Posted in hiking, Holiday Posts, stress relief

Stress Relief for the Holidays

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of working, shopping, and sneaking in a little bit of writing. It’s busier during the holidays for me, so I haven’t been able to write as much as I like to.  

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about dealing with stress during the holidays. It gets busier during the Christmas season and the first thing to go is our self-care routine.

Part of my self-care routine is exercising. I run, but since I’ve developed runner’s hip, I’ve taken up the elliptical machine to give my hip a rest. But I digress, any type of exercise this time of year is an excellent stress reliever. It gets those endorphins pumping.

Another way to relieve stress is to take a few minutes and read a book. Reading for just fifteen minutes has been proven to reduce your stress level by sixty-eight percent. I love reading especially in the winter in front of the fire. It’s a great way to shut the world off and relax.

Hiking is another way to relieve stress. Just getting out into nature and breathing the fresh air clears the cobwebs, and it’s healthy for you too. Hiking in the woods is great because you’re moving and releasing those endorphins, but also because you’re in nature and the trees release phytoncides that we breathe in. These organic compounds boost our immune system. It just goes to show you we’re all connected with the earth, so we should be taking care of it, but that’s another blog post for another time.

Some people take up knitting or crocheting to relieve stress. I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard it’s an excellent way to relax. I’ve taken up painting, but since I’ve been writing, I haven’t had time to paint like I want to. I need to practice and strengthen my skills there. I’ll never be an artist, but it’s fun to take a break and paint.

Another excellent way to relieve stress is yoga. How could I forget yoga? It’s a great way to stretch those muscles and relieve the stress of sitting at a desk all day. I’ve always found yoga has relaxed me, and made me more aware at the same time.

So there, you have it. Some stress relieving activities for the holidays. What are some of the ways you relieve stress? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

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 mental-health, Personal

The Need for Distractions

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of work, writing, and kids. The kids are back in school. It’s the end of summer and that makes me sad. I wasn’t ready for it to end and I’m hoping we can eek out a few more hot days before winter hits and I go into hibernation mode.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about the importance of distractions. I know, right? Distractions, how can they be important, but they are. Let me explain.

We as humans need to make sense about what is happening to us. We need to find a rational reason behind an experience. We want to find the lesson. What is this experience teaching me? So, we mull it over, trying to find the why. Right? I know we’ve all been there. But sometimes the answer eludes us.

The why will never be found. Either it’s because the person who we need to find the answer from isn’t available or refuses to communicate with us. That happens. That flash of understanding, that epiphany never happens.

This is the time we need to pull out our bag of distractions. To get our mind out of the groove of trying to find the answer. Otherwise, you can sink into a depression. I’ve seen this happen with myself as well as some of my friends.

So, what are good ways to avoid sinking into the pit of overthinking?

I like to escape reality and read a book. There’s nothing like sinking into a good story to forget about life for a while. When I start overthinking about a problem, and I recognize I’m doing that, I pull out a good book and forget about life for a while. It works wonders. This takes away the power of what I’m overthinking about, and when I’m done reading, the issue I’ve been thinking about is much smaller and more manageable.

Another way I distract myself when I start overthinking, is to exercise. I go for a run and that seems to jolt me out of the overthinking groove, and again when I’m done the issue doesn’t seem so big.

I also distract myself by writing. Working on my story, is the best way to get my mind out of that familiar groove of trying to understand the problem. and solve it. Some problems just can’t be solved no matter how hard we try.

So, there you have it. Distractions are important in our lives. They serve a purpose. How do you get your mind out of the groove of finding the why in a situation? 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 Personal, Writing

What do you do when the Burnout Bug Bites?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. We were lucky yesterday and had a sixty-degree day where I was able to get out and go for a walk. My pinched nerve is still bothering me, so I was only able to go a couple of miles. Even so, it was nice to get some fresh air.

But enough about that, today I thought I’d talk about burnout. Burnout for writers or anyone really happens when you don’t pace yourself. Like a runner who sprints to early in the race, you can run out of gas. The joy you used to feel while creating your work just isn’t there, and the ideas are stagnant.

You’ve hit the wall and the only thing you can do is stop and take a break. When this happens, I have a few go-to activities that help ease the stress of burnout, because not producing something can be just as stressful as producing something, right?

I go for a run and get those endorphins going. Nothing beats a run for handling the stress of burnout.

I go for a hike. A hike through the woods is good for you mentally and physically. Forest bathing is really a thing and there’s nothing like a walk through the woods to calm the static in your head. FYI walking along the beach is just as good for you.

Reading is another way to beat burnout. Just reading for fifteen minutes reduces stress by sixty percent, and you get the added bonus of opening up your mind to new ideas. Most authors are voracious readers. It’s one way to improve your craft and beat stress all at the same time.

Get together with your creative community. I get together with mine and they’re so good at building up my confidence. We go hiking or paint. Sometimes we just go out for a bite to eat.

Shopping. Sometimes a little retail therapy is all you need to get those creative juices flowing again.

So, there you have it. Five things you can do when the burnout bug hits. How about you? What are some of the activities you do when you get bitten by the bug?

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

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

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 pandemic, raising kids, Teen

Your Teen and Pandemic Stress

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. I’ve started the dreaded treadmill season where I run on the treadmill instead of going outside. I’ve finally adjusted to this even though I still struggle with motivation.

But on a positive note, I had my blood work done and my numbers look much better than they did last year. So, I’ve accomplished my goal. I’ve improved my health. 😊

Enough about that, though. Today, I’d like to talk about helping your teen deal with the stress and anxiety brought about because of the pandemic. It’s a tough time for them. They can’t socialize like normal and their activities have become severely limited. I bring this up today because we had a fourteen-year-old boy commit suicide in our state during a zoom meeting with his classmates. No one saw this coming. None of his classmates or his parents.

Now more than ever, kids need to feel connected to their families. This is a good time to do forced family fun nights. We spend time either playing Uno or watching The Office. I know. It can get kind of raunchy, but there’s some quality stuff in the show as well. For example, when Jim and Pam went to couples counseling and illustrated how to communicate with your spouse. That was brilliant. Kids need to learn how to handle conflict and how to express their needs. I loved that about that episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIi8i3Pf3Ys&ab_channel=LaurenAmeruoso

The show also brings diversity to the forefront with the gay character of Oscar. I think this is important to show how to accept people who are different from us. It’s also funny. The different personalities of the characters are taken to the extreme to show how we can all get along using humor and sarcasm as a way of deflecting negativity.

Another way kids can deal with this stress is video games. I know. I know. I’ve heard all the negatives about video games, but in this time of no activities and no school there is still a way to connect with their friends. They can connect through their games. I like this because my boys can stay safe and still have a little bit of social interaction. They can do this without getting on social media. You still must take precautions. I advise them to not share any personal information with anyone online, but for the most part they play games with kids they hang out with in school, so it’s working. They can connect and stay safe at the same time.

I also encourage them to get outside for at least an hour a day. It’s harder to do now that it’s gotten cold, but they do get out and get fresh air and exercise. One of my boys has gotten into weightlifting and another has started running on the treadmill. Exercise is another healthy way to deal with stress, and it helps that both hubby and I run. We are modeling the behavior we want them to engage in. So, not only are we talking the talk, but we’re walking the walk also.

So, there you have it. Some ways to help your teens deal with the stress of isolation. How about you? Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!