Category: Age Well, Live Well

Stress Less: Sleep More

There is nothing, no thing, quite like a good night’s sleep.  It’s natures way of hitting “reset.”  And who couldn’t use a daily reset?  I know I sure can.  But we, the big collective “we” seem to have this notion that getting enough shut-eye is next to impossible.  There’s just too much to do…

Huh?  What is more important than your health?  What could be better than handling your to-do list with a calm mood and clear focus?

Sleep (or rather the lack of it) has been implicated in many many disease processes including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension as well as anxiety and depression.  It simply makes sense to make sleep a priority.

How?  It does take commitment, a willingness to listen to your body as opposed to overriding your physical needs in order to watch that late night program, get one more thing done, etc.

Remember when you were a kid and you could fall asleep just about anywhere?  You still could if you let yourself.  While literally falling asleep in a meeting isn’t cool, learning to once again tune in to the feeling of sleepiness washing over yourself can kick start your ability to get the rest you need.  So take time each evening to tune in to yourself, sit quietly and notice.  Do you feel the tug of the Sandman?

Just taking those moments to simply sit quietly gives your sleep rhythms a boost.  Once you do, you’re on your way to unwinding enough to get the rest you want.  A few other tips (there will be more on these later) that support getting restful sleep.

1. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before you go to bed.  (a half-hour is the bare minimum)

2. Turn down the temperature.

3. Create a bed-time ritual that relaxes your body and your mind.  Do it consciously and religiously.

4. Make sure you have at least 8-hours of in-bed time.  A REM cycle is approximately 90 minutes.  Eight hours give you time to settle, get seven full REM cycles and wake up refreshed BEFORE your alarm goes off.  Your brain needs to complete an entire cycle to optimize alertness.  So, on those days when you can’t get your full seven (or eight) cycles, get up at the end of a REM cycle rather than hitting snooze for 15 or 20 minutes.

 

For more on the link between sleep and anxiety check out:http://neurosciencenews.com/people-sleep-less-8-hours-night-likely-suffer-anxiety-depression/

 

 

On Cleaning

More and more the things we do to nurture and sustain ourselves get relegated to others, or given short shrift. How fast we can get something done takes precedence over doing that thing well and fully. Generations of women who didn’t “work” outside the home, knew and appreciated the godliness of cleanliness. I remember my grandmother and the pride she took in the whiteness of her sheets blowing on the line in her back yard, my aunt talking about cleaning her kitchen as a spiritual practice, the zen of twice-yearly cupboard cleaning…. To this day, I shake the blues, agitations and angst by clearing a closet, scrubbing a pot, deep cleaning the fridge… The world becomes a little clearer, a little shinier when even one thing is well cleaned.

For more on the beauty and benefits of cleaning…

Cleaning and doing chores aren’t activities that our culture appreciates much these days, yet Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee understands housework as being essential for a healthy spiritual life. “As…
  from dailygood.org

Gratitude

It’s Turkey day and I’m holed up at home with a runny nose, watery eyes and a deep cough.  After the 2-week bronchial jag I mumbled through in September/October, I’m not taking any chances with this one.  Pulled out all the stops and even tried that crazy rub Vicks Vapo-Rub on your feet, don socks and climb into bed approach to soothing a nighttime cough (incredibly, it worked!)  So no parties or gatherings for me.  Plague dogs stay home!

And yet, I’m eternally grateful to have a quiet day to putter.  I’m grateful for the puddle of sun warming my feet.  I’m grateful for the stack of unread housing magazines and the time to peruse them unfettered by obligations.  I’m grateful I’ve got everything I need to pull together a wonderful turkey dinner for myself.  And, I’m eternally grateful that Chicken Little’s dad is a hands on dad and, as luck would have it, on parent rotation this holiday.  I’m so happy not to expose her to my germs and grateful for the luxury of time to rest.

Speaking of Chicken Little.  She’s a little gratitude generator all by herself.  No one can match her wicked sense of humor.  She’s a model of acceptance and unconditional love.  How can I not be grateful for her?

I’m also grateful for all the wonderful people in my life – family, friends, clients and all the folks who help me get by and do what I do.  I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU!

