How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

Perfectionism always sounded like a positive word to me.

After all, what could be better than being perfect?

I cannot think of any situation where something could be beyond perfect. Yet in reality, perfectionism is a real problem because it stops people from sharing with the world the more imperfect (but still amazing!) things they create.

Are you stuck on perfectionism? It’s time to let go. In this article you’ll learn the benefits of embracing imperfection and how doing so will give you a beautiful sense of freedom.

Let Go and Reap the Benefits

Almost all the wonderful inventions that we celebrate today began in a less than perfect way.

The first iPhone, the first Space X rocket, and the first electric car were all put out in a less than perfect state. Yet, people still loved them. People still bought or invested in them. As each iteration of these products came out, they got better, so much so that if you compare the latest iPhone X to the first generation iPhone you would immediately declare the first iPhone to be nowhere near perfect.

The thing about the first iPhone, the first Space X rocket and the first electric car is they were a work in progress.

Sure they were not perfect, but on the whole, they worked and people enjoyed them immensely. Once they were out there in the market, the feedback came in and that helped to improve the products. Imagine if Space X’s Falcon 1 had not launched; would we have seen the impressive Falcon Heavy launch?

The lessons learned from the first Space X launch led to improvements in the next launch. And now, in 2018 we have a Tesla Roadster orbiting our sun. If the engineers at SpaceX were worried about being perfect, none of this would have happened. They would still be working on the Falcon 1 rocket.

And, that’s the problem with perfectionism: it stops you from accomplishing many things that you have the ability to achieve. It prevents you from sharing with the world your ideas, your work and your craft, so you never benefit from the feedback necessary to get better; this means the world will not benefit from the amazing things you are capable of doing.

Outlined below are five tips you can use to help get away from your perfectionism so the world can benefit from the work you do.

All Great Things Began Imperfect

Most likely, our first attempts at anything will not be perfect.

It takes time to develop the necessary know-how and skills to achieve perfection–and even then, it could probably be improved upon. That should not stop you, rather this idea should encourage you. At every turn, at every attempt, you will get better. The goal is not to have a perfect version.

The goal is to create something that works, something that resonates with people, and something that will get better with time and patience and continuous effort to improve it.

Don’t Fret Feedback

Too often people hold back their ideas and opinions because they think their idea or opinion is stupid.

No idea or opinion is stupid.

All great ideas started somewhere. The best ideas were put out into the open so that other people could provide feedback and criticize them. That is precisely how great ideas start–through feedback, the ideas evolved and got better. Holding back your idea or product until you have perfected it only guarantees it will never be perfect.

You need the feedback to make it better. Even if you find that your idea is perfect, another person’s insight may give you a new perspective on ways to improve. Or that criticism may be just what you need to motivate you! Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, said that when he told people of his idea for starting CNN, everyone laughed at him. When that happened, he knew he was on to a good idea.

Perfectionism is Really Just Fear

The truth behind perfectionism is that it is a form of fear.

This fear is most likely of criticism or dislike of your idea. The worst thing you can imagine is that your idea will be a total flop and that you will fail.

The good thing about fear is that it is a mental state, not a physical one. Any fear, especially irrational fears about perfection, can be changed and overcome by analyzing why you are fearful in the first place and recognizing the worst case scenario of putting a “less than perfect” idea out there.

Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone will criticize your work, then you will understand that really that is nothing to be afraid of–in fact, criticism is a fantastic tool to help your idea get better! This is where you learn what others think can be improved on, so that your idea will appeal to a wider audience and gain more traction with others.

Failure is Actually Fabulous

Look at any great business person and you will see a career path littered with failure.

Steve Jobs failed at pretty much everything he tried until he returned to Apple in 1997. Elon Musk has had more failures than most people experience in a lifetime. Yet, these two pioneers never gave up. They kept creating, producing and pushing forward despite their setbacks.

Life is ninety-percent failure and ten-percent success.

What matters is the ten-percent. The ninety-percent is necessary in order for you to get the ten-percent successes. So, accept any and all failures as part of your journey.

Life Is Not Perfect

We are not born perfect and we will not die perfect.

In fact, perfection is pretty much a myth.

What one person may find perfect, another will disagree. That is just the way it is. Life is all about successes and failures, and that is how we grow and become better people, just as our ideas grow to be better from repeated failures. We live and we make mistakes and as we do so, we learn and improve.

We will never be perfect and that is the way it should be; if everyone was perfect, then it would be a very boring world. Imperfections are what make you who you are and they make you interesting and unique. Celebrate your failures and imperfections.

Perfection is Imperfect

If you feel as though perfectionism is hard to come by, you’re not alone.

Nobody, nor any idea, is perfect. Accept the idea that striving to do your very best is good enough and will eventually lead you down a brilliant path. If you have a perfectionist streak in you, try and let it go, and embrace the process of getting your idea out into the world, rather than focusing on the end result.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Hoxmark via unsplash.com

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The Benefits of Daily Meditation While on Vacation

Being on vacation is mainly about rest and relaxation, but what if you could get a lot more out of it?

What if during your vacation you could recharge yourself with more energy than ever before?

Are you ready for something that’s going to change your life forever?

Incorporating daily meditation into your vacation plans can really help you get the most out of your retreat. This guide will explain exactly how to do just that and outlines the many benefits you can reap from adding mindful meditation to your plans.

  • Why Practicing Meditation Makes Total Sense

    Most people assume that meditation is about sitting cross-legged and thinking about whatever comes to mind, and that there’s no real practical purpose to it. Some would even call it a complete waste of time. Of course most of these people have never really meditated a day in their life.

    The truth is that meditation can have a powerful impact on your wellbeing and overall energy.

    Furthermore, it can help you deal with various unbalanced emotional states and bring them into harmony. However, in order to get maximum benefits it is important to commit to at least 30 minutes of meditation each day.

    The more often you meditate, the better; but remember, start slow and gradually and work your way up to this goal. If you can meditate every day of your vacation for only a few minutes at a time, then do it.

    To get started, let’s look at some of the known benefits of meditation:

    1. You’ll Sleep So Much Better

    One of the most important things about practicing meditation before going to bed is that you can be sure the your quality of sleep is going to be deep and highly energizing.

    In some rare cases it can even prevent insomnia.

    Since beginning daily meditation before bedtime, never before have I slept so well. The practice has radically improved my sleeping schedule. But don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself. You will be surprised by the results.

    2. Your Energy Levels Will Soar

    Your internal energy will gain a great boost from meditation.

    In a deep state of meditation your body will recharge with energy in a powerful way. This radical shift will easily be noticed. This is one of the most useful benefits from this practice.

    Once I started meditating regularly, my energy levels improved to the point where I started sleeping less and getting more things done throughout the day.

    3. Your Balance Will Be On Point

    Another important aspect that comes from meditation is balance.

    Here I am describing both mental and emotional balance. When you practice regular meditation, your mind stabilizes and becomes organized and disciplined, while your emotional states become easier to control.

    You will no longer feel like thoughts and emotions are controlling you; it will be the other way around. You will become a sovereign of your life.

    Before getting into meditation, my mind was all over the place; but, in time and with perseverance, I reached an internal balance that helped me overcome many stressful situations with relative ease.

    4. You’ll Be Far Less Forgetful

    When you meditate, you gradually become more aware of everything going on around you because the mind is no longer distracted.

    It should come as no surprise that if you’re consciously more aware of things, your recall ability will improve greatly.

    In the past I used to forget things easily; but after a few months of daily meditation I began to retain all sorts of details about what I’ve read, where I had placed things, what tasks I had left to do that day, etc.

    5. You’ll Gain a Finer-Tuned Focus

    Proper meditation also improves your focus because you learn to pay attention to your breath and not allow other thoughts to divide your attention.

    If practiced enough, it will not only manifest while meditating but also while you’re in a regular state of consciousness. This means your focus will become laser sharp!

    After practicing daily meditation for some time, I can easily focus on a task without becoming distracted.

    This has helped me a great deal in every project that I’ve worked on. When your mind is totally present in the moment, it becomes an actual force. Things will get done properly and on time. There is little doubt about how useful this ability will become in time.

