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Cooling the Summertime Blues

If you’re feeling some summertime sadness this season, you are not alone. In some cases, summertime elicits a biological depression reaction. Almost 10% of people in the United States experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) over the course of the summer. This is especially difficult emotionally, as summertime is always framed as a time when people are having the most fun during the year. However, summer isn’t all catching lightning bugs and digging your toes in the sand! Longer days with increased heat and humidity can make summer days downright miserable. People often have trouble sleeping, many experience unintended weight loss, loss of appetite, and generalized anxiety during the hot days of the summer season.

Summer also comes with a long list of emotional stressors. If you’re a parent, your kids might be home from school. There’s a societal pressure for you to be overjoyed – the kids are home! But whether you’re employed or you stay at home, this sudden shift in schedule can be difficult to manage. There may be financial worries around the vacations you’re expected to take, or any summer camps or babysitters you might hire to help watch your children while you work and/or try to take care of your daily task list.

Social media, of course, feeds the feeling you might have that you’re wrong for experiencing the blues during summer. Everyone has a picture-perfect projection of days at the beach, eating ice cream with friends, or going on sun-soaked adventures with family. I want to take this moment to communicate with you that feeling depressed during this season is completely okay. Embrace how you’re feeling rather than beating yourself up about it. You won’t be able to move past these negative emotions until you acknowledge them. Then, when you’re ready, try some of these tips to overcome your summertime blues:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep will make anybody miserable, and your body needs the extra energy right now to deal with changing schedules.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help you through the heat and humidity and keep your body feeling right. This will help improve your outlook.
  • Exercise, but don’t overdo it. Exercise releases endorphins, but when you push yourself too hard in the heat the sick feeling you may experience will detract from any positivity your work out brought you.
  • Think about your feelings. Take this time to be introspective.
  • Manage your expectations. If the finances aren’t there to take a big trip, think smaller. Do something that will bring you joy, even if it costs nothing. Release preconceived notions of the grand adventure summer is “meant” to be and do what makes you truly happy with people who fill up your days with positivity.
  • Build in quiet time. There’s a temptation to fill every day with barbeques, get togethers, and trips to the pool. Block out time specifically for yourself and/or your family, whichever you prefer. Read a book. Meditate. Take a long bath. Breathe.
  • Release any pressure. Whether you feel pressure to post pictures of your smiling family on social media (when you can’t get your toddler to stop crying over their just-dropped popsicle), or you feel pressured to spend every minute “having fun” and keeping busy, release the need to comply with these pressures. Make your schedule according to what brings you joy. If you wilt in the heat, don’t go to the beach. If your kids dislike camping, make s’mores over the stove.

Find your own summertime rhythm regardless of what friends, family, are doing. This will release any pressure to do it differently.


“You Complete Me” ???

We’ve all heard the saying, “You complete me.” We may have even said it ourselves when we meet a significant other who feels like they just click into our lives like a missing puzzle piece. People who use this phrase feel like their partner is the missing component of their lives they never knew they needed. Their lives feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilling with their partner – so, naturally, they believe that their partner has completed their life. This thought pattern is accepted, and often encouraged in the media. The idea that you aren’t complete until you’ve found love or committed to a serious relationship is perpetuated as a societal norm.

Wanting to find love and maintain a happy, healthy relationship is positive. As humans, we are born to interact and connect with others on that deeper emotional level. However, the concept that your significant other completes you isn’t necessarily healthy. First, let’s look at the pressure that puts on a potential romantic partner.

While a partner may feel cherished at the thought of being your other half, or that you view them in that light, it can also cause some stress or anxiety that you didn’t intend. Being tasked with completing somebody is no small thing. It means you are relying on them to somehow make up for your mistakes or flaws. It means that it’s their job to better you and push you to be your very best, shining self. This is probably not what you meant when you thought or voiced that they completed you. You probably just wanted to say something sweet! Still, keeping in mind that your words have a deeper meaning and a greater impact than you realize is important.

