Category Archives: stress reduction

Discover the Joys of Movement

This feels like a good time to share an excerpt from my
Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit book (2nd ed. 2011).
If you would appreciate inspiration and encouragement about choosing a joyful way to move, then you’ll enjoy this!

Chapter 15

Discover the Joys of Movement

Years ago I noticed how certain words with similar meanings prompted different reactions. I stopped saying “exercise” when I discovered that my next thought was “No pain, no gain.” That didn’t sound like much fun for me, so I began substituting the word “movement” for “exercise.” My clients smiled and their bodies relaxed when I would suggest they find a form of movement that would be just right for them.

While in my mid-forties, I could not always find a tennis or racquetball partner and sometimes felt bored lifting weights or riding a cycle that went nowhere. I had taken jazz dance classes for years but my work schedule often conflicted with the class schedule. During this time I discovered a holistic form of movement called Nia. Nia is a transformational fusion fitness and lifestyle practice that blends selected movements from the martial arts, the dance arts, and the healing arts. Nia uses The Body’s Way to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. Anyone can enjoy Nia because it encourages all participants to listen to the wisdom of their bodies. It brings out the inner dancer in everyone—especially in people who were told in their childhood (or adulthood) that they couldn’t dance or were too clumsy. All sizes, shapes, and ages can joyfully participate. If you are in a wheelchair or have a limited range of motion, you can enjoy the arm movements, music, sensations, sounds, and images created through Nia routines.

I discovered a passion for Nia that continues to inspire me to want to care for and nourish all aspects of my being. I am a certified black belt Nia instructor and have been teaching since 1999. I delight in being a dancing grandmother! And I must share this—I got a kick out of turning 60 in 2009 and love being able to get down and get back up again with ease! Nia has opened the doorway to profound joy, healing, passion, and wholeness in my life and in the lives of Nia students across the globe.

You can learn more by taking a Nia class or by reading The Nia Technique—The High-Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You a New Body and a New Life by Nia co-creators Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas. If you visit the Web site www.nianow.com you will find listings for classes all over the world.

Dance and martial arts don’t excite you? Simply walking each day can bring a sense of calm and provide cardiovascular benefits. If you move through your day via wheelchair or a Segway, taking time to get outside and connect your wheels to the earth can heighten your awareness as you take in all that surrounds you. If you like cycling or in-line skating, you can do that with attention to what’s flying by you. Whether you are walking, rolling, or jogging you can feel the wind on your face and through your hair. Delight in your senses. Smell the moment, see what you are traveling in and around, touch a flower or a rock or tree. Twenty to 30 minutes of movement each day freshens the mind and gently massages the heart in many ways. If you walk or roll everywhere you go, make time to do a part of it with a real intention of being fully in your body; an intention and recognition of “being here now” rather than on your way someplace else.

If health concerns seriously limit your ability to move, I offer a pearl of wisdom that my mother’s hospice counselor, Randi, suggested to her. Just a few days before my mother passed away, she confided in Randi that she realized she would never dance again. This wise and compassionate counselor took my mother’s hand and said, “Helen, close your eyes, and let’s dance together right now.” The mind is magnificent, and my mother smiled as she enjoyed visions of dancing one last time. Let your imagination guide you to enjoyable places now. Don’t wait.

It’s important to note that some people don’t have the problem of finding a movement form that suits them—they have found something and over-do it to the detriment of their body/mind. And in this arena of health concerns, if you or someone you love deals with disordered eating and over-exercising, Peach Friedman’s captivating book, Diary of an Exercise Addict, provides inspiration and support for healing.

And so, I advocate closing your eyes for a moment and thinking of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. This joyful activity is the one to start with if you’re seeking a way to add more movement to your life. After selecting your first option, you might want to see if this movement involves strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit. (Nia provides all of these, by the way.) If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements. Let this form of movement stir your passion and your pleasure.

