5 Simple Ways to De-Stress for the Holidays

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(1) Simplify your shopping ~ If you’re into “shopping ‘til you drop,” and can do this without feeling overwhelmed, go for it!  Me?  I’ll pass on Black Friday craziness.  This year, I did most of my shopping online. It was fun and easy.  My daughter sent me links for her “wish list” and I clicked on the links, ordered the stuff, and voila, packages arrived like magic. Since she lives in another state, I had some of them sent directly to her, and enjoyed Amazon’s free shipping. I also bought my hubby’s gifts online, giving him the gift of fun stuff to do together, instead of the usual clothes!  I’m giving money to my young great-nieces and nephews, which de-stresses my pre-holiday preparation even more. 

(2) Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, don’t watch the news stations on television or the Internet.  All the bad news will raise your blood pressure and give you nightmares! Instead, pop in your favorite holiday movie (For me, it’s Elf, a Christmas tradition for me and my daughter), listen to some seasonal music, or read a good book. 

(3) Remember that the holiday party is about being with your loved ones – it’s about who’s at your table, not what’s on your table.  I used to be a fanatic, baking and freezing hundreds of cookies, picking out dozens of new recipes and overspending on food and other goodies, basically driving myself crazy because everything had to be perfect!

(4) Relax before bedtime by curling up in a chair and listening to meditative music on your Ipod or other player.  This is particularly relaxing when you turn the lights down low, light some candles, and enjoy the glow of your Christmas tree lights.  (That is, if you celebrate Christmas)  

(5) If you believe in a Higher Power, another wonderful way to relax and get into the spirit of the holidays is by reading a faith-based book. My current choice is The Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado, which provides life lessons along with the readings. Other options include books by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Simple Abundance), Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) or other inspirational authors.  

Serenity Now!

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – 6/26/15

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Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Last Thursday Bea and her hubby dragged themselves out of bed at 4 in the morning so Bea could catch the 5:20 a.m. bus to Chicago to visit her daughter.  Arrival time in Chicago was 10:15 a.m. Bea planned on spending the whole day exploring the local neighborhood until her daughter got home from work.

The train was chugging along so smoothly, Bea texted Mr. B., bragging that she’d sure to be reaching Union Station on time! A few minutes later, that fantasy came to a quick halt, along with the train.

Just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Amtrak #351 slowed to a crawl (a bad sign) then stopped, in the middle of nowhere.  The conductor announced that there would be a delay, due to some kind of incident occurring on the tracks ahead.  Even worse, he didn’t know when we’d get back “on track” to our destination.

Now I’m going to share a little secret:  Bea is not a patient person.  And as the train sat there on the tracks, Bea recalled a train delay several years before, when on her way to Chicago with family, the six hour train ride turned into ten l-o-n-g hours. Bea, a type A personality, tends to get wound up and ticked off in these types of situations.   

This time, however, Bea just happened to be reading the most current edition of Oprah magazine, and it just happened to be open to an article titled Hang Loose, which wasn’t about going bra-less.  This article was about r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g, and Bea had just read the #3 tip:  “Relax into whatever’s happening.”  (Coincidence?  I think not).  The point of that tip is that what happens in any given moment is not necessarily in our control.  What is in our control is how we deal with it.  (You know, that whole attitude thing).  

Not only that, but a very kind lady across the aisle, travelling with her husband and daughter, offered Bea some cherries and little cracker sandwiches to make the delay more palatable!  This lady was obviously prepared for this kind of occurrence, and made the best of it by being nice to others.  

This was an “ah-ha” moment for Bea, sitting on this stopped train (the delay was a couple of hours).  Instead of reacting in her usual type-A way, she ate her snacks, finished the Oprah article, listened to music on her Ipod (and managed not to sing aloud to the songs, knowing that she would frighten her fellow train passengers with her voice) and started reading a book she’d brought along.  Ahhh, serenity now. (What? You don’t remember that Seinfeld episode?  https://youtu.be/auNAvO4NQnY)

By the way, Bea had a great time in Chicago. 

For further reading:

Attitude is Everything, by Keith Harrell – find this book at Amazon.com (aka Dr. Attitude, who passed away in 2010, read more about him here)

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

3 Top Websites for Mental Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 55 – 5/8/15 

Young Woman in Despair sitting against wall in monochrome

Mental Health America

America’s largest and oldest community-based network for mental health.

