Posted in Earth, Health, mental-health, nature

Reconnecting with Nature

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing and I must say I had an excellent time on vacay. Nothing like getting out on the water and soaking up some sun.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this awesome summer weather, too. Winter is coming and school is just around the corner for my guys. This school year is going to be different. Masks are recommended, but not required and the students will have to try and maintain a social distance of six feet.

I’m not ready for back to school. We’re returning this year a week earlier than we normally do and I feel we’ve been cheated out of some of our summer. I’m sure my boys feel the same way.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about the human connection with the Earth. I find it amazing that we can go for a hike in the woods or a walk along the beach and our spirits lift. They do. I’ve experienced it myself. We’ve forgotten about that connection in our hurry to build and create.

As a society we need to slow down and reconnect with nature.  I feel everything we need we can get from the earth. It provides food and water and by walking in the woods or on the beach we can improve our overall health.

It’s true, the trees in the woods release phytoncides. They’re a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhanced the anti-cancer proteins production.  Now that is good news.

To put this in layman’s terms, breathing in phytoncides enhances our own natural defenses.  I think this is incredible. It supports the theory that we’re all connected, with each other, and with nature.

Being in nature is also a great stress reliever as well. Studies have found that the stress hormone cortisol is lower when walking in nature. It also puts you in a meditative state and allows your creativity to flow.

Not only is walking in the woods good for you, but so is walking on the beach. Getting out into the sun is a great way to increase the Vitamin D in your system. That’s one major health benefit of going to the beach, but it’s also a great stress reliever. When you get near the water and hear the waves breaking on the shore, it releases serotonin in your system. Serotonin is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness.

Walking on the beach isn’t just good for our mental health, it’s good for our physical health as well. If you’re near the ocean the saltwater has anti-bacterial antibodies in it. So, if you have a wound that needs to be cleansed. Dip it in the ocean. Salt water also contains iodine which is a great antiseptic. It’s also an amazing immune system booster. It helps the thyroid gland do its job which boosts our immune system.

With all these health benefits, why would become the indoor generation? Technology has taken us out of the fields and put us inside and it has been detrimental to our health. We need to take our health back and reconnect with nature. We also need to take care of the Earth. With all the health benefits it provides it’s a key element to our survival, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Don’t you think getting back to nature is vital for us humans? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

Is Social Media Bad for Your Health?

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. This week I saw a post on Facebook (kind of ironic, I know) and it made the statement that Social Media makes you dissatisfied with your life.

I gathered from this statement that social media makes people dissatisfied because we start to compare ourselves to what other people post. The meme went on to say, get off social media, read a book, work in your garden, or go for a walk. Do something that brings you joy and do it for that reason alone. Don’t do something just so you can post it on Facebook later. Do it because you enjoy it.

I agree with this statement even though I’m guilty of spending time on social media myself. I find that scrolling on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter is a passive exercise. You’re not actively participating in life. Sure, you can connect with people and message them and that’s all well and good. I do that myself.  But you’re not actively living.

When you go for a walk, you’re not only doing something good for your body. You’re experiencing life. You’re experiencing the smells of the forest and the beauty of the wildflowers growing alongside the road. That’s living. You’ll feel better getting up and doing something. Going for a walk or a hike even by yourself is much better for you than scrolling through posts on Facebook.  

If you’re feeling frustrated with your life or you’re dealing with a problem and you can’t find a solution. Read a book. Reading is a great stress reliever and I guarantee if you read for even just fifteen minutes, the problem you’re dealing with won’t feel so big. Again, reading is active. Your brain is working, focusing on something other than your problem or dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and make connections, but it’s not good for your health if you’re neglecting exercise or it creates mental anguish. Remember, the goal of social media is to keep you engaged. You have to actively set limits for yourself or you’ll get sucked in. It happens to the best of us.

