Begin and End with Gratitude

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance Eckhart Tolle

HOW GRATITUDE CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

RESEARCH SHOWS GRATITUDE HEIGHTENS QUALITY OF LIFE

Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. One of the things these studies show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.

In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

NOTICE AND APPRECIATE EACH DAY’S GIFTS

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face.

Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.

A variation of the wristband concept is to create a gratitude charm bracelet, with either one meaningful charm or different charms representing the things you’re most grateful for. For example, you could have a charm shaped like a heart to symbolize your significant other, figurines to represent different family members, an apple to represent health, a dollar sign to symbolize abundance, a charm that represents your current profession or a future career, and maybe a charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.

CONCLUSION

Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

Today’s article was written by Marelisa Fabrega and is shared from the following website: https://possibilitychange.com/gratitude/

 

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Overcoming Depression – Dine Nutritiously, Part 1

Your Body keeps an accurate journal regardless of what You write down... Eat Well to Live WellThis week we are continuing to address overcoming depression. Overcoming depression is not a quick fix kind of a thing; it is not cured by a magic pill or wishful thinking.

I know that I am fortunate to have survived my suicidal depression. I know that God was a key component in my fight. I also know that He has blessed me to see each component that was necessary to overcome my depression and heal…for good.

Some of my regular readers may be tired of all the posts on overcoming depression but depression has become so common and is such a misunderstood illness that I believe that I need to take the time to help all those who are suffering or whose loved one is suffering. I suffered from 24/7 migraines for fifteen years and although it was difficult – I survived the headaches no problem. I suffered from severe, suicidal depression for five years – I came harrowingly close to not surviving. Depression is not an illness to be trifled with and too many individuals are suffering silently – afraid, as I was, that if they admit they are depressed, that they will alienate friends, family, and associates.

Medication helps only a very small number of individuals. Yet, there is powerful help available to every single individual who will take advantage of that help.

Nutrition is an incredibly powerful tool in the quest for overcoming depression. Think fuel. Would you fuel your car with rocks in the hopes that your car would miraculously pull gasoline from the rocks? Well, too many feed their bodies nutritionally bankrupt food and expect that their bodies are going to tap into a miraculous reserve of nutrients that they have never (or too infrequently) consume.

Today I am sharing an article written by Therese Borchard. She is a sufferer of depression that has found the power in eating well. I hope you will read her article and understand how vital and important food is to every aspect of our health…including mental health!:

10 Foods I Eat Every Day to Beat Depression

A year ago this month my husband and I started a new diet. It had nothing to do with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. For about nine months, he had been suffering from bad hives all over his body. It was bizarre. One day he’d wake up and they’d be all over his back. The next afternoon, his lip was swollen so much he couldn’t talk. He had been to a few different allergists and they told him it was “idiosyncratic” (meaning they didn’t know how to fix it) and told him to take Zyrtec indefinitely — until they went away.

“Could it be related to my diet?” he asked.

“No,” they said.

One guy sent him home with fungus cream that made the tiny red spots swell into ripe, red tomatoes all over his arms.

So he decided to try his own experiment and see if it worked.

The journey started with the book Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, MD. We bought a used Vitamix, those ridiculously expensive blenders, and we were off: kale smoothies in the morning, homemade almond butter with celery for snack, and black bean soup for dinner.

His hives went away within a few weeks. Apparently the white flour and processed foods were causing the inflammation all over his body. My inflammation is in my brain, a rather complex organ, so my result took much longer — like nine months. But I’m finally starting to feel the real benefit of our diet changes.

Here is a list of 10 foods I eat every day now in order to feel good. These foods provide the nutrients my body needs to fight off inflammation in my brain, which leads to depression.

1. Dark Leafy Greens

If you were to choose the healthiest food of all, the most nutrient-dense item available to us to eat, it would be dark, leafy greens, no contest. Spinach. Kale. Swiss chard. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds) that Dr. Fuhrman describes in his book, The End of Dieting, the foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anticancer effect.

“These foods help to prevent the cancerous transformation of normal cells and keep the body armed and ready to attack any precancerous or cancerous cells that may arise,” he writes. They fight against all kinds of inflammation, and according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression has been linked with brain inflammation. Leafy greens are especially important because they contain oodles of vitamins A, C, E, and K, minerals and phytochemicals.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry is especially interesting. The lead authors ask the question, Why is the vast biological research — from genetics to psychopharmacology — concentrated on neurotransmitters, when the mammalian brain is approximately 80 percent fat (lipids), and there is a growing body of research demonstrating the critical role of lipids to help brain functioning? What’s more, the shift in the Western diet away from these necessary omega-3 fatty acids over the last century parallels the large rise in psychiatric disorders in that time.