 

Suggestions for Implementing the Ideas in This Chapter

  1. Think of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. Nia, yoga, tennis, jogging, hiking, Pilates, golf, dancing, biking, aerobics, tai chi, softball, skiing, rock climbing, swimming, walking, skating—these are just some of the choices you have.
  2. Does this movement involve strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit? If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements.
  3. Consider working out with a buddy. This is a great way to motivate and support both of you in creating time to discover the many joys of movement.
  4. Walking is a wonderful way to provide cardio-vascular benefits. Have fun stretching before and after you walk and you’ve added flexibility into your plan. If you have a gym membership, add weights and “play” with how it feels to strengthen your body. An alternative is to buy weights (second-hand stores always seem to have this type of equipment around) and check with a personal trainer or find a good book from the library to guide you. Less is more in this arena, as you never want to strain your muscles. It’s important to skip a day to allow your muscle fibers to rebuild properly. So if you do an upper body workout one day, focus on lower body the next.
  5. Set the intention to participate in healthy movement activities every two days. Seek pleasure in your choices, be playful, and don’t overdo.

Excerpt from chapter 15 of Wellness Wisdom, 2nd ed., 2011, by Susan Tate

LEARN MORE about FREE Nia classes with Susan at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at the University of Virginia.

©2000 – 2017 Susan Tate

Copyright 2011 by Susan Tate

Magnify Gratitude

With GratitudeMagnify Gratitude

Excerpt from Chapter 31:
Wellness Wisdom by Susan Tate

Expressing gratitude ignites the light within us and is a sure path
  to joy.
—Charlotte Kasl

 

Adopting a conscious attitude of gratitude can bring increased joy into our lives. Remember, what we focus on expands! Oft-quoted Meister Eckhart, the medieval Christian mystic, said, “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Gratitude for what we have makes us appreciate everything even more. If you awaken in the morning and give thanks for the sky, the birds, the air, the wind, the rain, your heart beating, your ability to breathe, the people in your life—the list is endless—you can’t help but to step into a more joyous day.

My former husband told me more than once, “It’s hard to stay sad when you’re in gratitude.” He was right. I’ve tried switching my thoughts to gratitude when sadness gets overwhelming and it works for me. It doesn’t eliminate the sadness or its cause, but I’ve learned that if I take time to observe and feel the sadness, I can then move away from the painful thoughts through that doorway of gratitude. The more things we are thankful for, the more things to be thankful for will show up in our lives.

Taking time to craft a hand-written letter of gratitude to someone for their kindness is an act that makes at least two people feel great. Please don’t wait for Thanksgiving to consider writing a gratitude letter to a family member, co-worker, or friend. E-mail works too, but there’s something special about receiving a hand-written letter, especially if it was penned with gratitude.

You may want to consider keeping a gratitude journal by your bed. Making a gratitude list at bedtime can help to create a peace-filled sleep, as well as become a wonderful addition to your spiritual practice. Or, you may just choose to close your eyes and rather than count sheep, count all of the things that happened that day that created gratitude.

Several years ago, my friend Roberta gave me a small circle of ten beautiful beads. Each night, I gently touch each bead and say “thank you” for a specific person or event that day. Her simple gift has provided a great way for me to magnify gratitude and it invariably sends me into a peaceful sleep.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center in California, shared a powerful statement about gratitude during his 2007 guest appearance on Oprah. He was discussing the Law of Attraction as he said; “Nothing new can come into your life until you are grateful for what you already have.” You may want to read that sentence again.

Celebrating and magnifying gratitude is a wonderful practice that brightens the light of wellness wisdom that resides within each of us. With gratitude as your guide, I invite you to laugh, love, play, and pray your way into the continued nourishment of your mind, body, and spirit. Honor your wellness wisdom within.

. . .  I am grateful for you.

