TOOLS FOR CREATING A THRIVING ENVIRONMENT
SELF CARE TO DO LIST
1. You’ve Got To Move It, Move It
Our bodies are made to move. It is a relatively recent development that we spend most of our day sitting behind a desk and then relaxing on a comfy couch watching TV. In the not so distant past humans spent 8–10 hours a day walking, hunting, gathering, lifting, chopping, bending, farming. Most of us don’t work a physically intense labor job and so our bodies don’t receive the activity level they need.
There are over 100 other studies which also prove that regular exercise can help reduce depression including a 12 week study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center that showed moderately intense aerobics, such as exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle, decreased depressive symptoms by almost 50% and low-intensity exercise showed a 30% reduction in symptoms.
Exercise will not only help decrease depression but also guard against and prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses. Exercise boosts your metabolism and can aid in a good nights sleep, which gives you more energy. Exercise is about the greatest thing for you. You’ll not only look better and feel better, but you will have more energy for the things you love to do.
If you’re not having fun at what you are doing you’re not going to stick with it. If you’re not into running or lifting weights then how about:
- Dance style exercise classes like Zumba or Nia
- Go to a rock climbing gym
- Martial arts
- Join a sports team at your local rec center or YMCA
- Play ball or tag with your kids
- Walk with your best friend while chit-chatting
- Play tag or Frisbee with your dog
- Play physically active video games like EA Sports Active for Wii
- Volunteer with an organization where you have to lift things and move around (build a house with Habitat For Humanity for example)
- Go to a club and dance and dance your booty off
- Walk to the grocery store to pick up a few items
- Ride your bike to the bookstore or movie theater
Not sure what to do? Then start exploring. Keep experimenting until you find the thing that excites you.
1. The Little Things Add Up – Taking the stairs, parking farther away from the store entrance, etc.
2. Getting Bored? – Mix it up by doing different types of exercises. Walking in the park one day, yoga on another day, and a Zumba dance class on yet another.
3. Involve Your Friends – get one, two, or as many of your friends as you can together for workout sessions such as hikes, a gardening day, jogging with baby strollers. It increases the fun and commitment since you’re less likely to skip out on a friend. Use your imagination. Each person gets a turn deciding what to do for the work out.
4. Exercise In The Morning – You are more likely to do it if you plan your exercise time for first thing in the morning. Life has a way of sucking the time out of your day with meetings that run late, forgotten parent teacher conferences, or running into an old friend that keeps you from your exercise time. (As Marsha Doble says, “I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.”)
5. Schedule Your Workout – Put it in your day planner or on the calendar so you don’t schedule something else.
6. Reward Yourself – If you reach your workout goal for the week treat yourself to a massage, a movie, or a new book. Just don’t make the reward desert or some sort of comfort food, kinda blows the whole point of burning those calories.
7. Punish Yourself – I know we’re all suppose to be positive here but sometimes pain works better than pleasure and with something as important as exercise and your emotional health you might have to break out the big guns. Write a check for $100 to your most hated political organization and give it to a trusted friend. If you don’t reach your workout goals for the week your friend mails the check. Ouch!
I Don’t Have The Time
This is just one of those things that if you want it badly enough you’ll make the time. If you don’t have an hour then do 30 minutes. Don’t have 30 minutes then do 10 minutes. This is going to be one of those things you add to your life that you just do. You may not like to but you find time to sleep, eat, drink water, and go to the bathroom because they are important to maintain life. Now add exercise to the list.
Also you can multi-task:
- Get a stationary bike or stair step machine for home and exercise while watching TV or reading.
- Walk on a treadmill while returning phone calls
- Lift your toddlers like weights while playing with them
- Make sex more aerobic
- Put on 2 pound ankle weights while you walk around
- Do something active with your kids or dogs
2. Supplement With Supplements
Since our water and food is devoid of most of its original nutritional content, taking a daily vitamin and nutritional supplement maybe be necessary.
The best supplement to take for your brain is Omega-3 Fatty Acid, which you can find in some nuts, soybeans, fish, and fish oil supplements.
Because of our processed food and filtered water people are deficient in major vitamins. Vitamins necessary for a healthy body and healthy well-being include:
- The family of B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
You will be able to find all of these vitamins and supplements at your local health food store or you can order them over the internet.
3. The Boob Tube: This Is Your Brain On TV
According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day – that comes to 38 hours a week, 153 hours a month, for a total of 2.5 months of nonstop TV-watching per year!
