Tag Archives: positive outlook

12 Ways to Stop Stressing Right Now

I was riding in the car with my son, and the country song “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama came on the radio. He said, “Mom, that sounds like you.” The opening lyrics are:

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Do you feel like you’re in a constant state of stress? Rushing here and there trying to accomplish everything, until you realize you aren’t having any fun? I definitely have days like that.

If you’re stressed out and feeling like your life is out of balance, here are 12 ways to stop stress in its tracks:

Admit you’re stressed
When my son said that song sounded like me, I looked at my knuckles clenched on the steering wheel, hunched back and overall impatience. I realized I was stressed about fitting in everything I needed to do that day. Was it that important? Did I need rush until I was stressed out? Recognizing that you’re anxious, grumpy and just plain tired, you can make a determined effort to do something about it.

Take a deep breath
While you may not have time to take a yoga class or find a quiet place to practice relaxation techniques, you can take a few moments to just breathe. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then slowly let it out. Repeat a few times and think about letting the stress of the moment go. You will feel better!

Go outside
Taking in nature can reduce stress and improve your health. Go outside and take a walk or even sit in a peaceful place and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature. Spending time outdoors can put things in perspective and inspire a more positive outlook.

Laugh or smile like you mean it
A genuine smile can reduce your body’s stress responses, even if you’re not necessarily feeling it on the inside. Smiling can also lower your heart rate. Humor can help you relax. Read the comics in the newspaper, watch a comedy show or hang out with funny friends. Find a reason to have a little fun each day.

Do something for you
I spend all my time worrying about my kids, husband, work and all the things that need to be done to keep everything running smoothly. Take a few minutes to do something you enjoy – and that’s just for you.

Chew bubble gum
Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. It may be that the rhythmic act of chewing improves blood to your brain. Or, it may just be that the smell or taste help relax you.

Try aromatherapy
Certain scents can sooth. Lavender is a common scent thought to help ease stress. I personally like the smell of honeysuckle. It takes me back to summer nights when I was young, sleeping with the windows open and smelling honeysuckle. Other scents may trigger positive or special memories for you.

Get moving
Exercise improves mood, releases stress and can make you feel better about yourself. Just 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week can positively impact your mood and your health. Exercise can also be meditative, allowing you to clear your mind and let go of whatever is stressing you out.

Make time for friends and family
Talking to close friends and family members can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Telling someone your troubles and getting their input can put things into perspective. It helps to share your thoughts and be supported and heard.

Hug a pet
Spending time with animals can also alleviate stress. You can tell them your troubles, worries and fears, and they won’t judge you or give you unwanted advice. Animals can help your brain produce less of the stress hormone cortisol and more serotonin, which helps you feel more relaxed.

Rock it out
Music can help you let go of stress or put your worries aside for a while. The type of music is up to you. Some people enjoy classical music while others want to jam out to some old time rock and roll. It’s about being in the moment and letting yourself get into the music.

Read a book
I love to get lost in a great novel. I can shut down my brain and let go of distractions. I enjoy becoming caught up in the story. It’s a great way to relax, especially right before you go to bed.

Once you learn to recognize that you’re stressed out, you have the power to let the worry and anxiety go and find a more balanced, low-stress life.

11 Foods to Boost Your Mood

fresh-vegetables-3-1432292-mI have been focused on my mood lately. Your mood, mindset and outlook on life can have a big impact on bringing all the elements of your life into balance. It can be difficult to exercise, eat right and get enough sleep when you’re in a bad mood. Your disposition can affect your relationships, stress level and even your spiritual well-being.

We recently wrote a blog that presented 9 Truths About Your Mood. We also talked about the 10 Health Benefits of Smiling and how putting on a happy face can lift your spirits and change your outlook.

As we head into the fall season, here are more ideas for boosting your mood. You may not realize that the foods you eat can help put you in a good mood.

Here are 11 foods to boost your mood:

Leafy greens
When you’re feeling grouchy, go for a spinach salad instead of a sweet snack. Dark, leafy greens like those found in spinach, asparagus and Brussel sprouts are packed with folic acid, or folate. Folate is a B vitamin that helps the brain synthesize mood chemicals, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. You can also get folate from potatoes, fortified breads and cereals, beans, peas and mushrooms.

