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Activities That Make You Happy

How the Brain Works as Related to Happiness

You might have heard of left brain-right brain theory. This is a concept where each side of the brain is responsible for different types of thinking. Some people buy into this idea explaining they are more creative and artistic; therefore they consider themselves a more right-brained individual. Others say they are more logical and analytical. Therefore, they identify with being a left-brained person. What is the truth about our right and left sides of the brain? What are activities that make you happy?

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the right and left sides of the brain. In these two hemispheres are many parts of the brain which are responsible for various functions. The path that allows the two hemispheres to communicate is called the corpus collosum. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. You might find someone with an injury to the left side of the brain, struggling with body control on the right side of the body.

A significant individual named Roger W. Sperry won a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his work on this theory and came to find out some interesting information. Originally, he theorized that by cutting the corpus collosum, individuals struggling with seizure disorders would soon have fewer seizures. What also happened as a result of this procedure is that patients had difficulty naming objects and it was determined that the left side of the brain was responsible for language. Read more

Healthier, Happier You!

healthy foods

If you missed the Healthier, Happier You Challenge then here is a recap from the I Can Train My Brain Facebook Challenge created by Virginia James, LPC and Life Coach. My father was a naturopath so that makes me a pseudo expert by proxy, right? I don’t have a degree in this just a passion for health and fitness. Plus my friends asked for the challenge to start 2019 out right!! Here we go!!

So here it is! Here is the recap:

Day 1: Start Learning!

Moving blood through your body is one way to stay young. It seems like a natural and easy process but the more you reach for processed foods, fried foods and candy, the more you’re inviting cancer and cardiac problems into your life. Certain foods will create some serious roadblocks to your arterial highways.

Take an inventory of your pantry and refrigerator. How many products include more than 8grams of sugar or more than 20 grams of carbohydrates? Read the labels. How many options do you have for white rice, enriched pasta, white or wheat bread, fortified cereals? Do you have quick oats or steel cut slow cooking oats? How many options for candy or ice cream do you have?

Count the number of options you have for fruits and vegetables? Read the labels and see what includes sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn syrup, or dyes? Okay, now throw all that high sugar, high carbohydrate, quick cooking, frozen dinner, ice cream, candy, enriched rice, bread and pasta out. Throw it all out and go to the store tonight. If you can’t throw it out and still need to eat from it start counting the number of carbohydrate grams and sugar grams you’re eating each day. Keep a food journal log.

Day 2: Drink 8-12 glasses of water and avoid fried foods today. Say “No” to fries, burgers, fried chicken and say yes to a side of vegetables or a salad instead. Fruits and vegetable options are anti-inflammatory foods. That’s important for many reasons but one to learn about today is inflammatory foods increase your lousy LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. This stimulates your genes to create more inflammatory proteins increasing tissue irritation. To clear arteries we need to eat foods that work with our HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Day 3: Candy, ice cream or just good ‘ole processed or enriched foods break down and make sugar. Sugar, cigarettes and high blood pressure (from stress or genetic predisposition) pummel the smooth of layers of your arteries. This action works against your LDL (low density lipoproteins) and they increase or rise.

You don’t want your LDL count high. Think of your LDL as a room full of smack-talking people spreading rumors and negativity about you and the HDL as your best friend coming in and telling all those nasty people to leave.

If you haven’t cleaned out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer yet, NOW IS THE TIME. Toss the high sugar, processed and enriched foods, snack foods and the candy. There is no time like the present moment. Read this blog about the importance of mindfulness and being in the moment: Click Here

