May 29, 2015

Positive Thoughts

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"In order to carry a positive action, we must develop a positive vision." Dalai Lama

We are in the planting season in the northern hemisphere, and as a gardener, I know that I would not expect to have a watermelon grow if I planted a corn seed.  How can we as humans expect good lives and good results if we plant negative thoughts?  There are many teachers now who say our thoughts create our lives.  I believe that and have found it true in my life.  So, first it is good to think what kind of a life do you want?  Now, create and entertain thoughts that support that life.  It really may be that simple.

May 28, 2015

Physical Activity

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"The world's longest-lived people are nudged into physical activity every 20 minutes."
Dan Buettner

We do so much sitting nowadays.  I think of my parents who would work long hours at a job, and then come home and do the chores and work of a dairy farm.  Health practitioners advocate more activity, and many people have started to exercise.  But, perhaps, it is not an hour of exercise a day that helps us, but activity all day long.  Most of the people who live long and are spry eat plenty of vegetables and move often.  They walk to see friends or to go to the sore, and they do not hire work done.  They do their own housework and yard work.  Body movement throughout the day  is one important factor to longevity.  

May 27, 2015

Healthy Aging

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"To make it to 100:  plenty of community, exercise, beans." Dan Buettner

Research done in the Italian island of Sardinia, where there are 21 centenarians in a population of 10,000, tells us some things.  Only 4 in 10,000 Americans live that long, in spite of being so diet and exercise focused.  A decade ago scientists thought genes accounted for the extraordinary longevity of Sardinians, but those findings are now questioned, as DNA markers for cancer, etc appear equally there as elsewhere.  More than 65% of diet in areas of longevity come from complex carbohydrates:  sweet potatoes, wild greens, squash, and beans.  Most beans deliver more protein than beef, dollar to dollar, and they have high fiber content.  But, diet alone is not enough, there also needs to be a web of social interaction.  In Sardinia, multi-generations make sourdough bread together.  Unlike most breads, this bread lowers glycemic loads.  But, the content of the bread is just part of it.  The dough had to be kneaded for 45 minutes, wood had to be chopped and the oven stoked.  Social interaction, meaningful exercise and complex carbohydrates for food appear to be the ingredients for long life.  Although the research does not mention this, perhaps remaining a vital part of one's family is also a factor.  

May 26, 2015

More on Resilience

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"The changes we see aren't just changes during the meditation state itself, but they're changes that persist beyond the meditation state." Richard Davidson, neuroscientist

Here it is again:  the recommendation to meditate in order to handle the stresses of life. In this study, the Dalai Lama gave permission for Davidson to conduct research on Tibetan Buddhist monks to see how meditation changes the structure and function of the brain.  He found the consistent practice of meditation changes how the brain looks as well as how it operates.  Meditation helps the brain recover from stress.  These positive changes remain during times a person is not meditating.

Facing what scares you in life is one way to become more resilient and better handle stress.  Learning new things as often as you can and finding an exercise regimen you will stick to are the last of the 10 tips on how to be more resilient and recover from stress.  

May 25, 2015

More on Handling Stress

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"Very few highly resilient people are strong in and by themselves.  You need support." Dr. Steven Southwick, Yale

During stressful times, it helps to have a good support system.  I try to have within my circle of friends those I know will "have my back".  It helps to reach out for support when things go badly,but - in my opinion - it is also important to choose people who can truly support us, because not all people have that capability.  It helps to maintain a positive outlook, and it can be helpful to observe those people in our lives who are resilient and learn from them.  What do they do to handle stress?  Can we do that too?  Research also tells us that we handle stress better when we do not beat ourselves us for mistakes or dwell on the past.  Forgive yourself -- it is so important.

May 24, 2015

Handling Stress

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"new research shows humans can train their brains to build and strengthen different connections that don't reinforce the fear circuit.  Over time, if people use this new pathway enough, it can become the new response to stress." Dr. Steven Southwick, Yale

Good news for those of us living with the stress of caregiving.  It was once thought that people's ability to be resilient, to be able to handle stress, was innate.  This new research says it is not.  It can be learned and cultivated.  So, how do we cultivate it?  Researchers studied Tibetan monks to come up with some of the answer, and Navy SEALs for another.  Here are  two of the tips on how to build resilience:  the ability to handle stress:  1  Develop a core of set beliefs from which you cannot be shaken.  2.  Try to find meaning in the stressful or traumatic event.

What is your belief about life?  About caregiving?  Choosing something, such as living with dementia graciously, can give you a baseline from which you cannot be shaken.  What is your baseline?  Then, find meaning in the event.  I know that caregiving has made me a stronger, more compassionate person.  What is it doing for you?

May 23, 2015

Listening To Our Guidance

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"Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice.  It is within everyone." Mahatma Gandh

Have you thought that being intuitive is not for you?  Well, according to Gandhi, it is for everyone.  I find the more I honor and listen for my intuition, the more it is available to me.  Life does not have to be as hard as we sometimes make it.  Life can flow more easily when we are gentle with ourselves and others, when we go with the flow, when we listen for the guidance -- the inner knowing -- that is available to us all.