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America’s goal is to promote mental health by means of prevention, early identification/intervention, and care/treatment of mental health conditions

Within the site’s Living Well link, you’ll find resources for: 

  • Living your life well: top 10 tools, stress screener, fast facts about stress and more.
  • Living your life well on campus: special resources for college students.
  • Living your life well at work: work/life balance, signs of a healthy workplace, and more.
  • Complementary medicine:  alternative medicine options for mental health conditions.

Within the Finding Help link, you’ll find:

  • Screening tools for common mental health conditions
  • Available treatment options
  • MHA affiliates in your community/area
  • Tools and other resources to help with recovery from a mental health condition

The Mental Health Information link provides discussions about mental health conditions from A – Z.  If you want to make a difference, you can join MHA’s advocacy network.

Psych Central 

This website has been around since 1995, and defines itself as “today’s modern voice for mental health information, emotional support and advocacy.”  Psych Central offers over 200 online support groups.

Psych Central’s blog offers a wide variety of articles covering many topics.  Current posts included:  The Worry List, More Creative Ways to Manage Sadness and Anxiety, and Raising Boys to Become Confident Men, just to name a few.

This site also offers screening tools for a variety of mental health disorders and symptoms, an Ask the Therapist feature, daily news and research updates; and of course, where to find help when you need it.

MentalHealth.gov

The content at this site comes from several governmental sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FindYouthInfo.gov, Medline Plus and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

MentalHealth.gov links include: The Basics (What is Mental Health, Myths & Facts, Recovery is Possible) – What to Look For (focuses on the different types of mental health disorders along with information about suicide) – Talk about Mental Health (how to start the conversation about mental health disorders and get needed support) – How to Get Help – (resources for getting immediate help, help for veterans and their families, etc.)

This site also provides the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 and the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1). 

 

 

A Few of Bea’s Favorite Posts

 

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Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 26 – 3/2/15

Bea’s daughter was in town this week-end, and they needed some “girl time,” shopping and lunching at the mall.  Which meant that writing a post for today’s wellness project fell by the wayside. 

Instead, Bea is sharing a few of her old favorite posts and hopes you enjoy them!

10 Minute Energy Boosts

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ladies, You’ve Got to Have Friends!

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Try Meditation for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 20 – 2/18/15

 Asian woman meditating.

(1) Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden).  Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.  Bea is one of those women, and she’s ready to try meditation to get her zzzzzz’s back! 

(2) Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

(3) Meditation provides other mental health benefits:  an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in this article from The Art of Living

(4) Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.  

(5) Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, as described in this article from the UCLA newsroom.

Source:

Aschwanden, Christie. (Nov 2014). Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine.

For Further Reading: 

Want to try Guided Meditation?  Bea downloaded a guided meditation album onto her Ipod, but there are free options online as well:  

 UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

If you search YouTube, “guided meditations,” you’ll also find some good options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.medicaldaily.com/mental-health-benefits-meditation-itll-alter-your-brains-grey-matter-and-improve-319298

Stress Awareness Month

Stressed Out?

April is Stress Awareness Month.  I don’t know about you, but I’m very aware of stress nowadays! Can you think of anyone who isn’t stressed?  (Well, maybe babies. And dogs. Perhaps cats.)

 Work stress abounds: More work for less employees.   Morale is low, and workers are getting cranky.  

Economic stress dominates:   The newspapers shouts about it in its headlines every day.  Budget crises in all levels of government. Unemployment still high.  Housing market still shaky.

Not to mention day-to-day stressors: Family disagreements, people battling life-threatening illnesses, trying to make that dollar stretch, taking care of aging parents . . .

How Stress Affects Us

So we know that we’ve all got stressors.  Unless we’re living in a cave somewhere far far away from here, like, say, the moon.

And some stress in our lives is okay, of course.  Life would be boring if we didn’t have any stress at all.  But it’s the heavy duty, chronic stress that can affect us negatively. 

Even regular old stress affects us physically. For me, when I’m stressed out, my stomach lets me know it, and I toss and turn at night. This Mayo Clinic article points to further physical symptoms, as well as emotional and behavioral ones.