Second, let’s look at how this phrase reflects onto you. You do not need another human or a relationship to complete you. On your own, you are an amazing, beautiful, independent being. You have hobbies, interests, goals, dreams, and desires. You have a favorite restaurant on the corner, a group of friends and family members who you enjoy spending time with, and a book club you joined last year. You are constantly growing, each day, just through the small experiences that you live through. You make choices, you make mistakes, and you have exciting success stories.

Having a partner may fulfill a goal, desire, interest, or dream you have. Having a healthy, loving romantic relationship may make you feel content, happy, and like you’re having more success stories than mistakes. But that does not mean this wonderful person in your life completes you. You are not half of a person, you are whole and you are unique. When you start viewing your partner as just that – a partner – instead of the other half of yourself, you give both of you permission to be fully who you are and to fully love and appreciate every aspect of each other. Together, you create something exciting and new that involves both of you.


The Science Behind Laughter

Is laughter really the best medicine? We hear this saying all the time, and it can be easy to roll our eyes at when we’re not feeling so great. Whether it’s stress caused by outside situations that’s bringing you down, or internalized negativity, sometimes the last thing you want to do is laugh. Still, don’t we always feel noticeably better after a good laugh? Or don’t we feel like a weight has been lifted when you finally break down and laugh so hard you cry after a full day of everything-feels-like-it’s-going-wrong moments? The truth is that laughter is a kind of medicine – and not just because it makes us feel better emotionally! There’s a science behind it that proves just how positive laughter can be in your life (especially when you’re feeling down).

Laughter Gets Your Blood Flowing

The act of laughing dilates your blood vessels, improving the blood flow all over your body. Increased blood flow improves brain function, muscle function, and the function of most of your organs. It also decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease. So, just by improving blood flow, laughter helps to improve the functionality of the rest of your body. The increased blood flow also releases T-cells, B-cells, and Gamma-interferons, all of which boost your immune system.

Laughter Chills You Out

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Laughter is the cure. The act of laughing releases endorphins, much like exercise does. These endorphins leave you feeling positive and relaxed. But, that’s not the only way laughter works to calm you down! When you laugh, your body reduces its output of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Laughter is very literally taking away your ability to hold on to stress.

Laughter Yoga

If you want to use laughter in your life, consider laughter yoga. The concept behind laughter yoga is that voluntary laughter acts the same as involuntary laughter. Some liken it to internal jogging – it’s an exercise for your mind intended to release the positive endorphins and reduce stress hormones. If you’re feeling a little nervous about trying it out for the first time, I recommend starting with this simple breathing and relaxation exercise:


Have No Fear, Spring Is Here: Are You Ready to Say Yes to Life?

Have No Fear, Spring Is Here: Are You Ready to Say Yes to Life?


6 Steps to Shifting Negative Feelings

From time-to-time, we all have feelings crop up that we would rather not to dwell on. Whether that’s worry, anxiety, anger, sadness, or just all-out negativity. However, it can be difficult to let these feelings go and move forward with a more positive outlook. Negative feelings are a part of living, and they occur for a reason. But they also have a tendency to linger longer than we prefer them to because choosing negativity can often be self-perpetuating and, sometimes easier than shifting into positivity. So, how can we accomplish this shift? Practice these six steps to get started.

1. Focus on the issue you want to feel better about.

 

This can be anything, big or small. Maybe somebody cut you off on your morning drive to the office and it’s been bothering you. Maybe you’re going through a stressful time in your personal life and you need a break from constantly feeling overwhelmed. Whatever the issue is, take a moment to focus on it completely.

2. Allow yourself to feel.

 

Whatever emotions crop up as a result of this issue, allow yourself to feel them. Take the feeling into your body by putting your hands on your body palm to body, wherever you feel it most. This will allow these feelings to expand throughout your body which will deepen your experience of what you are feeling

3. Ask yourself the following three questions. Remember that both yes and no are acceptable answers.

 

Am I willing to let this feeling go?

Am I willing to allow this feeling to be here?

Am I willing to welcome this feeling?

4. Now ask yourself:

 

 

If I am not willing to let go of this feeling?