Wherever you are, however you’re celebrating, I wish you a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Practicing

“Never practice more than three or four hours a day.  No one can concentrate longer than that, and you must spend the rest of your time learning about life and love and art and all the other wonderful things in the world.  If a young person sits in the practice room all day, what can he possibly have to express in his music?” – Arthur Rubinstein

Sage advice from a master.  Imagine a world where we all took time to actually enjoy life.  If we took time to see the beauty around us, had the energy to support those we love without ourselves feeling overtaxed, spent time enjoying each other… In other words, imagine a world where we were truly engaged in the act of living instead of simply “doing”.

Are you willing to work toward a life fully lived?  I am.

Slow Mo

What happens if you take a few moments to live in slow motion?

You might find your world opening up.  You might find you notice yourself doing things you never realized you did.  You might find that some of those things you do are getting in the way of what you would like to do.  You might find yourself growing in awareness until you can catch yourself the moment before you act.  You might find that slowing down and noticing give you options you never knew you had.

That’s what happens during Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class.  For sure the movements can seem peculiar.  They weren’t when you were a child.  The lessons, done in slow motion and increasing awareness are based on natural movements, part of our shared human developmental repertoire.  The impact of doing them can be incredible.  How so?

Here is an interesting article on one woman’s journey from pain to ease.

For you yoga practitioners – I’m not suggesting you give up something you love.  I don’t believe in an either/or kind of world.  I simply suggest you give ATM a try.  Who knows, maybe your yoga practice itself will become deeper and more effective.

Are You Needlessly Aging Yourself?

Dangle a time and effort saver in front of my face and my first reaction is – “I gotta have it!” Visions of ease (we all know I’m all about ease) dance merrily in my head until somewhere from the back of my brain a new “reality” creeps to the fore. I begin to see what all the lack of motion that comes with those devices begins to do to a body.

Huh? Seriously. Every time you stop doing something – be that carrying water, vacuuming, hanging laundry, reaching for things on the upper shelves – you limit your body’s movement potential. And when you stop using your body in more complex and demanding ways, you essentially tell your brain – “Nope, don’t need that skill anymore. You can forget about it.” Which is exactly what your brain does. It adapts to the more limited repertoire you’ve given it and it, and your body, become ever less adapted to a life that requires manual exertion and complex motion.

But, “I go to the gym,” you say. Great. Working out can be fun. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, social engagement (one of the best life extenders known to man) and defined muscles. But does it improve function?

How many people do you know who regularly work out who can’t open a jar of pickles, reach a glass from the top shelf, or complain that stooping to get something from under the sink gives them a backache? Well?

We humans are designed for movement. Lots of it. In infinitely varied ways. To live in a youthful body, we need to expand our movement potential rather than diminish it. (That’s a fancy way of saying “use it or lose it”.)

I’m not talking about hard labor. Excess is rarely appropriate. I’m talking about reclaiming movements like bending, squatting, reaching, stair climbing, walking, etc., that modern life and effort “savers” are slowly eliminating. Put movement back into your day and see if you don’t feel stronger, more flexible and, yes, younger.

How? Here are a few suggestions:

* Take the plates out of that drawer and put them back on the upper shelves.
* Take the stairs whenever you can.
* Running errands? Consolidate. Park once and walk between your stops.
* Ignore the pull-outs and bend down to reach appliances.
* Get on the floor to play with the kids (grandkids?), or watch tv or read.
* Take business on the road with mobile meetings. Walk with associates.
* Ditch the car. Walk the kids to school. Help carry their books.
* Try baking bread (kneading), whipping cream (stirring), etc. by hand.
* Walk on the grass, balance along a curb, hike uneven surfaces…

What other ways can you think of (and TRY) to expand your daily motions?

7 Ways to Exercise Your Brain – And Why You Really Need To!

Getting old isn’t for sissies.  There’s wear and tear on the ol’ body and more frighteningly on the brain.  Change happens and like your favorite sweater, as you age you do get a little worn around the edges.  But that doesn’t mean you lose your spirit, focus or verve. You’ve probably read a lot about brain health and keeping your edge as you age.  Here are several ways to do just that.

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