Ways to Magnify Gratitude

  1. Start the day by giving thanks. As you open your eyes, you might say, “Thank you God! I get another day!”
  1. Don’t complain. The universe typically provides us with more of what we speak or think about each day. So the more you complain, the more you’ll find reasons to complain! The more gratitude you acknowledge, more things to be grateful for will appear in your life.
  1. Consider keeping a gratitude journal. Having a gratitude journal by your bed and writing just a few things in it each night can be a beautiful closure to the day.
  1. If journaling isn’t your thing, call to mind ten things you are grateful for before drifting off to sleep.
  1. Write and send thank you notes, not just for something given to you recently but to acknowledge appreciation for something someone did for you in the past.
  1. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving or a special holiday to express gratitude, love, or appreciation to those you love. Call someone now. You’ll make at least two people feel better.
  1. Consider gratitude as a way of being. The suggestions above offer things to do that are supportive in developing the practice of gratitude. The next step is to know you can go even deeper and allow yourself to be the place where gratitude flourishes.

Excerpt from Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit by Susan Tate.

Wellness Wisdom by Susan TateBuy Into the Mouths of Babes on Amazon

 

 

Making the Four Agreements Your Energy Allies

the.four_.agreements.ruiz_

I was introduced to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, in 1999 at my very first Nia intensive training. In Nia, we are encouraged to use these agreements as “Energy Allies,” not only our practice–but in our daily lives.* They have worked so well for me over the years so I thought I would share them here for you! And, oh yes, I actually think there are FIVE agreements — you’ll find I’ve added one.

*The day I posted this (6/29/15) I received a lovely email response to this piece from Nia co-creator, Debbie Rosas. She reminded me that these agreements spring from the ancient wisdom of shamans. She wrote, “The origin of these came to Carlos and I before the book was written. They are ancient made modern.” Thank you, Debbie, for wrapping Nia in the sacred cloak of these principles! They have added so much peace to my life.

The Four Agreements (+1!)

1.  Be Impeccable with Your Word

Your word is powerful and sacred. Impeccable is defined as “in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.” I think of this concept as being honest, kind, and succinct way to speak. Choosing to be impeccable with your word is a mindful choice.

Think and speak loving words. I understand this agreement includes our self-talk and how we keep the agreements we make with ourselves. My self-talk no longer includes things like, “Oh, Susan, you are so stupid!” My body/mind would hear that and respond accordingly!

What part of your professional or personal life would be energized if you decided to shine more light on the power and impeccability of your words? See the resource section below for Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word.

2.  Don’t Take Anything Personally

Release any sense of self-pity or self-importance. Somewhere I heard that an unexpected “NO” to a request might result in NO = New Opportunity. Ruiz says, “Nothing other people do is because of YOU. It is because of themselves.”  Oh, how I have found this to be true! Clearly, sometimes it’s quite a challenge to not take something personally. In the times I have found myself starting to feel hurt or offended by someone’s words or actions,  I have been able to shift the painful energy immediately into peace if I am aware enough to remember this agreement. It’s such a choice, but we have to remember to make it!

3. Make No Assumptions

Making assumptions, especially if you assume the worst, can sometimes dim your light and deplete your energy. If you can note and then minimize your inner dialogue you will probably feel better.

Honoring this agreement helped me to stop making up unsettling stories about what people might be thinking about me or something I did. Years ago, after I shared a concern about “what will people think?” to one of my dear friends, her pragmatic and loving reply stopped me in my tracks.  “Susan, people don’t really think about you that much!”  I laughed so hard and felt such relief!

Can you recall the last time you made an assumption and spent all that time in your head and it wasn’t fun at all? Next time you can make up a better story!   

4. Always Do Your Best

Do the best you can at the time with what you have to work with.  A year from now, your best will look different than today, and that’s okay! Lovingly observe yourself to assess whether you are doing your best. In Nia we call this the “Loving Witness.” My friend calls it being an “Observette!”

Trust yourself and take action.

Changes that are forced into being
are always temporary.
But changes that are loved into being are permanent.

~Louise Hay

5.  Be the Place Where Love Shows Up

This is the agreement I added to Ruiz’s list and I must admit, it’s my favorite. This energy ally is the connective tissue that holds a sacred container for all the others.

When your actions are motivated by love,
your energy multiplies and accumulates.
~Deepak Chopra

Amen to that, Deepak! Now doesn’t that make you want to be the place where love shows up?