    6. Pain Will No Longer Phase You

    Whatever the cause of injury might be, meditation can help reduce your pain.

    This is not to say that you will no longer feel that pain, it’s just that it will move into the background somewhere.

    Through daily meditation you will learn pain control.

    The more I meditated, the more I was able to control how much physical pain bothered me. The pain was still there, it just didn’t have the same effect on me as prior to my incorporating a daily meditation routine.

    7. You’ll Become Enlightened

    Ultimately meditation makes you realize that you’re something above a physical body. You’re not the body or emotions… or even your thoughts.

    This will give you an unusual freedom.

    You will no longer feel as limited as before and your entire perception of life will change. In some cases the fear of death will disappear altogether.

    The exact internal states are difficult to describe, but when practicing daily meditation a feeling of superior happiness will manifest and will even make you question what happiness really is.

    Years back when I started meditating it just seemed like a boring activity at first. It took a while to fully grasp the depth of what meditation actually meant. At that stage it still seemed forced (and to be honest it was to a certain extent).

    One of the most important things to keep in mind is to discipline yourself to keep going at the beginning. This is when it seems like nothing actually gets done, although eventually you’ll discover that there’s something to it, which will change you in many positive ways.

    You might find many reasons to discontinue the practice, but you have to keep going if you want to see real results. Don’t give up!

    This in itself is a lesson when it comes to meditation and even life itself. One must develop patience in order to succeed in reaching the deeper states. In fact anything worth going after in life will require patience and determination.

    Nothing happens overnight!

    Take Your Daily Practice on Vacation

    So, you’re on vacation and you want to get the most out of your meditations. How do you do it? It’s actually pretty simple and can easily be scheduled into your plans.

    If you’re on vacation with your kids, the good thing about meditation is that anybody can do it.

    No matter what age, meditation is safe for everyone–so get the kids to join in! It can be beneficial to encourage your children to meditate from an early age, but there’s no reason to insist on it if they find no pleasure in it. Then again, you never know; kids will sometimes surprise you with their curiosity and interest in trying new things!

    So no matter who has come along for vacation, whether you choose to meditate solo or as a family, it’s possible to reap the benefits even when you’re away from home.

    Start Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness Today

    Now that you understand the vast benefits of meditation, and that anyone can practice meditation just about anywhere, you may be wondering: what are the essential components for a successful meditation session?

    1. Embrace Silence

    There’s no real meditation without first finding a quiet spot.

    Unless you’re an experienced practitioner who has been meditating for decades, the noise will most likely distract and even bother you during the meditation.

    You can use ear plugs to cancel most external noise if a quiet place cannot be found.

    Depending on where you are vacationing, consider the idea of meditating in nature. For instance, if you are on a hike or are walking through a forest and find a nice quiet place for meditation, then go for it!

    2. Get In a Proper Position

    Once you’ve found the right place for meditation, choosing a position to meditate in that you’re comfortable with is essential to the quality of the experience.

    If you meditate in a difficult posture that causes pain, then you can imagine that the experience will have a negative impact on you.

    Be careful about meditating in bed, as it is very easy to fall asleep.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that often a meditation posture is not comfortable at first; in fact, it could take months to get used to the posture so that you feel totally relaxed while in it. While on vacation, cut yourself some slack and stick to a posture that’s already easy to relax in, such as sitting comfortably.

    3. Dress for Success

    It is best to wear something relaxing while meditating, otherwise it will distract your internal focus to the external aspects that make your body uncomfortable.

    Needless to say, the temperature of the body has to be pleasant. You don’t want to have clothing on that makes you feel too warm or too cold. If you want to meditate outside make sure that you check the weather and that you’re prepared accordingly.

    Your choice of clothing can really make a big difference when it comes to the quality of your meditations.

    4. Be Mindful of What You Eat (and Drink)

    It’s recommendable to drink water before a meditation to have the body hydrated.

    Another very important aspect is to never meditate right after you eat.

    Take a break of 2-3 hours after a meal, before beginning to meditate. I’ve ignored this aspect before and it didn’t end up well. Here would be a great place to mention that meditation has a powerful and beneficial effect on digestion.

    5. Destroy All Distractions

    Make sure to turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, the phone, etc. for the period that you will be meditating.

    It’s important that you will not be disturbed from your meditation by a sudden noise. Distractions such as these could make the entire experience difficult and you won’t reap as many benefits.

    It’s most unpleasant to be engaged in deep meditation and suddenly be forced out of it.

    6. Plan Accordingly

    It would be unwise to meditate immediately after playing games, watching a movie or listening to music for a prolonged period of time.

    In all those cases the mind will become increasingly more active with various thoughts. To meditate in such a state would be a constant struggle. I remember when I used to play video games years ago and then tried to meditate after that. Those were the most unsuccessful meditations of my life.

    Ready, Set, Meditate!

    Take the posture that you are most comfortable in and begin by slowly breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

    Keep on doing that for a while until you feel quite relaxed.

    Being relaxed in a meditation is a very important aspect if you want to succeed in attaining deeper states of consciousness.

    After that, continue to pay attention to your breath, but breathe only through the nose now.

    The true mental freedom and the real appreciation of meditation will come when you will realize that empty gap between breaths and especially between your thoughts.

    That pure emptiness is the true internal peace. When you’re able to maintain that state, your body will be filled with energy and the meditation will become a blessing!

    It’s essential not to become frustrated or upset because you’re unable to let go at first because intrusive thoughts keep flooding into your awareness.

    Acknowledge the situation and continue forward with the meditation.

    Little by little you will continue making progress as long as you keep going and maintain a calm attitude. There’s no reason to try to force things.

    A meditative state should come naturally, almost all on its own. You’ll need to learn to adapt to your internal states and go with the flow, while at the same time retaining awareness.

    That’s it! Keep it up and reap a ton of rewards.

    Mindfulness Wherever You Go

    Similarly to anything else, for lasting results you will need to meditate daily for sustained periods of time. However, on vacation is the best time to start this practice and get a taste of its power.

    Once you get hooked while on vacation, you’ll be looking for other ways to integrate meditation in your everyday life.

    It was only after I had been meditating for months on a daily basis that the real benefits started to become obvious to me.

    However, this shouldn’t discourage you from meditating. You don’t need to meditate daily for that long in order to see a significant change in your life. And although at this point it might seem difficult to integrate meditation in your daily life when you’re not on vacation, eventually you will find a way.

    I wish you the very best on your meditation journey. If you begin a daily practice while on your vacation, it will surely be one you’ll remember for the rest of your life!

    Featured photo credit: Photo by Jens Kreuter via unsplash.com

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    Fermented Foods for Better Digestive Health and Mental Wellness

    Have you noticed the bottles of Kombucha that line the shelves at your natural food grocery stores, or the recent offerings of a drinkable fermented milk product called Kefir?

    They fall into a category of fermented foods which are making a huge breakthrough in American grocery stores.

    If you are not familiar with fermented foods, or the powerful health benefits that come from adding them to your diet, then this article is for you.

    Read on to learn about the 5 simple foods you can incorporate into your diet for both better digestive health and mental wellness.

  • Fermented Foods: A Hot [Ancient] Trend

    If you are just now noticing fermented foods in your grocery store, it’s good to keep in mind that fermented foods are not a new trend.

    They have been around for about eight thousand years and have recently begun to steadily gain popularity in the American diet.

    In fact, due to the explosive research done on gut health and the importance of microbiomes, fermented foods are making huge strides in Western societies.

    Before electricity and refrigerators existed, controlled fermenting was done as a way to preserve foods to make it safe to eat.

    Different cultures celebrated fermented foods, and each culture developed their own spin on them through the introduction of unique flavors and traditions that were part of their culinary heritage.

    For example:

    • European cultures enjoy sauerkraut and cultured dairy products such as sour cream and cheeses

    • Koreans are famous for their kimchi, Japanese people love natto and miso, while the Chinese enjoy blackened preserved eggs

    • In India, people drink Lassi before every meal to aid digestion

    • Garri, a root vegetable, is prepared and fermented before eating in West Africa

    • In Russia and Turkey, people drink a yogurt called Kefir

    Bacteria Makes Food Taste Better

    Although there are many different ways to preserve and ferment foods, they all contain a specific component that are important to the fermenting preservation process, a bacterial starter culture.

