The TIME Magazine cover article from December 5, 2011, by Alice Park titled The Two Faces of Anxiety has raised a bit of a ruckus online. Mostly, bloggers have questioned the choice to make Why Anxiety Is Good For You the cover art in the United States, while a graphic image of the Egyptian revolution was published in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific editions. It has been questioned whether TIME believes Americans do not care about world events or are simply that self-focused. It seems to me that the editors of TIME simply believe “anxiety” is a buzzword that will sell in America, and apparently more than an uprising in Egypt. This seemed even more likely after watching the interview the senior editor of TIME did with CNN to discuss the problem of anxiety that they claim 18 percent of American adults suffer from.
Maruchy Lachance is president of Running Ninja!, a lifestyle brand for runners by runners. Running Ninja! offers a wide variety of apparel and gifts for runners to keep you happy and inspired while you’re on the run.
At least once a week I find myself suggesting to friends to exercise and/or change their diet in order to manage or control a current issue in their lives.
While at a party someone overheard me encouraging a recently divorced mother of two to take up running to fight off all the stress in her life. About an hour later I was approached by the bystander and complimented on my suggestion because instead of fueling her flame of misery or blowing sunshine in her face, I gave her a tangible tool that will help her alleviate some of the problems she is dealing with. This conversation got me thinking about all the other benefits that moderate exercise can do for us. (more…)
Catherine Holecko is the Guide to Family Fitness at About.com and suggests Harry Connick Jr. for all your holiday karaoke needs and workout playlists.
I absolutely love the winter holidays and everything that goes along with them, but as my kids grow and life gets busier and more complicated, I’ve noticed my stress level rising each November. Since we have no family nearby, we travel for Thanksgiving every year, and Christmas every other year—which, I swear, has to be the top holiday stressor ever. So this year, I’m formalizing a plan to make the season merrier. It starts with thinking clearly about what matters to me and my husband and kids.
1. We need a tree. I need a live (well, cut) Christmas tree even if we are not going to be home for Christmas. Yes, it’s a pain to wrestle into the stand, to clean up after, to keep watered, and to dispose of. But nothing can take the place of the sight and scent of a real tree. My daughter has already asked me if we’ll have a tree this year even though we won’t be home on Christmas Day, so I know it’s something she cares a lot about too. Plus, choosing and decorating the tree is an important family activity, something we all insist on doing together, while singing carols like some kind of television commercial or cheesy sitcom.
Christine Koh is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas, the designer behind Posh Peacock, and writes a personal blog at Pop Discourse. She
lives in the Boston area with her husband Jonathan and daughters Laurel (7 years) and Violet (8 months). She tweets about it all at @bostonmamas.
The holidays are, characteristically, a challenging time of year for many. Emotions often run high (e.g., due to missing loved ones or interfacing with family members with whom there is friction) and there are physical challenges as well — the abundance of sweet treats challenges even the most disciplined, and busy schedules and overwhelming to-do lists can shift self care to the back burner. In my opinion, it’s thus even more important to step back and reflect on your actions around this time of year. Here are eight things I recommend doing to enjoy a healthier holiday season – both mentally and physically.
1. Bring and/or serve alternative treats. One Christmas, my sister-in-law
brought healthier snacks as a hostess gift for my mother – items such as a prettily arranged dried fruit platter and yogurt covered pretzels instead of yet another tray of cookies or bowl of candy. And everyone gravitated towards these offerings because they provided a welcome respite to the super sweet treats! Consider healthy alternative treats as either a hostess gift or if you are looking to put out snacks at your own holiday gathering.
Compassion meditation is a type of practice that can actually physically remodel the brain. The results of several studies confirm how practicing meditation can change your brain patterns to make you a nicer, happier person.
At the University of Madison Wisconsin, researchers tested the electrical activity of Buddhist monks during meditation compared with just sitting and doing nothing. The electrical brain waves of the meditators were off the charts, suggesting meditation has an impact on neurological occupation, versus just vegging out.
In another study at Emory University, a group of people meditated 30 minutes a day for two weeks. Results indicated key areas of the subjects’ brains had changed in addition to making them more generous. Researchers hooked up microphones and recorded the subjects at random times during the day and found they were saying nicer things to people.