In your work life, love what you do as you provide any kind of service. I have met people who cleaned the floors where I worked who offered a loving light and kindness while they pushed the mop. They might appear to be from the maintenance department, but to me, they were sparks of love making our work place look and feel more beautiful.

One of the best quotes I’ve ever read about love (I have shared this at the wedding ceremonies I have been honored to officiate) sums up this fifth agreement:

LOVE
You are not meant to search for it,
You are not meant to wait for it,
You are meant to generate it.
~Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith

Whatever task is ours to do at the time, we can choose to do it with loving kindness and service. When in doubt, ask: What would love do now?

Thank you for creating time to read this post. I’d love to hear how these energy allies light up your life!

 

RESOURCE LINKS

Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

The book I didn’t write in 1985

As many of you know, my first book, Into the Mouths of Babes, was published in 1984. But it seems a year later I had another book in mind.

IMG_0908My daughter recently came across this piece of yellow construction paper with a list I wrote in 1985 of 14 things I could do every day to find good health and keep it. (We still can’t figure out how it ended up in her treasure box of memorabilia.) As you can see, the first line reads: The – I Want to get Healthy Book by Susan Firkaly, (my former name). I chuckled when I read the list since so many of the things I wrote then have become part of the wellness work I have been sharing for the past 45 years!

For those of you who didn’t know me in the 80s—I was a 30-something mother of two children, teaching high school full time, and generally knocking myself out attempting to take care of my family. Although we were vegetarians, I could have metaphorically been described as one of those women who could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man!” (A jingle from an old perfume commercial showing a super competent take-charge woman who represented the feminist “superwoman” of the time.)

In my picture of myself as a modern mother of my generation, I was probably wearing a Wonder Woman cape. Well, underneath the cape was a woman with a constant flow of stress-related illnesses. I had colds, sinus infections, the flu every year, a stomach ulcer, IBS, anemia, and had tubal ligation surgery in 1983 that almost killed me when the doctor hit an artery.

On top of all of that, I had a series of whacky accidents. I totaled my car a half-mile from our house on December 24. No, it wasn’t icy; I just went off the one part of the beautiful country road–actually actually attempting to avoid an accident–and hit a cement culvert rather than just dirt. It caused my car to flip over, smashing it as it landed sideways across the two lane Virginia road. I had a serious neck injury and minor bruises. Angels were with me, truly, and I shall take this opportunity to remind everyone “seat belts save lives!” And, oh yes, you might want to know I was on my way to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed.

Then there was the time I slipped on some soda that someone spilled on aisle 12 of the supermarket and I ended up with torn ligaments in my right knee and had to have knee surgery to repair the damage. (I sometimes told people it was a skiing accident since sliding down the aisle in the grocery store wasn’t nearly as fun to say.)

In the early 90s I began working at the University of Virginia. But the Wonder Woman cape offered no protection from several years of uterine problems. I ended up having a hysterectomy—the surgery complicated by a blood clot in my lung.

That was the old me.

So you can see, I was not the vibrantly healthy and happy dancing woman you know today! Why am I sharing this now? Because I don’t want any of you to attempt to take care of everyone else but yourself—the way I did then. The only way I felt I could get taken care of was through illnesses and accidents. It was TOTALLY subconscious.

Feeling in a rather reflective mood lately, I just wanted to let you know my wellness path had quite a few twists and turns (think knee twisting and a car turning over) and your path may have had–or be having–some bumps too.

The list I made in 1985 was a pretty wise one! In fact, I just realized that although I didn’t write that book back then, much of it was poured into my fourth book, Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit (2007, 2009).

So, here’s the list of the 14 things I wrote on the yellow construction paper on January 26, 1985 along with my comments from today in italics.

1. Think positive ~ I still do this but would add a note of how important it is to also honor the painful feelings first and then letting them go and THEN thinking positive. I used to skip that other part—and the pain had to go somewhere–for me, it got stuck in my uterus . . .)

2. Meditate and pray ~ Today I would move this to number 1.

3. Eat well ~ But of course.

4. Take iron

5. B-complex

6. C

7. Multi-vit    ~  4 – 7 cracked me up, as I am the vitamin taking (and selling) queen! Nine years ago I wisely partnered with a top-rated global nutrition company, USANA Health Sciences, and now I share these supplements with those who are a good match for them. I am a good match—as my last 9 years have been my healthiest years ever!

8. Sit ups  ~ I haven’t done sit ups in years! But I “play” with my abdominal and core muscles all the time through my Nia practice. It’s much more fun than sit ups.

9. Aerobic dance ~ Now, Nia friends, doesn’t this just make you smile?  In 1997 I discovered the joyful, somatic, and yes, aerobic, dance/fitness practice of The Nia Technique. Nia has been a vital part of my vibrant health and in-shape-not-sore-anywhere-strong-65-year old body!

10. Drink juice instead of Coke ~ Yes, I was a Coke (Coca-Cola!) addict for 2 decades! Yikes! It was my drink of choice. I loved the caffeine, I loved the sugar, I drank more than you could every imagine me drinking. Then, one day, on my way back from Portland after attending my Nia Blue Belt Intensive Training, I just stopped. And today, I advocate water instead of juice—there’s just too much sugar in the juice. I enjoy eating the whole fruit (with the fiber still in tact and no added sugars) instead.

11. Do Kegals ~ Oh, yes, and so many other pelvic floor strengthening exercises too!

12.  Read ~ I know I put that on that list because I was only reading non-fiction, professional research-based books and articles at the time. Now I also, finally, read purely for pleasure.

13.  Write ~ Doing that, loving writing, will stop only when I’m dead.

14.  Think healthy  ~ Oh, the research on this one is another book in itself! (I recommend any books or YouTube videos by Bruce Lipton or Mario Martinez on this topic.) Our beliefs control our health way more than our genes do!

BACK TO YOU: What’s on your list? Is there anything you’d like to put on your list to add to your self-care and expanded wellness? I’d love to hear from you–you can leave a reply below.

I’d also love to support your wellness path through coaching or through answering your questions about what vitamins you might want to take.

Email me to schedule a telephone coaching session: susan@susantate.org

Possible topics:

nourishment/nutrition*
stress reduction
relationships
life transitions
sexuality
business/career planning

* I offer a 15-minute FREE phone consult
if you want guidance on selecting vitamins.

 Here are just a few of the possible side effects you can expect:

More inner peace
Overwhelming episodes of gratitude
Expanded reverence for yourself and others
An overall sense of joyful well-being

Email me to schedule: susan@susantate.org

 

 

 

 

8 (Free) Wellness Video Resources for You

Here is a sampling of my favorite wellness videos and meditations. I wanted to share some of the exciting research and offerings that are emerging in the areas of science and spirit. Just click on the titles you find appealing and enjoy!

For the past five years I have become fascinated by the study of epigenetics–the concept (now scientifically proven) that our genes DO NOT predict our destiny. You’ll also be able to tap into (did I really write that?) a few tapping videos (Emotional Freedom Techniques) that can be so supportive in healing the subconscious thoughts that often rule our everyday actions. If you haven’t experienced this technique yet, Nick and Jessica Ortner provide a loving introduction.

The first video on the list is a profoundly powerful “letting go of old stuff” meditation by Tosha Silver. No need to watch it, just listen to the 10-minute audio when you want to experience some sweet peace.

You’ll note that I put the length of the video by the title, so you can decide when to sit back and how long of a wellness break you’d like to take to enjoy this information and inspiration. You will know what to watch and when.

Healing Meditation for Letting Things Go (9:45) 
Tosha Silver’s 10-minute meditation (Very healing and tenderly powerful–I have listened to this over 20 times.)

Tapping Meditation for Financial Anxiety & Overwhelm with Jessica Ortner (15:58)
This one made me cry big the first time–okay, and maybe the second time too!

email-quoteBruce Lipton, Ph.D.  A very powerful video from the 2011 Tapping World Summit (34:22)
Dr. Bruce Lipton, is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. I love his work (and I have a crush on this man’s brain!!!). I have read all of his best-selling books: The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution, and The Honeymoon Effect.

