Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Mind and Body Connection

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. I’ve broken down and joined a gym so that I can keep up with my running during the long winter months. It’s cold today, so I’m sitting in my recliner writing this post in front of a nice warm fire.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about the mind and body connection. I’m no doctor, but I feel there is a strong connection between how we take care of our bodies and how healthy we are in our minds.

I know this because when I’ve had to stop running because of an injury, my mental health droops because I’m not exercising. I also believe eating right also has a positive effect on our brains and mental health. These are two things we can control.

We must learn to listen to our bodies. They’ll tell us when we need to take a break and go for a walk. I try to get outside a couple of times a day to get some fresh air and exercise. I also run and do yoga. Both have a dramatic effect on me. If you’ve ever heard of the runner’s high. It’s true. My attitude is so much better for the whole day when I go for a run in the morning, and this usually extends into the next day.

When I do yoga, I’m so relaxed while at the same time, I’m more aware. There is scientific proof that Yoga is beneficial to not only our minds but our bodies as well. When we do Yoga, it increases the levels of GABA in our brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps relax your mind, which reduces the physical effects of anxiety on the body. For more information on this click this link:  https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/understanding-the-mind-body-connection/#:~:text=Physical%20health%20and%20emotional%20health,our%20stress%20and%20physical%20health.

I know you’ve probably heard this before, but I believe our diet also affects the way we feel and think. We need to stay away from sugar as much as possible. We can do this by eliminating processed foods out of our diets. All processed foods seem to have added sugar in them, and I’m sure you’ve heard the fact that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine and other drugs. I don’t think we’ll be able to totally eliminate it, but we can certainly lower our intake of it. For more information about this click this link: https://bernalinstitute.com/2020/07/28/is-sugar-the-new-cocaine-does-sugar-have-the-same-effect-on-the-brain-as-cocaine/

So, there you have it. What we eat and how we take care of our bodies has a direct effect on our mental state. What do you do to maintain your mental health? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Building Resilience

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing. I was also able to sneak in some gal pal time and hang with one of my closest friends. She is a sweetie.

She’s also an artist. She is incredibly talented and supportive of all other artists whether they write, paint, or sculpt. I’ve found this type of support in the writing community as well. Creatives need to hang with other creatives. That’s all there is to it. We immediately understand the passion and drive to create and perfect.

My friend is teaching me how to paint, and I must say I’m learning in spite of myself. LOL! This winter while I’m hibernating, I’m also going to be writing and painting. I’m looking forward to winter. (A little bit 😉 I’m not a big fan of the cold anymore.)

But enough about that. Today, I want to talk about building your resilience muscle. All creatives need to build resilience in the face of rejection and criticism. We need to teach our children how to be resilient, too. But first, let’s define it.

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

According to Dr. Ginsburg a child psychologist there are seven C’s to resilience. They are listed below:

  1. Competence
  2. Confidence
  3. Connection
  4. Character
  5. Contribution
  6. Coping
  7. Control

We need to teach our children self-care skills such as cooking, doing laundry, and cleaning. They need to be able to take care of themselves and their environment. Not only do they need to learn self-care skills, but skills that will help them to be independent and earn a living. By doing this they will develop confidence in themselves.

We also need to teach them that it’s okay to ask for help and to help others. That’s where the connection part of all of this comes in. It’s important to make connections with other people within our community. To know we can reach out if we’re in need. I feel a lack of connection or disconnection is the root cause of our school shootings and mass shootings, but that’s another blog post for another time.

Character is another component. We need to be strong role models for our kids, and it must be genuine. Kids can tell when someone’s being inconsistent. Our words and our actions have to match.

Another component of resilience is contribution. It’s important for our kids to contribute to the household. This is where you can teach them cleaning skills. My boys contribute by vacuuming and dusting once a week. They also have learned to cook, and they clean up after themselves when they do cook. On a side note, it’s important that we as parents don’t criticize or find fault with their efforts. Remember they’re learning. They’re not going to do it perfectly the first few times, but with practice they’ll get better.

Learning to cope with life’s ups and downs is another building block of resilience. We need to teach our kids good coping skills for when they’re in adverse situations. They need to learn how to assert themselves and speak their truth. They also need to learn how to cope with stress. We can model this behavior ourselves by dealing with our own stress in healthy ways.

