Change Your Life in 30 Days

Significantly changing your life in 30 days really is possible, although not always easy. But even though this adventure is often a big challenge, the payoffs can be enormous.

We’ve all taken on challenges of one sort of another for 30 days. Maybe you tried a diet or an exercise program. Perhaps you decided to give up TV for 30 days. Even if you didn’t stick with the program long-term, the results were great, weren’t they? Now imagine if you expanded that idea to incorporate many areas of your life.

This program includes implementing several 30-day challenges simultaneously. You can use these suggestions or develop your own. Try creating a 30-day challenge from each category, and see where your new adventures lead you.

    1. Adjust your finances. Making more money or spending less is always a good financial theme. Alternatively, you might try balancing your accounts each day.
    2. Kick start your physical health. Diet, exercise, or combinations of both are great places to start. You could begin with something as simple as the doing the 20-minute yoga program that’s on TV every morning or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
    3. Eliminate a time waster. Think about the amount of time you spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, window-shopping, playing video games, or lurking on Facebook. We all know the activities we tend to engage in when we’re bored or trying to avoid dealing with life’s challenges. Try getting rid of just one, and see how much more time you have!
    4. Add in another positive activity. Come up with something more enriching or satisfying than the time waster you’re eliminating. Maybe reading or taking a class would be in order. Perhaps you’ll spend all your newly found time playing a musical instrument.
    5. Commit to something else that appeals to you. Perhaps checking your email only 3 times a week or going to bed by 11:00 every night would be a beneficial habit you’d enjoy.

Tips for Success in Your Program

Now that you have some idea of changes you might want to make, how can you stick to them?

Try these ideas:

    1. Get enough sleep. If you set a challenge of cutting two hours of sleep each night (or even just one hour!), it’s going to make everything else more difficult. Regardless of whatever time-related goals you may set, allow yourself the 7-8 hours a night that you deserve.
    2. Set goals that you can do daily, seven days a week. Creating a new habit with an activity you only do 3 times a week is often much harder. Try to keep all new activities limited to ones you can do every day.
    3. Prepare ahead of time. Have everything you need in advance. Eliminate anything that might get in the way. For example, if you’re trying to follow a specific diet, buy the food you’ll need beforehand and get rid of food you want to avoid. You can’t break down and eat that bag of chips if there aren’t any chips in the house!
    4. Plan on social support. Tell your goals to your friends or family members that will support you in your efforts. Be careful in whom you confide. Changing is a challenge in itself. Success is harder if others are making unsupportive comments.

Trying to change several aspects of your life simultaneously may require other changes as well, depending on your chosen goals. All of our behaviors tend to interact with other behaviors, which can make changing any of them a demanding task.

For example, if you give up TV and junk food, and those are your main coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, you’re going to have to deal with your negative feelings a new way. Or better yet, you can face your concerns head-on. The distractions you’re used to falling back on may have just been ways to avoid the issues at hand.

To work this program, choose the 30-day challenges you can implement and get started. Remember to adequately prepare. If you can create several new positive habits and get rid of a few bad ones, your life will change dramatically for the better.

The 15 Best New Year’s Resolutions for Your Health

Are you unsure which of your priorities is most important in the New Year? Do you have plenty of dreams for the future, but not many concrete plans?

Check out these 15 resolutions you can make to improve your physical and mental well being during the next 12 months and beyond.

Resolutions to Improve Your Physical Health 

  1. Eat right. Focus on adopting healthy eating habits rather than resorting to crash diets. Learn to eat more slowly and reduce your portion sizes.
    • Eat a variety of foods with plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and fruits. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats to complete your meals.
  2. Exercise daily. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. Round that out with training for strength and flexibility.
    • Find a variety of activities that you enjoy, like brisk walks and biking.
    • Get an exercise ball or treadmill that you can use at home on busy days or when the weather outside is unpleasant.
  3. Get adequate rest and sleep. Insufficient sleep can make you more vulnerable to weight gain and many illnesses. Different individuals need different amounts of sleep, but the conventional eight hours is a good rule for most people. If you constantly feel drowsy, try going to bed earlier.
  4. Take care of your bones. Almost half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Men can be at risk too. Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Get some sunshine and lift weights or do other resistance training.
  5. Practice good posture. Strong abdominal muscles will protect your back from injury and help you look younger.Get used to pressing your navel towards your lower back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest.
  6. Quit smoking. You probably already know all the dangers of smoking, including lung cancer and premature aging.
    • Many people make several attempts before quitting for good so be open to various cessation methods. Your doctor may be able to help you find the right plan for you.
  7. Drink alcohol in moderation. Some people may need to avoid alcohol all together. Others can stay safe within the general limits of one drink a day for women and two for men. Avoid alcohol before bed so you get good quality sleep.
  8. See your doctor. Regular checkups enable early treatment to keep small health issues from growing worse. If you can’t afford health insurance, you may be able to get some free or inexpensive screenings at local pharmacies and health fairs.