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. Epigenetics: The science of Human Empowerment (42:40)
If you want to go deeper into looking at epigenetics, (our DNA is not our destiny–our thoughts and beliefs override our genes . . . ) you will enjoy this presentation. “Our health is not controlled by genetics,” states Dr. Lipton.

Dr. Christiane Northrup on Graceful Aging – Interviewed by Jessica Ortner (39:19)
In this interview, Dr. Northrup talks about aging gracefully, how tapping reduces cortisol levels to create weight loss, and trusting the sacred processes of our bodies. To watch the video, you will need to provide your first name and email address.

Louise Hay on Tapping – Interviewed by Nick Ortner  (19:52)
If you respect the work of Louise Hay, you will love this very touching video. One of my favorite lines is when she says, “In order to clean your house you have to see the dirt first!”

Embodying The Four Immeasurables with Dr. Mario Martinez
(almost 2 hours but worth every second)
This is such a healing body of work. He adds to the research of epigentics with his studies on what he calls “cultural portals.” It seems our cultural beliefs are far more powerful than our biology. If you have old, deep childhood wounds that need some healing salve, this may be helpful.

Ho'oponoponobutton
Ho’oponopono Forgiveness Meditation (7:01)

If you have any forgiveness work to do . . . the resources and video on this page may be of tender support.

 

Tate’s 10 Tips to Reduce Stress and Enhance Relaxation

Tate’s 10 Tips to Reduce Stress and Enhance Relaxation
humming bird:flowers
Excerpt from chapter 16 “Revel in Relaxation” from
Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit
by Susan Tate

1. Awaken with ease

Does your alarm clock jolt you from the serenity of sleep? Harsh buzzing noises can ignite the fight or flight response, secreting cortisol into your bloodstream—not a good way to start your day. Cortisol is a chemical often referred to as the “stress hormone” since it is involved in the response to stress. It increases blood pressure, raises blood sugar levels, and has an immunosuppressive action.

One way to reduce stress from the moment you wake up is to choose a pleasing alarm clock. There are many alarm options these days, including clocks that can awaken you with music, sunrise simulators, nature sounds, aromatherapy, or my new favorite, a Zen-like gong. On the days when I need to rise at a specific time, I now awaken to a digitally reproduced recording of a Tibetan gong bowl. It’s delightful! I was so excited to hear it that for the first week I kept waking up long before it was set to go off. For me, this peaceful sound generates a sacred feeling to the start of the day.

If you intentionally create a reasonable bedtime and plug in just a bit of extra time in the morning, you have the opportunity to start your day with ease. If you awaken to a baby’s cry, children squealing, or if you are the caregiver of another family member, it may be all you can do to take a deep breath before bolting out of bed. When possible, take a few gentle breaths before allowing your feet to gently step into your day.

2. Meditate and/or pray

Plugging in five minutes of quiet meditation or prayer right after you awaken has the ability to profoundly affect the direction of your day. Fifteen minutes is even better, but starting with five minutes will create amazing results. You can do this before getting out of bed or find a place where you can sit quietly without being disturbed. If other family members require your attention at this time of day, set aside some time during the day when you can just pause. It’s cheaper than a latte and can be deeply satisfying. (Or you can totally enjoy your morning coffee as a meditation dessert!)

3. Eat a nourishing breakfast

It’s so easy to grab the first “meal” of the day on the run or even wait until mid-morning to gulp down a muffin while you stand by the kitchen sink or sit in front of your computer. There’s a reason breakfast is known to be the most important meal of the day. It breaks the “fast” from dinner and is absolutely crucial in providing essential nutrients for your day. If you don’t eat breakfast, that cortisol kicks in and your body thinks it’s starving. Then, when you do eat at lunch time, your stomach still isn’t ready to digest your food because the cortisol is supporting your stressful fight or flight mode by preparing the body to be chased by a bear (or a grumpy boss). So, your lunch just hangs out in your stomach for an extra amount of time and eventually creates extra pounds around your middle, causing more stress. We don’t let our car get to empty before we re-fuel. It’s equally important to keep our body’s fuel supply steady for our best running condition and to reduce stress.

4. Take high quality supplements

Supporting our cells with vitamins and minerals is crucial these days. The American Medical Association (AMA), previously saying little about the need for vitamins, now encourages daily vitamin supplementation. (Learn more from the 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association resource listed in the bibliography.) When we nourish our cells at the most basic level, we give our bodies the opportunity to thrive, increase our ability to handle the daily stressors of life, help to prevent degenerative disease, and control damage produced by free radicals.

5. Be in the present

I cover this topic in Chapter 29, but if you don’t get to it today, here’s the gem: the present really is a gift you give yourself. When we let the concerns of the past or fears of the future enter into this precious second, we create stress. Stop. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be.

6. Provide service

When we provide service to others, we also support ourselves. Being of service is a real stress-buster if we are doing things we love, in a passionate way and without expectation of return. I have a little Post-it note on my computer that says, “What do you have for me to do today God? How can I be of service?” It is a guide for each conversation and each task I assume.

Engaging in providing service doesn’t mean I “help” people, because that would put me on a higher plane and others below me. Rather, I offer service from a realization of oneness, as a fellow human traveler offering the best of who I am at this moment. It doesn’t mean giving unsolicited advice or telling people how they can make their life better when they didn’t ask you. It may simply mean listening—being fully present—to what someone is saying. Service may mean sharing your music, art, or other talents with others. It may mean volunteering or working in a soup kitchen. It may mean working as a grocery clerk and offering a kind word to someone whose nasty behavior indicates he is having a really bad day. (I have heard that the amount of pain a person inflicts on others is directly proportional to the amount of pain that person feels within himself.) It may mean being all that you are, in whatever work you do, so that you can make a difference in this world. Provide service, release stress!

7. Seek pleasure

Be a pleasure-seeking arrow, always on the lookout for a great, joyful target. Awaken with pleasure, work with pleasure, love with pleasure, pray with pleasure, provide service with pleasure, work out with pleasure, eat with pleasure, breathe with pleasure. Or, you could concentrate on searching for things that aggravate you or cause tension and stress. It’s your choice.

8. Breathe

Taking three breaths before you begin to eat is quite a quick entry into a more relaxed state. It relaxes the digestive system, so you can better receive the food you are feeding your body. Are you feeling tense when stuck in traffic? Come back home to your breath. Breathing in—and breathing out. Getting ready for an important meeting or potentially challenging conversation? Breathe. Our breath is such a treasure if we choose to simply call upon it with mindfulness and awareness.

9. Tell the people you love that you love them

We can do this in person, on the phone, in e-mail, on Facebook, or by sending a silent message to a special heart. Be sure to be unattached to any expectation of reciprocation, as that can add stress rather than dispel it. Love is a vital nutrient that can gently melt away the stressors that sometimes surround us. Don’t forget to send some loving messages to yourself too.

And out of the mouths of babes: “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” (Jessica, age 8)

10. Be grateful

Calling attention to gratitude is a magical tool for reveling in relaxation. When we call to mind the people and things we are grateful for, we may discover that the dramas of life are temporarily placed aside, the loneliness is put on hold, the fear dissipates, and our focus rests on extraordinarily simple pleasures. As you’ll read in Chapter 31, nighttime is a great time to bless the day with thoughts of gratitude. Or don’t wait until bedtime; feel free to take a moment and think of just one thing you are grateful for right now.

We all relax in different ways. You can listen to music, read, watch movies, walk, garden, feed the birds, sew, work in the garage, or create art. Pick your way and plug it into your daily life whenever possible. Relaxation is a wonderful way to enhance your wellness wisdom.

Thank you for reading this excerpt from chapter 16 “Revel in Relaxation” from Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit by Susan Tate.

Wellness Wisdom by Susan Tate

 

Return to HOME page.