Retrain Your Brain: Your Brain on Gratitude

Retrain Your Brain: Your Brain on Gratitude

Gratitude became a huge part of my life a few years ago after reading many Wayne Dyer BooksI had also read another book all about the dramatic changes that a man experienced after taking the time to write thank you cards. We’re talking, he was a broken man, barely keeping his head above water. The book is called “A Simple Act of Gratitude”, you can click on the photo for more information.

*The post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make any purchases, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Everything I recommend I do so because I personally love it and I know you would too.

Like these authors, I too was able to see the incredible impact that gratitude had on my life. Psychology now is really starting to dig deeper into this and it is astounding to hear about what exactly gratitude can do to help improve our brains and our overall way of life.

A study was done by Indiana University where 43 people suffering with anxiety and depression were used. Half of these people were instructed to write thank you letters of gratitude to people in their lives who had helped them or done something for them. After checking back in 2 weeks later brain scans still showed a heightened activity of gratitude. Even more surprising, that activity was still present 3 months later.

How does that work?

gratitude retrain your brain benefits of gratitude thankful thank you notes reduce stress reduce anxiety reduce depressionWhy is this? Well, gratitude in our brains responds in a similar way to sex and chocolate. Expressing gratitude releases the same chemicals in our brains that make us happy. The one big difference I see with gratitude when compared to sex and chocolate is that there is no way gratitude can cause us damage. Most of us know that too much chocolate can leave us 10 pounds heavier (cough, Halloween candy, cough) which may increase depression and leave us feeling down in the dumps. Sex is no different. Yes, sex in a committed relationship is rewarding and amazing and something to give gratitude for. However, so many people use sex as a temporary band aid that will eventually leave them still feeling wounded and broken. Gratitude is lasting and will never leave you regretting your choice.

Practicing gratitude can also lead to a decrease in depression and anxiety. In fact, you become more resistant to stress in general. You can also fall asleep quicker and have more solid sleep as well. All these things, as we know work hand in hand and can greatly improve the quality of our lives. Depression, stress and lack of sleep are all things that can lead to increased cortisol levels in our bodies (stress hormone.) This additional cortisol can lead to breakouts in our skin as well. Which means, gratitude even has the ability to help keep your skin clean!

Anxiety Relievers: Inexpensive Tools to Help You Breathe Easy

Anxiety Relievers: Inexpensive Tools to Help You Breathe Easy

I have been so out of sorts lately and have been trying to get back to my happy place. We all go through times like these. Those times when we’re so quick to burn out, no matter how small the circumstances. These moments are really our body’s way of talking to us; telling us to slow down and take care of ourselves. There is so much go go go happening today that the anxiety of all our obligations can get really overwhelming. Well, I have been feeling this on every level and decided to start making better use of all my tools for anxiety relief. I have compiled a list of all my favorites that are still within a reasonable spending range.

Sage

*The post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make any purchases, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Everything I recommend I do so because I personally love it and I know you would too.

Sage burning originated with the Native Americans. However, it has been spread throughout many cultures. I loved the idea of the Native Americans using sage because of my Native American roots.

Originally sage was believed to be a cleansing incense that also promoted wisdom, clarity and spiritual awareness. Some people of course, don’t buy into this ancient ritual, but I personally eat it up. I have burned sage and gone through my house after a particularly tough time or a family fight just to help clear the air. Energy will remain stuck in the air after a particularly negative time and this lingering tension can increase stress and anxiety. While the smell of sage is often something that needs to be acquired, it really does have a calming quality about it.

It’s a great tool to use in the mornings before starting your day, or before jumping into an at home yoga workout. Check out my post here to see some of my favorite YouTube yoga videos. Especially if you’re looking for a calming, easy moving yoga to relax your mind, I highly suggest starting sage first. It just instantly brings al little peace to the atmosphere. 