In an 80-year life, that would be over 16 years glued to the tube. By the way, that 38 hours a week is only TV watching at home. It doesn’t add in any TV watching you might do at a restaurant, bar, or if there is a TV on at work.
A 10-year study of 49,000 women, none of whom had any depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study, found that the women who watched three hours of television a day, or more, were 13% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who hardly watched TV at all.
Another study from the Harvard Medical School and the University of Pittsburgh looked at the media habits of 4,142 healthy adolescents.4 A follow up was done seven years later when the participates were an average age of 22, and found that over 7% had developed symptoms consistent with depression. After adding in all the different lifestyle variables researchers found that the depressive “symptoms [were] directly related with the number of hours of exposure to television and other electronic media reported at the start of the study.”
Researchers calculated that each additional hour of TV watched per day boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8% in adulthood. The study’s conclusion states that, “Television exposure and total media exposure in adolescence are associated with increased odds of depressive symptoms in young adulthood, especially in young men.”
The researchers described several possible reasons for this:
- TV watching keeps you from exercising, from being outdoors in the sun absorbing Vitamin D, or partaking in a hobby you enjoy which creates dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
- TV watching right before bedtime interrupts healthy sleep.
- TV cuts into time that could have been spent socializing with family and friends.
- Also, the programs and ads on TV could lead to feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, anxiety, hopelessness, or fear, all of which contribute to depression. “Television emphasizes bad news, and repeated exposure to it might be internalized,” said the study author Dr. Brian Primack.
Research involving over 1,000 children ages 10 to 11 found a direct correlation between the amount of TV watched and their mental well being. The children who watched the most TV responded on a psychological survey by checking off the answers, “I am often unhappy, down-hearted or tearful,” “I am usually on my own,” and “I generally play alone or keep to myself.”
The results showed that more than two hours per day of both television viewing and recreational computer use were related to higher psychological difficulty scores, regardless of how much time the children spent on physical activity. Lead author Dr. Angie Page wrote, “Whilst low levels of screen viewing may not be problematic, we cannot rely on physical activity to ‘compensate’ for long hours of screen viewing.”
Robert Kubey, a psychologist now at the School of Communications at Rutgers University, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and author of the best selling book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, published a study where men and women reported on their experiences at randomly selected moments throughout the day for one week.
30% of the men and women who watched the most television were more irritable, tense, and sad than the others participants in the study, and felt they had little control over their lives. The researchers found an interesting pattern. After watching TV in the evening, the next morning the participants felt the day was already going badly, and by the afternoon they were in a bad mood.
Also the relaxing vibe that TV offers doesn’t continue after the TV is turned off. In fact the study group ended up feeling far less relaxed once they stopped watching. ‘‘We found no evidence that television offers emotional rewards that extend beyond viewing,’’ Dr. Kubey said. “Moreover, the longer people watch television, the less rewarding they find it.”
I’ll admit it, I find TV relaxing after a rough day, but Drs. Kubey and Dr. Csikszentmihalyi research found that after comparing television viewing with hobbies like playing sports, music, reading, or gardening, television didn’t do so well. Television seems to relax in the moment but afterward people actually felt far less relaxed, less happy, and less able to concentrate than after participating in one of the other activities.
When watching television, the right hemisphere of the brain is twice as active as the left, a neurological anomaly. The crossover from left to right releases a surge of endorphins, the neurotransmitter like chemicals in the brain that act like the pain relief drugs morphine and codeine. This is part of the reason why it feels good to watch TV. But that doesn’t mean TV is good for you. A drug addict feels great at the exact moment they are getting their fix, but in general they feel pretty bad and the drugs are devastating in the long run.
The right brain processes information emotionally, whereas the left brain processes information logically. We don’t rationally engage in what we are watching on television because that part of our brain is shut down.
When someone is engaged in a “mentally challenging” task like reading, writing, or solving a mathematical problem, there is a dynamic flow of communication between both hemispheres and multiple regions of the brain, which facilitates the comprehension and the creation of complex ideas. But with the logical brain turned off people rarely comprehend what they see on television. One study found that out of 2,700 people tested, 90% misunderstood what they watched on television only minutes before.
Also while watching television the brain slows down to low alpha brain wave readings, which are associated with unfocused, meditative, overly receptive states of consciousness, the same state a medical hypnotherapist puts you in to introduce new ideas and commands into your subconscious.
Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland measured the attention span of children by measuring their brain wave state with an EEG machine.14 The EEG machine was programmed to turn off the TV when the children’s brains entered into the alpha wave state. Although he challenged the kids to concentrate really hard to keep the TV on, almost all the televisions turned off within 30 seconds!
And make no mistake, the people in charge of television marketing understand all of this completely. They know their viewers automatically enter a trance state while watching television and they produce commercials to take advantage of that fact. Ever wonder about those commercials that don’t seem to be advertising anything? Their aim is not to appeal to the rational, logical mind but to implant a particular feeling that your subconscious will associate with the product when you encounter it in real life.
By the way, the research about TV turning off the left/logical hemisphere of the brain wasn’t published in a neurological medical journal but in the Journal of Advertising Research in 1971 by Herbert Krugman, who later became manager of public opinion research at General Electric.
Television keeps you depressed, isolated, and in a hypnotic trance. If you have got to watch, turn off the news, dramas, and violence. Comedy or positive, up-lifting programs only.
4. Get A Coach
Who uses a coach? World Series winning baseball players, Super Bowl champions, Olympic gold medalists, business tycoons – basically anybody who wants to win.
If you’re looking to make major changes in your life why wouldn’t you seek out the best possible advice so you can successfully create the vision you have of your life? Since your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your results, and your results create your success, then why not get the very best coaching available in learning to master your thinking and emotions?
A coach versed in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or Hypnotherapy might be the very thing you need to reach your dreams.
5. Light It Up
Sunlight causes the skin to produce vitamin D and lets the brain know to stop producing melatonin. Not enough vitamin D and too much melatonin can lead to depression, low energy, and fuzzy thinking.
As we spend a lot of time indoors, and when we are outdoors we’re slathered up with sunscreen and wear sunglasses, you might want to look into getting a light therapy box.
Light intensity or quantity is recorded in “lux,” which takes into account the distance between the light source and you. 100,000 lux is a bright cloudless daylight at noon and 0.00005 lux is starlight with no moon. 1-5 lux is the brightness of a wax candle or a full moon, and a 40-watt bulb is about 50 lux. An office usually has around 320–500 lux of light that does not include the full wavelength length of sunlight. A typical light therapy box provides from 2,500 to 10,000 lux of full spectrum light.
When I sit in front of my 2,500 lux light therapy box for an hour or two I feel energized and happy. This of course is my own experience and don’t know that bright light therapy will work for you, but my results are nothing short of amazing and I highly recommend it.
6. Laugh and Instantly Change Your Brain Chemistry
Laughter decreases the stress hormone cortisol, stimulates the immune system, and relaxes the muscles. Muscle physiologists have shown that anxiety and muscle relaxation cannot occur at the same time and that the relaxation response after a hearty laugh can last up to forty-five minutes.
When you laugh you oxygenate the blood and get rid of the residual air in your lungs and this has a positive effect on your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Laughter also increases the antibody immunoglobin A, increases natural killer cells that attack virus and tumor cells, and activates cancer-fighting T-cells. Research has also shown that laughter effectively eases depression.
But what if nothing seems very funny at the moment and you can’t find anything to laugh about? This is where having a plan and a comedy toolbox comes in handy. Gather some DVD’s that make you laugh, whether stand up comedy, movies, or TV shows, find your favorite comedians and funny movie scenes on www.Youtube.com, have books around that make you laugh, a list of memories that you’ve written down that make you smile, and if you have any friends that can make you laugh put their phone number on speed dial.
- This is one place where size does not matter. You don’t always have to fall on the floor laughing hysterically until you pee in your pants. A smile will work wonders.
- Set aside some time every day to laugh or genuinely smile, even if that’s a 5-minute www.Youtube.com break. Get those laughing brain chemicals flowing and make those happy neuron connections stronger.
- Take a break from the news. If something important happens you’ll hear about it. You can be informed but don’t become inundated.
- Enough with the violent, scary movies. Comedy only, starting now.
- Cultivate fun/funny friends and hang out with them on a regular basis. Robert R. Provine, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, has found that we’re thirty times more likely to laugh when we’re with other people than when we’re alone.15
- Make others laugh. Get funny. You’ll not only feel better but you’re also giving a wonderful gift to someone who is maybe having a hard day.
7. Write It Out
A magnificent way to manage unwanted emotions and problems is to write them all down. Whether you just want to vent your feelings, get clear on your needs, find some insight into a past experience, or confront issues head on, the evidence proves that writing down your feelings can help you overcome emotional distress and amplify positive feelings.
As reported in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment16, “Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health.”
The article demonstrated that the longer-term benefits of expressive writing includes:
- Emotional outcomes
• Elevated mood
• Improved psychological well being
• Reduced depressive symptoms
• Reduced post-traumatic interruptions and avoidance symptoms
• Decrease in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms
- Emotional outcomes
- Health outcomes
• Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
• Improved immune system functioning
• Reduced blood pressure
• Improved lung function
• Improved liver function
• Fewer days in hospital
• Improved mood/affect
• Feeling of greater psychological well-being
• Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
- Health outcomes
- Social and behavioral outcomes
• Reduced absenteeism from work
• Quicker re-employment after job loss
• Improved working memory
• Improved sporting performance
• Higher students’ grade point average
• Altered social and linguistic behavior
- Social and behavioral outcomes
- Medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing programs
• Lung functioning in asthma
• Disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis
• Pain and physical health in cancer
• Immune response in HIV infection
• Hospitalizations for cystic fibrosis
• Pain intensity in women with chronic pelvic pain
• Sleep-onset latency in poor sleepers
• Post-operative course
ALL THAT JUST FROM SPENDING A FEW MINUTES WRITING ABOUT HOW YOU ARE FEELING!!!
Different Ways of Writing It Down
- Daily Summary – At the end of the day write down how you were feeling from the time you got up in the morning till the time of your writing. Parts of your day will stand out. Reflect on both the good and bad parts of the day. Elaborate on any great or awful emotions that came up. This is a wonderful way to discover any emotional triggers.
- Free Flow – Write out whatever comes up, stream of consciousness style, whether it “makes sense” or not. Just keep writing. If you get stuck write, “I’m stuck, this isn’t working,” or something, anything, until the thoughts roll back in.
- The Angry Letter – If you’re angry or upset with someone write out everything you’d like to say to him or her about what happened. You can curse, call them nasty names, and say anything you want because you’ll destroy the letter when you’re done.
- Art Journal – Express yourself through collage, painting, drawing, poetry, or song lyrics.
Also Try These Writing Exercises To Get The Positive Neurons Connecting
- The Guess What Letter – This is the reverse of the angry letter, here you write a real friend about all the great stuff that is happening in your life. If you can’t come up with anything at the present moment, start talking about all the great things that are happening in the future, a great way to write about your dreams and life vision. Start the letter with, “Dear Mary/Sam, Guess what, I just found out I got my dream job and it pays more than I thought!” Even though this is a happy, positive letter you still don’t send it. It’s only for you.
- Gratitude – Research has shown that grateful people are more likely to have higher levels of happiness and lower rates of stress and depression.17 One study assigned volunteers “one of six therapeutic interventions designed to improve the participant’s overall quality of life.”18 The biggest short-term effects came from the “gratitude visit,” where participants wrote and delivered a letter of gratitude to a friend, family member, or co-worker. The volunteer’s happiness scores were raised by 10% and they showed a significant fall in depression rates, all of which lasted up to one month after the gratitude visit.The longest lasting effects were from writing in “gratitude journals.” By writing only three things they were grateful for every day the volunteer’s happiness score not only increased but continued to increase each time they were tested after the study was over. Even six months later they were still showing increases in their happiness scores!
- Gratitude Journal – Write down 3 or more things you are grateful for everyday. If you are having a hard time coming up with stuff try writing down things like: my morning hot shower, my shoes, peaches, email, my toothbrush. Also try these gratitude variations: 1) Write out the “10 Things I Love About My Life.” 2) Start a sentence with “I Love It When…” my spouse surprises me with a dinner date, I go on a hike in nature, I go to out to the movies with my friends, I spend time in my garden, etc. 3) “I’m So Grateful Now That….” This is future thinking as you visualize how you’d like your life to be. I’m so grateful now that…I’m my ideal weight, I feel happy, I wake up refreshed, I am financially free, etc.
- Yes Game – This is a fun writing exercise I learned from EFT master and therapist Carol Look. Write down 10 questions to which the answer is undeniably an enthusiastic “yes.” This gets the positive neuron connecting a wide scale. Is your name Craig Meriwether? – Yes. Do you live in the United States? – Yes. Is your favorite color blue? – Yes. Do you want to feel happy? – Yes. Do you love cats? – Yes.
- What I Love About You – Write down the things you love about another person, a child of yours, your spouse, family member, close friend, not so close friend. List everything you love from their cooking, to their hair, and then move onto their inner beauty. Put some feeling and emotion into this one and you will get quite the endorphin rush!
- Medical conditions that might benefit from expressive writing programs
Online Hypnotherapy for anxiety
Online Hypnosis for success