Staff Morning Mindful Moments
6/4/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Joyful June Action:
Take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it.
6/3/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Joyful June Action:
Re-frame a worry and try to find a helpful way to think about it.
6/2/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Joyful June Action:
Say positive things in your conversations with others.
6/1/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Joyful June Action:
Decide to look for what’s good every day this month.
5/28/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Meaningful May Action:
Focus on how your actions make a difference for others.
5/27/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Meaningful May Action:
Remember an event in your life that was really meaningful.
5/26/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Meaningful May Action:
Ask someone else what matters most to them and why.
5/25/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Meaningful May Action:
Make choices that have a positive impact for others today.
5/24/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Staying positive helps us through the down days and the tough times. But positivity can be more than just a temporary state-of-mind. By aligning your actions and perceptions, positivity becomes a lifestyle.
But what is positivity, if not just a passing feeling?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, positivity is: “The practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.” Therefore, positivity isn’t something you are, but rather something you do.
Still, this definition raises an important question: How can one practice positivity?
DeStress Monday breaks down the concept of positivity into four core principles: happiness, compassion, gratitude, and calm. By actively incorporating these principles into daily life, an individual—regardless of age, background or experience—can bring more joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment into their world.
This Monday, learn more about the four core principles of positivity and their benefits.
The Benefits of Positivity
When you’re feeling optimistic, things just seem to fall into place. That’s because positivity perpetuates positivity. If your life is full of joy and contentment, those feelings spill over into every aspect of your life.
Evidence suggests adopting an optimistic point of view can help people feel better about daily life, as well as improve health and reinforce positive thoughts and emotions. For example, one study found that optimists had lower levels of cortisol—a stress hormone—in their bodies, while another study of 11,000 men and women, demonstrated that study participants who reported being happy lived longer and had fewer heart attacks and strokes.
As a result of having a positive outlook, optimistic people also engage in more healthier behaviors and healthier approaches to challenges, which leads to a better quality of life. They are also more likely to be offered jobs and be more resilient.
The Four Core Principles of Positivity
Positivity is an overarching concept that consists of four core principles: happiness, compassion, gratitude, and calm. Understanding these four categories will help with incorporating positivity into your mindset and daily interactions.
Happiness doesn’t come from accumulating wealth or material possessions; happiness is a byproduct of self-fulfillment and purpose. By taking action and living in the present, it’s possible to limit disruptions and distracting thoughts, and focus on the hobbies, people, and past-times you enjoy. And like positivity, happiness is contagious. Taking the steps to put yourself in a happier mindset will not only affect your life, but it will impact the lives of everyone around you. This Monday, try spreading good vibes with a phone call, kind word, or even a social media post.
Compassion is an important element of positivity rooted in empathy. The practice of cultivating empathy—stepping into someone else’s shoes—enables us to become more attuned to other people’s feelings and perspectives, especially when they are different from our own. This helps others to feel supported, but it also benefits our own lives by strengthening our relationships and inspiring collaboration, whether at home or at work. But compassion can also be directed inwards. Displaying compassion for oneself can open up the heart and minimize judgement of others. This Monday, try taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.
Gratitude means taking what you have and making it enough. Showing appreciation for things we may take for granted—family, friends, good health, that morning cup of coffee—can help a person cultivate a more positive outlook, while minimizing negative thoughts and feelings. Research suggests that embracing gratitude leads to a greater likelihood of engaging in healthy behaviors, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism, and improved social relationships. In qualitative research, gratitude is often cited as the “mother of all virtues,” proceeding the development of other positive traits like patience, humility, and wisdom. This Monday, acknowledge the special people in your life with gratitude list.
Some things in life are beyond control, but there are ways to find calm amidst the chaos. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help individuals achieve a sense of calm and focus by reducing the impact and frequency of negative thoughts. Redirecting the negative energy toward positive action can lead to beneficial changes in behavior. This Monday, find a moment of calm using a one-minute meditation.
5/21/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Share photos of 3 things you find meaningful or memorable.
5/20/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Reflect on what makes you feel valued and purposeful.
5/19/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Send a hand-written note to someone you care about.
5/18/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Find a way to make what you do today meaningful.
5/17/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Shift to the Positive this Monday
This Monday, see how taking a glass-half-full instead of a glass-half-empty approach, or adopting a more optimistic point of view, can help you feel better about daily life, and build mental strength and resilience. It may even reduce feelings of stress and improve your overall health.
To reframe to the positive, try these simple steps that can be done anywhere and anytime:
Find a moment to be still without distractions.
Become aware of your thoughts.
Notice what’s bothering you.
Ask yourself, how is what’s troubling me affecting my outlook and wellbeing?
Reframe your experience. In other words, create a positive alternative to what’s troubling you, or identify a positive action you can take.
The benefits of greater optimism and positivity may include a better quality of life and improved resilience. It may also lead to taking better care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and being social.
Increased positivity can lead to happiness. In a 2016 study*, men and women who reported being happy lived longer and had fewer heart attacks and strokes. Being optimistic is also associated with lower cortisol levels – the stress hormone – that could contribute to hallmarks of optimal health such as a normal blood pressure and a lower heart rate.
This Monday, take a moment to flip the script on negativity by reframing a stressful thought to a positive one.
5/14/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Find out about the values or traditions of another culture.
5/13/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Meaningful May Action:
Look around for things that bring you a sense of awe and wonder.
When was the last time something left you speechless – but in a good way? Has an experience ever made you feel overwhelmed, impressed or flushed with a slew of positive emotions that, perhaps, took your breath away? Letting yourself exist in a state of awe for a little while can benefit your wellbeing and act as a stress reliever. Try to bring something truly awesome into your life.
People experience awe from all kinds of things: Some may discover delight in an image from space or a night sky full of stars, while others may revel in the vastness conveyed in a picture of the ocean. No matter where we find it, awe is something that helps us step back and gain perspective on our place in the world. As research shows (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_benefits_of_feeling_awe), experiencing awe can momentarily take us out of our own heads and make us feel small.
Feeling small, in this case, is a positive emotion. Smallness prevents us from falling into a self-absorbed trap in which we are the centers of our own universe, a feeling that may cause a great deal of stress. Awe helps us shrink our sense of self, serving as a reminder that we are not alone. When we marvel at a work of art or nature scene, it’s an experience that can be shared with others while taking our heads out of our individual, stressful situations.
To find awe, take a moment to recall something that truly impressed you. It could be something that taps into any of your senses, like an outstanding piece of music, work of literature, delicious meal or a stunning photograph. If it’s possible, make it convenient to access a memory of the experience at any time of the day, maybe turning the memory into your desktop image or phone background, or making a playlist of your top awe-inspiring songs.
Maybe it’s time to discover a new source of awe. Exploring a hiking trail, checking out the planetarium or walking a new route might help inspire a renewed sense of wonder and relief.
5/12/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Listen to a favorite piece of music and remember what it means to you.