There is a great basic White Sage Smudge Starter Pack that contains 3 bundles of sage and is super cheap. This is great if you are just wanting to give it a try without a big commitment. You’ll also probably want somewhere for the ashes to fall. If you don’t have a safe place to burn your sage, there are a ton of super cute different Smudging Kits that are reasonably priced and come with a cute dish to burn your sage in. 

Essential Oils

(Click on any of the oils below for more details)

To start my mornings or my yoga, along with the sage, I also turn to my trusty essential oil diffuser. My personal favorite for calm and meditation is Frankincense, but most of the time I opt for Young Living Essential Oils’s Joy. There is just something so peaceful and uplifting about the smell of joy. (wink wink) Picture it: calm and clear the room first with your sage and then bring joy and peace into the space. That’s kind of the way I like to think of it. If you struggle with anxiety, maybe you just need a little joy!

Other basic oils can be used for such a big variety of things. Fun fact: studies have shown that adding peppermint essential oils under your nose during a workout actually helps keep endurance and stamina up! Athletes who breathed peppermint during their workouts even recovered more quickly than those who didn’t. Peppermint might be a good idea if you are also struggling with depression. Not only will it give you a little mental and physical boost but assistance with exercise will encourage boosted serotonin levels.

If you want to start with the simple go-to oils, there is actually a great value pack that includes peppermint, lavender, tea tree oil and patchouli. There are also great essential oil roll ons that I use during the day in place of perfume. A dab behind my ears and wrists and I’m calmed for the day, or totally motivated (depending on what I need more.) There is a great kit that has oil blends specifically for things like sleep, de-stressing and energy! It’s crazy how well these things can actually work the way they promise to! If you are used to a perfume smell, then it may take a while to get used to the smell of oils. A basic starter kit like this is a great idea if you are new to oils. 

Jesus Calling

(Click on any of the books below for more information)

I love great thought provoking self help books. They can be so uplifting and motivating, but life is also super busy and I don’t always have time. During days when I’m just feeling blue, and don’t even know what to ask for or where to turn, I seem to be drawn to this daily devotional book. It’s very small and I keep it right on my nightstand and during tough times it just seems to call to me.

Whether or not you are a follower of the Bible, this can be a handy go-to anxiety calmer. Each page is marked with a specific date so you can turn this into a daily ritual. The words you read each day could easily be done before a meditation time, before waking up or before sleeping at night. Those crucial times when motivating words are what you need to succeed or relax. At the end of each small reading there also will be a scripture recommendation for you to read from the Bible if you choose to .

Another great thing that would be handy at bedtime is the children’s devotional they have now created. Talking to kids about prayer or Jesus can be uncomfortable if you just can’t find the words. Trying to help your child struggling with anxiety can be an added stressor as well. This book is a great guide to get your started and create a dialogue between you and your kiddo(s).

Salt Lamp

Now I am not gonna lie to you, I get all sorts of mixed up about just how exactly the Pink Himalayan Salt Lamp works. When it is turned on, the negative salt ions that are released (you’d think it would be the positive ions, right?) Releasing these into the air is supposed to have a calming effect on you, similar to sage. So much so that it can boost serotonin levels and increase blood flow. Boosted serotonin levels can help ease and anxiety or depression and additional blood flow may help your brain to function more clearly.

Keeping a salt lamp in a child’s room would be a great idea if your kids struggle with seasonal allergies, asthma or anxiety. While it should not be used as a substitute for medication, the properties of the salt lamp can have a soothing effect on their symptoms and yours.

Amazon has a ton of different salt lamps, some of which you can order in different sizes and even some really cool shapes. Our family even has the Pink Himalayan Salt Candle SetThe candle holders themselves are really pretty and fit in easily with decor in any room of the house. 

Angel Cards

Similar to Jesus Calling, my angel cards are a tool I turn to when I just can’t straiten things out in my head. Sometimes there are two potential roads to take and I can’t clear my thoughts enough decide which one is right.