3. Avocado

I eat a whole one every day in my salad for lunch. Avocados are power foods because, again, they contain healthy fat that your brain needs in order to run smoothly. Three-fourths of the calories of an avocado are from fat, mostly monosaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. An average avocado also contains 4 grams of protein, higher than other fruits, and is filled with vitamin K, different kinds of vitamin B (B-9, B-6, and B-5), vitamin C, and vitamin E-12. Finally, they are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, containing about 11 grams each.

4. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. I try to have a variety for breakfast in the morning. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score. They are like DNA repairmen. They go around fixing your cells and preventing them from getting cancer and other illnesses.

5. Mushrooms

Here are two good reasons mushrooms are good for your mental health. First, their chemical properties oppose insulin, which helps lower blood sugar levels, evening out your mood. They also are like a probiotic in that they promote healthy gut bacteria. And since the nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 percent to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin — the critical neurotransmitter that keeps us sane — we can’t afford to not pay attention to our intestinal health.

6. Onions

You won’t find this item on most lists of mood foods. However, it’s included in Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS because onions and all allium vegetables (garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and spring onions) have been associated with a decreased risk of several cancers.

“Eating onions and garlic frequently is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the digestive tract,” explains Fuhrman. “These vegetables also contain high concentrations of anti-inflammatory flavonoid antioxidants that contribute to their anti-cancer properties.” Again, if you consider the relationship between your digestive tract and your brain, it is understandable why a food that can prevent cancers of the gut would also benefit your mood.

7. Tomatoes

I try to eat at least six baby tomatoes in my salad each day for lunch because tomatoes contain lots of folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which are good for fighting depression. According to research published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, many studies show an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in patients with depression. In most of the studies, about one-third of depression patients were deficient in folate.

Folic acid can prevent an excess of homocysteine — which restricts the production of important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — from forming in the body. Alpha-lipoic acid keeps coming up as I read more about nutrition and the brain, so I have begun to take it as a supplement, as well. It helps the body convert glucose into energy, and therefore stabilizes mood.

8. Beans

“Beans, beans, good for the heart. The more you eat, the more you … smile.” They make the G-BOMB list because they can act as anti-diabetes and weight-loss foods. They are good for my mood because my body (and every body) digests them slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. Any food that assists me in evening out my blood sugar levels is my friend. They are the one starch that I allow myself, so on top of a salad, they help mitigate my craving for bread and other processed grains.

9. Seeds

When I’m close to reaching for potato chips — or anything else that is yelling “I will take away your pain!” — I allow myself a few handfuls of sunflower seeds or any other kind of seed I can find in our kitchen. Seeds are the last food on Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS list.

Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are especially good for your mood because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fuhrman writes, “Not only do seeds add their own spectrum of unique disease-fighting substances to the dietary landscape, but the fat in seeds increases the absorption of protective nutrients in vegetables eaten at the same meal.”

10. Apples

An apple a day could — if eaten with the rest of these foods — keep the psychiatrist away, at least for stretches of time. Like berries, apples are high in antioxidants, which can help to prevent and repair oxidation damage and inflammation on the cellular level. They are also full of soluble fiber, which balances blood sugar swings. A snack I have grown to love is almond butter on apple slices. I get my omega-3 fatty acid along with some fiber.

Today’s article was written by Therese Borchard and is shared from the following website: https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/foods-eat-every-day-beat-depression/

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Overcoming Depression: Decide to Exercise Part 4

The Doctor of the Future will give no medicine, but instead will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease Thomas Edison

Have you started exercising to boost your mental health yet?!!! I hope you have! I hope that you are already feeling the positive benefits of exercise in your life!

Sometimes it takes some creativity to figure out how to work exercise into your schedule or even how to find an exercise that you can/will keep with. I love my elliptical machine – but I love it because it becomes my “time out”. While I exercise, I watch a show that I like or listen to something inspiring. It becomes pleasure time for me. The best part of my pleasure time it that I feel better, move better and am better because of it!

There are so many benefits of exercise! If you are suffering from depression, I hope that you will make creating time for exercise a priority! You will be glad you did! Be sure to read today’s article to get beefed up on several of the many benefits of exercise! Have a wonderful weekend!

