Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pressing the "I Don't Want to Know" Button

Each of us has a combination of friends, acquaintances, and some un-categorizable people in our lives. We want to share experiences with these people and get to know them each in a unique way. There can be times, however, when you identify parts of people or their lives that you don't want to know about. Is this okay? Ask your body and your mind, and they'll say it's more than okay. Boundaries are important and we can each learn to listen to our health and press the "I Don't Want to Know" button when other people's stress is starting to become our own. And you can do this without sacrificing a friendship or other type of relationship.

First off, learn to recognize the signs of outside stress entering your life from another person's life. Are you constantly thinking about something this person said or did to you, even while trying to fall asleep? Do you feel like he or she is pushing you to see them in a certain way that is challenging for you based on your eyesight? Do you feel like a friend is pulling, pushing, or wrestling you into his or her personal drama? Do you find yourself wondering why, why, oh why is this person acting this way?

Uh oh--It might be time to push the "I don't want to know" button. Realistically, you could spend every waking second for weeks trying to figure this person out and why they do what they do--especially where you're concerned. The problem is, there isn't always an answer. And while you're pouring your brain cells over it, other people's stress can become your own and raise your cortisol levels, create adrenal fatigue, upset your stomach, and disturb your sleep without your conscious choosing.

Ultimately, relationships aren't 100% drama free throughout life. You may not even want it that way because a healthy sprinkling of drama naturally occurs from people being different from each other and from you. Why else would we be hooked on gritty T.V. show dramas? But you still have the right to press your own "release" button before allowing someone else to cross the line in pushing your buttons and triggering excessive annoyance, irritation, and anger. The "I don't want to know" button reminds you that not everything in other people's business has to become your business if you don't want it to.

Healthy relationships help create a healthier you too. So learn where your boundaries are, realize what you'd like to know versus what you'd rather not know, and keep your "I don't want to know button" handy in case of an emergency. Your body, adrenal glands (the organs that help you through stress), blood pressure, and mental-emotional health will thank you for it. Maybe your friend will too in the long run, you never know.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Turning Weaknesses into Strengths--for Better Health

The word "weakness" has a tendency to create such a heavy feeling in the soul, whether it's related to career, relationships, health, or any other area of life. It can make one feel panicky and focused on what is lacking in terms of skills, talents, or strengths. It can create a storm front in the mind with gloomy clouds floating in over your head. Ultimately, the W word can feel pretty awful when it pops up in life. Does it have to be that way? No way!

When seen with a clearer perspective, the W word can change into a whole new world that presents you with opportunities for growth, learning, and flexing your potential. It just depends on the way you look at it. It can be too easy to look at weakness through the lens of comparison. For example, statements such as "He can do this" or "She can do that" are usually followed by a disappointed "I can't."

It's also too easy sometimes to look at weakness through the lens of permanence. For example, once you see that you have a weakness it can feel like nothing will ever change and you're stuck in that category. If you bend your ear a little closer and listen to what weaknesses are really saying, however, you'll hear a different story.

Points of weakness will let you know that you've walked into a new area that can be developed in your life. For example, maybe you're learning how to play tennis and at first your forehand shot looks like a permanent weakness in your game. But then you think some more about this mentality and start noticing, "Hey--it's too premature to decide this...I haven't even tried to develop my forehand yet!"

So you start to practice, stay dedicated, and after a few months, your forehand is in a different category from just a plain "Weakness." It is still a beginner level shot, but now it's been renamed in your mind as a developing skill. Not only is your forehand getting better, but it's also teaching you new things about your learning style, your overall tennis form, and your ability to adapt on the court. Doesn't that sound a whole lot more workable than a plain old weakness?

Weaker areas in your body and health often whisper valuable advice to you as well about opportunities for growth and stretching your horizons. For example, maybe you consistently have trouble sleeping and have labeled your sleep as "bad" or "weak." The more trouble you have sleeping, the more you chastise your sleep and feel weak in this area of health. Meanwhile, your sleep starts knocking a little louder and telling you to look at other parts of your health and your life. It wants you to pay attention to the factors that may be making it difficult for you to achieve a good night's rest.

You decide to listen and start to see all kinds of clues that your sleep was trying to send you about your health. It turns out that your diet can use a little tweaking so that you get more energizing nutrition during the day and less stimulating sweets and carbs at night. Your sleep also pointed out that stress was starting to build a little too high for comfort. Not taking care of your daytime stress, it started following you to bed at night. You decide to make a few changes to your lifestyle and you not only start sleeping better, but you also now have a more supportive diet and more effective stress management in place.