    The most common method of fermentation uses a bacteria strain called Lactobacillius.

    During the fermentation process, these good bacteria fight off dangerous strains of bacteria like E. coli that make our food dangerous to eat.

    Lactobacillus converts the salts and sugars that were added during the fermentation setup into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of dangerous bacteria. This production of lactic acid is what gives food that sour, tangy flavor that we associate with fermented vegetables such as pickles and sauerkraut.

    You can use the liquid from a previous ferment as a source for your starter bacteria, such as the whey for yogurt, a SCOBY from kombucha, or the brine from pickled vegetables.

    If you are just starting out, you can also find healthy strains of bacteria in powder form. Health food stores or shops online will sell starter culture kits that are full of beneficial bacteria to help you kick start the fermentation process.

    Ferments are Great for Your Gut

    Eating a variety of fermented foods is a great introduction to enriching your gut microbiome to a diverse collection of healthy bacteria.

    Not only are you introducing beneficial bacteria to your gut but these bacteria are helping you to increase absorption and digestion of foods.

    Fermented foods are similar to probiotics, but there are a few key differences.

    Probiotics Versus Ferments: What’s The Difference?

    Fermented foods are not equivalent to probiotics.

    Based on their classifications there are differences between a probiotic versus a fermented food, even though both have incredible health benefits.

    The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. [1]

    All fermented products are created using healthy bacteria, but when they are cooked, they won’t contain live bacteria.

    For example, foods such as sour dough bread are fermented because they rely on bacteria like yeast to create them. But by the time you eat the bread the yeast already has already been deactivated by baking.

    On the other hand, there are foods such as yogurt, cheeses, non-heated kimchi and sauerkraut that are fermented with bacteria and still contain live beneficial bacteria when you eat it.

    These types of fermented foods are also probiotics because they have live microorganisms in them.

    A Healthy Gut Is a Diverse Gut

    There are ten times more bacteria in your body than you have cells that make up your body; or as scientists estimate, there are about 100 trillion bacteria in your body.

    Millions reside right in the middle of your gut; and, they help you digest your food and absorb nutrients from your food.

    Bacteria in your gut help you break down larger food particles (that go undigested in your stomach) into useable forms of fuel that your body can use.

    This symbiotic relationship we have with bacteria means that both parties benefit: you get the vitamins and nutrients necessary for your survival and in return the bacteria have food to eat and a place to live.

    This population of bacteria is called the human microbiota, and studies have shown that the composition of the bacteria population plays an important role in how well you extract, store, and use the energy from the foods you eat. This relationship is important in helping our digestive development of our intestines, helping us produce vitamins that we cannot obtain from food, and it impacts how we metabolize medications.

    Because bacteria plays a role in digestion and absorption of nutrition, early research studies are speculating that different strains of bacteria also play a role in our body compositions. This may determine whether we are predisposed to have a lean body type or an obese body type.

    A healthy gut is important to the health and well-being of our bodies.

    By eating a variety of healthy foods including fermented ones we can ensure that we are populating our guts with good bacteria.

    Nature’s Miracle Cure

    The diversity of your gut bacteria also helps to develop your immune system.

    Since birth, your immune system has developed by relying on gut bacteria to balance the responses to harmful pathogens while tolerating the harmless bacteria that reside within you.

    Research within this area is quite new and we are still learning what a healthy gut microbiome looks like; but, evidence suggests that having a more diversified microbiome leads to better overall health.

    An unhealthy diversity of gut bacteria has been linked to many diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and a leaky gut which causes unwanted inflammation.

    There has been preliminary research that has found that the effectiveness of vaccines is also determined by the diversity of your gut bacteria.

    When you have gut inflammation and other gut issues your immune system is busy dealing with that issue instead of responding to vaccines effectively. [2]

    You can help ensure you have a healthy gut and a diverse microbiome through eating a healthy, varied diet that includes fermented foods. It’s a quick way to introduce millions of beneficial bacteria in a single bite.

    How Your Microbiome Affects Your Mood

    In the past 10 years research has been done investigating the link between your microbiome and how it regulates your thinking and your moods.

    Researchers have found evidence that these billions of bacteria residing in your gut could play a role by influencing the brain to determine your mood.

    Gut bacteria have been found to produce a variety of neurotransmitters that play a key role in affecting how you feel.

    How we metabolize these neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA can be affected depending on what type of organism resides in our gut. This can regulate the amount of neurotransmitters that circulate in our blood and brain. [3]

    A healthy mind and body consists of having a wide variety of different species of bacteria residing in your gut. Wanting to feel good is another reason to eat a variety of fermented foods, as each food will have different types of bacteria that will contribute to the health of your gut.

    Eat These Five Ferments for Fabulous Health

    1. Kombucha

    This is probably one of the easiest way to diversify your gut because Kombucha is accessible to almost everyone and it comes in a large variety of flavors.

    Kombucha is a non-alcoholic fermented tea drink that is lightly sweetened. It originated in China around 220 BC.

    It has become a trendy drink because it contains vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients that are associated with health benefits. Although there have been exaggerated claims on its health benefits by the media, it’s a great way to introduce beneficial bacteria to help aid digestion.

    2. Miso

    Originated in Japan, miso is a fermented paste that is made from a combination of soybeans and salt with other ingredients such as rice or barley to create different flavors.

    Miso comes in a variety of colors based on how long it’s allowed to ferment. By itself, it tastes very salty and tangy but has a great umami flavor. Because of the huge varieties of miso, different types can be used interchangeably in recipes and result in different flavor combinations.

    Although it is commonly used in miso soup, miso can also be used as a base to create salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.

    Miso can be found near the tofu section or the vegetarian meat section of your health food store. It will come in a plastic tub or a sealed plastic bag. When refrigerated properly, miso can be kept fresh for up to a year.

    3. Kimchi

    Another fermented staple is Kimchi, which originates from Korea; it consists of a variety of pickled vegetables that are eaten at every meal.

    The most well-known one is of spicy kimchi cabbage, but there are over 100 kimchi varieties, and not all of them are spicy.

    Kimchi is fermented with an assortment of spices including chili powder, garlic, ginger, scallions, and type of salted seafood called jeotgal. In addition to the probiotic benefits of kimchi, it is also high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants, rich in amino acids and packed with a range of vitamins.

    4. Sauerkraut

    Sauerkraut is another version of a fermented cabbage that is created by a variety of lactic acid producing bacteria. It gets its distinct sour flavor from bacteria fermenting the sugar in the cabbage.

    Although we associate sauerkraut with a Eastern European and German origin, it was consumed by the Chinese over 2,000 years ago and likely brought over to Europe 1,000 years later.

    Today sauerkraut is made by combining finely chopped cabbage with salt and spices. It is an excellent source of Vitamin B and Vitamin C and contains lots of enzymes to help you break down your food during digestion.

    5. Kefir

    Keifr is a fermented milk drink that can come from a variety sources of milk, such cow, goat, sheep or even rice and soy milk.

    What makes this drink fermented is the introduction of starter grains that are composed of yeast and bacteria.

    Originating from the Caucasus Mountains, a mountainous region that divides Asia and Europe, it is now being introduced into American supermarkets.

    Many consider Kefir to be a super power version of yogurt because it’s full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics. Containing about 30 different strains of bacteria, Kefir is a potent probiotic source of diverse microorganisms–even more so than the typical yogurt.

    If you’re experiencing digestion issues, drinking kefir can help you restore the friendly gut bacteria to balance out your system for a happier digestive tract.

    Fermented Foods For All!

    Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and offer a multitude of health benefits. Whether you are a small child or an older adult, fermented foods are an excellent choice to establish better overall health. Plus, they taste amazing.

    When it comes to overall health and general wellbeing don’t forget the importance of having a healthy gut.

    Eating a variety of fermented foods, such as the ones listed above, will put you on the fast track to having a healthier digestion.

    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

    [1] ESNM: Diet & Gut Microbiota
    [2] Science Direct: Trends in Immunology
    [3] The Atlantic: When Gut Bacteria Change Brain Function

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    How Mindful Meditation Can Improve Your Parenting Style

    Are you looking for ways to improve your parenting?

    Of course; we all are! Anyone who is a parent is always looking to take their parenting skills to the next level and improve the balance in the household. Parenting styles don’t have to complicate our lives, but which style of parenting we choose does have a direct impact on how harmonious our lives with our children are.

    Everyone has heard the terms “meditation” and “mindfulness”; but, were you aware that mindful meditation can bring about an amazing transformation in your parenting style?

    It’s true! With just a few simple tips on meditation and being more present, your parenting style can see an amazing transformation in just a very short time.

  • Mindfulness Matters

    Meditation is the practice of calming and centering the mind. Mindful meditation originated in India thousands of years ago as part of Hinduism.

    Over the centuries, its amazing ability to transform our mind, body and soul have been taken on by Buddhism as well as many other cultures and religions.

    Today, countless cultures around the world have embraced the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that mindfulness can bring to our personal lives.

    The Secret of Stress Free Parenting

    Let’s face it, parenting can be hard and stressful!

    It can also be quite amazing and rewarding to see the best aspects of ourselves standing in front of us in the form of our children.

    To be the very best parents we can be, it’s crucial that we find productive ways to manage our stress. After all, our kids learn best by watching our behavior (this is called “modeling”) and if we don’t handle stress well, neither will they.

    Adding a mindful meditation practice to your life, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, can transform your parenting style in several incredible ways:

    • You will feel a greater sense of calm and peace
    • You will be able to ebb and flow around daily challenges more easily
    • You will naturally be more patient with your child and yourself

    Science Backs Up The Benefits

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD conducted a recent study on the effects of a mindful meditation practice and it’s impact on stress and well-being. Their research looked at over 3500 people, and what they found was astonishing! [1]

    They found that “the negative effect (of Anxiety, depression, and stress/distress) is improved in mindfulness programs”.

    They also found that “mindfulness-based stress reduction reduces (physical) pain severity to a small degree” and that “Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety”.

    Yet another study published by the National Institutes of Health found that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program “may have a beneficial effect on anxiety symptoms in generalized anxiety disorder, and may also improve stress reactivity and coping”. [2]

    Clearly many experts recognize the ability of a mindful meditation practice to reduce stress and anxiety; and since parents seem to have an endless stream of stress and anxiety, this can certainly help make some positive changes.

    Meditation Changes Our Brains

    A recent study by the University of California in Los Angeles examined the links between aging, brain deterioration and meditation.

    What they found was nothing short of amazing!

    In their study, they reported that “meditation is brain-protective and associated with a reduced age-related tissue decline”. [3]

    They went on to say that there is “scientifically solid evidence that meditation has brain (and mind) altering capacities (which can help with) healthy aging, but also pathological aging, such as is evident in mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease”.

    In short, if we focus on adding just a few minutes of mindful meditation to our daily rituals we can literally transform our minds and positively impact how our brains age.

    We can then apply this to all aspects of our lives, including how we parent.

    The Effects on Kids May Surprise You

    Children face enormous pressures today compared to when we were kids.

    Social media and technology can affect the brain negatively to create anxiety and stress that simply didn’t exist in past decades. We also have epidemics of ADD & ADHD and out of control rates of adolescent depression.

    The good news is finding ways to incorporate a mindful mediation practice into your child’s life can have a significant impact.

    A recent study by Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that “using the techniques of Sahaja Yoga Meditation . . . showed improvements in children’s ADHD behavior, self-esteem and relationship quality.” [4]

    They went on to say that “Children described . . . better sleep patterns, less anxiety . . . and at school more able to concentrate, (and had) less conflict. Parents reported feeling happier, less stressed and more able to manage their child’s behavior”.

    While kids may not have the patience for a daily or lengthy practice of seated meditation, just a few minutes several times a week can bring about a profound change in mood, attitude and stress-reduction!

    The Magic Behind Mono-tasking

    Mindfulness has come into fashion over the past decade.

    Essentially it’s the practice of focusing our attention on what we are doing in the moment. With mindfulness, we focus on being 100% present to a person or action, instead of allowing our minds to be scattered across many thoughts and tasks.

    Mindfulness removes the illusion that multi-tasking somehow makes us more productive. Instead it replaces that idea with mono-tasking: being laser focused on one thing at a time.

    In doing this, we become more accepting of what we can’t change. We become more patient, caring and empathetic. It also naturally causes our relationships to improve as we will become more present and connected to those we interact with.

    To dive deeper into exactly what mindfulness is take a look at the 10 Easy Ways To Practice Mindfulness .

    Applying Mindfulness Makes Your Life 10x Better

    In terms of how mindfulness can improve your life, let’s review the biggest positive impacts:

    • It helps regulate our emotions
    • It heightens our sensitivity to others and the world around us
    • We will more easily replace expectations with appreciation
    • It can strengthen our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem

    In short, by making a choice to practice mindfulness and mindful meditation we are taking charge of our lives, our emotions and our minds. We are no longer simply reacting to the world around us, but taking responsibility for how we want to live our life.

    3 Simple Ways to Start Meditating Today

    So mindful meditation sounds great, right?

    But, how do we incorporate that into our daily lives? More importantly, how can we practice mindfulness in a way that doesn’t eat up a lot of our precious time?

    The answers can be surprisingly simple.

    There are likely a million different ways to practice mindfulness and no one way is best.

    In truth, what works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Therefore, find what works for you and don’t worry if you’re doing it the “right” way.

    The primary goal of mindful meditation is to calm your mind and clear away all the distractions and thoughts.

    While practicing mindful meditation you may want complete quiet. Others, though, may like the challenge of tuning out a certain amount of background noise. And yet some others may prefer to listen to gentle music in the background.

    Listed below are 3 incredibly easy ways to add a mindful meditation practice to your life:

    #1 Seated Meditation

    The easiest way to add a mindful meditation practice to our lives is to simply set aside anywhere from 5-15 minutes in your daily routine. Almost all of us, no matter how busy our lives, can spare an extra 5 minutes. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to start your day, so that you ensure you have plenty of time to practice.

    Find a place with limited distractions and sit cross legged. The important thing is to try and eliminate all the distracting thoughts and focus your mind on one thing.

    Focus on your breath, breathing in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth. Also, focus on a maintaining a strong and upright posture with the crown of your head pointing to the sky.

    Many meditators like to focus on the pineal gland, or what’s known as our third eye.

    The pineal gland is located inside the brain, but the gateway to it, the third eye, is considered by many to be located on the forehead in between our eyebrows. The pineal gland is where melatonin in our body is produced; thus focusing on it can help improve sleep regulation.

    No matter what helps you quiet your mind, stay focused on that one thing.

    When you find your thoughts drifting towards what to make the kids for dinner or last’s night’s spat with your spouse, simple breathe out and come back to your focus.

    Even the most seasoned meditators occasionally find their thoughts drifting. So, be kind to yourself and clear your mind as often as is necessary. Don’t worry that you aren’t doing it perfectly.

    #2 Practice Tai Chi

    Think of Tai Chi as a form of moving meditation.

    While it is a traditional Chinese martial art, it is a solo practice that does not (typically) involve contact or partner work. It is also a very slow and gentle practice that allows the practitioner to focus on breath and healthy movement.

    Of course you can find a local Tai Chi class, but there are also plenty of YouTube videos that allow you to practice at home.

    Unless you’re an expert, start with what’s called the Yang style short form which is features 24 different movements rather than the traditional 108 long form.

    To dive in deeper, take a look at the 10 Benefits of Tai Chi .

    #3 Practice Yoga

    Yoga, too, is a centuries old practice.

    It also comes in many styles, some more rigorous than others. What they all tend to have in common, though, is a calming and focusing of the mind through breath and healthy movement.

    Like Tai Chi, you can certainly find a yoga studio near your home or work, but you can also find a multitude of videos that will enable you to practice at home.

    The more rigorous among you may want to look into Bikram or Hot Yoga classes, which can be a very full bodied workout. For a more gentle approach you may prefer Hatha or a restorative “yin” style yoga.

    But like any mindful meditation practice you will naturally see benefits physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Dig deeper and learn What Yoga Can Teach Us About Productivity .

    You’re Never Too Busy to Meditate

    We all feel the pinch in our busy weeks of trying to find the time to add one more thing.

    It’s clear from what we’ve learned that the benefits of adding a mindful meditation practice into our lives can be an amazingly transformational experience!

    But how do we fit it into our busy and ever-increasing schedules?

    Like anything else it has to be simple and it has to be something that doesn’t feel like we’re sacrificing.

    We also need to be willing to fake it until we make it. In other words, like any new practice it may feel unnatural at first and it can take anywhere from 21-28 days (or longer) to form a new habit.

    So be patient and stick with it.

    Once you’re past the initial stages and the new habit is formed, mindful meditation will naturally and seamlessly become part of your new everyday routine. Here’s how to begin:

    1. Set a clear parenting goal or intention (to be more patient, to be more loving, to be more calm, etc.)
    2. Make your goals 1-3 things (remember we’re keeping this simple!)
    3. Write down your goals somewhere (the fridge is a great place)
    4. Start by dedicating just 5 minutes each morning to meditation (use whatever method you prefer; seated meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, etc)
    5. Push through on those mornings when you don’t want to do it (we all have those mornings)
    6. No matter which practice, focus on your breath and emptying the mind
    7. Close your eyes (to minimize distractions)
    8. Be kind to yourself (when you get distracted)
    9. With every breath try and release more tension in your body

    As you start to get the new habit ingrained, you’ll start to see the tangible benefits of mindful meditation. Then you can begin to devote more time to it.

    Just a few minutes a day really can make a big difference!

    If you can meditate with your kids, then it becomes a family tradition and you all grow stronger together!

    Become a Model Parent with Meditation

    Meditation reduces stress and anxiety while bringing a greater sense of calm and patience to both you and your child. You will see amazing benefits from starting a mindful meditation practice.

    In truth, adopting a mindful approach to life can not only improve your parenting style, but can bring about a positive change to all aspects of your life. So, don’t delay, begin practicing mindfulness meditation today and reap the incredible benefits for both you and your children.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    The Ultimate 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned

    Men, it seems, are not the only ones who enjoy lifting weights. Nowadays, you’re just as likely to see women in the gym, squatting, benching, and deadlifting, as men. The ‘Girls that lift’ movement is now very much established, and we think that’s awesome.

    Years ago, if you walked into a gym, more often than not, the sight you would be greeted with would be a weight room full of men, and a cardio room full of women. Women were generally advised to stay away from weights as it was wrongly believed that lifting weights would turn them into hulking she-beasts.

    As research was conducted, and as common sense began to prevail, people found that lifting weights as a woman would not cause you to add 50 pounds of muscle to your frame overnight. In fact, it was found that resistance training provided a shapelier, curvier, leaner, more defined physique than one which could be attained through cardio alone.

    That’s why today, we are going to be looking at a 5 day workout routine for women to get strong and toned.

    If you’re a female looking to get bigger, stronger, and more toned, the following routine is perfect.

  • Warming up

    Before you commit to any form of workout routine, it is absolutely vital that you take the time to properly warm up before training.

    Warming up before training is important because it helps improve your flexibility and mobility, and helps reduce the risk of injury. By stretching the muscles before training, you help to increase muscle fibre elasticity. This is important because it means that the muscle fibres are far less-likely to rip and tear.

    A good warm up will also increase your core body temperature and will potentially improve your athletic performance. Warming up boosts circulation, which in turn means more blood flows around the body. This ensures that more oxygen and nutrients can be carried around the body and be fed to the awaiting muscle cells. The more energy they have, the harder the muscles can work when you’re training.

    Before you say anything, doing a few reps with just the bar, or a very light set of dumbbells, does not constitute as an effective warmup.

    Sample warm up routine

    Now we need to look at how you can warm up to get the most from your training.

    A sample warmup routine could consist of the following exercises and movements:

    1. 1 minute of knee lifts
    2. 1 minute of heel digs
    3. 2 sets of 10 shoulder rolls per arm
    4. 10 knee bends
    5. 20 head rotations
    6. 10 hip rotations

    5 day workout routine for women to get strong and toned

    Now let’s take a look at the ultimate 5-day workout routine for women to get strong and toned. If followed correctly, you should start seeing and feeling noticeable improvements on a weekly basis.

    The idea here is to build lean muscle while keeping calorie expenditure high to melt away stubborn body fat in the process

    Monday – Chest and arms

    1. Flat bench barbell press – 4 sets of 8 reps
    2. Push ups – 4 sets of 10 reps
    3. Cable crossovers – 3 sets of 15 reps
    4. Incline dumbbell flyes – 4 sets of 12 reps
    5. Barbell biceps curls – 3 sets of 15 reps
    6. Alternate arm hammer curls – 4 sets of 12 reps per arm
    7. Triceps rope overhead extensions – 3 sets of 20 reps
    8. Triceps dips – 3 sets of 15 reps
    9. 10 minutes on the elliptical machine

    Tuesday – Shoulders and back

    1. Standing barbell military press – 4 sets of 10 reps
    2. Dumbbell lateral raises – 4 sets of 15 reps
    3. EZ bar upright rows – 3 sets of 15 reps
    4. Seated dumbbell shoulder press – 4 sets of 10 reps
    5. Dumbbell shrugs – 4 sets of 10 reps
    6. Close-grip lat pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
    7. Dumbbell bent over rows – 4 sets of 12 reps per arm
    8. T-Bar rows – 4 sets of 10 reps
    9. 10 minutes on the stationary bike

    Wednesday – Cardio circuit

    1. 10 burpees
    2. 10 push ups
    3. 15 crunches
    4. 20 squat thrusts
    5. 3 sets of 10 hanging leg raises
    6. 3 x 1-minute rounds of plank
    7. 20 minutes low intensity cardio on the treadmill

    Thursday – Strength day

    1. Incline dumbbell press – 5 sets of 5 reps
    2. Flat bench barbell press – 5 sets of 5 reps
    3. Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps
    4. Barbell clean and press – 5 sets of 5 reps
    5. Barbell bent-over rows – 5 sets of 5 reps
    6. Barbell snatch – 5 sets of 5 reps
    7. 10 minutes on the stationary bike

    Friday – Legs

    1. Barbell squats – 4 sets of 8 reps
    2. Leg press machine – 3 sets of 12 reps
    3. Leg extensions – 3 sets of 15 reps
    4. Hamstring curls – 3 sets of 15 reps
    5. Walking lunges – 4 sets of 10 reps per leg
    6. Seated or standing calf raises – 4 sets of 20 reps per leg
    7. 10 minutes on the elliptical machine

    Diet and nutrition

    It doesn’t matter how hard you are training in the gym, if you aren’t eating the right foods at the right time, all of your efforts will have been in vain. You can’t out-train a bad diet, which is why we’re going to share a few diet and nutritional secrets with you before leaving.

    Remember, we’re looking at the ultimate 5-day workout routine for women to get strong and toned, and if you’re not eating right, you will become neither strong, nor toned.

    Here are some tried and tested methods proven to give great results.

    1. Drink enough water

    When it comes to exercise and health in general, adequate hydration is crucial.

    Water makes up close to 80% of our bodies, and we need it to perform even the most basic of physiological processes. Without adequate amounts of water in our bodies, we run the risk of dehydrating, which can affect athletic performance, and our health in general.

    When we exercise, we perspire and can lose important electrolytes via our sweat. This is why it’s important to stay well hydrated during exercise, to help replenish the fluids, minerals, and electrolytes we lost through training.

    Aim for 2.5 litres of mineral water per day. Failing that, filtered water is still very good for you.

    2. Get plenty of healthy protein

    Protein is vital for muscle growth and repair. If you want to become strong and/or toned, you need to make sure you are taking enough protein in each day.

    Aim for around 0.6 – 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and be sure to spread it out evenly throughout the day. Look for lean and healthy sources like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, and grass-fed red meat.

    3. Invest in a good quality whey protein

    Providing you can consume whey, whey protein is a supplement you will need to invest in if you wish to build muscle and burn fat.

    Whey protein shakes are perfect because one shake provides around 30 or more grams of protein per serving. They’re easy to make, convenient, they taste great, and they’re full of other nutrients that the muscles thrive upon.

    4. Don’t forget your veggies

    As well as protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, you will also need to make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables.

    Vegetables are full of digestive-friendly dietary fiber, they’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they help to give your meals extra texture and flavour.

    Don’t rely on vitamin supplements alone when it comes to nutrient intakes, instead, make sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables each day.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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    How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately

    Barbara Bush was wise when she said the following about having a meaningful existence in life:

    At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.

    The struggle to strike a good balance between family time and work time is real. This struggle can leave many with deep feelings of anguish and guilt. Am I spending enough time with my kids so that they feel secure in our relationship? Is our family time meaningful and considered quality time?

    The good news is that there are solutions and tips you can implement today to strike a good balance between work and family time. Below are these tips for you so you can maximize your family time:

    1. Make family events a priority

    If you are not a life saving surgeon and currently on-call, then your work can likely wait. Most of us aren’t in the business of life saving. That gives us some legitimate flexibility in our off-work time. You don’t need to be tied to work 24-7.

    When your kid has a little league game on a week night, then don’t work late that night. Make your family events a priority. Get there so you can be present in your child’s life. In order to be a good parent, it means you need to be there.

    If you are working all the time, you are missing out on the family events that you can’t replace. Kids grow up fast and they don’t get to repeat their childhood.

    That little league play off game may be the only time they make it to play offs. Their piano recital may be more than just showing their level of skill, it is their time to shine and show their parents how hard they have worked so that their parents can be proud.

    Being present at family events shows your spouse or partner and children that you care. Love is shown in actions. Make sure your actions are showing love, by showing up for holidays, birthdays, family nights, and the kid’s games and performances. These things matter.

    Even if they act like it doesn’t matter (like most teens will act), know that it does in the long run. They will remember that you showed up time and time again, that you put family in front of work and you make family your top life priority by being present.

    Quality time is a wonderful thing but it is difficult to achieve without having quantity time. Make sure that you are spending time with your family so that you can develop deep relationships that are meant to last a lifetime.

    Those relationships will be even more important when life hits rough patches for any of your family. Death, job loss, moves, etc…they all have a huge impact on your lives and you want your family to be the ones you can count on. Developing relationships, as the kids grow up, is what will help each of you when your lives hit rough times.

    2. Schedule it on the calendar

    We put our work stuff on the calendar because it is important. But what about family time, family events and kid’s activities? If you aren’t putting those things on your calendar, you may want to ask yourself why not?

    If you value your family, then the activities that involve your family should be on your weekly schedule. Put in those ball games, ballet recitals, family date nights, holiday parties, and more.

    You need to make sure you have time for your family. If your calendar is getting filled up with work stuff every week, then plan ahead. Find out your kid’s activities’ schedules when they start, as most of us get a schedule for the semester or year when they begin practice. Then take that schedule and put the important games or performances on your calendar so that time slot can’t be taken in the future because of a work obligation.

    Making time for your family means making things a priority before they come up. Scheduling can be one of the biggest obstacles, so having things on the calendar well in advance should help you immensely.

    3. Establish work boundaries

    You need to be a team player at work, but you also need to be a team player for your family. Don’t allow your work to over-run your family time.

    When you have family activities on the calendar, then be willing to speak up when you are asked to stay late for the third night in a row. Know your boundaries with your boss, so that you aren’t jeopardizing your job, but you also don’t want to minimize the value of your family and your time that you have scheduled.

    This is why it becomes important to place the important activities on the calendar, so you know which nights are more important than others at a glance. If it’s not on the calendar, it becomes easy to forget until that date pops up.

    Don’t allow your family to be trumped by your job when it doesn’t need to be that way.

    4. Have a weekly scheduled no phone time

    One of our good family friends is a CFO of the world’s largest property management companies. He is obviously a very busy guy. Yet he is purposeful about making family time on the weekends.

    Every Saturday evening, he disconnects from his phone and does not reply to texts, emails, or phone calls (unless it is a true emergency). He does not reconnect with his phone and communications until Sunday evening, long after the kids have been tucked into bed. This allows for his focus to be devoted to his wife and children during those 24 hours.

    He is present during the week as well, but he disconnects from his phone and other electronics for a full 24 hours once a week to dedicate his entire focus to his family.

    What he does is a great example to all of us. What if we could dedicate 24 hours of the week to disconnect from our devices in order to reconnect with our families?

    There are 52 weeks in the year. That would give us 52 days of true, 100% focus of what is most important to us, which is family.

    We can work hard to provide for our families, but if we never connect, nor do we develop strong interpersonal connections, what is the point? Then our work and efforts are in vain.

    Work hard for your family, but also play hard with them to make the time count.

    5. Have purposeful family time

    Make your time with family have purpose. If you are all at home, yet you are all in different rooms doing different activities, it doesn’t count as family time. The best kind of family time is when you are engaged with one another in an activity. This way meaningful discussions can take place.

    Other options include side-by-side activities. Either help to create bonds and relationships within the family unit. The goal is time together, doing things together.

    Being at the same place, but not together is not helpful to creating relationships. Therefore, if you go someplace outside the home, such as a museum or art gallery, make it a priority to stick together to experience things as a family.

    Below are suggested activities for you and your family to do together. Create variety to make things interesting and fresh for everyone. Schedule these activities on your calendar, so that work doesn’t come up and take you away from your family time together:

    • Play board games
    • Go hiking
    • Do family yoga
    • Go indoor rock climbing
    • Pick a family movie to watch together
    • Visit a state park
    • Visit a national park
    • Go to a museum
    • Go to an outdoor concert
    • Go to a play
    • Take an art class
    • Go to a make-your-own pottery studio
    • Get manicures or pedicures
    • Check out local events in your community
    • Go fishing
    • Play a backyard sport like softball or soccer
    • Attend church
    • Go swimming
    • Rent a boat
    • Go camping even if it’s in your own backyard
    • Go biking
    • Go to a beach
    • Take a scenic drive
    • Go to a park
    • Go on a picnic
    • Play lawn games like croquet or badminton
    • Go to an art gallery
    • Plan and cook a meal together
    • Make holidays and birthdays a celebration
    • Read books aloud (especially great for families with smaller children)
    • Complete craft and art projects (there are at least a million ideas on Pinterest)
    • Go to a fair or theme park
    • Attend a craft fair

    6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

    Many times in life, we allow the small stuff to get the best of us. We get upset about things that won’t matter a year from now, or for that matter, even a week from now.

    If it doesn’t matter in the long run, then let it go. Some things are not worth getting upset about which in turn get the rest of the family upset. Usually if one parent is upset, it creates an upset in the entire family. Don’t let your time together as a family get upset by things that shouldn’t.

    A bad day at work? Leave it at work, don’t bring it home. A fight with a friend? Forget about it for now, and commit to have a conversation with the friend after your family time. Your teen is not completing their chores? Let them know they will do it after family time, but don’t guilt them so that it ruins your family time.

    If it isn’t something that must be dealt with immediately, then don’t allow it to interrupt your family time. Chances are the problem will still be there and in the same condition when you get back to it later. Deal with emergencies, but let other stuff slide and get to it later.

    Make your time and focus intentional on the family, rather than extraneous junk that can be dealt with later.

    7. Make kindness and forgiveness a policy

    It becomes difficult to have quality family time if there is arguing, anger, hostility, and other negative emotions going on between family members.

    If you have serious issues that impede on family time habitually, then it’s time to get some family counseling. If it’s bickering, lack of forgiveness, and/or general lack of kindness, then a policy needs to be established so that family time is a time for everyone to get along.

    Meanness or lack or kindness will not be tolerated. The example begins with the parents. Teach your kids by talking about kindness, but also by being an example of kindness to your fellow family members.