Reduce Stress with Music
When stress hits, there are several ways to manage the storm of emotional and physical feelings that arise. One remedy for stress that has endured since early civilization is music. For generations, culture has produced music not just for entertainment but for our well-being. If you’re feeling stressed, put on your headphones and tune out!
5/11/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Be grateful for the little things, even in difficult times.
5/10/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Feeling anxious or stressed? Stop for a moment, and take a slow deep breath.
Do you notice a change in how you feel? When you breathe deeply, you’re sending a message to your brain to relax, a message that is then forwarded to the rest of the body. When this signal from the brain is received, the negative symptoms of stress—increased heart rate, rapid breaths, high blood pressure—start to fade and are instead replaced with a sense of calm.
It’s hard to imagine that an action as simple as breathing can have such a dramatic effect on your mood, but techniques for deep breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) have been used in different cultures for centuries as a way to reduce tension of both the body and mind.
How Does Our Breathing Affect Us?
Many of us don’t pay attention to how we breathe; because, well, why would we? For humans, good, normal breathing, or resting respiratory rate, is unlabored and employs only the elastic recoil of the lungs. But it’s common for humans to use less than half their breathing capacity. These short, shallow breaths that originate in the chest, reduce the ability to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide and can actually exacerbate feelings of anxiety. This type of breathing has also been linked to degenerative disease, poor quality of life, and an early onset of death.
Hundreds of varied deep-breathing techniques have been developed over the centuries, but many of them are centered on the concept of breath control. Since the rhythm of a person’s breathing is so intertwined with their current emotional state, an individual can more effectively manage their feelings by consciously managing the pace of their breath.
DeStress Monday focuses on four different deep-breathing practices, all of which are designed to improve focus, strengthen mental clarity, and dispel negative thoughts and feelings.
Belly Breathing (https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/destress-monday/belly-breathing)
Belly breathing, or breathing deep into the lower lungs so the belly expands, allows the intake of more oxygen. This “full oxygen exchange” slows blood pressure and the heart rate, producing a calming effect for the whole body. To make sure you’re breathing deeply, visualize your whole torso taking in air like an inflating balloon, through your nose, down into your chest, all the way down to your belly.
Breath Counting (https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/destress-monday/square-breathing)
Breath counting is an ancient concentration technique that improves focus and mental clarity through controlled breathing. Regulating the pace of breathing helps dispel distracting or painful thoughts and replaces them with a sense of calm and tranquility.
Mindful Breathing (https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/destress-monday/mindful-breathing-any-time-anywhere)
Mindful breathing is a simple, yet powerful, meditation practice that draws focus to the rhythm and flow of the breath. By anchoring concentration to each inhale and exhale, a practitioner of mindful breathing can redirect their attention away from negative thoughts or feelings back towards the soothing pattern of breathing.
Breathing Visualization (https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/destress-monday/6-gifs-to-help-you-relax)
Breathing visualization, often referred to as visualization meditation, is a basic wellness practice that involves using mental imagery, pictures, or affirmations, to calm your body and mind and help regulate your breathing.
5/7/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Let someone know how much they mean to you and why.
5/6/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Look for people doing good and reasons to be cheerful!
5/5/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Send your friend a photo from a time you enjoyed together.
5/4/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness Calendar:
Take a step towards an important goal, however small.
5/3/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Take a Pause and Alleviate Stress
When situations become heated, give yourself time to cool down. Putting on the brakes in a stressful situation can stop the momentum of your stress from building and preserve your well-being.
It happens to all of us. You get into a conflict or a stressful disagreement, your nostrils flare, and all the fight or flight triggers go off in your brain. In your body, your adrenaline and cortisol levels surge, your heart rate increases, and your blood pressure may rise. Conflict can put your body and brain into emergency mode; not to mention, it could also make you feel regret later on.
So, instead of getting worked up and flustered, hit the pause button instead. Put your hand up in the gesture of a stop sign and turn away until you’ve cooled down. This could mean taking a quick walk or a break to restore your calm. Calming exercises like mindful breathing, which can be done anytime and anywhere, really work.
Being able to walk away from a conflict situation may take some time and practice. You may not get it right on the first try, so be gentle and take it easy on yourself. Taking a pause can strengthen relationships and mend others.
Make Monday about learning ways to destress, even under pressure and in a heated moment. If you need some encouragement, listen to The Supremes and Stop! In the Name of Love.
4/30/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Bring meaning to your May with the Action for Happiness Meaningful May Calendar
(also posted in SEL Action Calendars)
4/29/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Take an extra break in your day and enjoy a walk outside.
4/28/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Why Self-Compassion Is So Important
Do you sometimes struggle to say "no", worried what others may think of you? Do you often take someone's disappointment so personally that it feels like they're rejecting you, that they no longer like you? Do you then beat yourself up about the situation?
Consider this for a moment. You're explaining to a good friend that you've been asked to do something by someone but you have too much on and you need to say no. No doubt your friend would tell you not to worry and would support and understand your decision. They'd show you kindness and understanding.
Why is it that so many of us struggle to offer the same empathy and understanding to ourselves?
What is self-compassion?
Firstly, compassion literally means 'to suffer with'. It's our ability to recognize when someone is in emotional pain or having a tough time - and to then offer them warmth, kindness, a listening ear or a helping hand. Self-compassion simply involves offering that same friendly, warm and understanding attitude to ourselves rather than judging or criticizing ourselves harshly.
Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth - our perceived value, or how much we like or don't like ourselves - and is contingent on our current circumstances, our latest successes and failures.
Self-compassion, by contrast, is not dependent on external circumstances, it's always available, especially when we find ourselves in a difficult or painful situation. What's more, we don't have to feel as good as or better than others to feel good about ourselves. Self-compassion allows for personal failings to be acknowledged with kindness and understanding.
Self-compassion is not dependent on self-evaluation, comparing ourselves to others (which can lead to self-absorption, a lack of motivation and even depression) but instead comes from an understanding that each person is a human being deserving compassion and understanding, not because they are pretty, clever, multi-talented, intelligent etc.
Treat yourself as you would a good friend
By practicing self-compassion, we can turn the enemies in our head into friends.
"People who are compassionate to themselves are much more likely to be happy, resilient, optimistic and motivated to change themselves and their lives for the better. When our inner voice plays the role of a supportive friend (not a continual critic), then when we notice some personal failing, we feel safe and accepted enough to see ourselves clearly and make the changes needed to be healthier and happier" ~ Dr. Kristin Neff
I've been working with a client whose emotional wellbeing depends on others' responses. I've been helping her to be more self-compassionate, particularly in those moments when she wants to say 'no' to something.
Rather than always needing others' understanding, she is learning to understand herself and recognize that it is ok to say 'no' at times - and although people may be disappointed with her saying 'no', this disappointed is theirs, and that it doesn't mean that they don't like her anymore.
The wonderful thing is that she has become more able to bear the discomfort of being honest with others, because she's been learning to understand and to reassure herself.
A path to greater emotional resilience?
Research indicates that, in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, better self-awareness and more caring relationships, as well as less narcissism and anger.