Day 4: Buy the following and Take Action

  1. Fruits and vegetables (an assortment) tomatoes, onions, red grapes, berries- these are full of flavonoids and carotenoids. They decrease inflammation and let it come out in your urine.
  2. Garlic -decreases blood pressure
  3. “Extra virgin” olive oil- contains phytonutrients and can help your HDL count.
  4. Omega 3 fish- full of the nutrient that decreases our triglycerides in the blood (major reason for arterial wall build up) and reduces blood pressure. Aim for three time per week and wild-caught.
  5. Drop the alcohol. If you’re gonna drink, drink red wine 1-2 glasses. It contains antioxidants and can help your HDL.
  6. Eat foods high in magnesium. Not only because it helps you get better sleep but because it lowers blood pressure and dilates the arteries.
  7. Eat whole grains. This is going to replace your processed foods. If you used to eat white rice, make it brown now. If you used to eat pasta, try barley as a substitute. I encourage you to learn about using brown rice, millet, barley, and steel cut long-cooking oats. Eat foods like beets, soybeans, avocado, raisins.
  8. Start cooking with turmeric. This is a great spice to help decrease inflammation and keep your memory alert.
  9. Drink your coffee black. Take away the dairy and sugar additives. Or go for green teas instead. They have caffeine in them and are healthier with healing properties.

Day 5: Check out this recipe!

Day 6: Get your sweat on!

Sweating during 20 plus minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day lowers both the top systolic and bottom diastolic numbers concerning your blood pressure readings. It forces your blood vessels to dilate. Aim for doing at least 20 plus minutes of sweating type of cardio exercise, three times per week (after your doctor’s clearance). If you can’t work out at least start walking thirty minutes each day.

Day 7: If your LDLs or low density lipoproteins are high, that means there’s inflammation in your body and in your cells. They are clogging your arterial walls and that’s how arterial plaque forms-over time. Here are some supplements to take rather than going right for that prescribed medicine from your doctor.

I’m not a licensed or certified naturopath but knowledgeable enough to tell you that making the changes as seen in this challenge coupled with going to see a naturopath can help you.

Nettle leaf extract 900mgsBromelain 2000mgsGinger 900mgsCurcumin 1200mgs

Day 8: Living’ large with LENTILS!Lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, a nutrient that boosts metabolism and helps your body burn fat. They are an excellent source of fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Lentils are also an outstanding source of folate (boost brain power!) and magnesium.

Check out this recipe!

Day 9: Meditate or practice mindful breathing to reduce stress.

Make it a habit to practice deep breathing throughout your day. Purse your lips, drop your shoulders and exhale. Meditation apps can help guide you. My favorite has some free options and it’s called Guided Mind. But you can do a search and find one that suits you. This decreases stress, cortisol (the stress hormone) and in turn decreases blood pressure and LDLs. Imagine instant happiness for stress control.

Day 10: I’m not a big fan of folic acid but people take it. I’m a fan of folate. Folate is found in green vegetables and when you eat these, you also get other nutrients and vitamins such as B6 and B12. Folic acids are typically in processed foods or enriched foods. Folate rich foods, fish and whole grains help the process of methylation to reduce your homocysteine levels. If your homocysteine levels are too high, you’re at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. It’s associated with stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. These foods help detox your body, repair DNA and create new cells. Eat fish, whole grains and greens.

Day 11: Check out these recipes!

Day 12: Video- Checking in with you!

Day 13: Shop organic!

If you haven’t done so already, try shopping at a Whole Foods, Natural Grocer or Clovers. It’s amazing how different the food options are! You can even find snack bars with whole grains that are low in sugar.

Day 14: LAST DAY!! I Challenge you to learn about Niacin (vitamin B1), Co enzyme Q10, and Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5).And GO! Also, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. It is winter in some parts and you might not be out soaking up that sun. Vitamin D3 helps your bones, boost immunity and improve heart health. Try 800IUs, if you’re under age 60 and 1000IUs if you’re over age 60.

I hope you enjoyed this healthier, happier you challenge and if you want to join the I Can Train My Brain Facebook Group here is a link!

Overcome Post Traumatic Stress

Overcome Post Traumatic Stress

Trauma is a silent creeper. Its triggers can creep up when you least expect it and can sabotage you into a myriad of complex emotions. Just when you think you are living your best life, emotional stress from a past trauma can be presenting havoc in your life. There are ways to overcome post-traumatic stress.

You might not have expected it but trauma can present in the form of low self-esteem or feeling like a victim. It can show up as having uncontrollable emotionally intense reactions, nightmares, flashbacks or anxiety. It can even show up as depressive symptoms. Some people might be wrongfully diagnosed with anxiety or depression and truly suffer from past trauma.