These may seem a little hokey to some people but I really believe our energy attracts what we’re thinking about and can bring us the answers we need. It’s crazy how many times I have shuffled my angel cards multiple times and every time pull out the same card. The messages I receive always seem to pertain to something that is currently happening in my life. Funny thing, more often than not I get the card telling me to start making more time for self care.

Again, just a few positive, uplifting words can really help guide your mind if it’s all over the place. Click on the photo for the link to my personal set of cards that I have at home. Although, there are a ton of different ones to choose from.

Mala beads

Mala beads are another ancient tradition traced back to Hinduism. I don’t practice Hinduism yet I still get a ton of use out of these beads. I have an entire post on them and how great they can be for meditation, prayer and anxiety relief. You can read all about them herePlus there is a discount for a really great Easy shop that makes fashionable mala beads. 

Final Thoughts

It’s amazing how capable we are of changing our thoughts. Sometimes it just requires a little extra effort on our part. Loaded with a few of these anxiety relieving essentials you will be set. Just like anything, take it a step at a time. Choose a few tools that you can see yourself using and think will benefit you the most. I’ve shared a few more below that you guys might love!

*The post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make any purchases, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Everything I recommend I do so because I personally love it and I know you would too.

heart soul and whole food

Diet No Nos: How Dieting Can Affect Your Happiness

Diet No Nos: How Dieting Can Affect Your Happiness

It’s safe to say that just about everyone living in America today has tested out some type of diet at some point. Dieting is all the rage, and has been since the 1950’s. We’ve set the goals, done the work and never got the full pay off. If diets were something that stuck, they would have become obsolete at some point in the last (almost) 70 years, right?

With all the diets, weight loss strategies and gyms; fitness clubs are still pulling in over $84 billion a year. This money is coming from people striving to better themselves.

This constant seeking of fitness perfection now has earned itself a name, Orthorexia. Similar to Anorexia or Bulimia, Orthorexia is a disease that is almost disguised as good intentions. What starts as wanting to be healthy and fit turns to an obsession with healthy eating and working out. This can leave it’s patients with eating OCD, anxiety and even bodily harm.

Personally, I have teetered very closely on this when I was eating a vegan dietThe most stressful part; remaining in a constant state of striving. Orthorexia leaves its victims searching for a perfection that they will never obtain.

How do you avoid these pitfalls when it comes to your own weight loss journey?

I have compiled a list of some of the top issues I myself have faced when trying to diet, lose weight or get that perfect body. Broken down into 11 different issues, each one will discuss just how they could very well be robbing you of happiness.

5 Best YouTube Channels for at Home Workouts

The day we got a smart TV was a day that changed my life. Amongst other things I slowly discovered all the best YouTube channels for at home workouts. Whether you are into hard core cardio, yoga or dance; YouTube has got you covered.

There is always some new fad diet or the newest and best weight loss shake but the one thing that has stuck around is good, old fashioned exercise. 

I don’t always make it to the gym. Sometimes I miss the child care times. Other times I feel like taking a class that isn’t on the schedule.

Times like these, I turn to YouTube and all the beauty it has to offer when it comes to fitness.

I’ve compiled a list of all my favorite fitness experts. They all offer different styles, different types of workouts and always have something new to offer.

#1. Yoga by Adriene

yoga

Adriene is my girl and if you type in “yoga for beginners,” her channel is probably the first one you’ll see. Yoga is usually the one workout I need more of but don’t always have time for. 

She offers a great variety of different types of yoga workouts that are sure to fit whatever you are needing at the time.

She has yoga for weight loss, yoga for anxiety, yoga for your butt and even yoga for a break up. The good morning and good night yogas are probably a few of my favorites because often, after a crazy day, I need a chill, low key yoga to just calm me down or get me going. These times are also when I read for my meditation beads.

If you are new to yoga, you will definitely find a wide variety of sequences to get you started. For those of you who are yoga veterans, she also offers fun newer workouts to challenge you a little.