Resolutions to Improve Your Mental Health

  1. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control lets you enjoy life more. Set aside time each day for meditation or listening to soothing music.
  2. Build healthy relationships. Develop a strong network of support. Communicate openly and with respect.
  3. Monitor your thoughts. Think positive. Divert your attention away from nonproductive worrying by brainstorming creative solutions to challenging situations.
  4. Practice positive self talk. Be a good friend to yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
  5. Be compassionate.Show compassion to yourself and others. Be aware of the suffering in the world and look for ways to alleviate it.
  6. Engage in lifelong learning. Keep your mind sharp by giving it constant challenges. Take adult education classes or listen to foreign language tapes.
  7. Consider counseling. It’s wise and courageous to ask for help when you need it.Professional counseling or spiritual practices may help you bounce back from unfortunate events like divorce or unemployment. They can be useful for smaller things, too, like if you’ve just had a rough week.

While many New Year’s resolutions get discarded faster than the dried out Christmas tree, there are ways to make them stick. Set specific goals that are meaningful and attainable for you. Improving your physical and mental health is a great gift for yourself and your whole family.

Meditation Guide for Frequent Travelers

Meditating on the road can be challenging if you’re feeling tired and overloaded. However, there are some guiding principles and practical strategies to help you remain consistent with your practice while you travel.

Guiding Principles

  1. Add variety to your routine. If being in an unfamiliar place makes it harder to settle down into your habitual activities, turn the circumstances around to your advantage. This is a chance to experiment with new techniques.
  2. Be flexible. Work with whatever you have on hand. Borrow a pillow from your bed to use as a cushion if your Zafu is too fluffy to fit into your carry-on bag. If you usually burn incense, apply a scented lotion along your shoulders and neck for a light touch of fragrance.
  3. Focus on quality over quantity. If you’re suffering from a lack of sleep or your daily agenda is jam packed, go easy on yourself. Even 5 minutes of meditation can help relax and restore you. Pushing yourself too hard can backfire and leave you feeling tenser.
  4. Make obstacles part of your practice. The more you travel, the more you come to expect that things will sometimes turn out differently than planned. If you have an unexpected layover, take a few minutes to relax so you’ll feel calmer as you revise your plans.
  5. Let go of expectations. Traveling can be a valuable lesson if you use it to remind yourself that external conditions are beyond your control. Even so, you can still protect your peace of mind. Practice remaining neutral when flights get delayed or luggage gets lost.
  6. Maintain healthy habits. The mind and body are closely connected, so it’s easier to concentrate when you take care of your physical health. Stick to nutritious foods, daily exercise and adequate rest.

Practical Strategies

  1. Bring a familiar object along with you. You’ll feel more at home if you pack a small item that reminds you to practice. It’s easy to bring a small bell that you can ring to call your mind to attention.
  2. Mask background noises. Noise can be a distraction if you have a hotel room next to the elevator. Keep a pink noise recording loaded on your iPhone or MP3 player. It will sound like soft rain in the background.
  3. Wear eyeshades. Meditation is hard to spot from the outside. If you wear eyeshades, flight attendants and seatmates will assume you’re asleep and they’ll be less likely to start talking to you.
  4. Schedule a meditation session for whenever you wake up. The most disruptive thing about travel may be getting off your regular schedule, especially if you’re crossing into new time zones. By meditating whenever you wake up, you’ll stay on track.
  5. Find a local meditation center. Having some company around may motivate you to meditate. Search online for local mediation centers at your destination. They’re everywhere – from yoga studios to community centers.
  6. Meditate outdoors. Travel is much more stimulating if you get out of your hotel room. Go down to the beach or ask the staff at the front desk if there’s a park or public garden nearby.
  7. Try walking meditation. If the last thing you want to do is sit down again after a long flight, walk around while you meditate. Just focus on your breath or positive thoughts while you adopt a steady and gentle pace.

Traveling enriches your life with new experiences and opportunities. By working some meditation time into your schedule, you’ll have more energy to enjoy all the wonderful things around you wherever you go.

A Parent’s Guide to Meditating With Your Toddler

A growing number of parents are looking for ways to share their stillness practice with their children. Here are some benefits of meditating with your toddler, along with suggestions for how to get started.