What is also interesting is that research shows there is only a very weak link between being compassionate to others and self-compassion, i.e. we can be compassionate towards others without necessarily being self-compassionate.
But importantly, the more we are able to be kind to ourselves, the longer we can sustain compassion for others. By practicing self-compassion, we "fill up our own tank" with goodness - with warmth, understanding, friendliness and support. And the fuller our own tank is, the happier we are and the more we are able to offer compassion to others over a sustained period of time.
4/27/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Why self-care is vital to our mental wellbeing
We're all familiar with the drill: life is okay until that 'something' happens... work becomes overwhelming, a family member falls ill, we fall out with someone or we just have lots on and life suddenly feels too much.
We then have a realization and tell ourselves, we can't do it all; something will have to go. But what?
Usually the first thing we drop is something inessential, something that won't entail letting others down: doing exercise, going to the cinema, taking a lunch break, seeing a friend, listening to music, cooking something new, reading a book. Consequently, the very things we enjoy, that nourish us, that make us feel alive, drop off our agenda.
By the end of the week we are a little more tired and jaded, and our mood dips too. Why? Well, we've chosen not to do the things that fulfil us and make us feel resourced. We're left juggling life's essentials as we perceive them - chores, work, family commitments.
What's more, this pattern is self-perpetuating. As time goes on, something else we enjoy, some more 'time for you' goes the next week. In a bid to not to let others down (for fear of feeling guilty and that's unpleasant) we become more depleted, stressed and something else has to go…
The Exhaustion Funnel
Marie Asberg, professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is an expert in burnout and she calls this process of not caring for ourselves The Exhaustion Funnel.
The top of the Exhaustion Funnel represents a full and balanced life, with work, family, friends, hobbies, exercise and interests. The bottom of the Exhaustion Funnel represents a life that has been stripped down to merely doing those things we have to do to keep going about our day to day - work, family commitments, food, cleaning, shopping etc.
It can be very easy to slip down the exhaustion funnel if we don't look after ourselves.
To truly care for ourselves we need to become more self-aware.
Self-care requires self-awareness; knowing what we need in every moment of the day, week, month and acting upon it as best we can.
Self-care also requires us to accept and understand that looking after ourselves well and saying 'no' to others does not necessarily mean that we let others down.
On the contrary, self-care means we are taking responsibility for ourselves and this in turn keeps our batteries charged and when our batteries are charged we have more to give to others.
Is there a way out of the exhaustion funnel?
I recently found myself at the bottom of the 'exhaustion funnel' and in complete 'doing mode'.
I was at my desk, starring at my to-do list, feeling numb and empty inside. It was three o'clock in the afternoon and I could not imagine doing anything. I took a moment and asked myself: "What do I most need right now?" The answer was, "I need to stop and go for a swim." And I did. I packed my bag and left the house. It was the best thing I could do for myself.
The underlying belief that allows us to care for ourselves is having the safe knowledge that it's okay to care for oneself, indeed it its essential for good mental and physical health, and a realization that when we do care for ourselves, we have a greater capacity to be there for others.
Here are some tips that can help us take care of ourselves:
Take regular lunch breaks whether you work from home or in the workplace.
Accept that to-do lists are by nature endless; there will always be more work than time.
Create technology free times/days in the week or month. I often have screen-free Sundays. A lovely day to take time out.
Take time for things you enjoy: swimming, yoga, music, being in nature, cycling, painting, baking bread, cooking, gardening…
Drink lots of water and eat well.
Cycle or walk more - physical exercise brings balance to the mind and body. It can help prepare for the day ahead or wind down from the day that's been.
Have a friend or colleague you trust and can talk to and share your feelings with.
Spend 10-20 minutes every day keeping a journal - what went well in your day, what you would have liked to change. Read my recent blog about Daily Journaling and how it brings about self-support, self-awareness and self-care.
Spend more time doing less
No life comes without stress, challenges, conflicts, pressures and setbacks or moments of complete exhaustion but consider this paradox: the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.
4/26/21 Morning Mindful Moment
If you’re feeling stressed this Monday, it might help you to look beyond yourself to find something that makes you happy. If you can think of even one person who has shown you the tiniest bit of generosity, consider yourself grateful – and thank them. The act of expressing gratitude may reduce feelings of stress in your life, so find some time this Monday to pay it forward!
The act of expressing gratitude, especially through writing letters, may block negative emotions by putting more focus on positive ones. While it may not be a permanent change in attitude, writing letters of gratitude toward someone else may have a positive impact on mental health. After a gratitude letter has been written, the writer may feel like their mood has changed for the better, as if the letter helped them “snap out of it” if they were in a funk.
At Berkeley, a study was conducted with over 300 adults who reported “clinically low levels of mental health” and were seeking assistance through therapy. They participated in the study before attending their first therapy session. Some were asked to write letters expressing their gratitude once a week for three weeks with the assurance that those letters did not have to be delivered or read by anyone else. After four weeks, the people who wrote gratitude letters reported higher levels of mental health compared to those who didn’t write letters. However, even though the changes were not immediate, it is possible that the writing did allow the participants to focus on the people to whom they were writing and helped them appreciate the positive things while thinking less negatively.
Three months later, the study included fMRI brain scans of the participants to see if there was a physiological effect of expressing gratitude. The scans showed that the letter writers had “greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex” – the part of the brain that affects learning and decision-making – than the people who weren’t asked to write letters. This suggests that even a simple act of gratitude may have long-lasting effects on the brain and mental health.
If you’ve spent some time in a bad mood or think you need to change your attitude, take a few moments this Monday to write a letter of gratitude. Focus on the positive things that made you appreciate the person to whom you’re writing rather than any negativity you might be feeling. You don’t have to send the letter – even though you can! – but by shifting your focus from your negative feelings to positive actions you could brighten your day and someone else’s!
4/22/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Protecting Our Planet Starts With You!
Bike More, Drive Less
Educate- When you further your own education, you can help others understand the importance and value of our natural resources.
Volunteer- Volunteer for cleanups in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- Cut down on what you throw away. Follow the three “R’s” to conserve natural resources and landfill space.
Conserve Water- The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually end up in the ocean.
Choose Sustainable- Learn how to make smart seafood choices at www.FishWatch.gov
Shop Wisely- Buy less plastic and bring a reusable shopping bag.
Long-lasting light bulbs are a bright idea! Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also flip the light switch off when you leave the room!
Plant A Tree- Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change.
Don’t send chemicals into our water ways. Choose nontoxic chemical in the home and office.
4/21/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Active April Action
Focus on ‘eating a rainbow’ of multi-colored vegetables today.
4/20/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Active April Action
Spend less time sitting today. Get up and move more often.
4/19/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Overcome Fitness Challenges with the F.I.T.T. Workout Formula
The F.I.T.T. formula (frequency, intensity, type, and time) is a flexible exercise framework that can help bring structure to your fitness routine. By altering one of the four variables, you can tailor your workout to overcome challenges and meet specific fitness goals.