Medicine Net talks more about the symptoms of excess stress in its Stress Management Techniques article, and provides some ways to manage stress.

Finally, MSNBC has an interactive piece that defines how stress affects our bodies. For example, stress causes digestive problems, back pain, skin problems; it can even lead to  belly fat, which in turn leads to other health problems.

Further Reading:

  • The American Institute of Stress is a non-profit organization provides information on all types of stress-related topics and is dedicated to stress research.
  • Medline Plus offers some great resources, including overviews, treatment, latest research, and more.

How do you deal with stress?  Do you have some tips to share with other readers?

    5 Reasons To Love Solitude

    Silent Snowfall

    The other day, I offered to shovel out the driveway for my hubby, giving him a break from what is normally “his” task (yep, he does “outside the castle” stuff, while I’m the “inside of the castle” queen).  This was a couple days after our so-called “snowmaggedon,” and with no warning at all from the doppler radar weather gurus, we got a snowfall that added several inches to our already white carpet of snow.

    While taking a break from the shoveling, I just stood there and listened to the winter silence. Don’t you love how the snow muffles the sound of the world?  Then, in the distance, I heard the mournful sound of a train whistle, a sound I’ve always loved, for some unknown reason. Just being outside, alone in that quietude, I felt at peace. 

    The Joy of Solitude

    Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved those times of solitude.  I often walked to my elementary school alone, and one of my favorite solitary treks was to my hometown’s library, which was about a mile from my house.

    As I got older, I enjoyed bike rides by myself and would also travel by car to my dad’s house in the upper peninsula of Michigan, an eight hour drive. 

    Nowadays, I like the quiet of the house on Friday evenings, when my husband is at bowling and I have the house to myself. I leave the television and computer off, and just read. After a day at work, with phones constantly ringing, work interruptions by co-workers, and other distractions, it’s nice to simply be alone with my thoughts.

    How Solitude Has Helped Me

    • Solitude helps clear my mind of everyday clutter and helps me focus.
    • Solitude de-stresses me.
    • Solitude ofen helps me find a solution to a problem, or at least gives me some temporary distance from the issue.
    • Solitude helps me come up with ideas for my writing.
    • Finally, solitude helps me learn more about myself and what I want to accomplish in my life.

    I’m not a hermit, by any means.  I enjoy my friendships, and know I benefit from them.  I’m happy in the company of my husband, and I sometimes miss my Friday evening dinners with my daughter (she’s away at college), but I also find that solitude can be a joy, and enhances my feelings of wellness.

    What about you?  Is finding solitude a necessity for you?  What benefits do you reap from it?

    Further Reading:

    Leo Babauta of Zen Habits writes about the lost art of solitude.

    Your Brain (and Health) On Music

    Bea has loved the song Europa by the guitarist extraordinaire Carlos Santana ever since she first heard it on his Moonflower album.  In 1976, she went to a concert at one of those long-gone concert venues in the Motor City (now known as “The D”) and sat in awe as she watched Carlos perform that song – the music going right through to her core.  It was simply one of those moments she’ll never forget.

    Fast forward to Bea’s family room, January 2011.  This room has become Mr. Boomer’s concert venue of choice.  Recently, Mr. B. attempted to play Europa on his Les Paul electric guitar. All. Day. Long. Okay, so now Bea is just sick to death of her favorite tune and hopes she never hears it again.

    Rock on, Mr. B.

    In the past year, after a long hiatus, Mr. Boomer has really gotten into playing his guitar.  Bea envies and admires his ability to play “by ear,” something the Boomer daughter has inherited.  Mrs. B. has no musical ability – she likes to sing, but she ain’t fooling herself, she’s no American Idol.  What she lacks in talent, however, she makes up for in chutzpah (read: she sings loudly).

    The hubby has also gotten together with friends from his workplace to “jam” together, and he jokes about taking his new group “Social Insecurity,” on the road.  (Great name, hmmm?  He made that one up himself).

    Despite the fact that he’s ruined Bea’s favorite song for her, she thinks Mr. B. is really onto something with this guitar playing.  He’s enhancing his social wellness, by getting together with “the guys.”  Music also can reduce his job-related or wife-related stress, and even keep those brain cells alive and kicking.  In fact, according to the eMed Expert website, playing music can even make him smarter!

    For Further Reading: