5 Things You Can Do to Feel Better Instantly

 

Everyone seems to be looking for quick and easy ways to change something about themselves or make their lives better in some way.  Whether it is the latest way to lose 30 pounds in 30 days or the latest book on how to live the life of your dreams, the multi-billion dollar self-help industry in America shows that many of us believe we are dissatisfied with the status quo.

Most of us are living extremely hectic lives trying to balance work and life.  We may not realize how much extra emotional baggage we are carrying, let alone set aside the time to do the kind of soul-searching required to figure out why we are anxious or have become emotional eaters.  There are are few easy practices that you can start right now that will make you feel better instantly!  The more you practice, the more you will see the positive change in your life.   

1.  Breathe.  We take about 20,000 breaths per day, but most of us are shallow breathers.  Breathing is the way we take in oxygen, allowing our organs to function properly.  Increased levels of oxygen in the blood promote good health in many ways, such as reduces stress and increasing energy.  Thich Nhat Hanh said, “breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” 

Try this deep breathing technique:  Lie flat on your back and place one hand on your belly.  Breathe in slowly through your nose until you feel your belly rising.  Gently hold for a second and slowly release the breath feeling your belly sink.  Repeat.

2.  Drink more water.  A large number of us are dehydrated and don’t realize it.  Start your day by drinking a tall glass of cold water (yes… BEFORE your coffee!)  Stay hydrated throughout the day, also drinking a glass of water before each meal.    

3.  Get some fresh air.  When I was interviewed as the featured Community Blogger in Whole Living magazine’s March 2012 issue, I was asked what I did to “rev my energy.”  My answer?  Head outdoors!  If you don’t have time for a 20-minute walk, just walk around the block and practice your deep breathing.  You WILL notice a difference!  

Karen-Morse-Whole-Living-Blogger

4. Listen to music. Studies have shown that music effects the brain like no other human function.  We know that listening to music can promote relaxation.  I read recently that music therapy has been used in medicine for many years and has benefited patients with chronic pain and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Put on your favorite song, close your eyes, and let the healing begin!

5.  Smile.  A number of studies have reported that the act of smiling (even when you are not in a good mood) can cause your mood to improve!  Having trouble putting a smile on your face?  Try one of the following:
Play with a puppy or a kitten
Sing like no one is listening
Give someone a hug

There you go!  Five simple things you can do to feel better in an instant!

Other posts you may want to check out:

10 Quotes When You Need a Boost of Motivation

The Science of Sensation

Natural Cures for Exhaustion

It’s Friday again. Chances are, you feel drained. Maybe even stressed, tired, or burned out? It’s inevitable given the way we multitask to balance work, family, friends, and other commitments. By taking stock in what you are asking yourself to do in a day, you are taking the first step towards saying goodbye to exhaustion and start feeling better. Here are a few common causes and cures of exhaustion that could change your life.

1) Your breath. Most of us are shallow, rapid breathers. This type of breathing can be caused by poor posture or stiff muscles and can lead to poor oxygen supply making us feel slow, fatigued, and exhausted! To practice deep breathing, start by lying on your back in a comfortable position. Put your hands on your belly underneath your rib cage. The tips of your two middle fingers should be barely touching. Breathe in fully through the nose & feel your chest expand — you will notice that your fingertips move apart slightly as your chest expands with air. For best results, practice deep breathing every day for a couple of minutes. Over time, you will notice a rise in energy levels.

2) Lack of connection. Do you remember your last beach vacation? How did you feel as you sat back in your chair looking out at the ocean? Relaxed, huh? There is something about a connection with nature that makes us feel less drained and less anxious. In our day-to-day lives, especially now that winter is lurking, we may go for days without seeing the light of day. We spend our entire day inside buildings with artificial light. As often as you can, talk an early morning walk. If that is impossible, get yourself outdoors for a fifteen to twenty minute walk at lunch time. Pay attention to the scenery or to your breathing — whatever works. Do not read your email on your smartphone; that’s defeating your purpose of connecting to nature!

3) No motivation. We all need a sense of meaning and a sense of joy to ground us. Getting caught up in the grind can be really depleting if you don’t have something that brings you happiness to balance it out. If you identify with this, I want to encourage you to write a few things down. Start off by listing the things that cause you to feel stressed and disconnected from the world. It could be a strained relationship with a family member, a recent break-up or job loss. Whatever it is, write it down & also write down your reaction to the stressful situation. Next, write down the things in your life that give you happiness and satisfaction. This will likely be a much shorter list, but your job is to start doing more of the things that make you feel connected and happy and less of the things that make you feel stressed and miserable. You might find that waking up early for that yoga class is worth it even if you are tired because you leave feeling energized and accomplished. Whatever it is, follow the positives and you are guaranteed that little spark you are seeking.

Me and the Dalai Lama

One of the key elements to true health and happiness is an uncluttered mind. Do you ever notice that when someone tells you to breathe, you actually pause and take a full and deep inhale/exhale? This is how we should be breathing all of the time, though few of us actually do.

Most of us (including me!) engage in frequent stress-breathing that leads to tightness in our neck and shoulders. Add a few hours at the computer every day, and the result is pain! No wonder massage is nearly a 20 billion dollar/year industry!

The term meditation is used in many ways. For me, the word meditation used to bring to mind something spiritual or ritualistic. Don’t let the word itself scare you! It wasn’t until I spent a week at the famed Golden Door Spa in Escondido, California that I realized meditation can simply be about pausing for as little as sixty seconds to close your eyes and breathe.

Here are a few tips for beginners.

Start S-L-O-W-L-Y. Really, start with just one minute a day. You can be in line at the grocery store, sitting in your car in a parking lot… it doesn’t matter where you are. Sit, close your eyes, clear your mind as much as you can, and just take a few deep, slow breaths in and out. Try and focus on your chest expanding and contracting. You may want to add another minute the following day, find a quiet spot at home in the morning or just before bed. Do what is comfortable for you.

Stick with it. If you want to see a difference, consistency is key. Whether you feel like it or not, do it! Just think, it can be as little as one minute and you WILL see the health benefits from a relaxed mind. Sometimes, you can learn what is REALLY bothering you by sitting through a moment or two of uninterrupted time.

Don’t punish yourself. The goal of meditating is not to stop thinking altogether. It is to be aware and present with your thoughts. My trip to the Golden Door Spa was actually years ago, but I will never forget the wise words of a very wise woman at the Door, AnnHarriet Buck. While explaining how to meditate to a group of over-worked women, she shared a story about a conversation with the Dalai Lama. He shared that even HE had experienced his thoughts drifting from time to time while meditating. He said when this happened, he just laughed a little, forgave himself, and continued on. I’ll never forget AnnHarriet’s advice to us in the room. When she feels her mind wandering while meditating she simply smiles, forgives herself, and thinks, “me and the Dalai Lama.” Years later, I still remember this when I am in a yoga class and having trouble concentrating. I always have a private laugh with myself and keep going.

Good luck! I’d love to hear about your experience with yoga or meditation. Share them below this post in the Facebook comment box!