At age 40, Holly Mosier felt like she had hit a wall. “[It was] hard to come out of my bedroom at times. I was a wife, mother, stepmother, trial lawyer… trying to blend a family and maintain some semblance of peace, joy, health and vitality, and I was failing miserably,” says Holly. She sought solutions everywhere she could think of to find tools that she could work in to her life despite being a very busy professional and mother.
Despite searching in books, seminars, classes, medical studies, experts, and television shows, as she looked for practical, efficient solutions, and Holly never found the answers she was looking for, she was able to develop her own set of tools to create a “lifestyle that balances the needs of the mind, body, and spirit in a practical, efficient way.” After working these techniques into her own life and seeing the result, Holly put them together in her book Stress Less, Weigh Less. Holly has now expanded her techniques to create the following tips for handling holiday stress.
The true meaning of Thanksgiving can easily get lost in translation when we are so focused on the wide array of particulars. Maybe you are the host this year and a dozen family members or more are about to grace your dining table. Perhaps it is you and your own family’s turn to pack up the Suburban and trek across the country to be the guests of honor. However you live your Thanksgiving experience, it is easy to forget about thanks and giving. It is often not until grace is said, the wine glasses clink and someone passes the stuffing that we actually relax and feel some gratitude, yet this moment of pure thankfulness doesn’t have to be lost when the meal ends and grandma starts loading the dishwasher.
Whether we believe Thanksgiving Day marks a time when the pilgrims and the Indians set aside their need to fight over their differences, or feel it began as a simple celebration of the bountiful fall harvest, it remains a day that reminds us all to practice gratitude.
Each and every one of us can think of something we are grateful for yet our thankfulness is often overshadowed by our busy and hectic schedules before and after Thanksgiving Day. The following reminders will help you to keep feeling gratitude before, during and long after Thanksgiving Day has past so that the other 364 days of the year are filled with just the same amount of joy that being grateful brings.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your impending holiday agenda, read on.
Whether it’s a calendar full of parties, hosting responsibilities, or kids’ activities that have you running around like a chicken without a head, do yourself a favor and take just five minutes of your time to practice this guided meditation and refresh, restore and replenish your peace of mind. It will not only help you, it will help those around you. People will gravitate toward you because you will radiate with pure, inner tranquility, and that will look better on you than any facial treatment I know of. Can you think of a more perfect way to be this holiday season?
Sit in a comfortable position away from external distractions such as the telephone, radio or television. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose. Draw your awareness inward by tuning in to physical sensations throughout your body. Resist the temptation to judge these sensations, just notice them from an unbiased point of view. If you feel tension, fatigue or tightness anywhere in your body, just be aware for now. Try not to force changes.
Next, focus your attention on the base of your spine. Visualize a tiny flame there, flickering with a gentle glowing light. Feel a warm and soothing sensation emitting from this flame. Notice your hips, legs and feet relax completely.
It is no wonder people get sick, feel depressed, gain weight or have little energy throughout the holiday season. A change in your diet and exercise program, plus frenzied trips to the shopping mall can zap your vitality and well being faster than you can say, “Happy holidays.”
It is important to take care of yourself in order to maintain your health (and sanity) through this busy time of year. Eating right, exercising and getting enough rest are the obvious ways to combat stress. In addition, adding a few moments in your day to have absolutely no agenda other than to relax and practice the following gentle yoga poses will be an added bonus to further help you reduce holiday stress.
When most people set out to lose weight, they start by thinking about what they eat, and then about how much they move. Holly Mosier provides a different approach: deal with your stress levels, and the rest will come more easily. Mosier says that stress creates real cravings by releasing hormones that trigger us to reach for fatty, salty and sugary things.
In her book Stress Less, Weigh Less, Mosier lays out a plan that will not only help you eat and workout out better, but also to calm the chaos of everyday life. Mosier’s book is rooted in her own experience of overcoming mid-life weight gain and chronic fatigue. Today, she exudes positive energy and is in incredible shape, not just for a woman who recently turned 50, but for anyone.
In the process of finding solutions that worked for her, Mosier researched diverse stress-relief techniques from different fields and cultures, to find the most useful tools that could be easily incorporated into our busy lifestyles. “I boiled it all down to the most essential nuggets,” Mosier says. Her program for stress reduction includes meditation, yoga, deep breathing and tools for adopting a positive outlook.