Read more

Dance To Be Healthy

Dance To Be Healthy

Ever since I was a little girl, I felt the need to MOVE! Movement or dance something inside of me that put my little legs into action. I suppose it was drive, internal motivation or simple desire. I was about 3-years-old when I started ballet. Unfortunately, it was not something I stuck with because a larger girl sat on my stomach during a simple routine and I got the wind knocked out of me.

Dance at that time was an unpleasant experience. Thinking back, I am not exactly sure what the teacher was thinking but I do remember that it hurt and I cried.

I told my mother that I did not want to return to ballet classes. Then the urge to dance came back again at age 8. I signed up for ballet and additionally signed up for tap and jazz. My mother worked another job just to keep me in three dance lessons per week for years. For that, I will be forever grateful to her.

I was able to go with my best friend and meet new people. My dance teacher was my idol. Movement or dance a socially uplifting and growth-related experience.

I continued to dance and although I was not a natural per se, I kept going. My lack of flexibility and lower back problems held me back but I enjoyed it tremendously.

When I Grew Up

At age 13, I fell in love with hip hop dance. Ballet became my nemesis unfortunately, mainly related to physical and psychological reasons.

Hip hop dance was not as physically challenging for me and it was a lot more fun compared to ballet. My self-discipline was lacking considerably for ballet.

With hip-hop dance, it was like a whole new world opened up to me and shouted, “This was meant for you to do!” My eyes widened and my curiosity compelled. The In Living Color fly-girls featured Jennifer Lopez. She made her mark in television, media and music MTV-style dance videos blew me away!

Right then and there, I wanted to perform and dance! There was an inner struggle though. I knew I always wanted to have a spiritual purpose in my life as well.

Purpose and Passion in Dance

When introduced to psychology in high school, it inspired me to figure the purpose part of my life. Dance is and has always been a passion for me. Both psychology and dance have proven to be major parts of my life since I can remember.

Dance is a passion for me yet academics took over. Before I knew it, I was in college majoring in psychology and minoring in dance.

Even though I dance throughout my whole life, the desire to perform dance dwindled away. It ceased being a focal point. Partly because my ego shifted but also in part because I listened to others.

I came to find out many years later, if I had known then what I know now about dance psychology, dance could have been my sole career. It is truly interesting how our inner critic voice guides us, if you lack and awareness of it.

It wasn’t until I learned more about the psychology of dance in upper-level classes that I realized how I was holding myself back from not becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. Movement or dance a shocking realization that there was something I was missing and it had to do with ‘dance’ psychology.

The Psychology of Dance

The psychology of dance and understanding its role gets you to where you want to be. It helps you look at defining and obtaining goals you set forth for yourself in the sport of dance.

Dance psychology also opens doors in terms of learning about confidence, determination and affirmation in the sport. I wish I had that information earlier during of my studio dance class experiences.

What I have decided to do is bring this type of dance psychology to students around the country. I am creating a dance psychology curriculum called Happy Mind, Happy Feet. It will include the wonderful details about how to look at one’s motivation, confidence, goals, health benefits, as well as ability to avoid burnout and injury.

Dance To Be Happy

Dance is not only a social activity that helps you feel a sense of belongingness, but it also is an ideal physical activity. First, it boosts endorphins and dopamine. The happiness we get from dancing is typically seen in the smiles of those taking part in dance.

The burst of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter in the brain released to bring you happiness, is seen on the faces of those dancing and smiling. Dancing increases your heart rate making dance an excellent form of exercise.

What a positive activity to do for health and well-being! Senior citizens taking part in dance workshops or dance clubs have an edge on those who don’t. If we truly look at dance and its benefits, it might be that dancing reduces depression and anxiety.

Perhaps the simplest prescription in battling anxiety and depression is taking part of the arts!

Dance To Improve Memory and Problem Solving

Dance helps the hippo campus. This is a location in the brain that helps with the consolidation of information from short term memory to long term memory as well as spatial memory that helps us move on a day-to-day basis. Dance is currently being researched by professors such as Peter Lovatt and he is finding that the hippo campus grows with exercise and dance might help improve memory.

