Light Up Your Brain!
Get your new year off to a good start. Go for a walk and share some well wishes.
Offer a secret or undercover "well-wish" to those that you pass by. This is a simple phrase of loving-kindness in your head, such as “May you have a peaceful day.” Or, how about “Have a healthy and happy day/New Year!” Move onto the next person you see and repeat. Can you share five well-wishes each day? Allow yourself to enjoy the practice of sharing stealth kindness, or dropping “kindness bombs," on the other people you see. You are sure to find your mood lifting as you offer your stealth well-wishes. You can also try this at the grocery store or at work, walking down the hallway.
Did you know that kindness creates positive changes in the brain? It boosts the chemicals serotonin and dopamine. And, endorphins can be released. These neurotransmitters in the brain give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being. They cause the pleasure/reward center of your brain to light up. Regularly performing kindness behaviors improves mood and can enhance thinking skills such as creativity and flexibility. Research has shown that “agents” or givers of kindness demonstrate increases in self-esteem, empathy, and compassion. They also become more resilient, both psychologically and physically. Important physiological impacts include decreased blood pressure and decreased cortisol (i.e. Post, 2005; Mayo Clinic 2020).
And, kindness is a two-for!! It has benefits both the giver and the receiver. So light up your brain while wishing someone else well. Let’s get our new year off to a great start!
Happy New Year to you…. We wish you a healthy and bright brain in 2023!
Research shows the happiest people in our society are young children and the elderly.
Dr. Amit Sood at the Mayo Clinic works in the field of positive psychology. His research shows that up to 50% of our happiness depends on our conscious choices that, with time, become enduring habits. Most material gains, on the other hand, provide happiness only for a short time because of our tendency to quickly discount the good and rearrange our expectations. The afterglow of " happiness" from purchasing a shiny new car or those cool new shoes is fleeting. We end up looking for another happiness fix.
Dr. Sood's research also found that the happiest people in our society are the young children and the elderly. Children's happiness centers on feeling loved, having pleasant immersive experiences, and not spending time overthinking--aka getting caught up in negative ruminations. Think about a familiar two or three-year old you know... It's all about the process and not the product. The joy is in the doing! Just like the kiddo pictured here. Young children are immersed in the experience without wondering how it will turn out or what others will think about their "work."
At the other end of the age continuum, elderly gain wisdom as they age. A mature perspective generally includes lower expectations and concern about other peoples' judgements, as well as a focus on savoring experiences and relationships. They recapture a sense of that younger child who immersed themselves in the experience --though maybe without making such a mess..
So, choose happiness today. Make it an enduring habit. Reconnect with your inner toddler. Find something you enjoy doing and really do it! Be present. Enjoy the "process" without worrying how it will turn out or what others with say or think. Have more immersive and joyful experiences. What will that be for you? Joyful movement? Time with a loved one? An artistic endeavor (even finger painting?) Go get your happy on!
Pilates is a potent form of movement that has significantly positive impacts on our bodies, minds, and spirits. Those who regularly practice Pilates report feeling stronger, leaner, taller, more confident, less stressed, and fully energized. It makes people feel GOOD and it also has benefits that are specifically tied to this idea of looking and feeling younger, longer. Here’s how:
5 Ways Pilates Keeps You Feeling Younger, Longer
1. Increased Energy and Stamina As our bodies age, we tend to run out of steam more quickly. We may crash in the late afternoon, be called to our beds for a quick power nap every single day, or just feel sluggish far more frequently than we’d like. Pilates is the ideal antidote.
2. Resilience and Increased Recovery Have you ever noticed that kids will get a cold one day and seem pretty much completely symptom free within a day or two? Young bodies bounce back really quickly. As we age, we can hold onto that resilience against illness with a regular movement practice. And when we do get sick, a movement practice helps us recover more quickly.
3. Balance and Posture Improvements
A measurable and physically noticeable change that can occur in one’s body with a regular Pilates practice is an improvement in the person’s posture. In fact, in separate scientific studies, Pilates was found to improve the postural alignment of participating middle aged women as well as children aged 5-6 years old! We’ve all seen the stereotypical image of an older person hunched over a cane. With Pilates, you can avoid these undesirable changes to your posture as you age. Another risk we all face as we age is a degradation of balance, leading to falls which can cause serious injury. Pilates is very effective at helping a person maintain or even improve their balance and coordination.
4. Increased Agility and Range of Motion
One of the first things people notice when their bodies age is that the body is not as flexible or agile as it was in youth. Through intentional, slow, and highly targeted movements, Pilates can help you increase your flexibility and thus, range of motion.
5. Reduced Pain, Tension, and Stress
Pain, tension, and stress can be absolutely devastating to our sense of well being and ability to enjoy and participate in our lives fully. Pain, especially if it is chronic in nature, can be especially difficult to treat without pharmaceutical intervention. Pilates is frequently recommended as a therapeutic modality to ease, control, and even prevent pain. The movements that help our bodies heal from pain have similar benefits in terms of easing tension and stress.
If you are interested in supporting your body at every age, you can do so gracefully with the help of Pilates. We have a special offer exclusively for new clients. Check it out here and come look and feel your best at Uplift Pilates and Wellness.
It’s National Sleep Awareness Week. Are you one of the 70 million Americans who don’t sleep well? In his podcast, Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet- Optimize it Today! Dr. Mark Hyman explains why this lack of sleep is degrading our health, leaving us low in energy and focus and contributing to chronic illness. Conversely, good restorative sleep regulates our brain function, helps stabilize mood, and is a time when our body heals. Precision Nutrition calls sleep a “recovery rockstar”!
Avoid the consequences of poor sleep by trying the tips below. As always, this information is intended to be educational. Check in with your physician to address your specific health concerns.
What You NEED for Better Sleep Now:
Your Own Sleep Ritual- Taking into consideration some of the following tips, create your very own sleep ritual. This is a special set of things YOU do before bed to help ready your system physically and psychologically for sleep. Be consistent and do YOUR ritual each night.
Your Sleep Routine-Strive to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Again, be consistent.
Peaceful Sleep Environment: Create your very own calming "nest." Bedrooms that encourage a peaceful slumber use tranquil and restful colors and minimize clutter and distraction. Aim for total darkness and quiet when it is time to sleep (room darkening shades, eyeshades, and earplugs can be helpful). Keep the room cool. Dedicate a special spot (not your bed and ideally another room) for television or reading on screens.
Quiet Body- Eating a heavy meal or exercising vigorously prior to bed can lead to a poor night’s sleep or make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to eat no later than three hours before YOUR consistent bedtime.
Quiet Mind- Free your mind to ensure a restful night’s slumber. An hour or so before you go to bed, write down things that are causing you stress and/or make a brief “to-do” list for the next day to ease your worry. Try a relaxation, meditation, or guided imagery recording or app.
Warm Body- Warming up your body, especially your core, can trigger the proper chemistry for sleep. Take a hot aromatherapy bath or snuggle up with heating blanket/pad or hot water bottle to help you settle into a good night’s sleep.
Natural Light-If possible, get outdoors in the morning, or early in the day, for at least 20 minutes. Not only will the natural light keep your body clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle, it can boost your mood and support healthy aging.
References and Resources: Dr. Mark Hyman: Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet- Optimize it Today! Podcast Episode 487 and National Sleep Foundation https://www.thensf.org/ Precision Nutrition The power of sleep. [Infographic] Why sleep is so important, and how to get more of it. (precisionnutrition.com)
It's National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
In the comments below, celebrate by telling us about a girl or woman you know who is strong, bold, and active. I am always impressed by @hkspence pictured here.
Physical activity decreases stress in girls and fosters self-esteem, teamwork, and leadership. Visit @womenssportsfoundation for resources and tips to inspire and support the girls in our life to be active.
Research suggests we can facilitate regular physical activity and be supportive of positive sporting experiences for girls by building on their natural enjoyment in physical activities. Encourage them to participate as fully as possible in whatever forms offer them satisfaction and opportunities for achievement.
Thanks for visiting the Uplift Blog! I'm an educator, Pilates enthusiast (NCPT), reflective practitioner and Ironman triathlete. I love helping others discover their joy and confidence as movers. I support others in making lifestyle changes to improve health and well-being. As a life-long educator, I am especially committed to joining together with teachers to uplift each other.