Category Archives: Self Help

Time in the Garden has Mental and Physical Health Benefits

I spent a few hours yesterday working in my garden and with my flower boxes.  

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I enjoy gardening, it is fun, the results are rewarding,  it get me out in the fresh air, it provides exercise and much needed vitamin D in the form of sunshine!    As it turns out these heath benefits of gardening are well documented by research:

Gardening improves our mental attitude.  Did you know that according to a Texas A&M study, gardeners have more “zest for life” and greater optimism.   A recent study in the Netherlands found gardening for even just 30 minutes fights stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.  Not only did these people report being in a better mood, but they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

 Yard work and gardening is a form of  weight-bearing exercise (pulling weeds, digging holes, lugging around soil, mulch, etc).  A University of Arkansas study found that women gardeners have lower rates of osteoporosis than women who just do aerobic exercise.

Studies also show that gardening help people with depression and anxiety disorders.  As a matter of fact, there is a whole field of medicine called horticultural therapy that helps people deal with depression, anxiety and sleep issues. 

Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia.  Studies have shown that older adults who garden regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners.  While these studies are preliminary, they point to the idea that the physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind.

Gardening helps calm agitation, leading to better sleep patterns and improved quality of sleep.

And of course if you grow vegetables, there is the nutritional benefit of eating fresh veggies!

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Try Pen and Paper!

pen-and-paperAs you may know, I am a firm believer in sending hand writing letters to friends, relatives and business associates. 

I even make it a new year’s resolution to send a card or letter each week

Peter ScottToday I’d like to present a guest post from Peter Scott Stringham.  Peter is a Certified Law of Attraction facilitator and teacher of prosperity, neuro-linguistic programming, goal setting and true success.  You can find out more about Peter Scott and his workshops here: http://peterstringham.com/blog/

Peter has written a great post on the value of writing things down by hand.

“When we take the time to write by hand, we engage in a more reflective mode of thinking, the first requirement of greater creativity.”

Richard Restak

I invite you to take something you have been typing regularly and try hand writing it instead.  Preferable, it should be something that draws on your creative, right brained side.  Some possibilities:

  • a business plan
  • creative writing- a story about something that happened in your life perhaps
  • a blog post (to be typed in later)
  • a letter to a friend or relative (remember those?)
  • the book you are working on (Steven King, John le Carre and JK Rowling are among the authors who do all their writing by hand)
  • journaling

Neurologist and author Richard Restak says that writing longhand forces you to think more deeply and calmly about what you are trying to say.   “When we take time to write (by hand),” Resak has written, “we engage in a more reflective mode of thinking, the first requirement of greater creativity.”

When I am writing, I feel a glow in my chest, warmth that comes from having tapped into my divine-Self.  Writing is the gateway to a world of thoughts that I never knew were inside of me.  It feels so good to write I don’t know why I’ve done so little of it these past few years.

I’ve resolved to connect myself back up to my joy by writing daily once again.  By hand.  And producing my newsletter weekly and blogging regularly (heck, Seth Godin does it and has hardly missed a day in years).

And yes, I hand wrote this posting before typing it.  Felt great.

Checking in with 2013 Goals and Resolution

Today, with the weather firmly established as summer-like (again going into the 90’s), it seems like a good time to check in with those goals I had set back in January.  To see if I am on track, and also to see if I need to modify some!

Wellness 

See the positive in every situation, or to follow the advise of  a fellow blogger, play the Glad Game; Don’t fret over or complain about issues; either act to change it or accept it; Procrastinate less, or to put it positively, use my time productively; Chronicle the good from the year by keeping a jar of good things that occur during 2013

Yeah I still need to work on these!  I did start keeping a  jar of good things that occur during 2013, but I haven’t put anything in it in quite a while.  Not that good things haven’t happened, I just haven’t been keeping up with recording them.  Perhaps I can add things to the jar retroactively?

Arts & Entertainment

See all of the movies nominated for the best picture Academy Awards (and see the new Star Trek movie); See some plays; Go to some concerts; Take more photos during the year

I’m on track with this one!  I’ve seen a bunch of the Academy Award films — Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, AND Star Trek.  Wow, this is more movies than I’ve seen in a year since high school!