Each video she offers also varies in length, which I love. Sometimes I only have 20 minutes. There are those few and far between times that I have an entire hour to spare and when I do, she’s totally got me covered. My personal favorite is her “Yoga for Weight Loss: Abs and Arms.” A lot of times I want to workout my abs because, well, babies. This has been my favorite shorter period sequence that also gives my abs an extra boost.

Hands down, Yoga by Adriene is my most frequently used to fitness channel and I guarantee she has something for you too.

#2. Fitness Blender

home workoutsFitness blender has been great when it comes to those days that I need a full on swift kick to the behind. This team offers such a wide variety of different types of workouts, there is is no way you will get bored.

The HIIT workouts are the ones I turn to the most because they are usually 30 minutes or less, not repetitive and you will definitely feel the burn. Plus, I am not a huge fan of HIIT workouts at the gym. Why? Because I don’t like dying in front of dozens of people.

If you are wanting to push yourself a little further in the fitness department but are hesitant to do it at the gym, Fitness Blender is definitely the right place to look.

The gym can be an intimidating place if you are just starting out and that’s what makes videos like this a girl’s best friend.

#3. Blogilates

home workoutsI was recently introduced to Casey Ho of Blogilates and I am oh, so psyched about it! Not only does she have a great attitude and outlook on life and workouts, but her YouTube channel is full of to-the-point workouts.

Some of my favorite ones are just under the 10 minute mark. Doing this workouts, it may be helpful to have a little yoga or pilates previous experience, but it is absolutely not necessary. Casey does such a great job of guiding you along.

My favorite part is that she isn’t all fitness videos, but also digs into the nutrition behind it all as well.

Again, for those of you who may not have a ton of time to commit but really want to get your body moving a little bit, Blogilates can totally do that for you. These videos would be great to even sit back and watch with some butter free popcorn just to learn from all Casey has to teach. Then maybe the next time you head to the gym or join a class you’ll feel like you’re a little bit more in the loop.

#4. Beachbody

home workouts

I think most of us have heard of Beachbody at this point. While their YouTube channel doesn’t offer all of their great workouts hidden away in one online spot like you would hope; they do have the best advice on how to do your workouts right.

If you are anything like me, you may find a quick workout on Pinterest that guarantees only 5 minutes of movement but aren’t quite sure how to do those moves on point.

Beachbody’s YouTube has got you covered. They have tons of videos that show you step by step the correct way to do tons of different moves like squats, push ups, bear crawls. Some things you may have never even heard of.

Form is so important when it comes to working out. You want to make sure you’re doing everything correctly to avoid getting hurt. This has to be my favorite feature I’ve seen on any workout YouTube channel. Again, because it goes back to that fear of starting to workout when you have no idea what you’re doing. I know I really would have appreciated having these tutorials around when I first started going to the gym.

#5. POPSugar Fitness

home workoutsFor those of you who were active in sports like dance, cheerleading or things like that, you will definitely love the workouts that POPSugar has to offer.

Even if these weren’t exactly up your alley, and you just rolled your eyes at my mere suggestion that you might partake in those “sports”, still, you’ll love this channel.

Every workout that POPSugar has to over is guaranteed to get you moving, sweating and feeling great. If you dread running like I do this YouTube channel has everything you need to get your cardio in without crying. If you a cry a little, no one can tell, because you’ll be safe at home!

They offer the best in kickboxing cardio by far. What’s really great is that they don’t get too quick too fast. You get a slower walk through of all the moves and are guided the whole time. This will help prevent you from feeling like a kicking, flailing moron in the privacy of your own home.

So there they are!

My top 5 highly recommended YouTube channels for your best at home workouts. These fab 5 cover all the bases, no matter what your workout wants are.

Even if you don’t have a TV that you can access YouTube from, you can still benefit from the lessons taught in a lot of these videos and then begin to incorporate them into your workouts both at home or at the gym. Also, take a moment to browse some of my favorite workout DVDs to help you keep up with your workouts at home!


*The post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make any purchases, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Everything I recommend I do so because I personally love it and I know you would too.

Heart Soul and Whole Food