Mental Health

Boost Your Energy Morning Noon or Night!

Enerty

Boost Your Energy Morning Noon or Night!

Did you know that (according to September 2018’s Prevention Magazine) American’s shell out over $12 billion for coffee, and $9 billion for energy drinks?!! Here are some excellent suggestions for natural energy boosters, and some sneaky energy stealers you may not be aware of:

MORNING:

If you take your shower in the morning, after you’ve taken your nice warm shower, give yourself a blast of cold. Once the initial shock wears off you’ll get an invigorating burst of energy as blood flows away from the surface of your body toward your core, kicking your circulation into gear. BONUS- An arctic blast may help your mood. One study found the icy temps help release endorphins which have a mood boosting effect.

  • Walk around: A short stroll will give you an instant hit of energy, but for lasting effects you’ll want to make a habit of it.
  • Delay your coffee: Wait til you get to work to have your coffee. Why???? Because levels of cortisol are highest in the morning- cortisol may be known as the stress hormone but it also is a potent stimulant. Drinking caffeine when your body doesn’t need it much may suppress your production of cortisol and teach your body to lean more on coffee to make up the energy difference.
  • Secret energy sapper: dehydration! If you’re tired for no good reason, have a big glass of water and see if there’s an improvement.

AFTERNOON:

  • Sit up straight! Scientists at San Francisco State University confirm what your mom always taught you- Maintain an upright posture, which may improve your energy (and your mood!).
  • Breathe Better: Breathing deeply with awareness stimulates blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can awaken he brain’s verbal and critical thinking centers.
  • Let there be light: If your’e face-planting on your keyboard, turn on a bright desk lamp or go outside for a shot of natural light. (this is my favorite afternoon slump strategy!! Amazing what a little UV will do for that post lunch “siesta” feeling)
  • Make your to-do list now, not at bedtime: Writing you your tasks and obligations generally makes your mind race. Give yourself 10-15 minutes after your midday meal to jot down what you need to do or any concerns you have- leading to a less stressful and more energetic tomorrow.
  • Beware of energy vampires! We all have friends who lift us up and those who sap our spark. But its not always obvious who is who- ask yourself these questions- Am I excited when they call? Do I feel relaxed during our get togethers? Am I 100% myself around them? Do we put equal time into our relationship? If you answered “no” to more of these questions than not, perhaps its time for some distance.

EVENING:

This is the worst for me!!! I leave work and somewhere about 5 minutes into my 10 minute ride home I’m exhausted!!! I’m gonna have to try some of this advice.

  • Help someone out: On your way home, let someone with only one item go in front of you at the grocery store, pick up a piece of trash on your way to your car, or pause for pedestrians. Doing something considerate can give you a boost and wipe away energy sapping stress.
  • Try a twist: (no, not in your martini) Muscle tension can sap energy but a stretch can be a good solution. ( I think this will be there one I try first- stretch before I leave for the day and see if it perks me up when I get home)
  • Turn off the news: Bad news (and c’mon, when has good news ever been the regular headlines) can activate the areas in the brain that are related to the stress response system. Not exactly a great set up for a peaceful night or peppy tomorrow. Switch it off!! Besides if you’re reading your news at night its not news anymore- wait til the morning.
  • Find your sleep sweet spot: Subtract 7.5 hours from when your alarm is set to go off and head to bed at that time. For instance, if your alarm needs to go off at 6:30, go to bed at 11. Keep it up for 5-7days, noting what happens when the alarm goes off. If you’ve been awake for a few minutes prior to the alarm, you’ve found your ideal bedtime. If your alarm usually wakes you up, it’s likely you need more sleep. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you wakeup just before your alarm sound. I know someone who started setting an alarm to go TO bed. Okay,more of a pleasant chime to remind themselves to head to the sack. Its great so we don’t get caught keeping ourselves up too late with some mindless blather.

Hope this advice helps you boost our energy morning noon or night!

Feel free to text me this week if your’e in need of a massage – you never know what has opened up in my ever changing schedule! 518-744-2315.

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How To Switch A Bad Mood To Good

Real Simple’s August Issue

Hey there! Sorry I missed you guys last week- I was busy camping and totally forgot to write a blog. But its all about balance, right? Here’s some advice from me via the August issue of Real Simple about how to switch a bad mood to good:

We’ve all experienced it. We’re hoping for sunshine and rainbows and then something difficult happens and we turn dark and stormy. And when that happens we might tend to think our entire day is ruined. But guess what? Its normal to experience negative emotions. They’re not bad or wrong, they’re just giving you important information. We just don’t need to linger in them if they’re serving no immediate purpose. So, here’s some real life scenario’s w/a handy-dandy coping mechanism that may help you turn negative into positive (flip that switch!).

YOU’RE DREADING A LOOMING DEADLINE: Get moving! Your initial urge may be to procrastinate, but low energy begets low energy. Instead of retreating, get active.

SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WEIGHING ON YOU AND YOU’RE CONSUMED WITT WORRY: Write it out. Worry can hijack your day by taking over real estate in your brain, or keep you up at night. Writing helps you work through your thoughts. But also, by putting them down on paper we get them out of that real estate in the brain department.

A BUNCH OF LITTLE THINGS ARE ADDING UP: You’ve spilled coffee on your blouse, traffic…etc. Do anything you enjoy to break the spell. Take a minute to sing along with a favorite song,

YOU’RE TO-DO LIST IS OVERWHELMING: Breathe. Deeply. Refocus. Pick one thing on the list to do.

FRUSTRATED: If you’re so frustrated you could cry, message someone you love, or do something nice for someone else. We get frustrated in situations we can’t control. Doing something nice for someone else takes the focus off ourselves and puts that energy to work in a positive way.

Need to switch your bad mood to good? Just a reminder that I get cancellations on a weekly basis, so it’s always worth a shot to shoot me a text if you’re in the market for a massage! 518-744-2315

Have a great week!

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Journaling for Dummies

journaling

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this blog is definitely a little more focused on the women. Journaling is something most of us women have done- you know- the middle school diaries we kept? I’m thinking men, not so much. But EVERYONE can benefit from journaling, so since we’re not middle schoolers any longer, lets read on and see if maybe there’s something to it?

Most of this comes from Real Simple magazine, lest you think all this brilliance is my own- its not. 🙂

Evidence shows that labeling your emotions calms your experience of them. Writing about your sorrow or outrage- owning it, in words, in the journal of your choice, may help you better cope. According to Beth Jacobs, PhD, a clinical psychologist, and author of Writing for Emotional Balance says “There’s an incredible release when emotions become tangible and visible, out of your head an into the world in a contained, self-controlled way”.

But beware the tendency to spew! Allow 3 pages, or 30 minutes to vent (your preference). Then spend a little time (say, 10 minutes) writing a positive affirmation or questions to ponder post-journaling. You might also look at yourself from an outside perspective. Reread whatever you’ve last vented about in your journal, pretending that someone else wrote it, and spend some time reframing it. What would you ask the person who’d written those words? What would you suggest to that person do to move forward? Another helpful exercise for working through sadness and pain is to write about your best possible self– the person you’d be if everything went right. Just the basics- what job would the ideal you hold? What does your ideal self’s house look like? What steps would you take to get there? One study found that writing about he ideal self was at least as beneficial as writing about trauma.

Too touchy-feely for you? Here’s some more practical journaling ideas:

If you want to get organized, get a bullet journal. Use it for scheduling, setting and taking long term plans and goals, and creative writing and drawing. Its great for detail oriented people who crave a sense of control as it keeps daily and monthly tasks and creative pursuits in one place.

If you want to tune in to your creativity – a journal doesn’t have to be text based. It can be a multimedia sketchbook or scrapbook with photos and art. Try this kind of journaling with key words- ponder the days’ experience and write down words phrases, and images that pop into your head without making an effort to connect them, you might gain surprising insight into your psyche.

If you want to be kinder. (Aaaand we’re back to the touchy-feely!) Feeling snarky? Overwhelmed and upset about the state of the world? Grumpy about a co worker? Research has fond that keeping a gratitude journal- a place to write what you’re thankful for- can help you feel better about you life and more charitable toward other people. In one study, people were asked to list 5 things for which they were grateful for once a week for 10 weeks. After, they felt more optimistic and satisfied with their lives than participant in control groups. They also reported fewer headaches, coughs, bouts of nausea and even pimples! Other studies have found that expressions of gratitude are associated with improved sleep and feelings of connection with others.

If you want to sleep better: Nighttime journaling can be a great sleep aid. “When you put your thoughts in a book you can literally close, you can take everything running around your head from the whole day and just plop it in.” Or, first thing in the morning, when your still half asleep, write 3 pages then stop. Just ramble, don’t try to craft anything. When you look back, you may be astonished by what you were working through, and knowing that you’ll unleash everything in the morning can help you rest better at night.

Beginning a journaling practice of your own can be daunting. So, check out the how-to dept on Amazon if you would like a little more guidance.

Getting in touch with your emotions is essential for your mental and your physical health! Learn how I use the mind-body connection in my massage practice and more in some of these related posts:

 

In a Slump? Here’s 3 Ways to Restart!

refresh restart

We all talk about wanting to refresh, restart, reset. Here’s 3 different ways from an article I read in Real Simple magazine:

1. When You Haven’t Exercised in Forever

Coming back to a workout routine after you’ve been away for awhile is always the hardest part. People often focus on what they can’t do. (guilty!) Take one day at a time. Think about your lifestyle and what you’re afraid of. Most people think they’re in worse shape than they actually are. Restart by taking your big goal and breaking it down into smaller manageable steps.

2. When You Crave a New Career

Our impassive culture promotes living your truth as quickly as possible. But before you jump into a new career, take a practice jump. For instance, if you’re an accountant who has always wanted to start a bakery, you can do a lot before you quit your day job: take a pastry class in the evening, help out a local baker on the weekend. You’ll get a sense of the highs and lows and learn the nitty gritty. If they new lifestyle feels good, then you’ll know you’re ready to take the next step.

3. When You’re Just Having a Bad Day

Take two minutes to write a very brief, positive email to someone you know: a thank you, a compliment. It works, for one, because your mind simply can’t be in two places at once. You can’t be unhappy and stressed if you’r thinking about how grateful you are. Then, when you have to go back to your bad day, your brain has one more positive piece of information about your life, and you won’t feel the same slump.

Don’t forget that positive energy has a huge benefit on your mental and well being. When you’re feeling down, don’t get down on yourself! Check out some of these other posts for more ways to tackle a bad day.

If you still have the blahs and need a pick-me-up, why not treat yourself to a massage? 🙂

5 Quick & Easy Ways to Improve Your Mood

improve mood

The easiest, quickest pick-me-ups for those of us with only a minute to spare!

1. Step into a cold blast.

Hehheh. Crank the shower to cold for a few seconds if you dare, or at the very least splash your face with cold water. Even just a brief exposure to the cold is invigorating many experts say.

2. Opt for orange.

The bright color is stimulating. Why? We associate orange with energy, and our body (and mood) responds in kind. Throw on a vibrant orange sweater, pour a glass of orange juice, or use an orange accent rug.

3. Open your heart.

Yoga. I’m talking yoga. There are many “heart opening” postures in a yoga practice, and they’re designed in part, to bring up our energy.

4. Turn on the tunes.

Research shows that music you like will deliver a dose of positivity. Genre doesn’t matter as long as the music jazzes you up.

5. Get a whiff of citrus.

Try an essential oil pick me up! Citrus (Orange!) or even rosemary are naturally uplifting.

Still have a case of the blahs? Try some of my other easy pick-me-ups! Or give me a call at (518) 744-2315 to discuss other ways I can help you improve your mood, sleep better and more!

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Make Over Your Morning Routine

morning routine

Even for a morning person like myself sometimes morning can be rough. Here’s a few pointers. How many of these things do you do?

1. When the alarm goes off… WAKE UP. Tempting as it is, absolutely do NOT use the snooze. You may steal a few extra minutes in bed, but being jolted awake repeatedly delvers fragmented sleep which makes you feel groggy and fatigued. To get more ACTUAL sleep, figure out the latest time you need to be up, then set your alarm for then. Feeling zonked out in the mornings probably means you need more sleep, so go to bed earlier little by little – eventually you won’t need an alarm at all.

2. When you open your eyes…practice a pep talk. Your thoughts significantly impact your energy levels for the day, so if your brain is telling you in its whiny voice “Its too early” or in its sarcastic voice ” Another day living the dream”, flip the script to something more positive: “I love mornings”- no sarcastic voice allowed. If you need a reminder, stick a note to your night stand- it’s that important.

3.When you get up…open the shades. Natural light flips your brain’s switch from sleep to awake, and there’s nothing better than sunlight to do the job. What’s more, a study published in the journal Sleep Health found that morning light exposure can help you snooze more soundly later that night, so you’ll likely feel better the next morning. If the sun’s rays are not an option because it’s still dark out, second best is turning on the lights to get as much bright light in the room as possible.

4. Before you leave the bedroom…stretch. Do 5-10 deep breaths and a few stretches. This gets your big muscles moving and increases blood flow to the other parts of your body…which will wake you up!

5. When you get ready to brew your coffee….WAIT!. It pays to delay because levels of stress hormones are highest when you first wake up. Caffeine is more effective later in the morning when those levels start to decrease, so have your first cup then.

6. When you open your fridge…Grab water. You’re most likely dehydrated from the long night, and being parched is an energy sapper says a study in the Journal of Nutrition.

7. After you get dressed…tidy your space. The mere act of making your bed can bring a sense of calm and take you out of sleep mode. Calm, but awake! The perfect combo!

How’d your mental check list go? I do about 5 out of these 7, and they really work! If you’re still struggling, don’t forget that better sleep and reduced stress are two of the amazing benefits of massage. Contact me to set up an appointment!

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How to Fight Back Against Energy Sappers!

The day has hardly started and you already feel defeated. Don’t let these things sap your energy and drag you down.

Stressful emails

Even a five minute phone check can suck you in, draining your mental energy. Technology is constantly trying to pull you off course. If you start your day on your device, you’re starting it out in a reactive way. Emails can set off your internal alarms. Claim your morning as yours, and keep your device off for the first hour you’re awake.

Nothing to Wear

That pair of pants no longer fits. The dress you want is stuck at the dry cleaner. Nothing ever looks right with that one sweater. We’ve all been there! Planning out what you’ll wear the night before can save several minutes of grief, but a bigger step is to set aside time one weekend for cleaning out your closet and throwing away or donating the items that just don’t work anymore.

Losing Everything

Keys? Purse? Lunch? We don’t usually have the luxury of time or energy in the morning, so rushing around trying to find what you needs can become overwhelming. Take 5 minutes at night to gather your things. Keys next to purse, pack your lunch and place them in their “ready to go” spot!

Just a few helpful pointers from my latest Real Simple magazine. How many of these things are helpful to you?

Looking for more ways to improve your health and energy? As you local stress management expert, I’m here to help! Contact me today at (518) 744-2315, or check out some of my other posts:

Positive Stress: How to Use Stress To Your Advantage

use stress to your advantage

I love information that reminds us that stress is not always bad. In fact, its useful. That’s why we have it built into our neurology to begin with- how else would we have survived all these millennia?

The thing is we don’t live in an era of constant physical stressors. Sometimes its hard to figure out how to let go of unnecessary stress and get down to business. It’s hard to do sometimes isn’t it? Oh! and we’ve all been both the culprit and the victim of the hapless friend/relative/loved one who sees us struggling with our stress and says “Relax!” Kinda want to throttle that advice giver don’t we? And yet, we’ve doled out the same advice ourselves. So, here’s a few ways to use stress when we can’t shake it (with a little help from Real Simple magazine):

1. Get yourself pumped.

You can’t worry and relax at the same time. BUT the feelings related to excitement are very close to those experienced during worry or stress (racing heart, sweaty palms- you know the drill). The feelings are remarkably similar regardless of whether you’re experiencing them because you’re going on a first date, or your boss is yelling at you.

A psychological study in which the researcher told participants they’d either perform a song, speak in public, or complete a difficult timed math problem, and gave the subjects a mini mantra of either “I am calm”, “I am excited”, or “I am nervous”, showed consistently that those who stated loud that they were excited about the challenge performed better across all three categories.

So, the next time you’re nervous or worried, verbalize “excitement” to yourself instead. Don’t just use stress – transform it! You are welcome. 😉 I mean, c’mon, all you worriers out there (present company included): this is useful!

2. Take some action.

If there’s a looming to-do stressing you out, sometimes buckling down and, well, DOING something about it is a whole lot more productive than any number of calming techniques ever could be. If the “looming to-do” thing is stressing you because its a big “to-do” break it down into smaller tasks, and order them so it makes sense to you, and is no longer overwhelming. But start somewhere. Use stress for productivity!

3. Ask “What’s the worst-case scenario?”

Sometimes it’s best to face anxious thoughts head on. This is particularly helpful for social anxiety. Have to go to a social function and mingle with a bunch of strangers? What’s the worst case scenario? Maybe you won’t have anyone to talk to and will feel awkward. Play it out in your mind. Generally the reality will be much less than your worst case scenario so you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

4. Find something to be grateful for.

This one’s easy! Remember that relaxation is passive and doesn’t give our mind much to hold onto. Gratitude is related to feelings of satisfaction and joy. Find the gratitude in the stressful situation. When faced with a stressful situation, for instance, let’s say you have an upcoming colonoscopy. What’s good about it? You’re fortunate to have access to a procedure that can keep you healthy. Or how about being stressed about an overly booked social schedule? We’ve all been there. Use stress to remind yourself you’re grateful for all those friends you have that make your schedule busy.

5. Get ticked off.

Okay, well, a little ticked off. Anxiety is not only close to excitement on the scale of emotions but also to anger. PROCEED WITH CAUTION on this one: anger is easy, easier sometimes than identifying what’s causing the anger (fear, sadness, rejection) and too much anger can have toxic results. And approaching a person from a place of anger can be risky. But at the right place and time, productive anger is a useful. For instance, say you’re feeling anxious about a political or social injustice. Chanel that righteous anger and donate to a cause or write a letter.

6. Go to sleep.

We all know that a good night’s sleep can give us perspective on stuff that’s stressing us out. Personally, when I get home at the end of a long day, I simply can’t deal with the idea of having to return an email or phone call. Really? Yup. Nothing left in the tank. And it’s also when I’m most likely to make scheduling mistakes. So it waits til morning. Not even remotely stressful then.

7. Redefine relaxation.

What’s calming for one person might not work for you. DO NOT let other people define it for you. Where’s your happy place? I have plenty of friends who find the beach to be their stress free zone. I think beaches are beautiful, but there is zero part of a day at the beach that I find relaxing: gritty sand, sunburns, the water’s too cold to swim in, can’t read in the glare of the sun, wearing a bathing suit all day is freaking uncomfortable, the bathrooms are about a mile away, oh, and then there’s the fact that you have to lug a chair, towel, blah blah blah….Not worth it for me my friends. Camping however, is very relaxing to me.

So, give it some thought, and create an arsenal of things you usually find relaxing, so that you can pull from your bag of relaxation tricks in times of stress. Use stress to spark your own creativity and create your ideal relaxing situation.

Of course, sometimes we’re just plain old stressed. If you’re having trouble finding a way to use stress to your advantage, consider trying massage therapy. Not only will a massage help lower your stress, but also increase relaxation, relieve symptoms of depression and improve sleep!

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Hobbies with a Purpose: How Having a Hobby Enhances your Health

hobbies

Free time? Does that even exist anymore? When every second of your day is packed, it can seem laughable to add one more thing to your to-do list. But many of us already have hobbies we use to unwind and relax.

If you don’t have any hobbies, here’s why you should: Taking on a hobby that makes you happy can help you reduce stress, get more focused and unleash creative brainpower.

Here’s a short list:

  • If you want to stay calm in stressful situations, practice music.
  • If you want to improve your public speaking, sign up for a creative writing class.
  • If you want to work on your leadership skills, try team sports.
  • If you want to be more productive start a recipe club.
  • If you want to be more strategic play a video game.

Thank you to Real Simple Magazine for a great article that I am heavily borrowing from!

Looking for some more little life tips between blog posts? Follow me on Facebook for more insights on wellness, mental health and massage.

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Environment Matters! Organize Your Environment to Improve Health

organize your environment

According to Real Simple magazine, Doctors and professional organizers may seem like strange bedfellows, but with research linking our environment and our health, how we arrange our homes can be the difference between whether we gain or lose weight, rock or skip a workout, and leave work happy or stressed.

“You need to strategically organize in a way that makes it easier to achieve your goals, ” says psychologist and former personal trainer Susan Rudnicki, PhD, of Dunwoody, Georgia. So if the chips are blocking the whole grains in your ultra tidy pantry you’re only halfway there.

Here are some pointers from health experts and organizing pros to help:

For Fitness

Have a workout clothes station in your closet, or dedicate a drawer to them (no excuses for not being able to find clean workout clothes), and keep sneakers and a spare set of workout clothes in your car (for spur of the moment fitness opportunities, say, if an appointment cancels and you find yourself with a spare hour on your hands).

In the Kitchen

Put good for you food on display (people tend not to eat what they can’t see, so hide the goodies too!), update your spice cabinet (spices can make boring foods more appealing), and clear the counter tops (cluttered kitchens can bring on the munchies – for real! They’ve done studies).

At the Office

Move your desk (orienting your work space so that any windows run alongside the desk minimizes eye fatigue), rotate visual inspiration (A survey shows that art in the work space made folks happier, more inspired, and more relaxed. But if you leave the same ones up too long they lose their spice, so rotate or reintroduce new stuff every so often to engage your brain and remain motivated), and organize your desk by time frame (Clutter overwhelms the visual cortex. Which means a messy desk makes your brain work harder to accomplish the same tasks. Experts recommend dividing your desk into past, present and future sections).

Even this massage therapist uses organization in her massages! There is my normal routine which is very useful, even if you need me to do some focused work on your neck one time, and your lower back the next. My routine makes it so that if you have a serious issue that requires more time, I know where to “steal” the time from, and create the a la carte massage you need! Call me at (518) 744-2315 to book a massage and see it in action!

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