Monthly Archives: March 2012

Remember to Laugh!

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1. Laughter boosts your immune system

Researchers have found that laughter actually boosts the immune system, increasing the number of antibody-producing T cells. This then makes us less likely to get coughs and colds. It also lowers the levels of at least four hormones that are associated with stress, so after a good giggle you should be far less tense and anxious.

2. Laughter relieves pain

A good chortle has been found to reduce pain. Not only does it distract you from aches, but it releases feel good endorphins into your system that are more powerful than the same amount of morphine.

3. Laughter improves your social life

If you can make people laugh, then you’re likely to have more friends, because everyone loves a joker. You’re also likely to achieve more at work: if you have a good sense of humour you’ll be more productive, a better communicator and team player.

In fact, most things we laugh at aren’t necessarily actual jokes, but comments in everyday conversation. Laughter is as much about social relationships as it is about humour.

4. Laughter helps relieve depression

Laughter has long been known to help people who are suffering from the either SAD or full-blown depression. Laughing reduces tension and stress, and lowers anxiety and irritation, which are all major factors that contribute to the blues.

5. Laughter boosts your relationship

If you’re looking to find a new partner, then laughter will help you find a new mate, most of us love spending time with someone who can make us smile and laugh.

And if you’re already with someone, then a shared sense of humour is an important factor in keeping your relationship running smoothly.

6.Laughter gives you a mini-work-out

We’ve probably all used, or at least heard, the phrase ‘my sides ache’ after laughing too much. Well, it’s no real surprise. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts your abdominal muscles and also works your shoulders. This will make you feel a lot more relaxed.

In fact, laughing 100 times is the equivalent to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike, so break out those Only Fools And Horses DVDs and start watching!

7. Laughter protects your heart

According to a study by heart specialists at the University of Maryland, people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Laughter has been found to benefit the way blood flows around the body, reducing the likelihood of heart disease. The research said that 15 minutes of laughter a day is as important for your heart as 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week!

 8. Laughter lowers your blood pressure

People who laugh a lot on a regular basis have lower blood pressure than the average person. When people have a good laugh, the blood pressure increases at first, but then it decreases to levels below normal.

Breathing then becomes deeper and this helps to send oxygen-rich blood and nutrients throughout the body.

9. Laughter improves your breathing

Laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect – similar to deep breathing. This is especially helpful for people who are suffering from respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

10. Laughter helps you lose weight

Burning off calories by laughing might not sound as if it has much use, but a hearty chuckle raises the heart rate and speeds up the metabolism.

If you’re watching your weight, think about adding laughter to your exercise regime. A good comedy film might easily keep you laughing for 20 minutes or more.

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Be True to yourself!

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Be true to yourself.

Live your own life – not the life others have decided is best for you. You’ll never gain your own respect and feel good about yourself if you are not leading the life you want to lead. If you’re making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you are not being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

What others think of me!

Is none of my business!

Coping with Stress for Parents.

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Building Strong Families                 Stella Phillips go-beyond@hotmail.co.uk

Stress Management Activities and Tips

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Here are some useful tips for reducing your stress levels.

1. Soothing Sounds

Play some soothing music (like nature sounds, instrumental music, or whatever music you find relaxing). You can try several different kinds. Focus on a positive thing in your life for ten minutes.

Or, play a relaxation tape. Many tapes have a narrator leading a person through visualizations.

2. Relaxation Vacation

Try this short guided relaxation. You could try recording yourself  on your phone if you have a voice recording function, then listen to your own voice guide you.

Sit quietly in a comfortable position with both feet on the ground. Close your eyes. Imagine you are in a place that is quiet that you would enjoy visiting (e.g., a meadow, a mountain, a garden, the beach, the ocean, a lake). You can feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you. A cool breeze is blowing as you sit in the soft grass or on the sandy beach.

As you sit there quietly, enjoy the sounds that are around you: the wind blowing through the trees, the surf, the birds, etc. Become aware of all the fragrances that are around. Attempt to experience all of your senses while you are on your vacation: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

 

3. Quieting Response/Focus on Breathing

Stand in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath in and let it slowly out. As you exhale, relax from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. Focus separately on each area of your body as you move from head to toe. Relax your head, neck, shoulders, abdomen, legs, and feet. This is a quick and easy activity that can be done anywhere.

 

4. Breathing Relaxation

When you notice that you are feeling stressed or uptight, try the following:

Blink your eyes once or twice. Then take deep, calming breaths. Repeat this exercise several times. As you do so, repeat to yourself, “I feel (as you inhale) relaxed (as you exhale).

5. Hot Air Balloons

Cup your hands together and blow deep breaths into them. As you do this, count to 10 and allow your hands to expand like a balloon. Keep blowing and counting until your balloon has gotten as large as it can and explodes.

 

6. Muscle Tensing and Relaxing

NOTE: If you have diabetes, high or low blood pressure, a hypoglycaemic condition, or a heart condition, check with your doctor before you do this type of exercise.

Alternate between tensing the muscles and relaxing them–squeeze your hands into tight fists. Then release and relax your fingers. Repeat 5 times. Tense your arms and release. Tense your leg muscles and release. Repeat the activity with different muscle groups in your body.

For a quick exercise in the middle of the day, try Bulldog Face. Tighten your face muscles and try to look like a bulldog and growl like an upset bulldog. Once you feel the tension in your face, stop. Now relax your face and let the tension go.

7. What We Say

What we tell ourselves is just as important as what the body’s physical response is. Often we can work ourselves into feeling angry or overwhelmed.

Example of negative self-talk:

“I can’t keep up with all of this work. I’m a terrible person.”

Example of more positive self-talk:

“I am doing the best I can. I will work on one project at a time. I can only do what I can do.”

8. STOP That Thought

Sometimes people repeat negative statements over and over to themselves, and they get more and more tense and upset each time they repeat the phrases. A way to stop these thoughts is to yell “STOP” and picture a big red stop sign. After you’ve stopped, replace the negative thoughts with something positive. Or, visualize a comforting place (a beach, a special room) to get your mind thinking more positive thoughts.

Example:

If your mind says: “I’m a terrible person.”

Yell STOP and picture your stop sign.

Replace the “I’m so terrible” statement with something like, “I’m doing what I can do. I am a responsible person.”

Yell it out loud if you can. As you use the technique more and more, it will probably work to just yell it inside of your head or to just picture the stop sign.

For more information:

Most libraries and bookshops offer books, tapes, and videos that may be helpful. Check with a reference librarian or clerk for suggestions.

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (Martha Davis, Elizabeth Eshelman, Matthew McKay. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.: Oakland, CA, 1998) offers exercises and strategies for changing the way you think about and react to stress.

Your local hospital, YMCA or gym may offer stress management classes (yoga, stretching, Tai Chi etc.). I teach Tai Chi look in my index.

Tips for Reducing or Preventing Stress

• Practice saying “no.” Don’t allow others to control your time.

• Talk to other family members about sharing household responsibilities.

• Value yourself. Don’t wait for others’ approval.

• Live in the present moment; don’t relive the past and don’t borrow trouble about the future.

• Be flexible and forget about being perfect.

• Plan for fun and relaxation everyday.

• Focus on your accomplishments rather than on your shortcomings.

• Practice changing negative thoughts into positive ones.

• Take care of yourself. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep go a long way.

• Tell others what you need and prefer.

• Surround yourself with cheerful people and try to find a reason to laugh everyday.

• Work on relationships of cooperation, support, and friendship.

• Find ways to build exercise and physical activity into your life (take the stairs, park further from work, walk with your children while talking about their day, etc.).

• Break a big project into smaller, manageable tasks. Celebrate small successes.

• Use a family calendar to keep track of commitments, due dates, and events.

About me and Tai Chi

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I have practised the art of Tai Chi for over 10 years.

I studied Tai Chi Chuan with the late Master Graham Horwood. Graham is internationally renowned and was an amazing teacher who was very dedicated to Tai Chi. Graham has written several books including Key to Health with Cures from West to East – A Complete Health Guide and Tai Chi Chuan and the Code Of Life. Graham was taught by Master Chu King Hung, third adopted son of Yang Shou Cheung. Yang Shou Cheung was the eldest son of Yang Cheng Fu. He spent 10 years practising and teaching with Master Chu, who informed Graham that he was the first of his students to understand the internal principles of Tai Chi.

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Graham and I were in the local papers and Anglia news as one of our students is 107 years old.

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