Then ask:

Would I rather have this feeling, or would I rather be free from it?

If you’d rather have this feeling, explore how come you’re resistant to letting it go.

5. Ask yourself, “When will I be willing to let this go?”

 

This is an invitation to let the feeling go now.

6. Repeat.

 

Maybe now isn’t the time to let the feeling go. Repeat these steps until you feel comfortable and ready.

These steps are a start to acknowledging your feelings, giving yourself permission to feel them deeply, and then allowing yourself to let them go. You are fully in charge of how you respond to the feelings you have, and you always have choices on whether or not you want to let them go or keep them.


Preparing for Summer with Your Family: Prioritizing Your Relationship

Summer is an exciting time for families. Your kids are home, family vacations are planned, and you may often feel like you’re connecting more with one another. However, summer can also present challenges. If you work full or part time, having kids home may bring up issues with finding childcare or summer camps and activities for them to participate in. Even if you work from home or stay at home full time, this change in how you’ll be spending and organizing your time can feel like a disruption. One important thing to keep in mind is that even though your kids are home for the summer, your romantic relationship still is a priority. Here are a few ways to prioritize your relationship during family time or catering to the summertime activities that your kids are participating in:

Date Night

Date night doesn’t have to mean getting out of the house, and it doesn’t have to mean a fancy dinner or a show. Instead, tap into your creativity to create a “date night” that focuses on your significant other and still accommodates your summer schedule. Maybe you share a special dessert and watch a movie in your pajamas after the kids go to bed, or maybe you meet for lunch in the middle of your work day. The key is setting aside focused time for one another.

Vocalize Your Feelings

When we feel like we have plenty of time for our significant other and for ourselves, we might fall into a habit of not sharing how much that focused time means to us. This can evolve into forgetting to vocalize how much we appreciate one another and ourselves. When your life gets busy with kids being home for the summer, remember to tell your significant other that they matter to you. It doesn’t have to be a great speech, just a simple, “I love you and you’re important to me,” in the morning before your day starts can often be enough.

Make Family Plans Together

When your schedule shifts to accommodate your kids being home for summer break, it’s easy to have one person in your relationship take on all aspects of the planning. Instead, sit down together before school lets out and make plans. Whether that’s signing all of the little ones up for summer sports or deciding you’d like to take a week-long trip as a family, staying organized and unified before schedules get hectic is a great way to start things off on the right foot.

Approach Everything with Gratitude

Cherish the time you have during the summer with your family. It certainly isn’t the usual pace and schedule that everyone is used to, but change can be beneficial for the soul. Find gratitude for having your kids home, and for those special moments you share with your significant other as you continue to prioritize your relationship. The more gratitude you feel and express, the more you’ll enjoy all aspects of your season.


Starting Your Day with Intention

People often talk about how living with intention can help you to feel happier and more fulfilled. It may sound like a too-good-to-be-true solution to all your problems – but it’s very true. Starting each day with intention can have a dramatically positive impact on not just your mood, but the way you view your life, yourself, and those around you.

What does it mean to live with intention?

The definition of intention is an aim or a plan. Living with intention is to have an aim or a plan for your life, or maybe just for your day, or for the next hour. Life can be busy, and it can also be full of unpredictable events or interactions that cause us stress. That makes it that much more important for us to take control and center ourselves when and where we can. We all deserve to live an intentional life, and one of the ways we can achieve this is through starting our day with intention.

It doesn’t take long – between five and fifteen minutes every morning – and there are several ways you can go about centering yourself and starting your day intentionally.

Meditation

Meditation is not a one-size-fits-all practice, which is why I like it so much for an intentional practice. Rather than trying to clear your mind of thoughts, focus on what you want your day to be. Focus on how you want to feel. Do you want to feel nurtured? Loved? Productive? Creative? Whatever you want out of your day, focus on that for just a few minutes. Over the course of your day, when you feel overwhelmed or like you’re not in control, revisit this intention. Are your decisions moving you toward the way you want to feel or away from them?

A Quick Walk

Make time in your morning to take a 5-15 minute walk. Breathe in the fresh air, take in your surroundings. Use this time to clear your head, and take deep, relaxing breaths. By taking a small bit of time in the morning to focus on and invest in yourself, you are prioritizing you today. Getting your blood flowing wakes up your mind, contributes to your physical health, and centers your emotions.

Journaling

People often shy away from journaling because they feel that their writing has to be top notch, or they’re worried they won’t have anything to journal about. Journaling might not be for everyone, but taking a few minutes at the start of your day to jot down, even if only in bulleted form, how you want to feel today and what you want your life to look like – from big dreams to simple daily goals – can often center you and help you work towards those goals.


Taming Anger

Do you find yourself feeling increasingly resentful or filled with frustration over little incidents, like someone bumping into your grocery cart? Do you secretly fear that the simmering rage within is driving a wedge between your relationships and sabotaging your self-esteem?   Anger, obviously, is a human reaction with a unique purpose in life, but when it dominates all other emotions, it tarnishes our mind, body and spirit.  Overzealous chronic anger colors the way we live and influences our choices, negatively. How can you tame the anger beast and put it in check?

Let go of lingering resentment over something or someone in your past.  Resentment enslaves us to the insult of what someone did or did not do to us, it handcuffs our being to negative hurtful feelings.  Psychology Today used the quote; “Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick.”  Rather than ruminating on the injury, divert your thoughts to pleasant, joyful memories. Mindfully disengage from poring over polluted judgements that over time grow large and cloud your vision.  Avoid looking through old photos that stir up negative reminders.

Be kind to yourself. Set aside time to nurture yourself, this is not being selfish. Quite the contrary, it is giving permission to love yourself. Rather than routinely ignoring your needs, indulge a bit.  Take time to exercise, to luxuriate in a bath or to close your eyes for a twenty-minute nap when you’re tired. Listen to your physical, mental, and spiritual cues

Allow yourself time to simmer down.  When your temper flares, use breathing to diffuse the fire and take a walk, whenever possible. Physiologically it takes twenty minutes to an hour for the fight or flight hormones to dissipate so give yourself time to flush them out.

Recognize what infuriates you and consider if the reason that these behaviors infuriate you is that you act in similar ways; and are unconsciously pretending that you don’t. Perhaps by owning these behaviors your reaction will be defused; allowing you to have compassion and empathy towards others that display those behaviors. Surround yourself with positive people, their energy will permeate your sense of well-being and improve your overall moods. Sleep enough so that you feel rested, as a lack of sleep can cause tempers to flare.  Fluctuating blood sugar levels can also set us on edge.  If you suffer from hypoglycemia, eat small meals throughout the day. Exercise is excellent for stabilizing your moods so get enough to work off pent up frustration. Our bodies were meant to move, when we sit too long too often, it can affect how we feel.

Laugh more, nothing like a little dose of funny to turn an angry frown into a smile.  When we find humor in life and don’t take everything as if it is a personal affront, our lives are more satisfying.  Try letting go, seek hilarity and enjoy a big belly laugh.  Watch a comedian or hang out more with friends who like to laugh. It has been proven that people with a sense of humor, heal faster and are happier.

Cultivating healthy alternatives to anger has the power to uplift your life.  Not that you’ll never get angry, but you’ll be the one in charge, to dictate when to call it quits, rather than the anger, resentment, or frustration being the boss.  We all get miffed at times, when a toe gets stubbed or when we experience a serious slight, but we do have the choice to react with a clear head, to breathe, and to move on.


Everything You Have Ever Wanted is on the Other Side of Negativity

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However you envision your life is how it will be. This sounds like a simple philosophy, and it’s true. When you think negatively about your life, or you tell yourself your wildest hopes and dreams can’t possibly come true, you immediately give truth to those thoughts. This is a difficult cycle to break, because negativity acts as a kind of cyclical trap. Once you feed negative thoughts by giving them truth, they have influence over your reality. And when your reality is negative, you’ll continue to think negatively about your present and your future.

This doesn’t have to be true for you. Think about your deepest dreams and desires for your life. Envision how you would feel if they were your reality. You can have more than one. You can think that these dreams and desires feel crazy given where you are in life right now. But the truth is that these dreams are possible. You can achieve them, and the path to start doing so is on the other side of negativity.

Whether your goals have to do with your personal self, your professional self, or your relationships with others, accept them. Release the overwhelming negativity or fear that’s holding you back and leaving you feeling stuck in a damaging thought cycle. Instead, embrace your deepest dreams and desires. Make an active decision to think positively about them, even if it doesn’t feel natural at first. Once you start trying to think positively about your dreams and desires, they become achievable. They enter your realm of possible reality. Your dreams become your goals, and your goals become life as you know it. All with the power of positive thinking.

You can achieve all that you dream of once you are on the other side of negativity. The key is making positivity a habit. Give truth to positive thoughts surrounding your goals and dreams, not negative ones. The negative thoughts exist, and they’re natural, but they don’t deserve your time, energy, or focus. I know that you can achieve these dreams and desires, and I know you will find yourself in a wonderful place on the other side of negativity. Are you already thinking more positively about the life you dream of for yourself? Doesn’t allowing a sliver of positivity to shine through brighten your world? Your dreams are achievable once you believe that anything is possible – because you’ve given truth to your positive thoughts.


Expanding the Heart

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Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie” William Shakespeare

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This quote from the children’s story, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, bears a universal truth. Love, connection to self and others, and a deeper understanding of life, creates peace and happiness. Last week, we looked at how life long learning benefits your body, mind, and spirit. Knowledge is like love; it springs from a sundry of sources and is obtained only when we are open to it. Schools and colleges provide fodder for your mind what about your heart; the seat of seeing the unseen, the understated, the unspoken. When you grow in wisdom, you learn how to see the world through the eyes of your heart center.

In modern society, you are encouraged to pursue an education and this is sound positive advice. There is a freedom in learning, but equally important is to not fall into spiritual complacency. When is the last time you let go of fear and danced into the day or stopped to admire the cloud formations? Perhaps you have everything you could possibly ask for and still find yourself disgruntled or hungry for more meaning and inspiration in your life.

Like the brain, our heart is an organ but it also literally and figuratively, transports the life force that courses through us. How do we learn to access and increase these subtle energies? First, by being mindful, present in each moment. Naturally this takes time and practice as well as learning ancient and contemporary philosophies that offer guidance and insights. There are thousands of books and websites that can help enlighten us.

Other ways to enhance your spirituality are to tune inward to the energetic fields within. Perhaps read about the chakras, the seven subtle energy centers that when working together create a sense of balance and harmony. Take an active role in raising your consciousness through meditation, positive affirmations, and healing therapies such as acupuncture, sound vibration, and Reiki. By educating our inner selves we begin to peel the layers of fear or negativity away. When we learn to empower our hearts we toss out the stories that keep us paralyzed and separate from our true self. The self that is not influenced by social expectations or age or status in life.

Learning how the lattice work of invisible energies influence your life, can raise your awareness and help you heal the heart. Trying cultivating a mindful attitude towards the inner selves that are at play within you. Respectfully acknowledge these varying energies and explore the many ways that offer healing. For example, if you feel chronically tired, perhaps the fatigue stems not from the physical but rather from a sense of spiritual depletion. Your heart feels heavy, maybe try taking quiet moments throughout the day to acknowledge your spirit, to let it feast on a positive mantra or reading.

Let go of the kinetic call of multi-tasking, look at how you can simplify your life to carve out more time for sitting in stillness or to pray or meditate, to literally reconnect with the energies/spirit within. To listen to the inner voices calling for more love and less anger. Look for the answers by going inward. Yoga is a wonderful practice that combines the healing of mind, body, spirit. There are hundreds of different styles to choose from. Or maybe read a book on energy medicine or the Tibetan healing through sound. Explore the different spiritual practices that may resonate with you.

Whatever route calls you home to your heart, follow it to find the bliss that comes from learning the language of love, which over and over again will guide you to a more fulfilling life.