The very last factor in building resilience is control. As long as we know how to control our emotions, we’ll build our resilience. This is hard to achieve, but it’s not impossible. I don’t mean we have to not feel our emotions or try to stuff them down deep. I mean we feel our emotions, but don’t act on them.  For example, let’s say your boss says something that makes you angry, but expressing that anger will hurt your career, so you choose to stay silent. That’s the kind of control that if mastered can help you build your resilience muscle.

Each of these components are a building block for resilience. We all need to be resilient in our daily lives. How do you build your resilience? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Writing

Maintaining Balance

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing, work, and kids. My new WIP is going strong and I’m looking forward to the finished product. 😊

But enough about that. Today, I want to talk about keeping the balance in your life. It’s hard when you’re juggling family, work, friends, maintaining your health, and writing. I find when I’m in the zone (writing) I have a tendency to not eat as healthy as I normally would, and I have no problem skipping a run or workout to move my story forward.

But this response to my writing isn’t good for my health. I can’t skip too many runs, or I’ll start gaining weight, and we all know it’s easier to eat junk food instead of taking the time to prepare a healthy meal, and that leads to weight gain, too. When I catch myself falling into this routine, I have to force myself to take the time to run and prepare healthy meals.

Running, Maintaining Balance, Exercise, Lisa Orchard
https://allthefreestock.com/

I used to struggle with this, but I’ve been able to maintain my routine by establishing writing goals. I set a goal for one thousand words a day. So, when I reach one thousand words then I know it’s time to go for my run or start dinner. 😊

It satisfies the urge I have to write without being destructive to my health. I have time to exercise and prepare healthy meals. I must say this type of routine has been working wonders for me. I’ve been able to lose weight and keep it off. I’m excited about that. The exercise is a great mood booster and helps with my creativity as well.

So, that’s how I maintain my balance, by setting realistic goals with my writing and exercise routines. How about you? How do you maintain your balance? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Power of a Hug

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. This week has been a busy one of work, writing, and family. I’ve been inspired by another idea, so I’ve started a new WIP. This idea demands to be written more than the other one, so I’ve put the other one on the back burner. I have to go where the Muse takes me.

Photo credit: MacBeales on VisualHunt

I am sad to see summer’s on its way out. We had to turn the heat on a couple of mornings this week. Sniff. But that’s okay, hubby’s getting ready for winter by cutting wood for us, so we can have our toasty fires on those cold winter nights.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the power of hugs. I grew up without technology, and when I was growing up, I spent all my time outside during the summer months. We rode our bikes, went swimming, and played frisbee outdoors. This was important for our health, to get out into the fresh air and sunlight. We had a lot of face-to-face interactions.

Photo credit: PeterThoeny on VisualHunt.com

Now, my kids’ generation still get outside, but technology has changed the way they communicate. They can interact with each other via the computer, or their phones as opposed to face-to-face communication. This is good and bad. They can connect any time, but it’s not the kind of connection we need as humans.

I strongly believe we need physical touch. We need hugs and kisses to avoid depression and anxiety.  It sounds so simple, but it’s true.  In fact, studies have found that hugging, touching, or sitting close to a loved one releases Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Dopamine into our bloodstreams. These are all the “feel good” hormones.

Photo credit: Zanshin Art on VisualHunt

It has been scientifically proven that physical touch relieves depression and reduces stress. What happens to kids who don’t know how to ask for hugs or physical touch? Who have grown up with technology as their only form of social interaction? We’re seeing some of the results right now. We see it in increased mass shootings, Higher rates of suicide, and depression.

Photo credit: Elva Keaton on VisualHunt

Can hugs really lower the occurrences of these events? That’s a great question and my instincts say yes. We just have to increase the number of hugs we give out a day. I’d love to do some sort of study on this, but that would upset the drug companies, wouldn’t it? They’re busy creating drugs for depression and anxiety and making billions on the fact that we’re not getting enough hugs.

Photo credit: _casterclass on VisualHunt.com

We need to get back to basics. We need to model for our kids physical touch is important. That it’s okay to give and receive hugs. We don’t want to raise a generation of unhappy adults, right?

Do you feel physical touch is important for the Technology Generation? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Exercise: An excellent way to combat Writer’s Block

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work. I’m still noodling an idea for another story and sending queries. I’m also running to stay in shape, and I got to tell you there’s nothing like that runner’s high. When I run in the morning before work, I have a better mental attitude throughout the day.