Dance is also linked to aiding in problem solving. It can improve spatial acuity and awareness making it a proactive form of prevention to detrimental diseases. This is a huge finding in the battle of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.

I would like to point out that dancing can be done on a simple level for exercise or for fun. In contrast, it can also be done on a more complex level. Either way, if you choose to take dance lessons to improve your memory, be a part of a social group or exercise and have fun, you can make the most out of a new hobby where there are tremendous health benefits.

Put simply, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Stay tuned for more information on the Happy Mind. Happy Feet course:

If you are dancing on a professional level and want more information about the course I offer, keep reading!

In the course I offer, my goal is to share with you the three biggest mistakes I see way too many talented dancers making when it comes to their overall success.

1. They are not learning this information sooner.

2. Most are focused on the movement and performance aspect of dance instead of the psychology behind dance.

3. They are looking outside of themselves for the answers when in actuality the answers are inside of them. Perhaps they just haven’t learned how to find them.

By learning the education behind dance psychology earlier, you might be paving the way for you or someone you know. Perhaps, your own or your son or daughters’ professional dance career can benefit from this information.

Take Control of Your Own Happiness

Take Control of Your Own Happiness

Photo Credit: Daniel Xavier Pexels

How can you take control of your own happiness? The mind/body connection is a powerful connection and by understanding how your body’s actions are connected to your thoughts and feelings, you will start to understand how your body gestures can command your happiness. Emotions show through our bodily sensations or reactions. At times, emotions creep up so quickly and naturally that it feels nearly impossible to control them. However, there is the possibility to control your emotions. First, you have to become aware of them. Emotional awareness is a step towards understanding the physiology related to happiness. Do you have ‘butterflies’ in your stomach when anxious? Have you ever felt a lump in your throat, a shiver or trembling in your hands when scared? Can you sense your teeth clenching or redness in your face when angered? Although these physiological responses might happen naturally, there are others you can do to ‘fake’ your happiness. Whatever you do, take control of your own happiness.

Physiology and Our Emotions

In 2013, Finnish researchers studied different emotions and the body’s responses. This research probed 701 participants to experience various emotions. Then, the researchers asked them to color in a body map of where they felt a marked increase or decrease in activity due to feeling the emotion. (Nummenmaa et al., 2013). See the images below of the findings: Read more

Find Your Self-Worth

Find Your Self-Worth

Photo credit: Pexels

In Philip C. McGraw’s book called Self Matters, he references a chapter about labeling. Labeling is a not only something you say to yourself inside your head with your critical voice, but it is also something that others say about you. Labeling has a powerful influence over your psychological development. It can define your self-worth.

Labeling can be living in your subconscious. Labels come from the outside world and inside your mind. Your labels are important because it is the inner core of what you believe about yourself. “Label” means a term of classification. However, you could benefit from looking at these labels to understand your self-worth.

Labels are Judgments

Labels are judgments of self. They crystallize a type of self-characterization. Labels allow someone else to define you based on a personal, perhaps biased perception. You either allow others’ labels to creep inside your head to become a form of self-characterization. Do you beat yourself up by listening and believing what others are assuming about you?

Whether labels are true or not, there is a certain self-fulfilling prophecy that happens with labeling. When you pay attention to labels, there is a prediction that is somewhat made. That prediction can lead you to continue with those types of credits or continue to live life in that manner. Read more

Imagine Instant Happiness

Pexels Porapak Apichodilok

Imagine Instant Happiness

As you know, most of what I do is promote happiness. There are easy and simple ways to imagine instant happiness on a daily basis. We can maintain happiness by using a certain set of skills through imagery. When you take action on a daily basis to promote happiness, you become more effective, productive and all around more interested in life. We can be kind to others, buy a special gift for someone, exercise or meditate to promote happiness. We can also use imagery or visualization to obtain instant happiness. This type of exercise, referred to as ‘anchoring’ helps you imagine instant happiness.