I have a bunch of plays lined up that I am planning on seeing this summer.

I’ve seen Southside Johnny at The Music Hall and The Rat Pack is Back (I’m not sure if that counts as a concert to a play)

I have fallen behind in the take photos category.  I even keep my little camera in my purse, but I never quite get around to snapping pictures.  I use my phone camera, but again, not too often.  Well, the year is young!  I better start taking some or my Christmas card will be photo-less this year!

Travel & Recreation

Go skiing; Go Ice Skating; Take a family trip (even if it is only a weekend)

I did manage to go skiing with my daughter, son and daughter-in-law so that qualifies for skiing and a family trip.  I would have liked to do more skiing and taken a longer trip, but we have to start somewhere!  And I would like to add in a trip with friends to the goals.

As for ice skating, they are talking of building an outdoor skating rink at Strawery Banke in Portsmouth!  I am very excited and if the weather is nice and cold in December, I should be achieve to make this resolution this year!

Fitness

Practice yoga at least twice a week, preferably 10 times a month; Be able to sit with my legs at a 90 degree angle and touch my chest to the floor or to put it in yoga terms, Upavistha Konasana; Run a 5k in under 24 minutes and/or a 10k in under 50 minutes; Do 20 push ups at once (full push ups!)

Let’s see I was on track with yoga in Jan, Feb fell off a bit.  Then I had a nasty cold and cough and hardly went at all in March and April (couldn’t disturb the class with my constant hacking), but May was right on track — 10 times last month!  All in all, I managed to average about  6 classes per month.

I have been doing a lot of stretching, and working on pushups, but I am no where near my goals yet.

As for running, I have had to scale it back quite a bit as my Achilles tendon has been acting up, and so I haven’t done any speed work yet.  We’ll see about those race times!

Money & Finances

Increase savings 10% over last year; Turn off lights when leaving a room; Turn off water when not in use (brushing teeth, washing dishes)

I’m doing really good with these goals!

Personal Organization

Update all my personal addresses and phone numbers into one master list; Sync all my personal and business calendars to one electronic calendar; Redo my passwords

Haven’t gotten to any of these yet…

My Blogs

Consistently blog 2-3 times per week on personal blog; and 2-3 times per month on my professional blog; Expand the topics of my blogs; Increase visits to my blogs.

I’ve done been keeping up with this blog, and visits have been increasing (thank you!)  I have been a bit slow with my professional blog  (all about marketing and social media).  While I haven’t been posting a lot, I have gotten a lot of “new user registrations”.  These seem to come from odd email addresses and so I don’t know if they are real or some sort of spam.  Any ideas?

Education

Learn how to make a website

Nope, I haven’t done this yet.  But I did download a tutorial on coding.  Now I just have to go through it.

And a few of my favorite resolutions from last year that I carried forward to this year:

Deepen 1-2 friendships; Make 1 new friend; Get together with girl friends at least once a month; visit family monthly; write 52 letters in 52 weeks.

Well my letter writing is off this year, but I am at least writing some letters.  I have indeed gotten together with my friends each month, and as a result I believe I am deepening some friendships.  I don’t think I’ve made a new friend (yet), and I have managed to visit family almost once a month.  So I’m on track with these goals.

All in all, it’s been a good year in terms of these objectives I set forth back in December.  However, as you can see, there are definitely some areas that need attention in the remainder of the year!

Words to Live By!

How true!

Dr Seuss

Patience

relaxbreathebepatientphoto

Powerful words.

It took me a long time to get to the point where I can say that I understand them, and that I am willing to relax, breathe and be patient as my life unfolds.

I certainly don’t always follow this advise…but I am trying.  When I start getting anxious and upset about how I believe the future will unfold, I remind myself to relax, breathe and be patient; to have faith, and to live in the present moment.

The future will take care of itself.