Exercise is important for everyone. It keeps you in shape and lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It’s especially important for writers because writing is such a sedentary activity. When I’m in the midst of creating a story, I could write all day. I have to force myself to take a break and exercise. I make sure and do it though because it also helps my writing. I’ve solved many plot holes while I’m running, and exercise keeps my creative juices flowing.

To keep me from getting bored, I also engage in Yoga and Hiking. Both provide not only physical benefits, but emotional ones as well. Yoga is a great way to focus on yourself. It brings me clarity when I’m dealing with complicated issues. I’m allowed to focus on my needs and find solutions to difficult dynamics. Sometimes we run into issues with family members, and we have to be creative to solve problems that arise.

Hiking is another terrific way to exercise. It’s also a great stress reliever, too. I’ve also found that when I’m writing, if I take time out for a hike through the woods or the beach, I solve plot holes and come up with creative stories. Noodling ideas in the woods is an excellent way to improve a great story.

So, if your stuck in a story and not sure how to move it forward. Step away from your work and go for a run or a hike. I guarantee you’ll either solve your problem while you’re exercising, or you’ll feel better about your story, and you’ll come back to it with a fresh attitude and solve it that way.

How about you? How do you deal with your writing when you’re stuck? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Personal

Earthing: It’s good for you

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It has been a busy week of working, writing, and running. I’m starting to feel like my old self again. Running always clears my mind of cobwebs.

Summer is finally here. I plan on hiking as much as I can this season. I find it healing. Whether I’m hiking on the beach or through the woods, it calms my inner angst and I work out plot issues when I do this. Something about being out in nature clears the static in my head.

Connecting with nature is something we humans have forgotten we need. Did you know walking barefoot on the earth is good for you? It’s called Earthing. Walking barefoot allows you to connect with the earth and allows us to absorb electrons that provide a variety of benefits.

One of those benefits is that it reduces inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in many of our life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease. Wouldn’t it be something if all we needed to do is walk barefoot for an hour as a prevention to these diseases?

There are many natural ways to heal our body. Ways we’ve forgotten as humans because we believe taking a pill is the best way to solve our problems. It’s quick and easy. Whereas earthing is a little time consuming. I mean it’s important to do it as long as you can, at least an hour. Sometimes we don’t have an hour to devote to this. I know. I’ve been there. We’re trying to parent, work, and for me I write as often as I can. Time is of the essence.

But there’s a meme going around that hit me like a punch in the gut. It states: If you don’t make time for your wellness. You’ll be making time for your illness. I’ve never read a truer statement.

My point is you need to make your health a priority. Spending an hour walking barefoot through the woods (watch out for poison ivy) or even your yard is a great way to reduce inflammation and stress. Two key ingredients to life threatening diseases.

Here’s a quick list of the benefits of Earthing:

          Reduces inflammation: The extra neutrons from the earth help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. This reduces inflammation which is a common factor in diseases like cancer and heart disease.

          Reduces cortisol levels: Cortisol is the stress hormone created by our bodies when we’re under stress, and who’s life isn’t stressful right now? Increased levels of cortisol are responsible for accumulation of belly fat which is a factor in diabetes.

          Improves Sleep: We need to sleep. It’s our body’s way of repairing itself. Because of stress in our lives sometimes and our dependence on technology our sleep cycles get interrupted. Grounding or Earthing can help in keeping us on track with our sleep cycles by syncing our electrical system for us.

          Increased Energy: With better sleep you’ll have more energy. With all the things we want to accomplish more energy is a plus.

Now I’m not a doctor, but those benefits certainly sound good to me. I think it’s worth an hour of my time to do some Earthing especially if it helps me prevent those life-threatening diseases.

To learn more about Earthing, check out this article here. https://1md.org/article/earthing-grounding

How about you? How do you feel about Earthing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Social Media Replacing Physical Touch?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with working and writing. I’m back to running outside. It’s finally warm enough. I’m being careful because of my back, but so far so good. I sleep better when I exercise and my mood during the day is better. I can tell a difference.

But enough about that. I’m back today to talk about our emotional needs. As I scroll through my feed on Facebook, I find many people posting about their emotional needs on social media. Need an ego boost? Post a selfie. Need prayer warriors? Make a post on social media. Don’t get me wrong I’m okay with asking for support on social media, but I’m concerned.