Today’s Article: 13 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and of course, get a rockin’ body, but working out has above-the-neck benefits, too. For the past decade or so, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Get inspired to exercise by reading up on these unexpected ways that working out can benefit mental health, relationships and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.

1. Reduce Stress
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!

2. Boost Happy Chemicals
Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.

3. Improve Self-Confidence
Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self) love?

4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Why book a spa day when a little fresh air and sunshine (and exercise) can work wonders for self-confidence and happiness?

5. Prevent Cognitive Decline
It’s unpleasant, but it’s true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45 Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

6. Alleviate Anxiety
Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety — a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And we thought intervals were just a good way to burn calories!

7. Boost Brainpower
Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Ready to apply for a Nobel Prize? Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning. Smarty (spandex) pants, indeed.

8. Sharpen Memory
Get ready to win big at Go Fish. Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampusresponsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness (take that, recess haters!). But exercise-based brainpower isn’t just for kids. Even if it’s not as fun as a game of Red Rover, working out can boost memory among grown-ups, too. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.

9. Help Control Addiction
The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Working out when on the wagon has other benefits, too. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. As a result, alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep (or stay asleep) without drinking. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, helping people hit the hay at the right time.

10. Increase Relaxation
Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.

11. Get More Done
Feeling uninspired in the cubicle? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.

12. Tap Into Creativity
Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should be breaking out the colored pencils instead. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see benefit #4). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.

13. Inspire Others
Whether it’s a pick-up game of soccer, a group class at the gym, or just a run with a friend, exercise rarely happens in a bubble. And that’s good news for all of us. Studies show that most people perform better on aerobic tests when paired up with a workout buddy. Pin it to inspiration or good old-fashioned competition, nobody wants to let the other person down. In fact, being part of a team is so powerful that it can actually raise athletes’ tolerances for pain. Even fitness beginners can inspire each other to push harder during a sweat session, so find a workout buddy and get moving!

Working out can have positive effects far beyond the gym (and beach season). Gaining self-confidence, getting out of a funk, and even thinking smarter are some of the motivations to take time for exercise on a regular basis.

Today’s article was written by Sophia Breene and is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099.html

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Overcoming Depression: Decide to Exercise Part Three

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for Illness Edward StanleySo on we go! …. still learning about the many important NATURAL methods for overcoming depression. By the way, did you know that anti-depressants are not effective for a very high percentage of people? Scientific American reported the following information:

“A controversial article just published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos for most depressed patients.”

I believe that information. When I was suffering with depression, my MD prescribed three different anti-depressants. One by one, I told my doctor that I did not feel any different and that I was not willing to continue taking a medication that had side effects but made no difference. After the third failure, my doctor told me it was all in my head. I fired my doctor.

Once I fired my doctor, I began in earnest finding solutions to my depression on my own. I am soooo very grateful I did. The battle was not easy but it was ever so worth it!

If you are suffering from depression, you can find improvement as well. I promise that it is completely worth every effort!

Our bodies are meant to move! If you are not moving, you are compounding your issues with depression. Movement alone is not the answer. You will need to work on several areas of your life. However, I believe that as a result of your efforts, you will be abundantly rewarded! Today, I am sharing an article that I think will help those who find exercising challenging. Be sure to read it and make sure your day is filled with lots of movement!:

How to Start Exercising and Stick to It

Making Exercise an Enjoyable Part of Your Everyday Life

You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout plans are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach. Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life before—there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.
What’s keeping you from exercising?
If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your motivation quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Here’s what you can do to break through mental barriers:

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t do or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

Busting the biggest exercise excuses

Making excuses for not exercising? Whether it’s lack of time, energy, or fear of the gym, there are solutions.

“I hate exercising.”

Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.

“I’m too busy.”

Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for things that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can be very effective—so, too, can be squeezing all your exercise into a couple of sessions at the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving at the weekends when you have more time.

“I’m too tired.”

It may sound counter-intuitive, but physical activity is a powerful pick-me-up that actually reduces fatigue and boosts energy levels in the long run. With regular exercise, you’ll feel much more energized, refreshed, and alert at all times.

“I’m too fat,” “I’m too old,” or “My health isn’t good enough.”

It’s never too late to start building your strength and physical fitness, even if you’re a senior or a self-confessed couch potato who has never exercised before. Very few health or weight problems make exercise out of the question, so talk to your doctor about a safe routine for you.