Three Years of Health and Blogging

Today this blog is 3 years old!  Cool, I’ve never managed to keep a journal for more than a few weeks, and I’ve been pretty faithfully posting here for 3 years.  I started this as a means of motivating myself to get back into shape (which you might have guessed from the name of this blog!)  For most of my adult life I was physically active and health conscious, but then I had a 2-3 year lapse while I was dealing with some personal issues.  I ended up gaining about 20 pounds, but even more troublesome was that my cholesterol and triglycerides went up to unhealthy levels.

Bench pressSo in February 2010, I took the first step…I went to the gym.  I also started this blog with this post   The goal of the blog was to 1) keep me motivated to get back into shape and 2) to share my journey and hopefully motivate others.

One year later, in February of 2011  I reported that I had lost 12 pounds, and had gone from barely fitting into the size 8 clothes I had to buy when I gained weight, back into my size 6 clothes.  I had also started making smarter food decisions and eating better.

In my birthday post in 2012 I proudly stated that I had lost most of the excess juicerweight I had gained, and more importantly that my cholesterol numbers were moving back down.  My objectives were to eat healthy are to buy (and use) a juicer and start buying organic vegetables.

Now, three years later, I am doing great!  I am exercising regularly, either running, weight training or practicing yoga. And over the past year, (as you may have noticed in my posts), I have completely changed my dietary habits.

fruits-vegetables-298x232 I am now eating a plant-based diet and have eliminated all dairy products.  If you want to know why I have eliminated dairy, you can check out my earlier post on dairy!  I did indeed buy a juicer and I use it regularly, and I eat mostly local organic fruits and vegetables.

I feel great; my running has improved, and since changing my diet my cholesterol has dropped 34 points and my triglycerides dropped to less than half of what they were!  I attribute this completely to my vegan diet.

My physical fitness goals for the upcoming year are to improve my running times to run a 5K in 24 minutes and a 10K in 50 minutes, to improve my flexibility so that I can stretch out over my legs and get my chest to the floor, and be able to 20 military push ups.

Phew, I have a lot of work to do, stay tuned…

2013 Resolutions!

It’s that time of year again, time for New Year’s Resolutions!  I know it is January 4th already, but I like to take a few days to really think about the past year, and to set my goals for the upcoming year.

I really enjoy making resolutions.  I find that reviewing them throughout the year serves to keep me on track.  And since I’ve been blogging and posting the resolutions publicly, I have done a much better job keeping them!  So here’s to a great 2013!!

At first I was writing these haphazardly, jotting down everything that came to mind.  Then read a fellow blogger’s resolutions and I like the way she categorized hers so as imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I am going to categorize mine this year too!

Wellness

  • See the positive in every situation, or to follow the advise of  a fellow blogger, play the Glad Game
  • Don’t fret over or complain about issues; either act to change it or accept it
  • Procrastinate less, or to put it positively, use my time productively
  • Chronicle the good from the year by keeping a jar of good things that occur during 2013

Arts & Entertainment

  • See all of the movies nominated for the best picture Academy Awards (and see the new Star Trek movie)
  • See some plays
  • Go to some concerts
  • Take more photos during the year

Travel & Recreation

  • Go skiing
  • Go Ice Skating
  • Take a family trip (even if it is only a weekend)

Fitness

  • Practice yoga at least twice a week, preferably 10 times a month.
  • Be able to sit with my legs at a 90 degree angle and touch my chest to the floor or to put it in yoga terms, Upavistha Konasana
  • Run a 5k in under 24 minutes and/or a 10k in under 50 minutes
  • Do 20 push ups at once (full push ups!)

Money & Finances

  • Increase savings 10% over last year
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room
  • Turn off water when not in use (brushing teeth, washing dishes)

Personal Organization

  • Update all my personal addresses and phone numbers into one master list
  • Sync all my personal and business calendars to one electronic calendar
  • Redo my passwords

My Blogs

  • Consistently blog 2-3 times per week on personal blog,
  • and 2-3 times per month on my professional blog
  • Expand the topics of my blogs
  • Increase visits to my blogs

Education

  • Learn how to make a website

And I am going to carry forward a few of my favorite resolutions from next year:

  • Deepen 1-2 friendships
  • Make 1 new friend
  • Write 52 letters in 52 weeks
  • Get together with girl friends at least once a month
  • Visit family monthly