Remember to actively live your life. Enjoy that walk or run while you’re doing it. Stay in that moment. Enjoy cooking that meal for your family. Enjoy the smells of the spices lingering in the air as you cook. Turn on the radio and listen to music while you work. That’s living. Social media isn’t.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about social media? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Parenting

What is PAI?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you today. I’ve had a busy week of working, running, and writing. My Fitbit has a PAI indicator on it, so I’ve been a little more active this week. LOL

The PAI indicator is a personal physiological activity indicator. It measures, heart rate, intensity of daily activity, and other multi-dimensional characteristics to determine your PAI value. Long story short if you score above 100, you’re living your best life. A score above 100 means that you’re reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing your life expectancy. So, my goal is to get a 100 or better every day.

What’s nice about that number is that you don’t have to do high intensity workouts to achieve it. It can be achieved just by going for a long walk. The days I run, my PAI is much higher, but walking a couple of miles also helps me reach my goal as well.

This gives me hope because sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop running. It’ll become too hard on my knees and ankles, when that happens at least I know I’ll be able to walk and still maintain my health.

I’m worried about the next generation, though. Many teens these days aren’t getting enough exercise. They sit and watch YouTube videos or play video games and this activity has a detrimental effect on their health. Modern technology is great, but our bodies were made to move, and the kids these days are growing up on video games, Red Bull, and fast food. Not a great combination.

I try hard to get my boys out moving, but I’m not always successful. I’m thinking about getting them fitbits and telling them they need to score over 100 on their PAI before they can sit down at the computer and play their games. But what about when they’re back at school?

I wish school required more physical activity. We need to revamp our educational system to consider both mental and physical health. Make physical education a requirement all the way up to your senior year. Or maybe schools could offer classes for tennis, running, and volleyball so kids could learn those skills, too. I’m not sure what the answer is. How about you? What changes would you make to our educational system to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of our kids? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Writing and Exercise Go Hand in Hand

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing. We took the boys to a water park. It was fun, but we were ready to come home. Family vacations are important. They give us an opportunity to connect with our kids again. They’re especially important this year because of the pandemic. I’m so glad things are finally starting to open, and we can travel now.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying active, especially for writers or people who sit at a desk for eight hours a day. It’s so important to get up and move. I’m trying to exercise at least five days a week. I was able to achieve that goal last week, but it’s harder when I’m working.

It’s important for writers to get up and move because writing is such a sedentary occupation. Did you know that sitting more than three hours a day can take two years off your life? Even if you exercise regularly, you still need to get up and move around every couple of hours. Take a break and go for a quick walk. Get the blood flowing again.

The benefits of exercise are not just physical. It helps with depression and anxiety. Exercise increases serotonin levels and dopamine levels which explains the fact you’re happier after you work out. I find that when I’m feeling anxious, going for a quick run helps reduce my angst.

I’ve also found that when I get stuck in my manuscript, if I step away from my work and go for a run or a hike, I can usually work out the problem. When I’m running, my brain works differently and I’m able to work out solutions to my story problems.

Any type of exercise will do. I run and do palates, but you could do Yoga or Zumba. Anything that gets your blood flowing. I used to do Yoga when I was younger and I’m going to start it up again just because I need the variety. How about you? What kind of exercise do you do? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Staying in the Present Moment

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing and working. I’m so excited because spring is finally here. I’ve been able to run outside a couple of times this week and it was wonderful. My tulips are starting to come up and I am so ready for summer it isn’t funny.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying in the present moment and appreciating it. We’re so busy trying to achieve our goals that we keep our eyes on the prize and don’t always appreciate the moment we’re in.

I find that when I focus on the outcome I’m trying to achieve; I get frustrated when things don’t go quite as planned or I run into obstacles. I have to remind myself that I need to focus on my goals for the day only. I know what the big goal is, but I have to focus on the steps I need to take to get there. That way I won’t get frustrated because I haven’t gotten to the big goal yet.

By doing this, I’m going to be happier with my present moment and I’ll appreciate it more. That way I won’t be missing any moments with my family and friends.