Fruits and veggies (or whole foods)
You already know you need to eat your fruits and vegetables every day. Here’s another reason to eat these whole foods. A diet rich in fruits and veggies provides antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals that can boost your overall health. In fact, those who eat more whole foods and less fatty, processed and sugar-laden foods are at a lower risk of depression.

Dark chocolate
While most of us already know that chocolate improves our mood based on personal experience, science shows that chocolate does in fact make you happy. Eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces) every day for two weeks has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol.

Bananas
Bananas contain dopamine, which is a natural chemical that boosts your mood. Bananas also provide B vitamins and magnesium – both nutrients aid in creating a positive mood.

Protein
If you start to feel tired and moody, grab a snack made of high-quality protein. For instance, a scrambled egg, handful of almonds, or a few cubes of cheese.

Purple berries
Blueberries and blackberries get their deep purple color from a pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment is an antioxidant that allows your brain to produce dopamine, which helps improve your mood, memory function and coordination.

Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in your emotional well-being. They may also protect against depression. You can find Omega-3 fats in salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseed and walnuts.

Saffron
Saffron, a spice that is popular in Middle Eastern, Indian and Spanish foods, is made from the dried stigmas of crocus plants. Saffron has been used in Eastern cultures for healing and for nerve-calming purposes. Researchers believe the spice has the same affect as Prozac by making serotonin more available to the brain.

Smart carbs
The link between carbohydrates and your mood has to do with tryptophan. It’s an amino acid that helps your brain produce more serotonin and improve your mood. Be sure to make smart carb choices, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. You’ll get good carbs as well as other important nutrients and fiber.

Green Tea
If you’re feeling anxious or unable to concentrate, drinking a cup of green tea can help calm you down and give you more focus. Green tea contains theanine and is gentler on your body than coffee. In addition, tea has less caffeine than coffee, so it won’t give you the jitters or set you on edge.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body process all of these mood boosting vitamins and nutrients. It also increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. As we head into fall and have less sun exposure, be sure to get as much vitamin D as you can each day from the foods you eat.

Your mood and outlook have a huge impact on your ability to keep all aspects of your life in balance. Good wholesome foods are a foundation for good health and overall well-being. Do you have certain foods that help you focus, tackle your day and boost your mood?

10 Tips to Creating a Positive Attitude

happy-girl-1-1191009-mLast week, we talked about living a Godly life. For our part, God expects us to have a positive attitude. It’s called faith. With faith, we can always anticipate a good outcome. We can trust God to lead us, provide for us, and protect us so we can let go of fear and anxiety. That’s why we often hear the phrase “fear not” in His Word.

Having a positive attitude is good for both the mind and body, in addition to the soul. A good outlook can also contribute to good health. Read about the health benefits of a good attitude in our blog, The Power of Positive Thinking.

One of the main keys to living a happy, fulfilling life is having a positive mental attitude. Here are 10 ways you can train yourself to live each day with a good attitude:

Start each day positive
Take a few minutes in the morning to clear your mind and think positive thoughts about the upcoming day. Focus on people and events that will bring joy into your day. Think about the parts of the day you will enjoy and let that carry you through the less enjoyable activities. Let your optimism flow through your entire day.

Be grateful
A grateful mindset goes a long way toward a positive attitude. Think about the blessings you have and what matters most to you. You may be grateful for having a home to live in, a family, good friends, or work satisfaction. You can count the small blessings, too – a hug from a child, time spent with a pet, or watching a gentle rainfall.

Embrace life
Let go and embrace the moment, even if it contains an obstacle or less than fun task. Enjoy yourself while you do laundry or mow the yard. Be bold and courageous. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. If you were planning to relax at home and friends invite you out, go out anyway. Cherish the little moments that you might have glossed over otherwise.

Control your reactions
While we cannot control everything that happens around us, we can control how we react to it. For instance, one of your co-workers may be in bad mood and yells at you. You can choose to yell back, or you can decide that he must be having a rough day and not let it bother you. You have the power to shape your thoughts and beliefs how you want them to be.