Anchor Your Happiness

What if you could take a pill to be happy? Well some people do, thanks to our pharmaceutical companies. But did you know that there is a way to push a button and become happier? Anchoring your happiness is a way to do this. When you anchor your happiness you are able to bring your memory back to a happy or safe place. Through this set of exercises, you will see that happiness is all within your mind and by using this simple trick, your body and your mind can work together towards happiness.

1. Think of Your Happy Place

What is your anchor? What provides you with stability, security and safety or in essence, happiness? First thing is first, think of your happy place. When you close your eyes, where you do you identify as a place that brings you peace and happiness? For some it is the beach, a harmonious home, a backyard or a place where he/she grew up. By doing this, you are encouraged to remember the smell, sights, sounds and other various details of this place. Close your eyes and focus on these types of details to help harness your inner happiness. Read more

Let Go of Worry

Pexels by Bruce Mars

We Win When We: Let Go of Worry

Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders in the United States affecting nearly 40 million people, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is a highly treatable problem. It is not uncommon for those suffering with anxiety to also suffer with depression. Both anxiety and depression warrant use of various coping skills, including medication management at times, to successfully work through it. Let’s look at the psychology behind worry and begin to let go of worry.  Read more

How To Live Your Life To The Fullest

Helena Lopes courtesy of Pexels

How To Live Your Life To The Fullest

The word lifetime means the duration of a human being’s existence. How are you spending your time? Do you know how to live your life to the fullest? Let’s talk about the word “time” in “lifetime”. Perhaps you are saying you want to have a good life, have a happy life or leave behind a legacy. Some people have children, develop their career or give back. What are ways you live life to the fullest?

Living a Full, Happy Life

The question I want to ask is, “Do you love yourself and love those around you? Have you figured out how to truly be happy in this lifetime yet?” Some people work their life away, complain daily, or find themselves in drama, unhappiness through personalization or blame. To love yourself and those around you, means you might have some knowledge about your own emotional intelligence.

Healthy perspective drives your attitude about life. Having a healthy perspective is a part of having healthy emotional intelligence. Are you the type of person that lets life passes you by? Or are you the type of person that uses mindfulness in much of what you do?

Do you look back on the last ten years of your life wondering if routine and work got the better years of you? Have you been living a life for someone else? Do you cherish moments in life and observe all that is around you?

Your Truth

How you see your life is based on your truths or beliefs. These truths and beliefs took a lot of time to form (mostly throughout your childhood). What you choose to put time and energy into is how you value your life. How you value your life is related to how much you love yourself and all that is around you (of which life is offering to you). If you love yourself honestly and treat others transparently, then you are on your way to being an emotionally intelligent person. Read more

5 Tips on How to Love Yourself

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5 Tips on How to Love Yourself

How to love yourself more is a subject we do not learn about in school. Some start thinking about it when relationships fail. Perhaps you question  your self-worth or self-esteem. If you have ever heard this quote: “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself first,” you might want to learn more about this in order to be in a successful, intimate relationship with another person.

Loving yourself is a process. It is a process towards accepting yourself. By learning about what makes you, you, you start the process. If you can appreciate all that you are (even your flaws), you are on your way. When you accept all that you are, you are aware and improving your character flaws. You choose to acknowledge them enough to start working on them. These flaws might include, dishonesty, inconsistency, selfishness, or poor communication.

Here are tips on how to love yourself.

Finding your True Self

When you are learning about who you are, it can be confusing. Too much time alone can bring up feelings of sadness or anxiety for some. Being along with your thoughts can at times lead to negative feelings. However, finding your true self means getting quiet with yourself even if there are challenging thoughts during that quiet time.

Knowledge is power. Getting to know who you are while in a quiet state can be powerful. Think about it. How much time do you spend being quiet with yourself for even twenty minutes per day? Many people avoid it but in reality this is one way to get closer to knowing what is important to you. While, we are constantly adapting and changing throughout our life experiences, honing in on our true self is ever-changing.

It takes time and patience. Growth itself comes from working through various experiences. By taking care of yourself, meditating, sitting or walking in nature, practicing self-care and increasing your healthy coping skills you are able to be on a path to finding your true self. Read more