F.I.T.T. Defined: Frequency, or how often you exercise. Intensity, or how hard you work. Type, or what exercise you do. Time, or how long you exercise for.
For improved cardio endurance, increase the frequency and time of your workouts while reducing the intensity. If your goal is strength building, reduce the frequency of your workouts to 2 – 3 times per week on non-consecutive days and lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions. The duration of your workouts should also depend on the intensity of your workout; take more time if you’re doing a lot of repetitions at a lower weight. For improved flexibility and balance, aim for low-intensity workouts 5 – 7 days per week. For this type of conditioning, practice slow, low-impact movements like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.
One additional element of a complete fitness plan is progression. To see continued success, gradually increase over time at least one component of your routine for each session, such as the intensity or duration.
Applying the F.I.T.T. principles can motivate you this Monday to determine the best fitness plan for your goals, fitness level, and experience. Now, you have a plan. Make Monday about the rewards of seeing a plan come to life.
4/16/21 Morning Mindful Moment
4/15/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Active April Action:
Relax your body & mind with yoga, tai chi or meditation
Today’s Quote: “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
William S. Burroughs
4/14/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Active April Action:
Make sleep a priority and go to bed in good time.
By Michael Serrur
Don’t underestimate the healing properties of a good night’s sleep. Scientists have studied the subject extensively, and have concluded that sleep, although a bit mysterious, plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital processes.
Falling asleep can be difficult, especially if you’re stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable, but there’s a natural sleep-aid that’s easy and accessible to everyone — exercise. Research suggests that moderate physical activity can decrease instances of sleep complaints and insomnia and can make a notable difference/improvement in sleep quality. Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep (also referred to as deep sleep) you get each night. This category of sleep gives the brain and body a chance to rejuvenate and can also help stabilize mood and benefit cognitive functioning.
And while exercise at all times of day is generally considered good for sleep, exercising at the right time can be even better. If the evening is your optimal exercise window, try working out at least 2 hours before bed; this gives your brain and body time to wind down. The exercise doesn’t have to be especially rigorous, try some light aerobic exercise like a jog, fast-paced walk, or even some yoga, stretching, or tai chi. After 30 – 90 minutes post workout, your body’s core temperature should return to normal, which makes for prime sleeping conditions.
4/13/21 Morning Mindful Moment
7 Ways to Get Fit Without a Gym
Going to the gym isn’t always the best option when you want to work out. In fact, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense at all. Hitting the gym can be costly; both for your bank account and your precious free-time.
Personal trainers can get expensive, and even basic gym memberships can easily amount to hundreds of dollars a year. For those who are fortunate enough to be able to pay for professional assistance, PT’s are great and can definitely be worth the money, but there are many ways to get fit for much less!
Getting to the gym can also cut into your time. It can take several hours a week to get to and from the gym, especially if you tend to go during rush-hour. And wouldn’t it be great to have the option to just work out in the convenience of your home?
If you’re trying to save time and money, or you’re simply more comfortable working out at home, get fit without a gym by using these tips:
Take advantage of free workout videos. These routines give you a lot of flexibility, as you can do them virtually anywhere, without equipment or a gym: Move It Monday routines by StriveHere.com
Walk when possible. Walking is the MOST underrated exercise. Going for a Sunday coffee? Save some gas money by going for a walk. You can also add extra steps to your day by parking further away to walk or by walking around when on the phone. Want to make it fun? Turn walking into a fun social event by inviting your friends or co-workers along for a Monday Mile. If you need more ideas check out these 5 ways to add more steps to your day: https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/move-it-monday/walk-around-the-clock
Take the stairs. Elevators are great when you’re going to the 10th floor, but taking the stairs whenever it’s possible can make a big difference on your health. You can even walk up and down the stairs of your own house or apartment building to add a bit of exercise to your day. Did you know that climbing stairs burns more calories per minute than jogging?
Get your hands on some basic fitness equipment. Light dumbbells, a stability ball and jump rope can all be used for a great home-workout. If you can’t afford equipment, ask family or friends if they have any workout equipment lying around that they’re not using.
Get creative. This can actually get really fun. Think of items around the house that weigh more than a pound, but are easy to hold on to. Use them as weights by doing curls or squats. You can also use furniture as exercise equipment; try box squats or step ups on chairs. Get more ideas from these mini workouts: https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/move-it-monday/mini-exercises
Do bodyweight exercises. Planks, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and step-ups are all great ways to get moving!
Make housework exercise time. Cleaning the house is actually a great way to get moving.
4/12/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Share a Laugh
They say laughter is the best medicine, and in the case of alleviating stress, this may very well be true. Research has found that laughter promotes some serious, mood-boosting benefits, including instant stress and tension relief. A consistent laughter practice has even been shown to alleviate pain and strengthen the immune system.
When you’re feeling particularly low, it may be hard to imagine laughter, but there are several ways to incite the silly within. Doing so can put you in a more positive frame of mind, which will set you up to better tackle whatever’s on your plate.
This week, make laughter a part of your Monday Refresh. Here are some ways to get started:
Watch a scene from your favorite comedy on YouTube.
Try laughing for no particular reason – invite a friend or colleague to do this with you and you’ll double the laughs.
Think back to an incident or joke that had you laughing to tears. The memory alone might have you weeping all over again.
Spend a few minutes reading or watching some work by your favorite comedian.
Tell someone your favorite funny story.
Google “jokes.” There’s sure to be something that’ll tickle your funny bone.
Keep a laughter journal, a record of moments that had you laughing in real time. Your entries will serve as your personal joke book for years to come.
4/9/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Healthy quote for the day:
"A healthy outside starts from the inside."
4/8/21 Morning Mindful Moment
12 Foods to Eat for Energy
4/7/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Top 10 Hydrating Foods
Cucumber (96% water)
Watermelon (96% water)
Pineapple (95% water)
Lettuce (95% water)
Blueberries (95% water)
Celery (95% water)
Tomato (94% water)
Cantaloupe (92% water)
Grapefruit (90% water)
Pear (89% water)
4/6/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Eating healthy, clean, and nutrient-rich food fills your body with energy, nutrients, & antioxidants. Imagine your cells smiling back at you saying thanks!
4/5/21 Morning Mindful Moment
The Benefit of Regular Physical Activity
Do you want to improve your strength, balance, and flexibility, have more energy, sleep better, feel happier, and reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers?
The answer is simple: start (and stay) active.
Regardless of your age or ability level, getting active—whether it’s walking, jogging, strolling, rolling, stretching, yoga, dancing, or weightlifting—can positively impact your physical and mental wellbeing and lead to a better quality of life. But how?
Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight Inactivity is a major contributing factor to weight gain. Regular movement, like walking a Monday Mile or practicing yoga, can help burn excess calories and increase your metabolic rate, which may lead to further weight loss.
Strengthen Bones and Muscles Breaking an ankle or fracturing a hip can take you out of commission for months. By engaging in moderate physical activity and/or weight training, you can maintain muscle function as well as build bone density.
Improve Heart and Lung Function Staying active helps keep your heart and lungs healthy by lowering blood pressure, boosting good cholesterol levels, and improving blood flow and circulation. A consistent exercise regimen can help increase stamina, which in turn improves lung function and heart strength.
Sleep Better Studies show that moderate aerobic exercise and can improve sleep quality and duration as well as boost energy levels the following day. Regular exercise has been found to be especially effective for aging populations who are experiencing insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Lower Risk of Developing Chronic Diseases Yes, staying active really can reduce your risk of developing certain diseases. Even low-intensity movement like walking and tai chi can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers.
Reduce Pain In many cases, moderate physical activity reduces chronic pain better than rest and inactivity. Several studies show that exercise can help control pain associated with various health conditions, including chronic low back pain and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder.
Feel Happier Physical activity stimulates the body’s production of natural feel-good hormones, which can help improve mood and self-esteem, while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.
There’s no better way to start the week than with some physical activity. Make Monday your day to commit to some more movement and reap all the health benefits of regular exercise.
4/1/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Welcome to Active April- This month we're encouraging you to get active, get outdoors and take care of your body!
Let's reap the benefits of getting our bodies moving and breathing more deeply as a result of exercising, laughing and even singing! We don't all need to run marathons - there are simple things we can all do to take care of our bodies - for example unplugging from technology, getting outside and - importantly - making sure we get enough sleep!
3/31/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Start Slow and Hone Your Skills with Progressive Meditation
Meditation has been used for centuries to train the mind to be more calm, focused, and resilient, but recent studies show that this ancient technique is rooted in real and quantifiable neurological transformations.
Research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson, neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shows that there is in fact a direct connection between long periods of meditation and a reduction in activity within the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with emotional responses.
However, even short periods of meditation can be beneficial. A study form the University of Wisconsin showed that when participants meditated for an average of five hours over a five-week period, brain activity in the frontal regions of the brain shifted towards a pattern indicating greater positive, approach-oriented emotional states.
But to use meditation as a tool to improve your resilience, emotional fortitude, and coping abilities, you have to start small and practice consistently.
“Think of it as a form of personal mental hygiene — almost like tooth brushing,” Dr. Davidson notes. “Humans didn’t evolve brushing their teeth twice a day. It’s a learned skill. Your brain is just as precious as your teeth. So, it’s important to take the time to learn a practice and stick to it.”
Adopt a strategy for progressive meditation by building up your ability, minute-by-minute. Start with a week of one-minute meditations and add time as the weeks progress. Guided meditations as well as mindfulness practices, spreading positivity and compassion, and deep breathing exercises can also help you work your way to longer meditation sessions. By the end of the month, you’ll have made significance strides on your journey to becoming more calm, focused, and resilient.
3/30/21 Morning Mindful Moment
7 Steps to Mindfulness
Turn Off Distractions
One Task Focus
3/29/21 Morning Mindful Moment
3 Ways to Savor Life’s Little Moments and DeStress Monday
Change your focus to recall the positive this Monday for unexpected results. Savoring and focusing your thoughts on positive events is a way to shift to the positive and deflect stress.
Ways to Savor the Positive
Enjoy the moment. Take a pause to appreciate the vibrancy of the here and now. If it helps, take a few deep breaths first. You don’t have to focus on any particular person or thing to feel goodness all around you. Take this moment to deeply experience your life on the spot!
Put your feelers out. Be more attuned to noticing when something good or positive happens. It could even be a small thing, like someone holding the door open for you! Start to shift your perspective so your senses are sharpened to noticing more positive moments.
Recall a positive and vivid experience. When something good happens to you, take a mental image of it so you can recall it in the future, from the smallest moments like seeing a beautiful flower to a significant event in your life. Recall them when you need a mental boost or a shot of positivity.
This Monday, generate many little happy moments to reduce stress and multiply your happiness. Reach out and tell us about the ways you savor the positive.
3/26/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today, take three calm breaths at regular intervals during your day.
Here is a Headspace mini breathing meditation to guide you through a 1-minute breathing exercise today.
3/25/21 Morning Mindful Moment
7 Things Mindful People Do Differently
Approach everyday things with curiosity – and savor them
Forgive their mistakes- big or small
Show gratitude for good moments- and grace for bad ones
Practice compassion and nurture connections
Make peace with imperfection- inside and out
Embrace vulnerability by trusting others- and themselves
Accept- and appreciate- that things come and go
List compiled by Elisha Goldstein, Ph. D., psychologies, author of The Now Effect
3/24/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Ten Steps to Mindfulness Meditation
Create time & space: Choose a regular time each day for mindfulness mediation practice, ideally a quiet place free from distraction.
Set a timer: Start with just 5 minutes & ease your way up to 15-40 minutes.
Find a comfortable sitting position: Sit cross-legged on the floor, on the grass, or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
Check your posture: Sit up straight, hands in a comfortable position. Keep neck long, chin tilted slightly downward, tongue resting on roof of mouth. Relax shoulders. Close eyes or gaze downward 5-10 feet in front of you.
Take deep breaths. Deep breathing helps settle the body & establish your presence in the space.
Direct attention to your breath. Focus on a part of the body where the breath feels prominent: nostrils; back of throat; or diaphragm. Try not to switch focus.
Maintain attention to your breath: As you inhale, focus on the breath. If attention wanders, return to the breath. Let go of thoughts, feelings or distractions.
Repeat steps 6-7: For the duration of meditation session. The mind will wander. Simply acknowledge this and return to your breath.
Be kind to yourself: Don’t be upset if focus occasionally drifts or if you fall asleep. If very tired, meditate with eyes open & rearrange posture to be erect (but still relaxed) position.
Prepare for a soft landing: When the times goes off, keep eyes closed until you’re ready to open them. Be thankful. Acknowledge your practice with gratitude.
From the Garrison Institute
3/23/21 Morning Mindful Moment
How Can Mindfulness Help You?
Mindfulness is the ability to stay awake & be in-the-moment. It enables you to be impartial to your surroundings & aware of your everyday choices, actions, ideas, thoughts & feelings.
How Can Mindfulness Help You?
Fosters mental health
Effective pain management
Reduces addictive tendencies
Reforms the brain’s structure
Things To Do To Live Mindfully
Start your day with meditation
Create & recreate art
Pay a little more attention
Don’t multitask, unitask
Seek new experiences
Spend time with nature
From The MindFool
3/22/21 Morning Mindful Moment
The National Sleep Foundation recommends individuals, regardless of age, get at least seven hours of sleep per night. But in actuality, one in three Americans fail to get the proper amount of shut eye.
Lack of sleep can lead to burnout and can trigger or exacerbate a number of physical and mental health issues, ranging from chronic pain and high blood pressure to anxiety and depression.
And although we may be aware of the consequences of getting too little sleep, that doesn’t make going to bed any simpler. Thankfully, there are proven methods to improve the duration and quality of your sleep. Dr. Pooja Amy Shah, assistant professor at Columbia University and an authority on integrative medicine, offers a number of different techniques that you can incorporate into your nightly ritual to make falling asleep easier.
Dr. Shah’s recommendations can be distilled into three core ideas: relaxing your body, getting comfortable, and settling your mind. To relax the body, Dr. Shah recommends taking a warm shower before bed and using essential oils like lavender, sage, rosemary or eucalyptus, which can calm or sedate the limbic system. Drinking something warm, like a non-caffeinated tea, an hour or two before bed can also help relax the body and prepare it for sleep.
Next, Dr. Shah suggests organizing your bedroom so it is more suitable for a sound slumber. That means darkening the room with curtains or drapes or using a sleep mask. White noise, like a small fan, is also a useful way to create a comforting and calm space. And for those of us who get too hot or too cold, make sure you are able to customize the temperature of your room to fit your personal preferences either by adding blankets, fans, air conditioners, etc.
The last — but arguably most important — element necessary for a successful night’s sleep is to settle your mind. Dr. Shah says that by turning off your electronics or even keeping them out of reach, you can reduce the impact they have on your melatonin levels, a hormone integral to regulating the sleep cycle. As you lie in bed, try to think positive thoughts, specifically, things you are grateful for having in your life. This will help quiet your mind and prepare it for sleep.
This Monday, try combining these different elements to find the right blend of techniques so that you can achieve your perfect sleep.
3/19/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness is to "Cultivate a feeling of loving-kindness towards others today."
May we be be happy and healthy and loved,
May we be safe and protected,
May we be free from mental and physical suffering and pain,
May we be alive, engaged and joyful,
And may we be able to live in this world with inner peace and with ease.
3/18/21 Morning Mindful Moment
I found it really useful to gather the things that make me hopeful together in a scrapbook - what I call my hope collection. This way, they can't simply slip away and be forgotten or pushed out by the day-to-day cares we all experience. You may be the kind of person who prefers drawing or taking pictures, doodling or even making audio recordings. We're all different. I'd recommend putting a notebook in your bag or putting a stack of paper and a pen next to your bed, so you can add to it whenever inspiration strikes. I add to my collection a couple of times a week.
Try not to edit yourself or make harsh judgements about your choices - whatever gives you hope is the right thing, and nobody need see them but you. Your hope collection is there for you whenever you need it, to remind you that there is a lot about which to be hopeful.
Allowing yourself to experience hope is a powerful form of self-care, providing you with the courage and strength to carry on, to reach for a brighter future, even on the cloudiest of days.
3/17/21 Morning Mindful Moment
What really is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
After a rain shower, the sun shines brighter and we are filled with optimism and renewal.
In these early days of spring can you find the pot of gold in each and every day?
Is it the beauty of the sunrise as you drive to work or school?
Does it lie in the gentle smile of a friend?
Or the warm greeting from someone you don’t even know?
What can you do to create a pot of gold for someone else today?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
3/16/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Make a habit of noticing one beautiful thing every day. This can be as simple as the reflection of streetlights in puddles, an architectural feature of a building you pass frequently, a loved one's smile or laughter, dogs playing in the park.
Once you've noticed it, allow yourself a few moments to enjoy it. I find that these short periods of appreciation and reflection make me feel more hopeful about what's good in the world, especially when I felt a bit overwhelmed. If we can focus on the everyday beauty all around us, if only for a short time, it can give us a breath of respite - a moment of pause to allow our minds to take a step back.
A good way to begin thinking about hope in your everyday is simply by spending some dedicated time considering the things that you find inspiring, that cheer you and put a smile on your face. The more aware you are of what brings you joy, the easier it will be to know what to do when you need a bit of a pick-me-up.
If you find it tough to get started, that's okay. I sometimes imagine hope as a single candle in a massive pitch-black cave - it's not going to show us the whole cave, but it will highlight a few glimmers of detail, enough to help ground us and keep fear at bay. We're not looking for any big 'solutions' in this chapter: hope can be found in the smallest of things. It could simply be the neighbor who looks after an elderly friend, a warm welcome and a cup of tea in your local community center, or the nettles in your garden covered in caterpillars (because not weeding is a win for both you and nature).
3/15/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Action for Happiness is:
“Stop, breathe and just notice. Repeat regularly during the day”
Mondays present an opportunity to start paying better attention to self-care and managing daily stress. One important tool to your anti-stress kit is mindfulness. One of the most basic elements of a mindful practice is deep breathing.
Many of us don’t pay attention to the way we breathe. While it’s common to breathe from the chest, this usually involves taking shallow breaths that can actually exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. Belly breathing, or breathing deep into the lower lungs so the belly expands, allows the intake of more oxygen. This “full oxygen exchange” slows blood pressure and the heart rate, producing a calming effect for the whole body. To make sure you’re breathing deeply, visualize your whole torso taking in air like an inflating balloon, through your nose, down into your chest, all the way down to your belly.
Now that you know the “mechanical” part of deep breathing, learn the mental part that will help calm your mind. First, find a quiet area where you can be seated without being disturbed for a few minutes. Sit with your back straight, picturing a string attached to the top of your head, pulling it straight up. Take a deep breath in, but put all your concentration on to your breath. If it helps, say the word “in” to yourself as you breathe in and focus on just that word and the air filling your lungs. As you breathe out, release the air more slowly, say “out” to yourself, continuing the focus on the word and the air leaving your lungs. Repeat this several times for the duration of a minute to start. If you feel calmer (and you probably will), take a few more minutes to mindfully breathe in and out.
3/4/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Put Your Feelings Into Words
Translating ambiguous feelings into words can help you react to them more productively. Research suggests that verbalizing negative emotions like sadness and anger lessens their intensity and makes them less painful and distracting.
Mindful noticing and labeling is a technique that can be used to create distance between your emotions. By literally stating or writing down your feelings — sadness, joy, frustration, anger — you can analyze them in a non-judgmental way. Practicing mindfulness can activate areas of the brain that can better process emotions, and it can actually make you more interested in your own thinking and how you recognize different sensations.
Put mindful noticing and labeling into practice by noticing the thoughts that wander into your head when you’re trying to focus on a mindfulness meditation. Kindly acknowledge the thought, label it without judgment or analysis, and allow your attention to return your focus to the present moment. With practice, you’ll hopefully become more capable of managing distracting emotions and thoughts and of staying in the present moment.
It’s easier to start practicing mindfulness and mindful noticing and labeling than you think, because every normal chore or errand can be transformed into an opportunity to be more present and aware. Whether it’s mindful eating, dressing, or handwashing, there’s always a chance to better understand your thoughts and feelings.
3/3/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Get Lost in the Sights and Smells of Nature
Stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh air can help you ease your mind during moments of stress.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, take a trip to a local park, trail, or wooded area and focus on all of the sights, smells, and sounds of the world around you. By paying attention to the sound of the wind, the heat of the sun, the smell of the foliage, you’ll slowly begin to release your stress and replace it with the inherent beauty of the outdoors.
Today, take a break from the pressure and pace of a busy day and enjoy the tranquility of nature. Being outside can improve your mood, and even help put things in perspective. Studies reveal spending time in nature can actually lower cortisol, a stress hormone, and have a positive effect on blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension.
This week, find happiness and relaxation by spending time outside. Bring a book, some music, or a snack, and enjoy the setting.
3/2/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today's Action for Happiness is:
"Notice 5 things that are beautiful in the world outside."
Feel the beauty through your eyes today and have a Terrific Tuesday! (=
3/1/21 Morning Mindful Moment
The March Action for Happiness Calendar focuses on being Mindful! Today's action- Set an intention to live with awareness and kindess.
2/26/21 Morning Mindful Moment
If you need to reduce stress at your desk, look no further than a good stretch! Throughout a typical day, it’s normal for tension to build up in our shoulders, neck, and back. Doing a few simple yoga moves can help relieve that tension – and you can do it while seated in a chair!
The benefits of exercise as stress relief are well-documented, but it’s understandable if you can’t always get up and take a walk during a stressful day. Fortunately, you can still engage in some light physical activity without having to leave your work station or desk. Any movement is good for your body as well as your mind; it will get your blood flowing and direct more oxygen to your brain.
Chair yoga is a great practice for anyone with limited mobility, but it can also help people who are active. The chair serves as support for modified versions of traditional yoga poses that target the shoulders, back, neck, and other muscle groups. Accompanied by some deep, cleansing breaths, these chair yoga poses can help calm the body and mind while easing muscle tension. Doing chair yoga poses can also break up long hours spent at a desk, adding some necessary movement to prevent a sedentary day.
Below are two great videos with an easy-to-follow routine featuring Amy Eberhart from NYU Langone. She provides clear instructions and demonstrations of several simple and effective chair yoga moves that you can do while sitting at your desk. Follow her directions for a less stressful day and more limber, relaxed muscles!
Chair Yoga Videos:
2/25/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Deep inhale, big exhale, stretch, and relax! Try some family yoga. It will give your kids a new channel for their energy, reduce stress, and bring everyone a little lasting peace.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that strengthens your core, builds stamina, and makes you stronger. And like all exercise, it’s a great way to reduce stress. Experiencing stress affects all of us, but we can learn tips for managing it. Try some standing yoga poses with your family. It will bring balance, with a smile, into your lives.
Form a circle and get ready to try Tree pose.
Tree Pose – Learn to be tall and strong like a tree. See the graphic above for reference.
Stand on one leg and with your other leg, turn your foot 90˚, then make a triangle by raising your knee and foot until the sole of your foot rests on the outside shin, and below the knee, of your standing leg.
Find your balance!
Reach your arms up above you like the branches of a tree. Look ahead.
You’ll be standing on one foot now with your arms up to the sky, looking just like a tree! Repeat with the opposite foot like a triangle.
2/24/21 Morning Mindful Moment
If you’re seeking to specifically improve your strength, focus, and determination … try warrior pose. This popular yoga progression and its variations will re-energize and rejuvenate you, helping to alleviate stress. This movement brings variety to your routine, benefiting you both physically and mentally. This simple yet powerful sequence can be performed in a very short amount of time.
As with any exercise, be careful to stretch and warm up properly.
Mountain Pose. Begin by coming to stand in mountain pose. Breath deep to bring the body to a neutral position.
Warrior I. Step your left foot back and turn your toes out at a 45˚ angle. Bend your right knee over the ankle. Inhale and bring your arms up over your head. If possible, have the palms touching. Arch your back slightly. Hold this pose while breathing deeply for 5 seconds.
Warrior II. Lengthen your stance as you open your hips. Looking ahead, turn your left foot out 90˚. Stretch out both arms, palms down, until they’re level with your shoulders. Swivel your right arm forward and your left arm back. Focus on the tips of your fingers as you stretch your arms. Make sure your right knee is still deeply bent over your right ankle, letting your hips sink toward the floor. Hold the position and breathe deeply for five seconds.
Peaceful Warrior. Turn your palms upward. Lean back and slide your left hand down your left leg. Arch your back slightly, raise and curl your right arm over your head. Look up. Repeat entire sequence for the other side.
2/23/21 Morning Mindful Moment
If you’re pressed for time, Sun Salutation is a simple yet powerful sequence you can do in a short amount of time. As the backbone of most yoga traditions, it stretches every part of the body.
2/22/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Monday is an opportunity to start fresh and introduce new healthy behaviors in your life. Use this Monday to explore the ancient world of yoga and discover why it continues to be a celebrated and popular exercise, meditation, and art.
Over 37 million people practice yoga in the U.S. This Monday, see for yourself why yoga can be the perfect exercise for both body and mind. Among its many benefits, it can be ideal for reducing stress and anxiety while improving strength and flexibility.
Given its popularity, it might surprise you that the art of yoga originated in ancient India over 5,000 years ago. Since yoga is used to harmonize the body and mind, it is an ideal exercise for busy 21st century life. Modern yoga is associated with fostering mindfulness, healing, and compassion.
Anyone can do yoga! It’s for all ages and fitness levels. It is extremely versatile and can be done at any time of day, indoors or outdoors, on a yoga mat, or in a chair, or even in bed before you rise. As yoga eases stress and muscle tension, it’s a particularly gentle way to start or end the day.
The Benefits of Yoga
Still the Mind. Yoga has been proven to beat stress and reduce anxiety by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure and slowing respiration down. It can also prepare you for stressful situations by reducing your susceptibility to stress.
The deep breathing aspect of yoga, not found in other physical exercises, can increase your powers of mental focus, mindfulness, and relaxation. It also gives you access to an overall sense of well-being. This naturally builds your defenses to fight depression and enhances your ability to boost positivity.
Strengthen the Body. Don’t think that because yoga can be blissful you won’t break out in a sweat! Though it’s not considered aerobic exercise, it can still be potent. Through a series of rigorous and elegant poses, it makes you strong. The practice of yoga is comprised of holding poses, balancing, stretching, and strengthening muscles.
Yoga bodies are relaxed and powerful because the practice can naturally:
Strengthen your core
Tone and sculpt muscles
Increase your range of motion
Ready to experience some yoga? Get started with Sun Salutation, a series of gentle yet exhilarating poses designed to simultaneously awaken and quiet the mind. To keep receiving the benefits, go down the list and try each pose or sequence!
2/12/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Stress is not just an inconvenience — it’s a health hazard; because when your mind is in crisis, so is your body. Stress may not literally “make your blood boil,” but it can create some unsafe conditions for your heart.
Heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease) remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and many of the contributing factors — high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity alcohol dependence — are related to chronic stress.
But here’s the good news, by managing your stress levels, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease. And you can start working towards alleviating stress today by adopting a few simple practices such as staying positive, not smoking, limiting intake of caffeine, avoiding too much alcohol, and enjoying a balanced diet rooted in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and minimally processed foods.
But one of the most effective techniques for immediate stress relief is deep breathing. Several studies have shown how deep or diaphragmatic breathing can slow your heart rate and reduce blood pressure. This kind of breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which reduces the “fight or flight” response that causes feelings of anxiety or tension. This gives you a chance to manage those feelings and your stress levels, allowing you to calm yourself down easily in just a few moments.
Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere and anytime. See how to practice breathing on the go, or mindful breathing, throughout your day.
2/11/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s action is to, “Send an encouraging note to someone who needs a boost.”
2/10/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s action is to, “Look for the good in people, even when they frustrate you.”
When you look for the good in others, you discover the good within yourself!
2/9/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s action from the Friendly February calendar is to, “Thank someone and tell them how they made a difference for you.”
Enjoy spreading gratitude today!
2/8/21 Morning Mindful Moment
A number of factors affect your heart health, with physical activity being one of the most important. Your heart is a muscle, and just like your biceps and quadriceps, it too benefits from a weekly workout. Because when your heart doesn’t get the care and attention it requires, problems can develop.
So how much exercise do you need to help your heart thrive? Not much!
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get around 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Some examples of moderate intensity workouts include fast-paced walking, water aerobics, dancing, gardening (it can make you happier, too), tennis (doubles), or biking. High-intensity aerobics, such as running, swimming laps, and hiking, are also beneficial, but make sure to consult with your physician before incorporating these exercises into your physical-activity routine.
Another important point to remember is that you don’t have to be “exercising” to stay active. Small adjustments to your day-to-day life, like sitting less or taking a few extra laps around the house, can contribute positively to your heart health. A great way to do this is to “habit stack,” or incorporate extra movement into your normal routine. Waiting for the coffee to brew? Walk up and down the stairs, do a quick set of squats, or get in a quick stretch.
This Monday, set a goal of getting in 30 minutes of physical activity, and try to keep it up for the rest of the week. If you don’t reach the 150-minute mark, don’t sweat it. You can always refresh your intensions the following Monday. Your heart will thank you.
2/5/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s action from the Friendly February calendar is to, “Show an active interest by asking questions when talking to others.”
Here are 7 key active listening skills to help with this action:
1. Be attentive
2. Ask open-ended questions
3. Ask probing questions
4. Request clarification
6. Be attuned to and reflect feelings
2/4/21 Morning Mindful Moment
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up. Today, focus on cheering others up! 😊
2/3/21 Morning Mindful Moment
Today’s Action: Do an act of kindness to make life easier for someone else.
Here are 7 ways to start making kindness the norm in your life:
Send an uplifting text to a friend or family member.
Let that guy merge into traffic with a waive and a smile.
Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine.
Go slightly outside of our comfort zone at lease once a day to make someone smile.
Share a compliment with a co-worker or friend.
Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Treat someone to a cup of coffee or tea (a friend, stranger, or even yourself).
2/2/21 Morning Mindful Moment
This month's theme: Friendly February
We need each other more than ever right now! This month let's focus on reaching out to connect with others and doing our best to be a good friend. Our acts of kindness and connection ripple out and impact so many more people than we realize - and they also boost our own happy hormones too! In stressful times people around us may be feeling the strain, so let's try to keep calm, take time to listen and show compassion.
Action for 2/2/21: Ask a friend how they have feeling recently.
2/1/21 Morning Mindful Moment
One-Minute Mediations for When You Really Need a Minute
Some people claim that they just don’t have the time to practice meditation. These are the people who need to meditate the most. While it’s a good idea to follow a longer practice that includes 10 to 15 minutes of deep breathing or meditation, taking just one minute can still help you calm your mind and clear your head. So this Monday, take a minute to destress with a one-minute meditation.
Sometimes the best thing you can do during a busy, hectic day is simply stop. If you’ve been sitting at a computer or staring into a phone, the action of looking away from your screen and physically moving from it can bring you clarity. Especially when you’re overwhelmed, taking just 60 seconds for a breath can do wonders.
In order to get the most out of your minute, follow a brief but effective meditation practice. You can do this in silence, or you can listen to one of the audio meditations in the link below, which feature relaxing sounds timed to one minute. You can also set a 60-second timer on your phone — just remember to keep your device in your pocket for the duration of the meditation, so you won’t be tempted to look.
1/28/21 Morning Mindful Moment
How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Day #4.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
You may feel like you need to push through your work and not take any breaks. When you’re stressed and busy it can feel as though there’s no time to take a break but doing so can help you reset and refocus making you more productive. You don’t have time not to take a break! Try taking a short break outside the office (during your lunch or conference time).
When you are outside, take a few moments to pause and notice your surroundings by tuning into your senses. Notice what you can see, what you can hear, the temperature of the air against your skin.
1/27/21 Morning Mindful Moment
How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Day #3.
3. Practice Gratitude for Wins (big & small)
Practicing gratitude helps us see all that is good in our lives, which can sometimes be tricky due to our brain's negativity bias, which is the inbuilt tendency we have to register negatives more readily and spend longer dwelling on them.
Sometimes when we are having a busy day we may feel overwhelmed and unproductive. Instead of beating yourself up, try taking a moment to list some wins, big or small, you’ve had for the day. Maybe you cleared your inbox, made some progress on a larger project or simply made time for a break. Doing this daily will help you get better at recognizing the progress you are making.
1/26/21 Morning Mindful Moment
How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Day #2.
2. Check-in With Your Body
Throughout the working day take a minute to check in with your body. Try asking yourself a few questions such as ‘How’s my posture?’ ‘Can I feel any tension in my body?’, ‘Would it feel good to step away from my desk and take a short walk or stretch?’ (during my lunch or planning period)
Scanning your body slowly makes you aware of hidden tensions, which can help to release many of them simply by paying attention to them.
1/25/21 Morning Mindful Moment
How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Day #1.
To help you and your colleagues on your mindfulness journey, we’ve pulled together a list of top 5 tips to help your mind thrive throughout your workday. Here’s #1:
1. Breathe, you’ve got this
We all know that familiar feeling when you’re working to meet a deadline or get to the bottom of a never-ending inbox and it almost feels like you’ve forgotten how to breathe! When this feeling creeps in it’s important to take a minute to sit back and focus on your breath.
Even if you can't leave your desk, you can take a Brain Break - a short three-minute breathing practice…
Taking a short pause in this way can help you reset, think more clearly and execute the task at hand with a greater sense of focus.
*Note: if focusing on your breath is uncomfortable for you try focusing on the sounds that you can hear instead.
1/22/21 Morning Mindful Moment
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
1/21/21 Morning Mindful Moment
MEANING: Be Part of Something Bigger
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find 'meaning and purpose'? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more here:
1/20/21 Morning Mindful Moment
ACCEPTANCE: Be Comfortable With Who You Are
No-one's perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people's outsides. Dwelling on our flaws - what we're not rather than what we've got - makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more here:
1/19/21 Morning Mindful Moment
EMOTIONS: Look for What’s Good
Positive emotions - like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride - are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an 'upward spiral', helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life's ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation - the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more here:
1/15/21 Morning Mindful Moment
RESILIENCE: Find Ways to Bounce Back
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it's not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more here:
1/14/21 Morning Mindful Moment
DIRECTION: Have Goals To Look Forward To
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more here: