The Most Important Factor in Being Well

The Most Important Factor in Being Well

February is National Cancer Prevention Month.

I love the term prevention. To me, prevention is about honoring the body and prioritizing healthy choices. It is a positive term. It conveys trust in the body’s ability to heal and thrive.

When we think of prevention in these terms, we remove any fear or negativity from the equation and stay focused on the positive.

Last year my company was awarded a grant through the Livestrong Foundation’s Big C Competition which “is a one-of-a-kind competition to generate innovations that improve the daily quality of life for the 32.5 million people around the world living with cancer now.”

You can check out my winning entry here.

I’m sure you already know that healthy choices such as avoiding stress, eating whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals, drinking plenty of clean water (at least 64 oz/day), exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep all serve to keep your body in tip-top shape and avoid illness.

But did you know the one thing many of us holistic types agree is the most important factor in staying well?  Loving yourself.

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Loving myself is the most important thing I can do to stay well. @Gratitude2Bliss

And that is where practicing gratitude comes in.

Keeping a daily gratitude practice helps you stay focused on the positive. And when done effectively, your practice helps you stay connected to yourself and to appreciate yourself in ways you haven’t before.

As you begin to appreciate all the good things in your life, you get clearer about what matters to you most. You – often unconsciously – begin making choices that support your best interest.

Choices that support your happiness, your health and ultimately your bliss.

The result? You end up loving yourself more. You take better care of yourself and you become kinder to yourself.

What I love most about this practice is that it only takes a few minutes a day!

So in honor of Cancer Prevention Month, please write down three things you LOVE about yourself – either in your journal or in the comments below.

Be well and thanks for reading!

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Please share three things you LOVE about yourself below! Don’t hold back, you are absolutely wonderful so let it shine!

3 Ways Gratitude Ups the Love In Your Life

3 Ways Gratitude Ups The Love In Your Life
(Part two of a five-part series on gratitude and nutrition)

One of my favorite primary foods is relationships.

Happiness expert, Christine Carter, Ph.D., states, “If I had to pick one thing that matters most to human happiness, I would say that our relationships matter more than anything else.”

In her book, Raising Happiness, 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, she shares, “Appreciation is one of the most important ways we teach our kids to form strong relationships with others.”

As a new Mom, I have to say one of the things I am most grateful for are the relationships I am forming as a result of having my son. The other day I chatted with one of my new Mom friends about our blessings and challenges. As she shared her struggle, she told me how much the gratitude journal I gave her helps her stay “on track” so she doesn’t get overwhelmed and lose sight of what’s really important. Her appreciating me in this way made me feel – well – wonderful, and more connected to her as we become closer friends.

Whether or not you receive cards or flowers, or (hopefully) chocolate this week, the important thing is how loved and loving you FEEL.

Photo: Lenora Gim

Here are 3 ways a gratitude practice can up the love in your life:

  1. When you practice gratitude, you start to notice the little things other people do for you that you may have previously overlooked. By slowing down and remembering all the things that are good in your life through your practice, you naturally find things people do for you showing up on your list. Your husband making you a cup of tea, the waitress remembering that you like lemon with your water, your child giving you an unexpected hug, or your neighbor stopping by with fresh herbs from her garden. Once you begin to notice these things and appreciate them, your heart expands and you feel more loved.
  2. When you are more appreciative of the little things someone does for you, you are more likely to express your appreciation – forming a stronger connection with that person. Sharing how you feel with someone, even if it’s a simple thank you, makes the other person feel appreciated and loved. This exchange opens your heart to giving and you naturally feel more loving.
  3. When you practice gratitude you create a circle of love in which you are the center. As you become more aware of the relationships in your life, you prioritize the people in your life who make you the most happy. Surrounding yourself with these people allows even more love to flow to you. Being open to receiving this love, you in turn share it with those around you creating a circle of love.

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Practicing gratitude creates a circle of love in which you are the center. @Gratitude2Bliss

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Please share your thoughts on gratitude and love below! How does practicing gratitude affect the LOVE in YOUR life?

3 Ways Gratitude Squashes Stress

One of the things I don’t like about this time of year is the heightened stress factor the holidays bring. The other day I was beeped at just as the light changed to green – as if that extra second of waiting made a difference.

Stress is “in the air,” especially this time of year.

In fact, it’s epidemic in our country. According to the American Institute of Stress, 75% of all doctor and hospital visits are stress-related.

That’s crazy! Living in a constant state of stress is not only killing us, it’s preventing us from enjoying life. Simple pleasures get snatched away in our effort to do more, get more, and be more.

Luckily I have found an antidote. When it comes to stress, I often say gratitude is my BFF. Let me explain.

When I start to feel anxious, overtired, or angry, that’s usually a trigger for me to slow down, take a breath and ask myself,

“Am I operating in a state of fear and stress,
or am I operating in a state of
love and gratitude?”

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If fear and stress are the culprits, I know I how to turn things around. I simply put myself in an immediate state of gratitude by thinking of a few things I am grateful for and allowing myself to really feel the love those things bring to my life. I instantly feel better.

Here’s the science that explains why this happens:

  1. When you are stressed, your blood vessels constrict and less oxygen gets delivered to your brain and other organs. You may experience brain fog, headaches, stomach issues, fatigue or other symptoms. However, when you engage in thoughts of gratitude, your heart rhythms become smooth and as a result you think more clearly, have more energy, and make better decisions regarding your health and happiness. You become better able to avoid binge eating, drinking or other damaging behaviors that stress can trigger.
  1. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels increase. Excess cortisol can lead to inflammation which can lead to discomfort and “dis-ease.” Engaging in thoughts of gratitude, however, lowers cortisol by 23% and helps your body rebalance after stressful situations, allowing you to feel more relaxed and more comfortable.
  1. Fear and worry can overcome your mood. But thinking of something you are grateful for activates the frontal region of your brain which is responsible for releasing serotonin and dopamine – your body’s natural mood enhancers – and voila, you feel better!

So the next time you feel stressed, try focusing on something you are grateful for and see what happens. Remember to focus on the feeling, not just the thought.

Feeling stressed right now? Visit my Facebook page and post something you are grateful for or leave a comment below.

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When stress takes over, gratitude shifts me to a better place. @Gratitude2Bliss

Happy Holidays!

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Can you be grateful and still want more?

Today I Am Grateful For New Friends  –Alyssa, age 4

Today I Am Grateful For New Friends –Alyssa, age 4

Whenever I mention to parents that I wrote a children’s book on gratitude, they almost always say, “That is so needed today.”

Then they tell me about the constant “I wants” they deal with and how difficult it can be to manage expectations, especially around the holidays.

As a gratitude expert, it may surprise you to know that I think this is OK. It is OK for kids to want gifts – lots of gifts – for the holidays. After all, isn’t that what being a kid is all about?

The holidays are about giving AND receiving so let’s not take the receiving part away from them – or yourself either!

I think where the frustration comes in for parents is in the lack of real appreciation when kids do receive a gift. And that’s where I come in.

Being grateful isn’t about wanting less or sacrificing more. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

One of the biggest benefits of practicing gratitude is that it puts you in touch with what you love most in life. It helps you stay focused on the things that give you joy, and, often without you even noticing it, guides you toward those things so you can have more of them.  

Yes, having more – more of the things you love. More happiness. More joy. More peace. More love. And the more you appreciate these things, the more you’ll find them miraculously showing up in your life.

So how do we create an attitude of gratitude in our children?

One of the most valuable coaching tips I received in my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (you can learn more about my experience here) is the concept of “crowding out.” Instead of focusing on what a client should NOT be eating, Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches inspire clients to add more goodness to their diet – more greens, more healthy fats, more water, and more self-love.

It’s the same with kids. Instead of telling a child that they should be grateful, focus on creating healthy habits such as keeping a gratitude jar or asking them to say one thing they are grateful for at meal time or bed time each night. The real key here is p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e. It has to be a regular practice, something you do the same time each day or each week, in order for gratitude to be at the forefront of your mind – and your children’s minds – on a regular basis.

I was amazed at how much kids were able to share what they knew about gratitude at my workshop and book signing this past weekend. I believe that kids truly are grateful at heart, but like the rest of us, they are bombarded with commercial messages that take away from appreciating the good things in life and need tools to help reinforce positivity and appreciation.

GratitudeToBliss.com is dedicated to creating tools to help you practice gratitude all year long as a way to bring more goodness into your life.

Go ahead, say it, “I want more.” It’s OK.

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Practicing gratitude helps me receive more of what I love. @Gratitude2Bliss

What do you want more of? Please leave a comment below!

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Light Up Your Life This Week

The afternoon light through my window is bright and intense. Blinding almost. And I am like a plant drawn to its warmth, soaking up as much as I can before it slips out of reach.

The end of daylight savings can rattle even the most grounded of us. Light, beautiful light, is the source of life. Getting by with less of it, I have to say, can make me feel less alive.

Knowing this, I make an effort to bring more light into my life this time of year. Here are a few ways you can too!

  1. Light a candle. This morning, as I was giving my son a bottle at 3 am, (changing the clocks already has him way off schedule), I opted not to turn on the lights. The morning bottle is a sacred time for me and rather than getting annoyed that I was up so early, I decided to light one of my favorite aromatherapy candles and bliss the moment.
  2. Buy some flowers. My friend A has been buying fresh flowers every Saturday and placing them in every room in her boyfriend’s apartment. She says they create more “light.” Using an essential oiler diffuser is another great way to elevate your surroundings!
  3. Check your Vitamin D. Most people are not getting enough Vitamin D and this time of year it’s especially important to get your levels checked. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that your body produces when exposed to sunlight. It affects energy, mood, and cellular growth and also regulates genes. Who knew? Optimal amounts — the key word here is optimal —  can help prevent autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer. One of my favorite teachers at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Mark Hyman, MD, recommends getting tested for 25 OH Vitamin D and says that the optimal range is 40-65 ng/ml even though the “normal” range is considerably lower. You can find more info here.
  4. Get more Z’s. This time of year you may find yourself craving sleep. Our bodies are especially sensitive to light and as the days get shorter our need for sleep increases. Don’t fight it. Without enough sleep your body can’t heal, repair and restore. Remember this next time you practice your sun salutations at yoga. Thank the sun for giving you an excuse to get to bed early. Your body will love you for it. Oh, and remember to limit screen time to at least an hour before bed. Your brain needs chill time before shutting down.
  5. Up Your Vitamin G. Practicing gratitude activates the part of the brain responsible for producing serotonin and dopamine – our beloved mood enhancers. Getting less sunlight can have the opposite effect. A great way to bring more light to your practice – literally – is to journal by candlelight. A delicious way to end the day!

candle

Now it’s your turn. How will you light up YOUR life this week? Leave a comment, question or gratitude below!

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Light, beautiful light, is the source of life.
@Gratitude2Bliss

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