The "W's," or weaknesses in your life--with enough practice, patience, and dedication--can turn into "S's," or strengths. Don't let the word "weakness" loom larger than it needs to and create a barrier between you and your potential for growth and learning. If you listen carefully, your weaknesses can teach you a lot. So, in which areas of your life and your health do you want to turn a weakness into a strength?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Health: Pencil It In

There are many different activities we promptly and regularly add to our planners, phones, and other schedule makers. We note when it's time to pay the bills, make a doctor's appointment, and go grocery shopping. We know when library books are due and what days to pick the kids up from sports and extracurricular activities. Birthdays are circled with a balloon drawn beside them and holidays are highlighted with an exclamation point.

One item is often left out of the planner, and this item can help support us in all the other activities we usually write down: Health! When responsibilities, dates, and activities are swirling all around us, it can be easy to forget that the necessary energy needed to do all this stuff comes from supporting our health first. It's worth it to press pause, pick up a pencil, and write down a reminder to yourself to fill in the gaps in health care routines that may have developed during a busy schedule.

How do you pencil it in? It's up to you and how you best envision supporting your health for your unique lifestyle. If it helps to write down a reminder tip for every Sunday, maybe you can make that day a tune-up day. You can work on re-balancing your diet if it's been too erratic for your taste. If you're feeling tightness in your muscles from the prior week's stress and tension, you can allot some time for stretching and movement. Maybe you've skipped out on adequate hydration for a few days and you feel like drinking water is especially important to pay attention to before a new work weeks starts.

Aside from healthy habits, it could be that you just haven't had a moment to yourself or a chance to relax and do nothing. Your tip for Sunday, or whatever day you choose in your planner, could involve a mental-emotional massage. What's that? Just choose something calming to do or get in touch with the parts of you that have felt stressed and pay more attention to them. You can pick something that's fun for you and makes you feel excited such as going to the park, reading a good book, drawing, or cooking a delicious meal.

Each week doesn't have to run nonstop into the next in terms of doing, doing, doing. To pencil health into your planner means that you'll use that opportunity to check in with yourself and your health before the start of another potentially hectic week. Doing so will allow you to feel healthier, more energized, and better able to handle any challenges and stressors that come your way.
As you go through this week, remind yourself--

Health: Pencil It In

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do Your Thing

What is one healthy recommendation that, while not dispensed in doctor's offices or featured on health bulletins, can greatly boost your health and vitality? Simply put, Do Your Thing.

What's your thing? The magic about your thing is that the only person who knows the answer to that question is you. When you're doing your thing, whatever it may be, you might feel a warm rush of curiosity filling your mind, energy entering your body, and time flying by without you even noticing.

When you do your thing, the person who decides how you go about it is you. That's the reason why the activity or outlet can feel so stimulating, engaging, and satisfying. No one else can tell you exactly how to do it, because then it wouldn't quite be your thing anymore. When you're doing your thing, it's almost like a secret you have with yourself.

That thing that you uniquely do is a very individual pursuit. It could be an art form that grabs you and that no one has ever taught you. It could be that you love hitting a tennis ball against the wall methodically while you feel muscle memory forming. It could be that you jam out to music while writing a story on your typewriter. There may be a time of day that feels like your thing, when you know you'll hit your stride and feel energized. Maybe inside your thing, you love encountering new challenges so that you can enjoy the feeling of overcoming them. Maybe in your thing, you help others face challenges similar to the ones you've been through.

There are times when your thing involves spending time with your child, your pet, or someone special in a way that only you do. Maybe you put a 1,000 piece puzzle together or something. Maybe you stumble across your thing on a day that just seems same 'ole in the morning, but ends with an unexpected surprise. Your thing could involve your favorite chair, most cozy spot, or most visited park.

What's cool about you doing your thing is that it's yours and no one can take it away from you. It's not only a valuable way that you spend your time, but it's also valuable for your health. Though your doc didn't write this one down on a prescription pad to get filled at the pharmacy, you doing your thing is well-rounded medicine.

When life feels confusing, in limbo, challenging, or tough, it can be tempting to abandon your thing because you feel distracted. It can be worth it sometimes to try doing your thing anyway. It may help you jump over a tough obstacle. If not, don't worry because your thing will still be there later once things calm down. Even when you're experiencing changes and transitions, you can still do it your way and thus you'll still be doing your thing.

This week, as you go about your routines and responsibilities, pay attention to the feeling of doing your thing as well. How do you Do Your Thing?