How House Plants Can Reduce Your Stress

house plants

Want a quick hack that can improve your stress and help your health in a number of other ways? Then just get some plants and put them around your home! Plants in your home have been shown in countless studies to be highly effective for improving mood and general health and there are a number of reasons for this. Read on and we’ll examine why house plants are so useful for stress levels and how you can benefit from them.

The Effect of Plants on Stress

It has been known for a while now that having plants around can improve the mood of an environment. Research has shown, that plants help to combat stress, depression and other negative emotions. In fact, many businesses are encouraged to add plants to their office environments in order to build staff motivation. Studies show that having plants help their staff deal with large workloads and to combat feelings of stress.

So what’s going on?

Well, the effect harkens back to our days in the wild. When we were still evolving, we would have had to seek our vegetation in order to stay alive. In the African savanna, seeing large patches of green would have meant that we had found areas rich in natural resources. Here we would be able to find food, shelter, hydration and nourishment.

As such, it seems that we still have a similar response to seeing plants. Our bodies still respond by engaging our ‘rest and digest’ state via parasympathetic nervous system activation. Our heart rates slow down and we become more relaxed. Even just seeing the color green has been shown to have this effect!

house plants

Other Effects

house plants

There are other benefits of having house plants around too. One is that they can help to improve creativity. This is a byproduct of increased restfulness – and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that we are at our most creative when we’re more relaxed. This way we lose the ‘tunnel vision’ that comes from stress and focus and instead we’re able to explore different ideas and alternative solutions to problems. Having plants around helps us to get into this state of mind and thus helps us discover more novel and creative solutions to our problems.

Plants can also help to boost our general health by cleaning the air and increasing oxygen. This has again been shown in several studies and it has been suggested that we should keep a few plants around for every family member to improve air quality.


Feel Better Now

Stress-Free Stress Management Checklist

stress check list

Looking to improve your stress levels?

Ironically, stress management can end up being stressful in itself! Knowing you have a problem with stress is of course the first step towards getting better but it also means you now know you have a problem… and it means you have a long road stretched out in front of you to ‘recovery’.

If only there were a stress-free way to manage stress… like a checklist for instance!

Do You Have a Stress Addiction?

The first point of order is to consider the possibility that you may have a stress addiction. Unlikely though it may sound, stress addictions are common as we find ourselves unable to pull away from work and other high intensity activities.

* If you ‘thrive under pressure’ and if you can never take time off, you may well have a stress addiction.

* If you feel bored and fidgety when you’re unwinding, you may have a stress addiction

* If your friends and family complain that they never get to see you, this is a sign of a stress addiction

* If you feel constantly ‘wired’ then you may have a stress addiction.

The first step to overcoming stress then is to recognize that you may feel it’s difficult to change these habits: but you must in order to gain freedom from stress.


Identifying Your Stressors

A good place to start when tackling stress is to look at your stressors. Stressors are things that cause stress and these can include things like work and debt. At the same time though, they can also include slightly smaller things in many cases.

Common stressors include…

– Impending deadlines

– Calls you need to make and don’t have time for

– Angry bosses

– Awkward colleagues

– Friends or partners who are angry with you

– Arguments

– The commute to work

– Untidy homes

– Health problems

– Inability to pay bills/debt

stress management

What you’ll notice is that some of these things are rather small and easy while others are big and abstract. A good place to start is by dealing with the smaller problems that you can tackle more easily. You might also be able to break down bigger problems into smaller issues.

For instance ‘work’ can actually mean:

– Awkward colleagues

– Bad bosses

– Uncomfortable working environments

– Unpleasant commute

– Painful working hours

– Large workloads

– Impending deadlines

So even if you can’t change your job, you may be able to deal with some of these specifics. Where will you start?


Good Habits
for Stress Management

A lot of these problems wouldn’t occur if you were to use good stress/time management habits.

Here are some good examples:

stress mangement
Stress Man. Businessman suffers from a headache

* Little and often – instead of letting your dishes pile up, try tackling them sooner so that they never build up to that level.

* The pomodoro technique – are you prone to procrastination? Get around this tendency by using the pomorodo technique: segregating your working hours into periods of work and rest using a timer.

* The 80/20 law – if you’re self-employed, you might find that 80% of your work comes from 20% of your clients. Cut the rest.

* Close open loops – don’t let things continue to stress you out over the long term. If you have a call to make, make it sooner and ‘close the loop’.


Lifestyle Changes for Stress Management

You should also apply these lifestyle changes to make stress easier to cope with:

1. Make sure you sleep well by going to bed at a similar time every day, by having 30 minutes to calm down with a book and by relaxing into bed

2. Make sure you give yourself breaks and holidays occasionally! No one should work 365 days a year!

3. Exercise – exercise improves stress and energy in numerous ways.

4. Eat healthily

5. Wake up with a daylight lamp, not a blaring alarm!


Dealing With Acute Stress with Mangement Tools

Finally, try to learn to deal with acute stress.

Some things that can help here include:

* Breathing more slowly which will activate the parasympathetic nervous system

* Learning mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy

* Reminding yourself of why you shouldn’t be stressed

* Removing yourself from the situation

There you have it: you now have all the tools and know-how to begin your move towards a stress-free life!


Other Soothing Tools

Why You Should Replace Television with Books

books

Read for Success

Did you know that one of the things that some of the most successful people in the world share in common is that they read books – mostly books on how to improve themselves in a variety of ways.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, then you are going to want to read books just like they did. That means shutting off the black screen in your living room, removing the Netflix shortcut from your desktop and getting rid of the TV or movie apps on your phone or tablet. Then download a Kindle or an e-reader.

There are good reasons to get rid of television and replace it with reading material. Of course, you may not want to get rid of television completely, although many people who do say that they are much happier afterward and everything they thought they would miss seems of little importance. Television doesn’t do much in the way of education. Most of the programs on television are fictional stories, and many are so predictable and formulaic that they do not tax your brain cells at all.

Why Read Books?

Even when television isn’t fiction it is often the same news stories that repeat over and over, or sensationalized real events that bear little resemblance to fact. Let’s not even get started on reality TV. The point is, there is very little on television that is going to teach you something that will allow you to better yourself. In addition, science has shown that TV really does “rot” your brain – or at least your brain power weakens over time from television watching.

read books

Books on the other hand, have a number of advantages. For one thing, you are reading and not watching. This simple difference means that you are using your brain in other ways. You are reading, figuring out the definition of words and forming pictures in your imagination. Plus, there are so many books out there that actually help you improve yourself – hence the entire section of books called “Self-help” or “Self-improvement.” There are books on reaching goals, achieving financial independence, starting a business and learning everything from a new language to a musical instrument.

The bottom line is that books are better if you want to be successful. You don’t have to give up TV entirely if you don’t want to, but you should definitely read more if you want to achieve success.


Art Therapy: Introduction to Paints and Painting

art therapy

Visual Arts and Feelings

People have been expressing themselves through painting for thousands of years.  Even the cavemen showed great hunts or other events with paints made from berries and plants. There just seems to be an innate need to show others our thoughts, feelings, and ideas through pictures.  The phrase “ A picture is worth a thousand words” is so very true.

With colors and design you can express every emotion you feel.  Whether it is a woman in a garden waiting for her lover or an old barn set in a field of wild flowers, the subject bring memories and feelings to the fore front of the viewer’s mind.  All of this being accomplished on a blank canvas with paint.

There are some basics the beginning artist should know.  Although you may have been sketching and drawing for years, the first time you pick up a brush it will seem foreign to you. This is fine.  You will become very familiar with each of the brushes and the strokes they can make.  They will soon be as comfortable in your hand as the charcoal pencil you use on the sketch pad.

Paints

Paints can add style and creativity to an art piece. A single tear drop on the face can take on a totally new dimension by adding color.  Paints allow you to do this with ease.The types of paint you use will also allow you to be more creative.

Many artists use the oil paints for extend projects.  The oils do not dry as quickly and can be rejuvenated with a little turpentine or mineral spirits. This allows the artist to continue the project another day.The brushes you use with an oil painting must be cleaned extremely well.  If you allow them to sit in the cleaning solution they can loose their shape.  This means you may not be able to use certain brushes to achieve a particular brush stroke.

paints

When the artist uses acrylic paints, the dry time is extremely fast. Many times, a project which is being done in half an hour or so will be done with acrylic paints because of the ease of use.  Clean up with soap and water is a quick task. The brushes wash up quickly and cleanly.  Allowing them to dry either on a flat surface or standing with bristles up will keep their original shape.

Explore and Experiment with Paints

The best thing to do when first beginning canvas painting is to experiment.  Try using oils.  Become familiar with acrylics.  You will eventually choose which medium you prefer to work with.  By playing with each, you can determine how the paints mix, get a feel for how they flow onto the canvas, and become familiar with blending.  These are all important for the novice artist to consider.

Another factor is the type of canvas you will want to use.  There are stretch canvases, rolled canvas, canvas boards, and canvas mats.  Each one can be used for different styles, artwork, and even paints.  Which one you use will be determined by which one you feel more comfortable painting upon.


Glossary

The information can become overwhelming when you start painting on canvas.  Getting to know the terminology will help clear some things up a little bit. 

Abstract – abstract art depicts the subject by using form and color.  You may see a resemblance to the original piece.  However, the subject is generally represented in more geometric shapes than the natural setting. 

Accent – Giving exceptional detail to a certain object in the painting to bring attention to it.

Acrylic – A type of paint which dries quickly.  It can easily be cleaned up with mineral spirits.

Alla Prima – Meaning “at the first” in Italian, this phrase means the painting is completed with just one sitting.

