In this month's newsletter (sign up here), we took on the challenge of... doing nothing for 90 minutes. A simple idea, but tough in practice.
One way to warm up toward doing nothing is to do just one thing (doing less is the practice!). This is particularly helpful as multitasking can be a default answer to those times when you feel overwhelmingly busy. Multitasking pumps that busy energy up, but doesn't offer a return of productivity. You're actually more productive when you do just one thing at a time vs. all the things at a time.
Give this single task challenge a try and then go for the big non-doing challenge in the newsletter when you're ready.
When my boys were young, we would pack up the van and head south every year for spring break. Desperate for sun and warmth, we made a beeline as far south as needed to find them and then set up camp for a few days.
All of these trips were fun, but one stands out in my mind as being exceptional. After many hours on the road, we discovered a state campground in the Florida panhandle and were pleasantly surprised to find so few people staying there. It was inland and we figured most people headed to Florida had already chosen the beach. Our plan was to use the campground as a launching point and head out in different directions each day to explore the area—including the beach.
The morning after we arrived, we found ourselves lingering over breakfast, enjoying the peace of the nearly deserted campground. None of us, not even our active and typically restless boys, made any move to get ready to leave. The leisurely morning soon turned into afternoon,...
August offers that last excitement of summer for kids. You can likely relate as the popular summer activities have persisted over the decades: sleeping in, daytime sprinkler-running, ice cream before dinner, and stay-up-too-late-sleepovers.
September usually comes crashing in with strict school schedules and increased workloads for parents. The result? Tired, cranky kids.
And tired, cranky adults.
Adjusting to new sleep schedules is tough. Adolescents typically require 8-10 hours of sleep to function optimally. Adults need about the same at 7-9 hours.
One strategy that parents and kids can use to reset sleep schedules is the use of a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a neurohormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake rhythm. It can be taken orally to help re-establish that rhythm. It also appears to have antioxidant action and supports the immune system.
Though integrative mental health is becoming a more buzz-y term, it's something our NMH team has been doing for decades. The term “integrative” mental health typically refers to a novel approach to treatment that differs from the traditional biomedical approach in the following ways:
Many factors influencing mental health must be addressed for more lasting and meaningful healing. See below for the interacting factors that make up our Integrative Mental Health Model.
At NMH, we seek to expand upon this understanding of integrative mental health by adding...
Do you notice yourself feeling irritable in the heat of summer? Overly critical? Agitated or impatient? Or just sapped and lethargic?
You may not know that serotonin (that soothing, feel-good brain chemical that is so associated with mood) can get depleted in the summer just as it can in the winter. I think of serotonin as a “brain coolant" because it helps protect the brain under extreme conditions like high heat. This hard work can deplete serotonin. In effect, when air temperatures go up, serotonin levels go down. Some speculate that this may explain the increase in violence seen during the hottest days of summer.
Another way to think about what’s going on in your body during the hot months is through the lens of Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine from India. Ayurveda views the summer months as the pitta season. Pitta is one of the primary mind-body types and is associated with a somewhat fiery personality and a more driven...
Restoring and maintaining optimal mental health requires a multi-pronged approach that supports your mind, body, and heart. A key part of that holistic approach involves caring for your gut. So, what (or who?!) lives in your gut and how can you care for it?
Your gut (AKA gastrointestinal tract) primarily includes the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas. A collection of micro-organisms call your gut home- a housing situation often called the "gut microbiome." I call these helpful micro-organisms "good bugs" and they include a zoo of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungi. Good bugs communicate with your brain constantly via chemical messengers and nerves. Some help manufacture neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA and also help make vitamins needed for optimal brain functioning. Good bugs also support your response to stress and contribute to healthy immune system activities. Given their big jobs, it's vital that...
Last month's theme aimed at waking up your senses so you can feel more grounded, focused, and in balance. This month, the availability of so many fresh fruits and vegetables will serve as inspiration to eat a wider variety of foods that come with the season and that nourish your body, mind, and heart.
With this in mind, the intention this month is:
Here are two strategies to focus on:
The sun shines not on us, but in us.
The river flows not past, but through
us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every
fiber and cell of the substance of our
bodies, making them glide and sing.
Ah, the delight of waking up the senses!
Many of our senses can easily fall out of awareness and lie dormant, unnoticed. When one is rushing out the door in the morning, wondering if there is enough gas in the tank, already a little late for the next event, who can take in the beauty of the sunrise? When anxiety is jerking the mind through a series of worst case scenarios because of the latest problem at work, who smells the lasagna baking in the oven? Or numb and tired from insomnia, it’s hard for the hands to feel nourished by the soft warm nestling of the cat in the lap.
And all this time, the dear thinking mind, hoping to perfect us, commandeering most of our attention, is housed in the body. This body, like a precious...
Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy.
The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don't know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.
-C. Joy Bell
In order to wake up your senses, it’s important to understand them a bit better. You probably learned about the five senses in health class: touch, smell, hearing, seeing, and taste. One appealing and straight-forward quality of the five-sense model is that each of the senses is paired with a specific, highly visible part of the body. You can point to your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and skin. However, depending on how you define the human sense organs, functions, and abilities; there may be many more senses beyond just five. And you can access them!
What is it that sets very happy people apart from the not-so-happy? Is it a healthy diet? Exercise? An active spiritual life? Or simply being fortunate enough to have mostly good things happen throughout life?
A study of 222 undergraduates screened for high happiness levels found none of the above reasons. So, what was the happiness booster? The upper 10% of consistently happy people in the study had stronger social connections. While it may not be enough to create happiness by itself, a richly satisfying social life appears to be a necessary foundation to happiness.
Does that mean you need to be a social butterfly with a huge contact list? Nope, that quantity over quality adage applies here as well.
Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan, says that her personal practice of being alert to high-quality connections (HQCs) are like vitamins that strengthen her from within. I like this notion, in part,...
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