It’s hard to change the habit of always striving and focusing on the outcome of my actions. So, when I catch myself growing frustrated because I haven’t reached my goal yet, I take a moment and slow myself down. It’s going to happen just not yet. Then if I can, I practice some self-care. I drink some water or take a few minutes and just breathe. This is the way I reset my thinking and change my emotions from being frustrated to peaceful.

How about you? What do you do to change your mindset? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Balance and Perspective

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of working and working on my craft. I took some time off to read a craft book this week and I’m glad I did. It was a good book. It’s titled “The Secrets of Story.” If you’re looking for a book to help you with your writing, this book is for you.

The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers by [Matt Bird]

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about finding balance and perspective. I struggle with these issues daily because my passion is my writing, but I have a passion for my family, a passion for my work, and I also need to take care of my health by exercising and eating right.

Sometimes, I get frustrated because I can’t write. I have to take care of my kids, fix a meal, or work my day job. Then I have to fit in time for exercise. This is what I struggle with. Many times, I have to choose between exercising and writing. Sometimes I choose writing and feel guilty because I know I should be exercising for my health. It’s a constant battle. Sometimes I do exercise and wish I were writing instead. These negative emotions I experience detract from the enjoyment of my exercising or my writing.

Since I don’t want to have deal with negative emotions, I’ve got to change my attitude, because with my hectic schedule, I’m always going to have to choose between the two. So, when I choose to exercise, I tell myself I’m doing something that’s good for my body, my soul, and my brain. Exercise is a great way to fight depression, burn calories, and get your blood flowing so your brain gets the oxygen it needs. Instead of telling myself I must do this because I want to keep my weight under control or because I ate pizza for dinner, I tell myself my writing will be better if I exercise. This one little change in my perspective allows me to enjoy my exercise and my writing. After I exercise, I have the rest of the evening to write. Therefore, I don’t feel guilty when I’m writing because I know I already exercised.

I’ve also gotten better at defining exercise. I used to feel like I had to run four to six miles at a time before I could call it a workout. That’s not entirely true. I can do strength training and that’s exercise. I can do Pilates and that’s exercise. So is yoga. I’ve been adding these activities to my exercise routine to help build the muscle I’m losing as I age. By adding Pilates and Yoga to my regime, I’ve eliminated my sciatica pain. The difference is amazing, and my writing has improved.

So, there you have it. By changing my perspective about exercise and writing, I’ve been able to enjoy my exercise more. I don’t enjoy it in the beginning. It’s always hard to get started, but by the end, I’m always glad I did it.

I also enjoy my writing more. I don’t feel guilty when I sit down and take some time for my stories. How about you? How do you balance it all? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Get Outside, it’s good for You

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with work and writing, but I managed to get out with a gal pal and hike along the lakeshore. That hike was just what I needed since I haven’t been able to get out because of the pandemic. I’ve been working at home, working out at home, and socializing via the internet at home.

We have become the indoor generation. So, when the opportunity arose for me to get out for a hike, I jumped at the opportunity. It was gorgeous, but cold. The wind coming off the lake was invigorating. Now, more than ever we need to get out into nature. Being by the beach was so good for me. It cleared my head and got me back on track as far as my goals are concerned.

You see, being inside so much can be a little demotivating. I’ve found when I travel from the bedroom, that I’ve turned into an office, to the living room where I relax, and I get a little down. I do this every single day.

On a more positive note, I’ve been doing pretty good about keeping up with my exercise goals. Since I don’t have to drive to work, the time I would’ve spent on the road, I’ve turned to exercising. So, there is that. However, it’s the treadmill season right now because it’s too cold for me to run outside.

Like I said earlier, we have become the indoor generation. We’re losing our connection to nature and that’s not a good thing. We get so many positive things from nature. Just being out in it is a stress reliever.

It also strengthens our immune system. Did you know that being in the woods is good for us? The trees and plants release phytoncides. These molecules are released by the foliage as a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhances the anti-cancer protein production.

