Life Ideals™ ProgramLIFE IDEALS is six integrative self-care practices that are the culmination of all the latest and best research. The self-care practices that are proven to reduce stress and increase resiliency are all equal and integrated.
Relaxation helps us to feel balanced, hopeful, and able to handle life’s challenges. It improves our cardiovascular health, as well as our mental health, giving us a feeling of calm, clarity and awareness about our lives.
The Relaxation Response is a bodily response that is opposite of fight or flight. Our “fight or flight” response, that rush of hormones that raises our heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, can be triggered by all kinds of things.
Relaxation can be elicited in a seated or lying down position, or during any repetitive activity, including walking, running, swimming, yoga, or knitting. There are two steps to the Relaxation Response.
- The repetition of a word, sound, prayer, thought, phrase or muscular activity (to break the train of everyday thought).
- The passive return to the repetition when other thoughts intrude.
Regularly practicing meditation, even just twice a week has been shown to normalize blood pressure, increase the oxygen level in our bloodstream, improve our metabolism and positively impact our general wellbeing. Relaxation helps us to feel balanced, hopeful, and able to handle life’s challenges.
Humans are thinking beings, and it’s impossible to separate our feelings and our actions from our thoughts. Thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected.
Our thoughts can be compared to a helium balloon on a string.
As long as we have a firm grip on the string, the balloon (our thoughts) stays under our control. But if the string slips out of our hand, the balloon will soar and we will lose control of it. This metaphor is similar to how we lose control of our thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts, like the balloon, get stopped by the ceiling and don’t spin too wildly out of control. However, imagine what happens if we let the balloon go outside where the sky is the limit. Your thoughts, just like the balloon, will be completely out of control.
We’ve all experienced times when we start out with a seemingly harmless thought like, “I’m stuck in traffic.” Suddenly, you let go of the string, and your negative thoughts start to drift out of control.
The good news is that if we don’t like the way things are going in our life, we can change them by going to the source of the problem, OUR THOUGHTS. We can learn to take control of our thoughts instead of our thoughts taking control of us. When we learn the skills, it can be as easy as keeping hold of the balloon string to change our perspective.
A string of highly negative thoughts may contribute to depression or anxiety, and these thoughts may be based on exaggerations or things that are not real. Your thoughts can be examined and deflated. Once you learn the skills of Thought Restructuring (acknowledging and changing negative thoughts), you can take control of your thoughts and take control of your happiness. Life Ideals can help you to create some tools for your thought restructuring toolbox.
We are social animals; therefore it is not possible for us to live a happy and healthy existence in isolation.
We need social support.
Often you hear people say, “I don’t need anyone, I’m better off alone.” Separation from others is an unhealthy coping skill that does not work for our species and only succeeds in feeding depression.
That doesn’t make it any easier because making friends and influencing people in positive ways can be difficult. If you are not already good at it, and not everyone is, then it is going to take some time and energy to change. Change is possible, and even the most socially awkward and isolated person can learn skills to make friends. Feeling love from friends and relatives elicits the relaxation response and has stress-reducing benefits.
Even those that consider themselves extroverts and find it easy to meet new people and make friendships, sometimes find themselves in ‘toxic relationships’ that can drain you of energy and add to stress levels.
Toxic friends are consistently negative, lack respect, are our worst critic, are always the victim and seem to have a daily tragedy. Often when we are in toxic friendships, it’s easy to identify it but hard to know how to deal with it. The quantity of friends is not better than the quality of friends. Trusting relationships are the key to successful support systems.
Sleep is an active and complex process. It is a biological need that is part of being human. From napping infants to bears curled in hibernation to trees dropping leaves for winter dormancy, every form of life experiences periods of rest. For much of the natural world, these cycles are ingrained and simply part of life’s rhythm. For humans, in our increasingly busy and plugged-in world, getting adequate rest can be a challenge.
Our habits, environments, and practices are referred to as our sleep hygiene. If we are habitually feeling tired, we can work to change our routine to promote healthy, restful sleep and to ensure adequate rest that will keep our minds and bodies healthy and strong.
In our increasing multi-tasking, technologically connected world, it can be hard to draw boundaries between different areas of our lives. To achieve restful sleep, it is essential that we create an environment that is conducive to sleep and is only used for related activities. When we enter that space, it signals our brains that the day is done, that we are separated from the daily stresses of our lives, and that it’s time to rest. Research has shown that when we use our bedrooms for activities not related to sleep, it’s harder for our brains to recognize that we are ready to rest when we go to bed.
Are you able to increase your heart rate daily? Human bodies are built to move around, and all of our muscles feel and work their best when they are active.
Regular physical activity has been proven to actively reduce stress and depression.
Just letting the adrenaline hang out in our bodies causes us to feel jittery, sick or restless. Movement is the best way to burn off extra energy our bodies’ produce.
Physical Activity is anything that increases your heart rate.
While it is best to participate in an activity you enjoy, it need not be formal or organized. Yoga, walking, jogging, playing tag with your kids, bicycling, swimming, and dancing are some great examples of physical activity. When you find a movement that brings you joy self-care becomes easier. It’s one less thing that you add to the to-do list.
When we eat food that’s right for our bodies, our bodies work and feel better: we have more energy, we inhabit our bodies more fully, and we think more clearly.
Changing your diet and eating more nutritious foods is not easy.
Many of us have been told by our doctors to change our diets to lower cholesterol, control diabetes or prevent heart attacks, but it seems just to fit the category of “EASIER SAID THAN DONE.”
It takes time to explore ways to make healthy eating easier and to make healthier foods more accessible. It’s important to learn how food affects our bodies and our moods. There are ways we can learn to cut down on food-related stress and increase food-related well-being. Learning to eat mindfully and being more aware of what we are putting into our bodies can help us to get more enjoyment out of our food.