I’m concerned because what happens when social media becomes the only form of emotional support for people? I mean what if it replaces the hug and the touch on the arm? We as a species need physical touch. I strongly believe that. Did you know hugs and cuddling can ward off depression?

Maybe that’s why so many of our young people are depressed. Maybe they’re turning to social media and not getting the hugs they really need. It doesn’t have to be a hug. It could be a touch or just hearing the affection in the tone of your voice. You can’t get that from social media either. I’m not a therapist or a scientist, but I love to research for my stories and other things that intrigue me. So, I’m drawing a conclusion based on my research and I may be on to something here.

We need face to face interaction. There’s no way around it. We need to hear the inflection in the voices of our loved ones when we walk in the door. We need the physical touch of a stroke on our arm or a hug. Social media can’t replace that, and I feel these things are vital to our health.

We need social gatherings more than ever now and family traditions. Any type of face-to-face contact. Our kids need it so they learn social skills, and we can maintain our mental health. We need to use all five of our senses to keep our brain working properly not just our eyesight. What do you think? Am I on to something here? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

The Real Role Models responsible for our Daughters’ Self Image

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy this week with kids, a pinched nerve, and work. My neck is getting better, but it’s a slow process that leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. I haven’t been writing much because I’m focusing on getting my shoulder and neck back to normal. I may have to give up running. I hope not, but I might have to find another way to work off those calories. But enough about that, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

Today, I’d like to talk about girls who have poor body image. Experts blame magazines and Barbie Dolls. They state that these “role models” give girls an unrealistic image of what a female body should look like, and I know it doesn’t help, but we need to dig deeper. I say we need to have our mothers show love and acceptance for their own bodies.

Young girls’ role models are their mothers. So, if we have healthier mothers, we will have healthier daughters. Mom’s need to accept their bodies with grace and instead of focusing on what their body looks like, they need to focus on how healthy their body is.

We also need experts and role models to focus on HEALTH and not on image. If you have your health, you truly have wealth. It doesn’t matter how much you have in your bank account. So, mothers stop beating yourself up because you can’t lose that last five pounds. Instead focus on how strong your body is and how good you feel because you exercised. Illustrate those attributes for your daughters and they will be unstoppable.

If we do this, they won’t need to look outside the family for guidance from a role model who’s trying to sell them something. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Parents need to be involved with their kids. Mothers with their daughters and Fathers with their sons. Especially in the teen years, when they’re trying to find out who they are.

So, make your health one of your life’s goals, and you can’t go wrong. I know teens tell us they know everything, but they’re watching us and emulating our behavior when they don’t think we’re looking.

What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m on the right track? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Self Care: It’s a Choice

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Because of the pinched nerve in my neck, I’ve been doing more editing and reading this week while I wait for my neck to heal. It’s getting much better thanks to my chiropractor, but I believe my treadmill days are over. There will no longer be treadmill season at the Orchard’s.

I’m not upset about that. I’ve always disliked running on a treadmill. But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I feel it’s important. Sometimes we get stretched too thin, and we need to take a moment and regroup.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We can’t be going full tilt all the time. I can always tell when I hit the wall. I get tired and cranky, and I don’t enjoy the things I usually enjoy.

Here are my go-to self-care activities.

  1. Reading. I grab a good book and curl up on the couch. I do this during the winter more because it’s too cold to go outside. Did you know reading for just fifteen minutes reduces your stress level by 60%?
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it gets those endorphins going. Even a walk is good for you. Especially if you’re a writer and you sit at a desk all day.
  • Hiking. Hiking is also good for you. I love hiking in the woods, and if you hike in the woods, you get the added benefit of receiving phytoncides from the trees. In Japan, this is called forest-bathing and it’s a real thing.
  • Painting. I’m learning to paint, and it’s a great way to take a break. I’m still creating something, but it’s just for me, so I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it.
  • Yoga. Yoga is another great way to create calmness within yourself. You stretch your muscles, and you relax while becoming more aware. It’s a great feeling.

So, there you have it. Five things I do when I’m in need of some self-care. I know there are more. What do you do for self-care?  Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in community, current-events, Family, friendship, Health, mental-health, Parenting, Teen

In Real Life Connection vs. Engagement

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.

The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.

Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.

Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.

Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.

Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.

But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.

I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.

So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?

  1. Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
  2. Have family night where you play a card game or board game
  3. Watch a movie together once a week
  4. Take a family vacation

These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!