In general, when it comes to sleep cycles, people fall into two categories: early birds or night owls. Researchers now believe that there is more than just two categories, and these categories or chronotypes reveal much more about a person’s natural sleep cycle than their disposition to sleep and wakefulness.
Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Power of When claims everyone’s body has been programmed to function best at certain times of the day, depending on your chronotype. He classifies four types: Lion (early morning), Wolf (evening) Bear (somewhere in between lion and wolf) and Dolphin (poor sleepers). Dr. Breus offers an online quiz to help you determine your chronotype at https:// thepowerofwhenquiz.com
Dr. Breus claims these classifications not only help determine an individual’s circadian cycle (sleep/wakefulness cycle), but can shed light on your own biological clock and when your body has been programmed to function at optimal levels for productivity, creativity, energy level, metabolic rate and even sexuality. In fact, trying to be ‘an early bird’ when you are really a ‘night owl’, will only make you feel like you are permanently jet lagged. His book ‘The Power of When” sheds light on all of the above and provides tips to understanding optimal sleep patterns.
Working with your own biological clock, rather than against it can have a huge impact on your mental and physical health, your energy level and your motivation.
Knowing when your body is programmed to function optimally can help you time various activities in your day to maximize everything from metabolizing food to choosing the right time to do your work outs. For more info, check out Dr. Breus’ book.
Qigong is a Chinese word meaning “life energy cultivation”. It is a coordinated set of body movements, breathing, posture and meditation that has been around for over 3,000 years and is based on the philosophy of Taoism.
Worries and stress drain and block the flow of life force. Negativity gets trapped in our bodies. The spine often serves as a major pathway for energy flow and if restricted can result in dis- ease.
The gentle exercises of Qigong increases the flow of blood, lymph and synovial fluids, all of which contribute to improved health and wellness. Qigong is used to not only maximize eternal flexibility, but interior as well. By this I mean that Qigong isn’t just a set series of coordinated movements to help limber you up – it is meant to encourage you to look within and discover the power of your own life force energy.
The combination of external and internal movements is what makes qigong a powerful health practice.
It is a practice that can be used by young and old alike. There is no need to ascribe to a set of beliefs/religious practices, and can be practiced alone or within a group.
Taking Qigong can be a wonderful step towards lifelong health and vibrancy.
Music is a part of most people’s lives. Even if we can’t belt out a song or strum a guitar, music can have a direct impact on how we feel. It doesn’t matter if you listen to classical, pop or hip hop, there’s a place for all types of music.
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the organs and meridians in the body each have corresponding musical notes that can encourage healing. Music therapy has been found helpful in treating autistic children. It can reduce agitation in people with dementia. It has even been found to increase responsiveness to anti-depressants. Soothing music can help settle anyone from newborns to the elderly.
Classical music can aid in improving focus. Music with a tempo of 60 beats/minute can increase mental processing of information. There is a positive correlation between music and creativity. It can help with motivation especially for activities such as exercising.
But like most things, there are restrictions. Listening to music that is too loud can eventually impair hearing. Songs can trigger memories, which can be problematic if those memories are painful or traumatic.
Choosing what music you listen to is a choice only you can make. Listen to songs that make you feel uplifted and happy and feel stress fade away. Sometimes the simplest things can be a powerful self care tool.
Neuroscience has recently undergone an information explosion. Thanks to innovative technology like digital imaging such as fMRI’s, we know so much more about the brain than we did ten years ago.
One of the most exciting advances has to do with the plasticity of the brain. In other words, it’s ability to change. What is even more incredible is that the brain takes it’s shape in whatever you rest your mind on. And while the concept of focusing on the positive to attract the positive is not a new concept, we now have the science to back it up.
The brain takes to negative thoughts like Velcro. Since neurons that fire together, wire together, our sensitivity and reactivity to the negative increases. But we can alter that.
Rick Hansen, best selling author and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplation Wisdom (www.wisebrain.org) suggests ‘planting a garden in the mind of your brain.’ In other words, hardwire your brain for happiness.
To do this you need to focus on realistic standards, acknowledge your accomplishments and attributes. Remain non-judgemental. Positive emotions such as love and kindness can reshape the brain resulting in improved mood, an increase in positive emotions, decreased stress and increased resilience.
This is wonderful news for anyone who has suffered negative experiences that continue to weigh heavy on the mind. Even though thought circuitry may have been rewired by the incident, we have the ability to change it for the better. (For those who have experienced trauma, seek professional help.)
Techniques used to shift the brain into better balance involve mindfulness. By staying in the moment and assessing the feelings that come up, we can in turn, label the associated feeling. Research has shown that labelling negative emotions can decrease their severity.
As you think about the negative experience, bring forth a positive one. By doing so you will re-imprint the memory with some positive. Attitudes of kindness and acceptance also go along way in altering the memory. This is planting a garden where there might otherwise be weeds.
Although not a quick fix, it is estimated that it takes five positive interactions to override one negative. All the more reason to get started right away!
Over the last several years, so much focus has been on self- esteem. People strive for a healthy, positive sense of self worth with the hope of attaining a level of confidence that will help in relationships, career and life in general. We all want to
feel good about ourselves.
But the problem with self-esteem is, it tends to be a judgement on how we rate ourselves against others. Self-esteem is often reliant on societal norms, and what others think is important.
According to Kristen Neff, PhD, it is so much more valuable to focus on self-compassion. As a pioneer in the field, Dr. Neff has been researching self-compassion for many years and claims it is much more reliable, less apt to come with certain conditions the way self esteem does, and is directly linked with an improved sense of well being.
Self-compassion is all about being kind to yourself. It is about being supportive and even protective. It’s about taking the time to examine your feelings in a non-judgemental way and communicating with yourself in a way that you would with a dear friend. You wouldn’t demean, dismiss or belittle a friend who has turned to you in need, so why do it to yourself?
A good step forward in the journey towards self -acceptance is acknowledgement of who we are. The parts of ourselves we like, and those we don’t. We’ve all made mistakes, bad choices and handled situations in less than ideal ways. It doesn’t warrant beating ourselves up. Acknowledgement helps us examine what we want to change and what needs forgiveness. It helps us respond not react.
For more info on self-acceptance visit the website www.self-compassion.org
Set the intention today to be kinder to yourself.
You may be wondering why a blog about self care is proposing the idea of volunteering. So often people who struggle to find time to address their own self care needs feel inundated with the demands of a busy life, commitments, and responsibilities. Even thinking about adding another thing on the ‘to do’ list may sound ludicrous.
Naturally, the decision to volunteer is personal and one that only you can make. But chosen wisely, giving of your time, expertise and/or interests can actually become something you do for yourself.
Volunteering opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Time commitments can vary from as little as an hour or two each month to several hours per week. The variety of opportunities is unlimited. The key is to pick an area that aligns with something you are passionate about. Opt for opportunities that include hobbies and interests. Choosing areas that have little to do with your career can be a refreshing change, provide opportunities for increasing knowledge in areas you are interested in, and get you out meeting new people.
Many research studies cite the benefits of volunteering. Increased longevity and improved sense of happiness and well-being are among those benefits. So not only are you giving to others when you volunteer, you are doing yourself a favour as well.
I love the famous Kurt Cobain quote: “I’d rather be hated for who I am,
than loved for who I am not.” It screams courage, originality and the need to
live life embracing all that you are: the good, the bad and the ugly.
It’s easy to like the parts of ourselves we are proud of, not so easy to embrace qualities we know we need to work on. And so we hide or bury those parts. But chances are we aren’t fooling anyone. Admitting to ourselves we are a work in progress, choosing to examine our shadow side rather than ignoring it, can help in living a truly authentic life.
Embrace your quirks and spend time with people who accept you for who you are. Reflect on the qualities about yourself you like and those you don’t. Set your sights on becoming who you want to be, regardless of your age.
So many fall into the trap of being people pleasers, often at the expense of themselves. Not a great idea. It’s a no win situation. So be real, be honest and accountable for whom you are. Being authentic means being true to yourself.
In short, OWN it!
In studying the effects of spirituality on individuals, many researchers have found that engaging in spiritual practices can have a positive effect on overall health and well-being. Its benefits have even been compared to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Spirituality takes on many shapes and sizes. For some, it is traditional faiths like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. Being part of a spiritual community can foster a sense of belonging, increase a sense of security and provide a support system.
But traditional religion may not be the path for everyone. Some may seek spirituality in the form of contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation. Others might feel a spiritual connection when engaging in nature, or in activities such as art and journaling.
Regardless of what form spirituality takes for you, it can promote a more positive outlook on life, relieve stress, inspire personal growth and encourage reflective practices.
Spirituality can help give meaning to life, foster hope and promote happiness and contentment – something we all strive for.
Ah, the weekend! Worries fade away and time is finally ours, to do as we please.
But in a blink of an eye, it’s Sunday afternoon and the dreaded blues set in.
If you have noticed this pattern occurring, you may be experiencing the Sunday Blues. And it is much more common than you may think. Studies have been done that indicate a large proportion of the population experience this dread, even with those who are satisfied with their jobs. Psychologists studying this phenomenon offer the following tips to help combat the gloom and doom that sets in like clock work every Sunday night:
It goes without saying that stress and trauma can wreak havoc on the nervous system. Stressors have a way of accumulating in the body in deep-rooted tension patterns that can result in a wide array of symptoms that involve the spine and muscles, organs and tissues, as well as emotional wellbeing.
Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) is a specialized form of chiropractics that not only addresses spinal alignment but the wellness of the nervous system as well. By utilizing precise, gentle touches, it assists in unlocking those tension patterns thereby allowing for increased flexibility, improved body awareness, an increase in stress tolerance and a reduction in aches and pains.
NSA allows your mind to reconnect to the body and experience an improved sense of well-being. The treatment is gentle and relaxing. All you need to do is lie comfortably on your stomach, fully clothed. Additional reported benefits include increased energy and an improvement in overall mood.
Whether you hold your tension in your neck, shoulder blades or low back, this form of treatment may be beneficial in decreasing discomfort that can so easily be the target of all the stress we experience from day to day.
Not all chiropractors are trained in NSA but a simple web search of Network Chiropractics is sure to help find a practitioner close to your locale if you think this type of healing modality might be for you. It may just be a self-care technique you will want to add as part of your maintenance regime in staying well.