Choose happiness
Being happy is a decision you make. You choose to be happy. Happiness has nothing to do with your station in life, money or other outside forces. Make it a habit to see the positive side of everything. You create your own happiness.

Love yourself
You have everything you need to be happy, loved and fulfilled. It comes with accepting who you are right now. You may wish you could be taller, skinnier or the life of the party. You don’t need to be gratified by external factors – you were born with everything you need. Accept that you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.

Let it go
Your daughter is mad at you, someone cut you off in traffic, and you’re standing behind someone in a fast food line who can’t decide what to order. You can get yourself worked up by other people’s actions and punish yourself for things out of your control. Like we said earlier, you are responsible for your own actions and reactions to others. Just let it go. It’s not worth ruining your happiness to obsess about what others are doing or not doing.

Have positive friends
Get in the habit of hanging out with positive people. Nothing can drain your enthusiasm faster than someone who constantly complains, thrives on drama or sees only the negative in every situation. Seek out friends and family who have a sunny disposition and whose optimism rubs off on you.

View life as a journey
Be content with what you have now and where you are today. Don’t put off waiting to be happy until you have that new house, more money or perfect job. Life is a journey, and it’s important to make an effort to enjoy every part of the trip.

Reflect nightly
End your day by thinking about all the good things that happened that day. Think of at least 10 things you are truly grateful for in your life. Feel the joy of all the good things you have. You can fall asleep reflecting on your many blessings.

A positive attitude can help you cope with your daily challenges and create that more satisfying, balanced life. Positive people take responsibility for themselves and their actions, and take positive steps to turn any obstacle or challenge into an opportunity.

12 ways to boost your mood

12 ways to boost your moodI often find myself in a bad mood, and I’m not even sure how I got there. Some days my to-do list seems endless. I may be stressed about work, my kids or who knows what.

It’s natural to be down in the dumps every once in a while. Life can be stressful, chaotic and overwhelming. And once a bad mood hits, it can set the tone for your whole day.

It’s so much more rewarding for you – and those around you – to be in a good mood. Having a positive outlook can even be beneficial to your health.

Here are 12 ways you can boost your mood:

Take a break
If a particular task or situation is frustrating you, take a break from it for a few minutes before it puts in you in a bad mood. I often find myself stuck on a task while I’m working. Rather than sit and stew about it and get frustrated, it’s better to step away and get a drink or walk around. I might switch gears and take care of a quick task for a few minutes and then go back to what I was stuck on. Taking a break can head off a bad mood before it can set in.

Focus on the good
It’s easy to get sucked into negative thoughts. If you find yourself dwelling on the bad things, give yourself a mental kick in the behind and focus on what is good in your life. When I find myself obsessing about some small negative detail, I think about all the important things. I have a husband who loves me, three healthy, fairly well-adjusted kids, a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator. How silly is it to feel down about being passed over for a freelance job or having a minor argument with a friend?

Talk to a friend
I have a great friend who lets me call her up and vent about whatever is weighing on my mind and bringing down my mood. And, she knows she can call me up and do the same. Just telling someone your troubles and having them listen to you can lift your spirits. Your friends can help keep you healthy, too.

Get moving
I know, if you’re already in a bad mood, do you really want to exercise? Yet, exercising does seem to boost my mood. It may just be that I am proud of myself for actually doing it. However, part of what makes you feel good during and after you exercise is increasing your body temperature. You release beta-endorphins which cause you to feel relaxed. Besides, exercise is good for you!

Listen to music
Jamming to some good tunes can help release feel-good chemicals in your brain, too. Listen to music while you work or do household chores. Or, crank it up loud and dance with your friends or family.

Get plenty of rest
Lack of sleep makes me cranky – and I am more likely to have a short fuse and have my mood turn sour more quickly. Keeping to a regular sleep schedule can improve your mood, fight the winter blues and help you sleep through the night and wake up rested. I know I have had enough sleep if I can wake up in the morning without the alarm.