Even going to the beach is good for you. Especially, if you can get to the ocean or the sea. Saltwater has many positive benefits. The salt air is charged with negative ions that allow us to absorb more oxygen, but you don’t have to travel all the way to the ocean to get the health benefits of the beach. Just being near a body of water is stress relieving. It releases serotonin, which is good for our mood, and let’s not forget about that vitamin D. A vitamin our bones need, and if you live in the north, you probably don’t get enough of it.

So, this year, I’m planning to get outside more often. I plan on going hiking and going to the beach more often. Our bodies were meant to move not sit at computers all day.

Exercising outside is like a double whammy of health benefits for our bodies and minds. So, get out there and get moving! It’s good for you!

How about you? What kind of exercises do you like to do outside? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Yoga the new Wonder Drug for our Health?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work, writing, and reading. Yes, I needed to decompress a little bit this week and what better way to decompress than to read, right?

I thought you’d agree. 😉

Anyway, more about that later. Today, I’d like to talk about stress and how to deal with it. There are many stressors in life that we have to handle. Back in the olden days, when we had to run from predators, our body would send out the stress hormone cortisol and it’d get us moving.

Now, our greatest stress isn’t running from predators, it’s dealing with stress from work, stress from over-commitment, family stress, and so on. In the past, when we’d get that rush of cortisol in our system, we’d run to escape the predator chasing us and we’d burn up the cortisol in our system. We’d run to safety, usually a short distance.

In today’s world, we can’t run from our stressors, so the cortisol builds up in our system. This leads to high cortisol levels, which leads to increased amounts of belly fat, which leads to diabetes, a life-threatening disease. So, the question is, how do we keep cortisol levels down when we can’t change the stressors in our lives?

My first thought was exercise. So, I’ve been running on the treadmill at least two to three times a week. I usually run about four miles, which is hard to do on a treadmill. (It’s winter right now and I don’t run outside in the winter because of the cold and ice.) While running is good, I did some research to find out what was the best way to reduce cortisol, and I learned some interesting facts.

First, extended exercise (more than sixty minutes) increased cortisol levels. It seems that too much exercise depletes our stored glycogen and when that happens our bodies release cortisol. So, what’s the best way to reduce cortisol when we’re dealing with stressful situations?

Short, high intensity workouts, such as sprints, HITT, or weight training are proven ways to reduce cortisol in your system. Another way is doing yoga. Yes, yoga has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels. This is good news because yoga is a great way to quiet your mind as well. It’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically. Who knew?

It’s my understanding that you must make sure it’s restorative yoga and not hot yoga, or Ashtanga yoga. Anything that makes your body work hard will raise cortisol levels.

 So, there you have it. Yoga is the wonder drug when it comes to reducing cortisol levels in your body, and reduced cortisol levels means less belly fat. Less belly fat means lower risk for diabetes. Like I said earlier, it’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about yoga? Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Connecting with your Intuition

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of editing and a busy week at work. I took a little break from writing my new story because I was editing, and I had to take Christmas decorations down. Boo. I wasn’t happy about that. There’s something about those twinkling lights that cheer me up. But, enough about that, today I’d like to talk about Intuition.

Intuition is your inner guide. That voice in your head that gives you a warning or direction without any evidence that it’s true. There are times in my life when I listened to that voice. It came through loud and clear and I’m glad I did even when it didn’t make any logical sense.

My gut has never let me down yet, and now even more than ever it’s important for us to listen to our inner voice. Why? Because our world is built on creating an image. People create this image for others for many reasons. To get attention. To get validation, or to manipulate.

Advertisements bombard us with celebrities expounding the benefits of exercise equipment or makeup, implying we’ll look like them if we just use this product. It’s not true. We’ll always look like ourselves. We all know this, yet corporations have made millions of dollars by selling us their products based on this implication.

Our politicians create an image, so we’ll vote for them. They work with the media to put a “spin” on an event, or outright lie about something to throw mud at an opponent. So, we the public don’t know what’s true and what isn’t. How do you make a good decision that way?