Benefits of Meditating With Your Toddler:

  1. 1. Spend time together as a family. Anything you do with your child gives you a chance to connect and strengthen your relationship. Toddlers mimic everything they see so they may already be curious about your meditation sessions.
  2. 2. Help your child to focus. Children have limited attention spans, but their powers of concentration will gradually improve with practice. Start off small to avoid frustration.
  3. 3. Make time to relax. Even short breaks will give you and your family a little more peace on busy days. If you battle over nap times, turning the TV off and sitting down together may make it easier for your toddler to fall asleep.
  4. 4. Take a more constructive view of time-outs. Meditation can help you present time-outs as a helpful tool rather than punishment. Sitting down together when you’re both happy will help your child see how taking a few minutes to calm their mind makes them feel better. Eventually, they may resist time-outs less even when they’re upset.
  5. 5. Encourage lifelong health. Many studies confirm that regular meditation improves mental and physical health. You’re helping your child get an early start on techniques that will make life easier during adolescence and adulthood.

How to Meditate With Your Toddler:

  1. 1. Be a calm role model. Small children are very responsive to their parent’s emotional state. When you develop a tranquil mind, it’s much easier for your child to feel secure and peaceful.
  1. 2. Keep your expectations realistic. Most toddlers live in a whirlwind of activity. Expect to be quiet and still for just a few minutes at a time. You and your child will enjoy your sessions more if you make the inevitable distractions part of the fun.
  2. 3. Open and close with a song. Pick any tune with cheerful lyrics that’s easy to sing. It will help you both get you in the mood.
  3. 4. Practice deep breathing and good posture. Learning to breathe correctly and sit up straight are great habits to master early in life. Even small children can learn to breathe slower and from their abdomen.
  4. 5. Buy some fun props. Even on a small budget, you can pick up some items that will stimulate your toddler’s interest. Get a bell that they can ring to call you both to attention. Go shopping together for a small cushion in their favorite color.
  5. 6. Use simple mantras. Help your child pick out words that will be meaningful for them. They may want to recite words like “peace” or “happy.” Make a game out of it.
  6. 7. Visualize. Take turns guiding each other through simple visualizations. You can each take turns naming people who you love including grandparents and family pets. Try describing an imaginary garden and fill it with pretty plants, water, and rocks.
  7. 8. Discuss your experience. You’ll both get more out of your sessions if you connect them to your daily lives. Talk with your child about how meditating makes them feel. Encourage them to make suggestions for additional activities.
  8. 9. Look for guidance. In most communities and online, there are many resources where you can find helpful instructions. Yoga studios and community centers may offer classes especially for parents and children. You can get books at your local library or search for websites about meditation and yoga for children.

Meditation is an effective way to help you and your toddler enjoy greater peace of mind. Start off gradually and keep it playful and you’ll both grow to love your “mommy and me” meditation sessions.

 

Five Everyday Activities to Protect Your Physical Health

Does your body ever feel stiff or sore? As we go through the motions of our often sedentary activities, it can be easy to forget that our bodies need tending too. With just a little conscious thought, you can increase your physical well being today.

Incorporate these easy activities into your daily routines to help keep your body healthy:

    1. Stand up and stretch. Whether you’re home watching TV or at work behind your desk, sitting for long periods can really take its toll, especially on your back. To ensure that you stay healthy and flexible:

    • Avoid slouching in the chair or couch if you have to sit for long periods.

    • Take a 1-minute break every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch your legs and back muscles.

    • Support your back. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in different chair. You may also find that a lumbar cushion or back brace would be helpful.

    2. Avoid spending hours at the computer. Your job may require you to work at a computer all day. However, no matter how busy you are, you can take a moment or two every hour to rest your eyes. Here are some suggestions to ease your eyes:

      • Use an anti-glare screen to decrease contrast.

      • Take frequent breaks and rest your gaze out a window or at far-away object. Relaxing your eyes will help you avoid eyestrain.

      • Ensure that you have good lighting; there should be light around your monitor, and even behind it. Avoid using the computer in the dark!

      • Minimize the amount of clutter around your monitor. Your eyes have more work to do when there are excess items in your frame of vision.

        3. Lift with your legs. As we go through “the motions” on a daily basis, we often overlook the impact small things can have on our physical health. For example: how we lift. Like most of us, you may forget sometimes that lifting with your back can cause damage. Try to remain conscious of this fact to protect your body.

          • Bend at the knees, not at the waist to take the pressure off your sensitive back muscles and prevent unnecessary damage.