small spurts. And keep it low-key. The last thing you want is to overdo it. And if you can’t find anything that works for you, check in with your doctor or physical therapist as soon as possible to find out what other treatments you might need to get back on a more active path.