Drink water
If you are feeling low, try increasing your water intake. Not drinking enough water can make you dehydrated and can lead to a feeling of fatigue or lack of energy. In addition, water has many other health benefits.

Have a healthy snack
When I get hungry, my energy level drops off and my mood can dip. It’s okay to have a healthy, higher carb snack that will help you produce serotonin and elevate your mood. Be sure to avoid the sugary snacks that can actually make you feel good but then cause you to crash later.

Go outside
Sunlight is nature’s mood booster. Get outside and take a walk in your neighborhood. Check out the flowers starting to bloom or watch the clouds changing shapes. Play catch, soccer, frisbee or tag with your kids. Or putter around in your yard or garden. Take a drive and simply enjoy nature.

Hug someone
Be liberal with your affection. Hug or kiss someone – preferably someone you know – every day to show them that you care. If there’s no one close by, call a friend or send a “thinking of you” email to someone you love. Not only will it boost your mood, but probably theirs as well.

Laugh
As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine.” If you’re feeling down, talk to a funny friend or co-worker, or watch a comedy show on TV. Laughing releases endorphins and helps improve your mood instantly.

Do something you love
Think of activities you love to do that tend to boost your mood. Maybe you like to sit down with a good book and drink a cup of coffee. You might enjoy cuddling with your kids, watching sports on TV, drawing, taking photos or playing with your cat or dog. No matter how small it may seem, taking the time to do something you love can make a big difference!

Do you have tips or tricks for boosting your mood? Tell us what works for you!

Is laughter the best medicine?

boy laughingKids laugh hundreds of times a day. As adults, we can go all day without laughing or sharing a laugh with someone. Why is that? For one thing, we may feel like we have to take life more seriously. In addition, we have more stress and anxiety. It’s harder to see the humor in things.

Laughter may actually be good for us. It may have physical and mental health benefits. While there may not be definitive research on the healing powers of laughter, it certainly won’t hurt you any!

What happens when you laugh?
When we laugh, we stretch the muscles throughout our face and bodies. I have laughed so hard that my stomach muscles will be sore later. It addition, your pulse goes up as well as your blood pressure, and you breathe faster which sends more oxygen to your tissues. The results of laughing are very similar to exercise. Laughter may even burn calories. What could be better than that?

How does laughing effect your health?
Finding humor in life may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the blood. It may also boost the levels of immune cells. So, laughing may help strengthen your immune system.

Laughter may help lower blood sugar levels – helping reduce the risk of diabetes.

Laughing can help you relax, give you a general sense of well-being and help you sleep better. It may also help those with chronic pain relax and achieve more pain free sleep.

You may have a more open mind when you have a good sense of humor. Laughing may help you improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Could laughter be the best medicine?
Scientist are not completely convinced that laughter really has major effects on our minds and bodies. For one thing, it’s really hard to conduct a controlled experiment on laughter. For instance, if research subjects reported that they were in less pain when they were laughing, is it the act of laughing or the distraction in general that brings about the pain relief? So, it becomes hard to measure the true benefits of laughter.

Yet, even if it’s not the laughing that makes you feel better, isn’t it still beneficial to laugh? Laughing means you have a good sense of humor and that means you typically take things less seriously and may better manage stress. You most likely have a positive attitude if you can see the humor in situations. You may have supportive friends and family who help give you reasons to laugh. And as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, reducing stress, having a positive outlook and having good relationships are all vital to good health.

5 ways to increase your laugh-ability:
Want to ramp up your ability to laugh and have more fun? Here are some activities to help you get in more laughs.

Spend time with happy people – If you hang out with fun and playful people, you are bound to have some laughs.

Laugh at your own expense – Share your embarrassing moments with your friends and family. Real life can be the best comedy.

Search out humorous entertainment – Go see funny movies. Read humorous books or watch comedies on TV.

Play games – Playing board games or charades with friends and family will most likely involve friendly bickering, good natured name-calling and quite a few laughs.

Hang out with kids – Spending time with kids brings out the kid in all of us. And, kids can say the darnedest things. They bring spontaneity and humor without even trying.

So, take time to laugh today. You’ll feel better, you may be healthier, and you just might brighten someone else’s day!