    If things start getting unkind, then have a key word that helps family members remember that they are supposed to be kind to one another and not to bicker, argue, name call, or be unkind. Our family’s key word is muskrat. You can think of your own word and perhaps make it funny to lighten the mood when undesirable behavior does arise.

    8. Make sure time away from work is time off

    Are you taking your work home with you every night? Are you playing catch up after hours? Are you still returning work calls and emails after work? If this is your daily habit, then you may need to access your situation.

    Can you begin to wean yourself from bringing home work and doing work activities after work hours? If you can’t stop cold turkey because the panic that rises inside you is too overwhelming, you can begin to wean yourself from afterhours work. This means you find ways to cut these things more slowly from your evening routine, so that you are giving more time and priority to your family in the evening.

    If you are working tirelessly in your job and it is not humanly possible to get it all done during a normal working day, maybe it’s time to talk to your boss. Make sure you have legitimate examples and a breakdown of how your time at work is spent, so that they can see your point of view. Present it in a way that they can step into your shoes and see things from your perspective.

    Not all bosses will understand, but there are also laws surrounding work hours and wage. If you aren’t certain if your employer is violating wage and hour laws, but you think there is likely a problem, then you can contact the US Department of Labor, Division of Wage and Hour via their free hotline at 1-888-487-9243.

    9. Use family meetings for deep discussions

    When tough topics come up, like setting rules and dates for family time together, make it a family meeting at the dinner table. Sit together and discuss things, free of electronic distractions, so that you can all understand one another and the goals.

    When you say “family meeting time”, everyone should know that it’s time to gather around the dinner table for an important discussion. If you have never done this before, then you can call your first family meeting to discuss your plans to have weekly family time and come up with ideas together.

    Our twins are only four years old and they are always included in the family meetings. These meetings can start at a young age, that way each family member knows that they are valued from a young age. Their opinion and inclusion in discussions is important, because they are part of the family, regardless of age.

    10. Make the time enjoyable and not a punishment

    Don’t ever use family time as a threat. Time together as a family should never be perceived as a punishment. If it is, your approach or the activities together are not right.

    Find activities that everyone can enjoy to some extent. You will never find something everyone loves to do, but you can find activities that all will like to do. The goal is an enjoyable time together where you are bonding together through activities and interactions. The more face to face interactions the better. Games can be of great value because they require more immediate interaction.

    Make your goal of family time to be enjoyable and fun, so that everyone looks forward to that time together. Include your children (especially the teens) in your discussion of how family time should be spent, so that you have an idea of what everyone finds enjoyable.

    You will end up with great family memories because your family activities were a positive experience. You will also be forming bonds that will help strengthen family unity.

    11. Be committed to regular family time

    Making time for family shouldn’t just be reserved for birthdays and holidays. If those are your guidelines for defining family time, then you are missing out on the rest of the year.

    Time with family should be a regular weekly commitment. If you want family ties and true family relationships, you need quantity time and not just quality time on the rare occasions.

    Showing up for birthdays and holidays is simply not enough to make meaningful connections and deep relationships (ask any kid who has been in a divorced situation and only sees one parent on those special occasions). The relationships lack depth if everything is always on the surface level.

    In order to develop relationships below the surface, time must be invested. Making a commitment to things like dinner as a family several nights a week can make a huge impact on family relationships in the long run. If you can’t all be home for dinner, think about other options that don’t take long periods of time, such as half hour family walks in the evening several days a week.

    The time commitment isn’t huge, but doing it consistently is what makes an impact. You get to talk about what is happening to your kids throughout their week and not just highlights on the weekend when they may have forgotten about what happened during their week.

    12. Family dinners are a wise investment of your time

    If you can make one thing a priority in family time, it should be doing family dinners at least several times a week.

    Michigan State University examined research studies about family dinners and found that kids from homes that did family dinners at least three times a week had better grades, were less likely to develop eating disorders, had better language development skills, and better health.[1] They also stated the following of importance:

    Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs. Additional associations include lower incidence of depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and better grades in 11 to 18 year olds.

    Dinner time not only helps form relationships and meaningful conversations during the week, but also has overall benefits that affect the development of children and teens.

    You have to eat meals anyway, so its something that won’t cost your family anything extra to do together. Don’t allow electronics to be a distraction at dinner time, keep them away from the dinner table to keep the attention on family conversations and interactions.

    12. Put distractions aside

    The biggest distractor from family time is the phone. If you have teens with smart phones, it becomes an easy distraction from family time, which means family relationships are being disrupted. The quality time needed to form meaningful relationships is non existent.

    Make rules, for adults and minors to abide by when it comes to phones and other electronics. Make family time as distraction free as possible. They can check their email and texts after family time. If an emergency comes up, you will know it because the person will likely call repeatedly.

    Everything else can wait until after family time. It likely will not affect your life, work, or social life if you have to pause your phone activities for a few hours. If you can have a basket in the house for everyone to place their phones during family time so that you all are completely distraction free, then you are truly winning!

    Keep the devices away and you are likely keeping the distractions away, so that everyone can be present in mind and body during your family time together.

    13. Make family time a judgement free zone

    Life is hard enough. We get judgement from the rest of the world all day long. Time with family should be a safe haven from judgement.

    Make a rule about passing judgement on one another when you are having family time. If there is a serious issue that needs addressing, call a family meeting to discuss the issue. Otherwise, let it be.

    Let your family be themselves, warts and all, and let them know they are accepted and loved for just the way they are. Because isn’t that what family is supposed to be about?

    At the end of your life

    Friends tend to come and go, but the people who tend to stick the closest from birth to death are family. We don’t get to chose them, but we can make relationships stronger, closer, and more positive by implementing these above tips on creating positive family time together.

    The bonds created when your children are small can last a lifetime. The key is making meaningful bonds and loving relationships that are built on positive experiences and quality time interacting together.

    Time in the same home, yet never interacting makes you roommates. Doing activities together, having meaningful conversations, having quality weekly family times and doing life intertwined together makes you a family with bonds connecting you for a lifetime.

    Kids go from zero to 18 quickly. If you are buried in your work, you may just miss out. Make family a priority today by choosing family time and getting it on everyone’s calendar right away.

    Calling a family meeting is the best way to get the ball rolling. Don’t forget to ask your children what they would like to do for family time to get started on the right foot.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Michigan State University: The value of family meal time

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    How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life)

    Whether you find yourself facing redundancy or the loss of a loved one, stuck in a rut or unable to stay motivated, making positive changes is likely to feature in the things you’re going to need to do to feel happy and successful again.

    However, it can be easier said than done.

    In this article, I will share with you how I helped my clients to make positive changes and lead a fulfilling life again, and how you can make it too.

  • From losing control over life to radiating happiness again

    They sat opposite me and didn’t just look dejected, they looked like the world had caved in on them and was likely to stop their heart with the effort of living. Everything felt wrong and seemed wrong. How could they move on from that?

    This client had come to me because they felt like they’d lost all control over their life and it didn’t matter what they did, how they acted or who they spent time with, everything seemed to go wrong. When that is how life is, how do you make changes then?

    Why should you even bother? This is exactly how the client had been feeling with the “what’s the point?” feelings. The point of change is that although it can feel tough and difficult to even get started, let alone keep up the changes you’ve made.

    Change is something we can learn to do organically to live the life we want to, and feeling the way we want to. When we feel good somehow, we feel stronger and more capable like we can tackle anything.

    Wind on 6 months and this client doesn’t just smile when they walk in, they radiate sunbeams and happiness. It’s almost like a different person is before me. And they’ve not just gained a smile and got rid of “the world hates me” look about them, they’ve “magically” found they are earning more money and attracting opportunities that hadn’t seem imaginable, let alone possible 6 months before.

    What happened? How did they do that? No, we didn’t bring anyone back to life or help them win the lottery.

    I want to share with you the tools and techniques we used. Before I do that we need to look at why we need to change.

    Why change is necessary for everyone

    Like many things in life, the need to bring about change rarely happens overnight. It takes something like a Eureka moment, a coach or an accident for us to really look at ourselves and realize that something needs to change.

