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Dark Days-10 Tips to Live Happier till Springtime

Evening GloomWhen the days are short and the nights are long, do you feel like crawling in a cave or at least under the covers until springtime? Do you feel like Lord Byron expressed-“I am always more religious on sunshiney days”?

Mood variation dependent on the amount of sunlight affects many of us, mostly women. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, as it is called, mimic those of depression-fatigue, lack of interest in things that used to be pleasurable, cravings for carbohydrates and weight gain.

If this is describing how you are feeling, here are 10 Tips:

  1. Get outside even if it’s just to rake leaves or shovel snow at least 10 minutes a day.
  2. Open all the blinds and curtains in the house to let all the sunshine in that is available.
  3. Take your laptop or book to sit by a window.
  4. Make sure you are taking enough Vitamin D.
  5. Replace your light bulbs with full (broad) spectrum ones.
  6. We are mammals. If you are getting sleepy earlier than usual, don’t fight it. Go to bed.
  7. If you must start your day before sunrise, set a timer on your bedroom light to come on a half hour before the alarm goes off.
  8. If possible, plan your vacations in January or February and go south to sunnier climes.
  9. Push yourself out of the cave. Get together with friends and do something fun. Join a Meetup group.
  10. Remember it won’t last forever. Each day from today on will have a few more minutes of sunshine!

3 Steps to a Happier Brain

Did you know that our brains have a preferential bias for the negative? Rick Hanson, Neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., says that our brains are like teflon for positive experiences, but toBrimming Brain ensure our survival and keep alert for signs of danger, they are constantly scanning for the negative out there and then latching onto it like Velcro. No wonder we get depressed and anxious!

Thank goodness Hanson suggests three steps to overcome our negativity bias-

  1. Turn positive events into positive experiences. When someone compliments us or something good happens, we need to pay attention and not deflect it like teflon like we habitually do.
  2. More than just noticing it, we need to fully experience the pleasure, savoring it and intensifying the good feelings. As we allow our bodies to feel the positive emotion it gives the neurons more time to fire together and actually change the structure hardwiring of our brains.
  3. Now sense and focus intention on bringing this emotion deeply inside of you to the extent that you experience it becoming a part of you, ” becom­ing woven into the fab­ric of your brain and yourself.”

Positive thinking doesn’t just make us feel better, it actually changes our brains in visible ways, changing how it scans the environment and allowing us to see the world around us as kinder, safer, friendlier and happier. Read his interview for his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, http://bit.ly/1w559ca.

Tis the Season to be Grateful, Next Month We’re Supposed to be Jolly

Saying GraceWhat’s the difference? If you’re jolly, aren’t you grateful? According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the author of THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier, while there are many things that we can be happy about, the uniqueness of gratitude is that we realize that we have received a gift that we don’t deserve. It’s “the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life” and secondly “recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” We can only be grateful to others, not to ourselves, so it brings a sense of humility along with the gift (4-8).

Offering grace at the family table, Bart Simpson prayed,

“Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Donald Trump stated,

“All of the women on The Apprentice have flirted with me-consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected” (148).

Gratitude is knowing, at a deep level is an appreciation that what we have received was “freely bestowed out of compassion, generosity, or love” (7). The International Encyclopedia of Ethics defines it as “the heart’s internal indicator when the tally of gifts outweighs the exchanges” (6).

Emmons’s research found that when people took the time to write in a gratitude journal, not only did they feel more appreciative about things that they normally overlooked, but they reported–exercising more, sleeping better, experiencing few physical symptoms and feeling more optimistic about their lives. They were more likely to make progress toward their personal goals and to have offered emotional support to others.

Other important healing benefits are that-

Gratitude counters our natural adaption to pleasant events.

Gratitude mitigates toxic emotions and states like envy, resentment, and regret.

Gratitude strengthens social ties.

Gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

Gratitude has a direct link to cardiovascular functioning.

In his intro to the workshop that I attended at Loma Linda Medical School, Emmons described it like this-

“You feel a deep sense of peace and internal balance-you are at harmony with yourself, with others and with your larger environment. You experience increased buoyancy vitality and flow. Your senses are enlivened—every aspect of your perceptual experience seems richer, more texture. Surprisingly, you fell invigorated at time when you would usually have felt tired and drained. Things that usually would have irked you just don’t “get to you” as much. Your body feels regenerated-your mind, at last, clear. . . At least for a period of time, decisions become obvious as priorities clarify and inner conflict dissolves. Intuitive insight suddenly provides convenient solution to problems. . Your creativity flows freely. In this state of inner harmony and deep fulfillment, you experience a sense of greater connectedness—to other people, to a larger whole, perhaps to God, or to a higher aspect of yourself. (From Gratitude as a Way of Life: Insights from the Science of Well-Being, Emmons, 2005)

Heading into the challenges of the holiday season, let’s remember to give ourselves a “gratitude intervention.” Positive results were observed with subjects who only journaled once a day, but here’s the perspective of GK Chesterton-

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play. . . and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

Myth-”You Have to Hit Bottom to Be Ready for Recovery”

 

We’ve all heard it stated, as if it were true, that a person “has to hit bottom” before they are really ready to recover from addiction? Strong evidence shows that “reaching people early, when their problems are less severe and more treatable, leads to better outcomes.  Since 1996, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has recommended starting with the least intensive treatment that is safe.” http://huff.to/1v0G79W

Starting Oct. 15 I will be offering evidence-based support for relapse prevention. There are new effective ways to gain freedom from dependence way before you hit bottom! The program will be individualized to your needs, with 4 different packages with personal one-on-one sessions and coaching calls or group intensives with ongoing support. More information will be posted in the next couple of weeks. Give me a call if you are interested in reserving a space.   951-268-4280.

Man with lowered head

Life beyond/with Cancer Meetup Starting

Life Beyond Cancer

Cutting edge mind/body tools, resources and support

Thursdays at 6:30, Starting June 7

Nourished Health Center, 1740 Marion St.    Denver CO   80218

Research shows that survivors of serious illnesses usually demonstrate these three elements-

1. They have a sense of Purpose.

2. They are connected with People.

3. They feel that they have Power in their lives.

Our group will create connections, while we learn new tools to empower ourselves. We will look at our lives to discover and rekindle passion and purpose and find relief from the burnout from illness, stress and treatments.

When you fully regain your sense of purpose, people, and power, you will look at your diagnosis of cancer as a turning point. It can actually be an enlivening experience with greater freedom and awareness.

We will draw upon cutting edge resources and the following books-

Anatomy of an Illness: as Perceived by the Patient, by Norman Cousins

Anti-Cancer: a New Way of Life, David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD

Cancer as a Turning Point, by Lawrence LeShan, PhD

Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, Martin Rossman, MD

For directions and to RSVP go to-

http://www.meetup.com/Technologies-of-the-Self/

Shame is at the Core!

This powerful TED presentation by Brené Brown on the effects of shame in our lives is well worth watching. The experience of shame is at the foundation of most of the negative reactions and behavior we see in others and wish we didn’t see in ourselves.

Brene Brown: Listening to Shame

Having Trouble Sleeping? Don’t Take Pills!

In a recent study, which “compared 10,529 people who received prescriptions for sleep aids with nearly twice as many people with similar health histories who did not take sleeping pills, researchers found that those who had prescriptions were more than four times as likely to have died during the study’s 2.5-year follow-up as those who didn’t take the drugs.” Not only that, but they group had a 35% increased risk of cancer.

I always offer my clients sessions to help them have restorative night-long sleep, but for myself, I have a CD ready. Once in a while I find myself awake at 2 or 3 in the morning, sometimes with worries or a to-do list, but most often with lots of ideas. I like to have a notebook and pen to jot them down while they are fresh on my mind, but after they are down and safe (you know how all those ideas fade when you wake up and start your day!), I love being able to just push a button for a voice that gently guides me back down to a very restful state.

It’s so fun to awaken rested and with some notations to follow up on. Many significant inventions have come to people during the dreamstate, but it’s also when our bodies and minds rejuvenate and experience deep healing.

Find something that soothes you and supports your sleep. There are many non-pill resources on the internet for insomnia and relaxation.

Not only will you enjoy your night more, but your mental clarity and health will benefit!

Sleeping Pills Linked with Early Death | Healthland | TIME.com.

Americans are in More Pain

The Associated Press reports that Americans are in more pain than ever, probably due to the aging of the population, so pain killers are selling like crazy.  The use of oxycodone, found in OxyContin and Percocet has increased 16 times in some areas.

According to Gregory Bunt, medical director at the Daytop Village treatment clinics in New York, as we are getting older, more of us are really experiencing  pain. “Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.”

Some new formulations that are ready for release will have 10 times more  hydrocodone as that found in Vicodin. Some of the increase use is due to many addicts switching to prescription meds for the great sense of well-being, but physicians are much more willing to alleviate pain for their patients than in the past. They definitely increase a suffer’s quality of life, so it’s very easy to develop a dependency quite innocently.

Fortunately, many individuals learn to use their own minds to block the pathway carrying pain messages from the site of injury to the brain, and even affect their brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and serotonin. This is one aspect of my hypnotherapy practice that is especially rewarding.

See also  Pain Relief in Your Own Mind.

Deleting for New Year’s

Don’t know about you, but I found it a little disheartening to realize that 9 out of 10 Merry Christmas and New Year’s greetings in my emailbox were from people marketing their services or products rather than my true friends. It helped me also realize how much I wanted to unsubscribe from most of the newsletters I’ve been getting, spiritual or wellness oriented or not.  I need to spend much less time in 2012 sorting through email and I bet most of my contacts do too.  So, my #1 and #2 New Year’s resolutions for 2012, starting NOW are–

#1  Unsubscribe to almost all email newsletters.

#2  Resolve not to send others marketing messages disguised as friendly holiday greetings.

Care to join me in this? If so, pass it on! Let’s unclog our email boxes and start doing vs. reading in 2012!

Combination of Hypnosis and Local Anesthesia Provides Benefits

A recent presentation at the European Anaesthesiology Congress, in Amsterdam, showed significant benefits of combining hypnosis with a local anesthetic.  “We can reduce the costs involved in longer hospital stays, remove the need for patients to use opioid drugs, and increase their overall comfort and satisfaction levels.”

The conclusion was based on a studies using the combination for both breast cancer and thyroid surgeries, but presenters suggested that it would be just as beneficial for a “wide range of additional procedures, including carotid artery surgery, knee arthroscopy, gynecological surgery, plastic surgery and egg retrieval for fertility treatment.”

For more information on the use of hypnosis in medical treatment, go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.