Look at social media. An individual shares what they want the world to see and keeps the unattractive parts of themselves hidden. When their friends compare that individual’s seemingly “perfect” life with their own, they become disenchanted with their own lives and this creates angst and depression. So, it’s more important than ever to trust our gut.

Image may contain: food, text that says 'Thought for the day- Social Media never shows the whole picture. Perfection is an illusion'

We need to develop our intuition and make it stronger. So, how do you do that?

Well, it’s quite simple but hard to do.

We need to spend time alone and meditate. Take some quiet time to listen to our inner voice. Have a dialogue with it. It’ll take practice, but once you make that connection, you’ll be able to make decisions that are best for you. When we don’t make that connection and listen to that inner guide, we can travel down the wrong path that leads to unhappiness.

Spend some time in nature. It’s so good for us. I was hiking for years before I knew there were health benefits, just because it calmed me. It will have the same effect on you. I guarantee it. Whether you hike through the woods, or along the beach, you’ll experience health benefits. Both are good for you and quiet your mind, so your inner voice can come through.

Pay attention to your Dreams. That’s right, our sub-conscious talks to us through our dreams and so does our intuition. Try to remember your dreams upon waking and write them down. Think about an issue you’re struggling with before you go to sleep and see what your dreams tell you. I’ve found solutions to problems through my dreams. It’s amazing when that happens.

How about you, do you listen to your intuition? How do you tap into it? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, kindness, Love, mental-health, nature, pandemic, Personal

Let’s be like the Trees

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and Christmas shopping and plans. It’s the last weekend before Christmas and we’ve finally got a vaccine being delivered. So, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. But I don’t want to talk about any of that today because frankly, I’m sick of the pandemic. Today, I’d like to talk about connections. I read an article yesterday and the jist of the article was that trees in a forest communicate with each other through their root systems, and they can even recognize their offspring.  To read the article click this link:

Trees Talk to Each Other

Their root systems are kind of like their own internet. 😊

To me, this is evidence. Evidence that we’re all connected. That the actions of one causes a ripple effect in the universe. Now, the thing about the trees is that they take care of each other. They don’t spew hate along their root system. They send nutrients and healing vibes to their neighbors. Of course, they take extra special care of their offspring which coincides with us taking care of our family.

This is something we as humans need to emulate. We need to resist acting on our negative emotions. I know this is hard. I have negative emotions, too. But what if we resisted and tried to focus only on the positive. When something negative comes up try to give the other person some grace. They may be dealing with some incredibly difficult issues that they haven’t shared with you.

I also believe we need to practice forgiveness. It’s hard to forgive especially when the person who wronged you doesn’t believe they’ve done anything wrong. It’s hard to forgive someone like that, however, you need to forgive them for you. Holding a grudge is poison. It doesn’t mean you have to continue to take their abuse. You have to do your best to protect yourself even if it means removing yourself from the situation. But do it with grace. Try not to damage the other person too much. They’re already damaged. They wouldn’t have done what they did to you, if they weren’t. Remember that. We’re all broken. Some of us a little and some of us a lot.

I know this seems to go against the theme of this post. Connection, but, I it really doesn’t. If someone who’s abusive to you loses you. Maybe they’ll get help. Maybe they’ll become healthier because you’re leaving was the catalyst for change. So, even when we leave a relationship, we can inspire another person to change and grow. Then when that person gets into another relationship they can do better. It’s the ripple effect.  Let’s try and be like the trees and send positive ripples through our root system and see what kind of world we can create.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you stay connected to your loved ones? Leave a comment, I love hearing from you!

P.S.

I saw this on Facebook this morning and thought it was appropriate to add to this post!

Image may contain: text that says '05 Good BE LIKE A TREE. Stay grounded. Connect with your roots. Turn over a new leaf. Bend before you break. Enjoy your unique natural beauty. Keep growing Joanne Raptis'