    We don’t wake up one day mega stressed and feeling like life is like climbing a mountain of sand in heels, with our hands tied behind our back. These things gradually descend upon us until we start to suffer the results. It is often the results that we notice first and not the need for change.

    Signs you need some change

    Here’s some signs your life needs some change:

    • Can’t get to sleep or can’t stay awake.
    • Can’t concentrate on a book.
    • You spend too long on social media scrolling through stuff you’ve already looked at.
    • Can’t focus your mind on work or study.
    • Lack interest in further learning or hobbies.
    • Gained some weird rash, random pains or headaches.
    • Eating too much or lost your appetite.
    • Steering clear of friends and family.
    • Snapping or moaning all the time.

    All classic “My life needs some changes” results. What is worse, all the above damage your health, your career, your relationships, your earning potential, your happiness, your contentment and your life in general.

    Perks of making a positive change

    Ever noticed that person that seems permanently happy and in a good mood? They aren’t necessarily the person with the biggest bank account and yet somehow, they exude true happiness. They are highly likely to be a person that is in touch with what they need so that they can be like that.

    To really excite you about change and its potential for overhauling your life, here are some of the results I’ve seen with clients through change:

    • Higher earnings.
    • Stop fearing what people think of them.
    • Stop trying to please everyone and put themselves at the top of the importance list.
    • More confidence.
    • Happier.
    • Healthier.
    • New relationships.
    • New careers.
    • Overcome lifelong fears like the fear of public speaking.
    • Stood up for what they believed in.
    • Overcome shyness.
    • Better at sales.
    • Business growth.
    • Overcome agoraphobia.

    To say the list is extensive would be an understatement, although I have coached thousands so I really believe in what I share here.

    Let’s look at how you can create positive change in your life.

    How to create positive change in your life

    Feel it – Pain

    One of the reasons we don’t create positive change in our life is because we don’t have a big enough desire to do it. Before you do anything else, feel the pain of the way things are for you right now on a level that makes you physically want to squirm in your seat.

    When I do this with clients, I lay it on thick. For instance, when a client told me that they want financial freedom, they talked about their over enthusiastic love of the credit cards. I picked up a note and a credit card and through them in the air joking “Fly free my pretties, fly free!” the client was highly embarrassed (as you would be with someone throwing money around a desk) but when the credit card landed on their notepad, they flicked it away.

    I asked them if they felt the credit card was dangerous or something? And they were able to feel the full pain that the credit card was bringing to their lives and their families. Together we could see that the credit card was a symbol of all of the emotions and negative feelings that they hated in their lives. When they left, they made a point of saying they were going to leave a credit card on the side in their home to remind them powerfully why things had to change.

    Imagine every aspect of the pain so that it makes you feel miserable and every other bad emotion that hides in your mind.

    Feel it – Pleasure

    Once you’ve felt the pain and realize powerfully why you want to get away from it, now consider the opposite emotions.

    If you want to be financially free, what does that look like? How does it feel? You could concentrate on the car and home you will own, however in my experience that is harder to powerfully visualize than emotions are. You see when you get accomplished at this, you are able to change your emotion and feelings in less than a second because you appreciate why you need to and the damage of not doing so. Therefore if you can really feel the emotions, this can help you stay on track when you have a new plan for change.

    I find that for most clients, this exercise is best done last thing at night as you drift off to sleep:

    • It stops you from stressing about everything that is going on in life.
    • You are ending your day with a surge of positive emotions
    • You give your mind clear ideas on what to work on.

    I honestly believe that creating space in our brain enables us to get answers that we’ve been struggling to find. It’s almost like asking a giant computer to create the formula for success, and your job is to recharge your mind and body while the computer gets on with it. That may sound daft, however I’ve seen astonishing things achieved by clients that have asked the question, worked out what they wanted and gone off to Sleeplyland.

    Feel the pleasure of what you wish to achieve on a level that makes you grin. You remember the excitement and happiness you felt on Christmas Eve as a child? The level of energy that felt like it was going to burst out of you? That is how feeling the pleasure of change should feel. No need to work out why, how, where or with whom. Just think about the way you want to feel.

    Feel it – Fear

    We can’t move forward without accepting that change can bring fear. My book Fight the Fear – How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life helps people to deal with 12 of the top fears that impact on success — whether it’s the fear that you can’t really change, or that you will never have the confidence to say or do that, or the fear that you set the wrong goals or worry constantly about what other people think.

    Many fears hide, lurking in our way just as we aim to change. By feeling the fear and understanding how it impacts on you, you can make a decision to do something about it. Fear is the result of a lack of confidence and confidence comes from doing. The irony is (and what stops positive change) is that we are scared to do something different and so stay stuck in the place we are with the results we get.

    Here are 5 ideas to help you fight the fear;

    1. Know why you are awesome. We often have plenty of proof that says we rock but we are unlikely to pay attention to that when fear of change is encroaching upon us. I call it the head to heart disparity. Appreciating why you are awesome and all the things you have achieved enables you to ignore the heart’s noisy “you can’t do it” attitude to hear the facts that the head holds on to.
    2. Lean on someone. Whether people do this deliberately from a place of love or spite, or whether they are unaware of the damage they are causing to your confidence and thus helping to reinforce fear; the wrong people will keep you fearful and stuck. There are many reasons for this – they don’t want you to fail and be sad, they don’t want you to be different, they don’t want you to look better than them, it’s a long list. Your job is not to change their minds, it’s to find the right people to help you. They don’t ever have to say a word about what you aim to do, just be the positive, “can do” people that will help you stay on track.
    3. Love failure. Failure is good for us. At the time it doesn’t feel like it, it can feel more like we were not just the last in the running race at schools sports day but like we are the biggest loser on the planet. Don’t let that happen. Accept that through failure, you learn. By learning what went wrong, you have powerful information to help you move forward. One failure doesn’t make a life of ineptitude.
    4. Understand and accept that fear can be fixed in 2 ways. Some fears I can fix for a client in an hour because it is about dealing with their mindset, others need a little longer because the client also has to learn new skills. Skill set and mindset are the key to fighting fears that stop change. What skills do you need?
    5. Action. Fear hates action. It’s very happy when you do nothing, divert your eyes from the fear and feel stuck and out of control. That makes fear smile. Fear hates it when you get a plan. When you get a plan, it won’t always go right. Fear will try and be a noisy voice in your head that says “ha ha, I told you that wouldn’t work.” Ignore it! At the start it doesn’t matter a great deal what action you take, just that you take action. Remember to ask yourself “how will I shut up fear when it tries to keep me here?”

    Essential steps to make positive change

    Lastly here are the steps I’d take to make change:

    1. Know what fears and obstacles you could experience. List them – for me this is always in a mindmap. It can be visual or a list. Knowing your natural style can be powerful for other things you aim to achieve in the future.
    2. Ignore the rules. When we say we are looking to change, we can often feel like it’s a good idea to look at what everyone else is doing. Only get your ideas from inside you. One of the reasons change is so hard is because we try to do it like other people. You are not them and they are not you. Learn to know your values, loves, beliefs and how they fit into your way of change. If you find yourself comparing yourself with your friends, peers and family, you are not working according to the most powerful way, which is your way.
    3. Challenge your thoughts. Thoughts can sneak into your head and before you know it, you are the one damaging your chances of success. What thoughts do you have connected to this change? For instance, I had a client advise me that they felt our plan of action we had created was going to be hard work. On exploring this, the client admitted that everything they had achieved had just “fallen in their lap” and they “were allergic to hard work”. How likely were they to succeed if they felt it was going to be hard? Be mindful of the way you word your change and actions. For example, instead of saying “this is going to be hard work”, say “this is the next stage in my life and I’m excited to get on with it.” (And yes it did work for this client!)

    Create the change YOU want

    The personal and professional development industry is worth billions. That’s because while we may know what needs to happen, we often want a magic pill or something that will make it happen instantaneously. Anything you truly want in life takes effort, a change in thought and time. So if you don’t create the space to think about it, how will you create the space to actually do it?

    Change is powerful and change is natural but it does take some effort on your part. Nothing in nature is ever the same. Follow this plan and you could create the understanding of yourself, the plan of action and the results you want.

    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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