“Exercise is too difficult and painful.”

“No pain, no gain” is an outdated way of thinking about exercise. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. And you don’t have to push yourself until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to get results. You can build your strength and fitness by walking, swimming, even playing golf, gardening, or cleaning the house.

“I’m not athletic.”

Still have nightmares from PE? You don’t have to be sporty or ultra-coordinated to get fit. Focus on easy ways to be more active, like walking, swimming, or even working more around the house. Anything that gets you moving will work.

How much exercise do you need?

Current recommendations for most adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective. And a recent study in the UK found that squeezing a week’s worth of activity into one or two sessions at the weekend can be almost as beneficial for your health as spreading it out over the week.

How hard do I need to exercise?

For most people, moderate exercise is the most beneficial for overall health; you don’t need to keep intensifying your workouts or sweat buckets. In fact, exercising too strenuously can sometimes lead to diminishing returns on your fitness levels or cause injuries or other problems. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo things.

Moderate activity means:

  1. That you breathe a little heavier than normal, but are not out of breath. For example, you should be able to chat with your walking partner, but not easily sing a song.
  2. That your body feels warmer as you move, but not overheated or very sweaty.

Safety tips for beginning exercisers

If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a significant amount of time since you’ve attempted any strenuous physical activity, keep the following health precautions in mind:

  • Health issues? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.
  • Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the muscles you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. If you’re going to run, start with walking, for example. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.
  • Cool down. After your workout, it’s important to take a few minutes to cool down and allow your heart rate to return to its resting rate. A light jog or walk after a run, for example, or some gentle stretches after strength exercises can also help prevent soreness and injuries.
  • Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort while working out, stop! If you feel better after a brief rest, you can slowly and gently resume your workout. But don’t try to power through pain. That’s a surefire recipe for injury.

How to make exercise a habit that sticks

There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.

Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident

If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like running or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.

Start small and build momentum

A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.

Make it automatic with triggers

Triggers are one of the secrets to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercises rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and running. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.

Reward yourself

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards exercise brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

Set yourself up for success

  • Schedule it. You don’t go to important meetings and appointments spontaneously, you schedule them. If you’re having trouble fitting exercise into your schedule, consider it an important appointment with yourself and mark it on your daily agenda.
  • Make it easy on yourself. Plan your workouts for the time of day when you’re most awake and energetic. If you’re not a morning person, for example, don’t undermine yourself by planning to exercise before work.
  • Remove obstacles. Plan ahead for anything that might get in the way of exercising. Do you tend to run out of time in the morning? Get your workout clothes out the night before so you’re ready to go as soon as you get up. Do you skip your evening workout if you go home first? Keep a gym bag in the car, so you can head out straight from work.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Commit to another person. If you’ve got a workout partner waiting, you’re less likely to skip out. Or ask a friend or family member to check in on your progress. Announcing your goals to your social group (either online or in person) can also help keep you on track.

Tips for making exercise more enjoyable

As previously mentioned, you are much more likely to stick with an exercise program that’s fun and rewarding. No amount of willpower is going to keep you going long-term with a workout you hate.

Think outside the gym

Does the thought of going to the gym fill you with dread? If you find the gym inconvenient, expensive, intimidating, or simply boring, that’s okay. There are many exercise alternatives to weight rooms and cardio equipment.

For many, simply getting outside makes all the difference. You may enjoy running outdoors, where you can enjoy alone time and nature, even if you hate treadmills.

Just about everyone can find a physical activity they enjoy. But you may need to think beyond the standard running, swimming and biking options. Here are a few activities you may find fun:

  1. horseback riding
  2. ballroom dancing
  3. rollerblading
  4. hiking
  5. paddle boarding
  6. kayaking
  7. gymnastics
  8. martial arts
  9. rock climbing
  10. Zumba
  11. Ultimate Frisbee
  12. fencing

Make it a game

Activity-based video games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or tennis, for example—can burn at least as many calories as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone app to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as running from hordes of zombies!

Pair it with something you enjoy

Think about activities that you enjoy and how you can incorporate them into an exercise routine. Watch TV as you ride a stationary bike, chat with a friend as you walk, take photographs on a scenic hike, walk the golf course instead of using a cart, or dance to music as you do household chores.

Make it social

Exercise can be a fun time to socialize with friends and working out with others can help keep you motivated. For those who enjoy company but dislike competition, a running club, water aerobics, or dance class may be the perfect thing. Others may find that a little healthy competition keeps the workout fun and exciting. You might seek out tennis partners, join an adult soccer league, find a regular pickup basketball game, or join a volleyball team.

Getting the whole family involved

If you have a family, there are many ways to exercise together. What’s more, kids learn by example, and if you exercise as a family you are setting a great example for their future. Family activities might include:

  • Family walks in the evening if weather permits. Infants or young children can ride in a stroller.
  • Blast upbeat music to boogie to while doing chores as a family.
  • Seasonal activities, like skiing or ice skating in the winter and hiking, swimming, or bicycling in the summer can both make fun family memories and provide healthy exercise.

Try a mindfulness approach

Instead of zoning out or distracting yourself when you exercise, try to pay attention to your body. By really focusing on how your body feels as you exercise—the rhythm of your breathing, the way your feet strike the ground, your muscles flexing as you move, even the way you feel on the inside—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster but also interrupt the flow of worries or negative thoughts running through your head, easing stress and anxiety. Exercising in this way can also help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD and trauma. Exercises that engage both your arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, rock climbing, skiing, or dancing—are great choices for practicing mindfulness.

Easy ways to “sneak” more movement into your daily life

If you’re not the kind of person who embraces a structured exercise program, try to think about physical activity as a lifestyle choice rather than a task to check off your to-do list. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here and there. Even very small activities can add up over the course of a day.

Make chores count. House and yard work can be quite a workout, especially when done at a brisk pace. Scrub, vacuum, sweep, dust, mow, and weed—it all counts.

Look for ways to add extra steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park farther from the entrance, rather than right out front. Get off your train or bus one stop early. The extra walking adds up.

Ditch the car whenever possible. Instead of driving everywhere, walk or bike instead when the distance is doable.

Move at work. Get up to talk to co-workers, rather than phoning or sending an email or IM. Take a walk during your coffee and lunch breaks. Use the bathroom on another floor. Walk while you’re talking on the phone.

Exercise during commercial breaks. Make your TV less sedentary by exercising every time commercials come on or during the credits. Options include jumping jacks, sit-ups, or arm exercises using weights.

How getting a dog can boost your fitness

Owning a dog leads to a more active lifestyle. Playing with a dog and taking him for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements than non-owners.

  • One year-long study found that walking an overweight dog helped both the animals and their owners lose weight (11 to 15 pounds). Researchers found that the dogs provided support in similar ways to a human exercise buddy, but with greater consistency and without any negative influence.
  • Public housing residents who walked therapy dogs for up to 20 minutes, five days a week, lost an average of 14.4 pounds in a year, without changing their diets.
  • If you’re not in a position to own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.

How to stay motivated to exercise

No matter how much you enjoy an exercise routine, you may find that you eventually lose interest in it. That’s the time to shake things up and try something new or alter the way you pursue the exercises that have worked so far.

Tips for staying motivated

Pair your workout with a treat. For example, you can listen to an audiobook or watch your favorite TV show while on the treadmill or stationary bike.

Log your activity. Keep a record of your workouts and fitness progress. Writing things down increases commitment and holds you accountable to your routine. Later on, it will also be encouraging to look back at where you began.

Harness the power of the community. Having others rooting for us and supporting us through exercise ups and downs will help keep motivation strong. There are numerous online fitness communities you can join. You can also try working out with friends either in person or remotely using fitness apps that let you track and compare your progress with each other.

Get inspired. Read a health and fitness magazine or visit an exercise website and get inspired with photos of people being active. Sometimes reading about and looking at images of people who are healthy and fit can motivate you to move your body.

Getting back on track

Even the most dedicated exercisers sometimes go astray. Almost anything can knock you off track: a bad cold, an out of town trip, or a stretch of bad weather. That’s why it’s important to learn how to reclaim your routine. When you’ve missed workout sessions, evaluate your current level of fitness and goals accordingly. If you’ve been away from your routine for two weeks or more, don’t expect to start where you left off. Cut your workout in half for the first few days to give your body time to readjust.

The bigger challenge may come in getting yourself back in an exercise frame of mind. Try to keep confidence in yourself when you relapse. Instead of expending energy on feeling guilty and defeated, focus on what it’ll take to get started again. Once you resume your program, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it will begin to feel natural. Here are a few tricks you might try to rekindle your motivation:

  • Imagine yourself exercising. Recall the aspects of exercise you enjoy most.
  • Come up with a tantalizing reward to give yourself when you meet your first goal after resuming your program.
  • Line up walking partners for your next few outings.
  • If completing your whole exercise routine seems overwhelming, mentally divide it into smaller chunks, and give yourself the option of stopping at the end of each one. However, when you reach a checkpoint, encourage yourself to move on to the next one instead of quitting.
  • Rather than focus on why you don’t want to exercise, concentrate on how good you feel when you’ve finished a workout.

Adapted with permission from Starting to Exercise, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.

Article shared from the following website: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/how-to-start-exercising-and-stick-to-it.htm

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 5

You Find What You Look For

I took last Friday off to spend some much needed time with my family prior to my son’s wedding on Saturday. Thank you for understanding!

Because of that family time, I am finishing my attitude of gratitude series today.

The quote I used on today’s meme tells it all: You Find What You Look For.

What a profound statement! I remember so vividly the night that I had my near-death experience. It was proceeded by a phone call from a bill collector. My severe depression and 24/7 migraines had created chaos of our business and finances. I was not able to keep up and several large clients filing bankruptcy had had a profound effect on our bank account.

I tried to explain to the bill collector that I was suffering from severe depression and 24/7 migraines in hopes that she would be more willing to work with me. Instead, she said, in the snidest tone of voice she could find, “You are depressed and sick because you want to be depressed and sick.”

That conversation was the last straw for my depressed mind that horrible, horrible day so many years ago. Thank goodness for the Divine Intervention that followed that night!

I have learned many things since that day. I have walked a path of healing and I have searched and studied hard. I am no longer depressed and I no longer have 24/7 headaches. I now have the health of someone much younger than my actual age. Nothing about my current situation is an accident. It came as a result of learning and following God’s guidance step by step.

Though I did not consciously choose depression or my headaches, I did have to learn a different mindset to overcome my depression. I had to deliberately look for light and goodness. I had to consciously recognize and acknowledge all that I had to be grateful for. And, I had to commit to using those new found skills for the rest of my life. The result? My life and health is better than it ever has been!

Thus far, we have talked about Depending on God, Delving into the Depths of Your Soul (Getting to truly know yourself), and having an Attitude of Gratitude. Those are the first three steps for overcoming depression.

There are no quick fixes. The law of the harvest is as applicable today as it ever has been. The rest of this week, we will share how the use of exercise can help overcome depression. Be sure to stay tuned! I hope you will enjoy today’s article on using gratitude to overcome depression:

Gratitude – A Cure for Depression?

This Is No Fun

Depression is no fun… none at all, I hated it. Obsession isn’t any fun either… all that relentless going over what happened, who said what, who did what, and how unfair it all was.

After a major life crisis I spent the next year, though it felt a whole lot longer, pretty much laying around on the couch bemoaning my life and feeling hopeless, pointless, angry, depressed, bitter and also quite a bit righteous. After all, I was the victim wasn’t I?

There’s A Train in My Brain

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It felt like I had a train in my brain going around and around carrying a relentless pattern of sad, mad, thoughts. I could not turn those thoughts off, could hardly sleep, and found it hard to think about anything else. The train was full of pain and every time it went around I hurt.

When I looked into the future and imagined living with that train long term it made me feel like jumping off a tall building. Fortunately I didn’t even have the energy to climb to the top of one.

Eventually I got desperate enough to go out and look for a way to change things that did not involve tall buildings.

So That’s How My Brain Works

I happened upon a course that taught me about how my brain works, what neural pathways are, and how flexible and changeable the brain is. During the course I had a profoundly life changing epiphany:

“You find what you look for.”

Those six little words changed the way I live my life.

Backtrack

To backtrack a little: I best explain that even during the worst of my depression/obsession I had been very, very, familiar with gratitude as an concept – I loved it.

I had a gratitude journal (mostly empty) and two of my daughters, Georgia & Hailey, had popular online gratitude projects. Unbelievably, given my mental state, Hailey and I had even written a short comedy film script about gratitude. Still, my gratitude journal sat lonely by my bed while I waited, not very hopefully, for something good to happen, something worth being grateful for.

Why Gratitude Works

While the course was not really about gratitude, the science that was presented in the course opened my eyes as to why and how gratitude could work to alleviate depression and why it had not worked for me so far. I began to understand that it isn’t, as I had thought, being happy that makes us grateful; it is deciding to be grateful that makes us happy (Thanks for that wisdom Dr David!).

I began to see that the intentional practice of gratitude, even when you don’t feel like it, has the power to change entrenched negative thinking and rewire the brain.

Very tentatively, and with some difficulty at first, I began to practice gratitude. In a surprisingly short period of time that relentless train in my head was mostly derailed and my depression faded off into the distance.

There are many reasons that gratitude worked for me, here are just a few:

Other Orientation

Brain rules Dr. John Madina

Gratitude practice forced me to start thinking about other people and the way they contributed to my life. I had less time to wallow, gazing at my navel and more time to notice how many kindnesses I was regularly shown. I’d been so self focused that I just took them for granted and didn’t even notice them.

Dr John Medina, author of the NY Times Bestseller ‘Brain Rules’ spoke, during an interview film for our (still in production) documentary Goodness Gracious Me!, about how effective ‘other orientation’ is for getting out of depression.

Lots of Good Chemicals

I found gratitude practice reduced my stress levels almost immediately. There is so much science backing this up – research shows that gratitude practice reduces the stress hormone cortisol and dramatically increases the feel good hormone DHEA. There is nothing like an all natural ‘happy chemical’ cocktail to make you feel better. You might enjoy this page on the Science behind gratitude.

New Tracks

It turned out I did have a train in my brain going around and around on tracks I had laid for it: neural pathways! These little guys are the highways for information travelling through our nervous system and they are built by our own thoughts. It works, very simplistically put, like this: Thoughts create neural pathways and the more thoughts on a subject the stronger that neural pathway becomes. Our brains have to automate most of our thinking just to get through the day so the strongest neural pathways are the default thinking. My nasty, sad, self pitying and angry thoughts had created a super highway and it was no wonder I couldn’t think about much else.

As I began to deliberately think grateful, thankful, good thoughts the more my brain began to think positively and the less traction the old super highway depression pathway had. In time I found it more natural to default to a positive take on things that happened.

Different Picture

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When I said I had had an epiphany around the six little words “You find what you look for.” I meant it.

Just simply deciding each day to look for the good in my life, and express gratitude for it, has meant that my life has become filled with good. The more I look for good things in my life the more my brain becomes alert to good things, scans for good things, and finds good things.

It is hard to be depressed when there is so much good around. Previously my brain was wired to scan for bad, and it was exceptionally good at finding it.

Named My Own Game

Once I understood how my own thoughts could play a part in depression I realized that I was often making the choice to replay certain things for a variety of self-serving reasons.

Firstly I had developed a victim mentality – starring in a victim role comes easily to me and I have learned to become more aware of it, avoiding it as often as possible. Bad stuff happens to everyone and it is my choice if I let myself play the victim.

Gratitude teaches me that I am not a victim but the undeserving recipient of so much beauty and grace.

Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

Another game I was playing was the sympathy game – if you are depressed people treat you kindly and give you sympathy – yay! Gratitude is teaching me to give empathy to others and stop making myself the center of my own, and everyone else’s, attention. I also began to glimpse how draining on everyone my misery was – not a pretty sight.

I also secretly enjoyed knowing that I did not have to be strong and self controlled if I was rolling in my own misery. Everyone understands that when you are miserable it’s hard to be strong and so there is tolerance for much self indulgent behaviour. Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

My own experience tells me that gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression, many people I talk to feel the same way.

mountains joy awe

Feeling grateful brings emotions of awe, wonder, happiness and joy, to name a few, and those emotions shove depression aside.

As I have researched the subject of gratitude I have come across loads of scientific studies that back up my own experience regarding depression. I have looked a little at depression research too and more and more there is an understanding that our own thoughts have a huge role in this affliction.

Certainly the widespread acceptance that depression is just a chemical imbalance or a random disease is under review among many scientists and psychologists at the moment.

Kill Depression With Kindness

Which brings me to my other depression killing tip: Random acts of kindness – if all else fails for me, and I find myself getting a little down, I just go out and do secret acts of kindness for strangers and friends. Works every time!

This article was written by Toni Powell and is shared from the following website: http://gratefulness.org/grateful_living/gratitude-cure-depression/


smiling woman Toni Powell

Toni Powell is a recovering worrywart, author, storyteller and award-winning filmmaker. She spends most of her time teaching people about the life-changing power of gratitude through very funny workplace seminars, professional development for teachers, public How To Have a Happy Life workshops and videos like the surprising, hilarious and helpful video, The Yellow Car.

 

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