Cool colors – Colors associated with the cold such as blue.

Color Wheel – Any full spectrum circular diagram which represents the relationships of colors.

Composition – The arrangement of the elements in an art piece.

Medium – The type of pain being used to create a work of art.  It can also mean the binder, usually an oil.

Palette – The painter’s board where colors can be mixed and and different hues can be created.

Perspective – Being able to reproduce the same height, depth, and distance perception in a two dimensional medium that the human eye would perceive.

Pigment – The colored substance created by natural elements and synthetic ones  which are mixed with certain binders to create paints.

Primary colors – A color which can not be created by mixing other colors.  The only three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.  With these three all other colors can be created.  (White is not a color. It is the absence of color.  Black is the combination of all colors.)

Secondary colors – Any color which can be created from mixing the primary colors, such as violet, green, and orange.

Warm colors – Hues which represent warmth such as orange, red, yellow.


Ear Seeds … Discreet Little Patches That Can Help You Chill

ear seeds

Ear Seeds for Mental Health?

Struggling with depression?  Dealing with anxiety that interrupts daily life?  Trouble focussing?  None of these are what would be considered “rare” and yet how many of us struggle with any/ all of these, more frequently than we care to admit?  Or perhaps more accurately … feel ashamed to admit?

Often times, whatever the trigger or triggers are that initiate a bout of anxiety, depression or the inability to focus, they seem to happen at the most inopportune time.  For instance … being hit with a panic attack right before you are about to give a speech.  You’ve practiced, you’re ready, you’ve been ready for weeks.  Yet NOW … anxiety, the little bitch that she is, decides to show up.

And in that moment, it’s not like you have a lot of options available. Or is there?

Ear seeds!  What, you’ve NEVER heard of them?  Okay, stay with me …

Ear seeds are used in what is also known as Auriculotherapy, and it’s not a new practice.  Auriculotherapy has been practiced in Asian cultures for the last 2,000 years.  It has only recently caught on in western culture in the last 40. How ear seeds work is, they apply acupressure to specific reflex points on the ear.  The “ear seeds” are tiny and discreet; so unless someone is invasively all up in your business, no one is going to see them. When you need to calm yourself, focus and just feel more centered, simply press on the seeds for 5-10 seconds to activate the pressure points. 

ear seeds

No needles, no need to have your acupuncturist by your side 24/7 and no need to put your life on hold … just your ear seeds that can be worn for up to a week at a time.


Soothing Tools

Do You Struggle with Anger?

Anger Management

Anger is a normal part of the human emotional experience. However, sometimes how we manage our anger can be destructive. Most people learn how to deal with anger as a normal part of growing up based. Our parents model and teach us these tools. Unfortunately not all people, were modeled or taught healthy anger management tools. Without good emotional regulation tools, anger can become overwhelming.

Own Your Anger

The first important step in managing your emotions, is recognizing that you need some in the first place. This is often the hardest step in anger management recovery. Shame and guilt are negative feelings that are often associated with poor emotion management. It is important not to get caught up in these feelings. Shame can a huge barrier to anger recovery. Accepting personal responsibility and taking steps towards recovery is the best solution to preventing further pain.

Think carefully about your life.

  • Do you often shout at and hurt the ones you love the most?
  • Do your loved ones try to avoid you, maybe leaving the room whenever you enter or going to their bedrooms when you get in from work?
  • Have you had problems at work because you were unable to control your emotions?
  • Have you ever had the police involved in your anger management?

If any of these situations sound familiar, then the chances are that you do have an emotional regulation problem.

Quick And Dirty Tools

There are a number of techniques available which can help you to take control control your frustration. Emotion management can be as simple as acknowledging the problem and mastering some simple emotional regulation techniques. Some of these tools include counting until calm, squeezing ice in your fists and exercise. However, in more severe cases it will be necessary to attend therapy, hire an emotion coach, or attend psycho-educational workshops.

The Next Step Is Yours

Think carefully about your life. Do you often shout at and hurt the ones you love the most? Do your partner and/or children often try to avoid you, maybe leaving the room whenever you enter or going to their bedrooms when you get in from work?  Have you had problems at work, or worse still, with the police, because you allowed your anger to get the better of you?  If any of these situations sound familiar, then the chances are that you do have an anger problem and you need to address it for the sake of you and all those around you.

Anger is a normal part of the human emotional experience. However, sometimes how we manage our anger can be destructive. Most people learn how to deal with anger as a normal part of growing up based. Our parents model and teach us these tools. Unfortunately not all people, were modeled or taught healthy anger management tools. Without good emotional regulation tools, anger can become overwhelming. Angriness may be an issue in your everyday life if you let it be. Not only does it interrupt your work and play, but it may hurt you when you least anticipate it. Anger has an underhanded way of making itself known in the rarest of situations, and most you do not have any control over.