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Archive for the 'Bounce' Category

Happy as a frog in the mud—why laughter and play are drug-free antidotes to stress

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

 

This wee soul is ‘happy as a frog in mud’ – I took this wee snap on my iPhone.

Laughter, humor, and playtime are great tonics during stressful times. Taking yourself or your life too seriously only increases stress. When you learn to laugh despite your difficulties, you light up the world.

“When people just look at your face,” the Dalai Lama said to the Archbishop Desmond Tutu in The Book of Joy, “you are always laughing, always joyful. This is a very positive message. It is much better when there is not too much seriousness. Laughter, joking is much better. Then we can be completely relaxed.”

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good chemicals, setting off an emotional reaction which makes you feel better.

“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”

You have to be able to laugh at, with, in spite of, your self—and whatever situation you find yourself in. Have you ever wondered why?

Right now, we’re thigh deep in mud during our home renovations. It’s summer, it’s not supposed to rain!

I went in search of scientific articles to validate what I already knew—humor is a fantastic antidote to stress. But I wanted to know what was happening in our brain when we decided to look at something in a more humorous and positive light.

An article posted in Science Direct cited numerous studies validating the benefits of nurturing laughter.

“Without humor, life would undeniably be less exhilarating. Indeed, the ability to comprehend and find a joke funny plays a defining role in the human condition, essentially helping us to communicate ideas, attract partners, boost mood, and even cope in times of trauma and stress,” the authors say.

These beneficial manifestations are complemented physiologically, including acting as a natural stress antagonist and possibly enhancing the cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine systems.

Some studies the report says, “have documented increased hemodynamic signal in the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system, a system known to play a pivotal role in drug reward and motivational behaviors.

“This system encompasses a variety of distinct, but interconnected, dopamine-enriched structures, including the ventral striatum/nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area, and the amygdala.” fMRI studies also reveal important clues about the neurological systems involved in regulating reward.

All good to know—and more fuel for reminding myself to laugh and play.

So instead of wallow in misery, the builders and I stood around and cracked a few jokes and laughed a lot.

“I’m going back to play in the mud,” one of them finally said, whistling as he walked.

Personally, as we all headed straight back into the sludge, I didn’t feel the difference in my brain, but I did in my heart. We love mud. Okay, I’m lying, but the truth is after joking around it did feel better.

The other thing that helped with playing with my camera for a moment. Using my macro lens and my iPhone I took several stunning photos of a frog surrounded by muddy water. I posted the photo on my blog and called it “Happy as a frog in the mud.”

You may not feel like it, but give laughter a go. Watch a funny movie, stream a stack of whacky comedies, go to a comedy show, or watch a video on YouTube. Hang out with people who know how to have a good time, go to a Laughing Yoga class, or ask someone to tickle you!

Inject some more laughter and playfulness into your life.

Playfulness is bounciness at its best. Cultivate your inner child. Act up a little, goof-off, experiment, relax and detach—if you find yourself in trouble, smile.

Benefits of play include:

• Increasing your productivity

• Boosting your creativity and problem-solving skills

• Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression

• Improving your relationships and connections with others

• Bringing more balance, fun, lightness, and levity into your life

• Diminishing your worries

As play researcher and psychiatrist Stuart Brown says in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, “A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: it’s a health risk to your body and mind.”

The Dalai Lama agrees. “I met some scientists in Japan, and they explained that wholehearted laughter—not artificial laughter—is very good for your heart and your health in general.”

Some of the many ways I play include: “wagging” work sometimes and taking my inner child on a playdate to the movies, going for a massage, or indulging in my hobbies and playing with my paints. Listening to music from the 70s is also playful and brings levity. While traveling internationally recently, I watched the Disney children’s movie Frozen. I haven’t laughed so much in years.

I also love reminding myself of the magic of writing and reading. As novelist Caroline Gordon once wrote, “A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.”

Author Deepak Chopra confirms the power of lightening up,  “When we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease,” Chopra says.

Check out my blog for some strategies to reinforce play and create more bounciness in your day—http://bit.ly/29RPQis

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life. To purchase your copy and discover the surprising joy of sobriety, click here to go to your online bookshopgetBook.at/Controlalcohol

 

 

p.s. Nora Roberts once said, “I need to write my books in peace.” Hmmmm, so do I, but right now, we’re in the midst of a renovation project. It’s supposed to be summer here—it never rains, but this year it has poured….and poured…and poured.

My true love had a dozen red roses delivered to cheer me up this Valentine’s Day—I thought it would be fun to share this photo with you!

 

What’s the ultimate Christmas present? The gift of your sobriety

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

When I cut out alcohol, my life got better. When I cut out alcohol, my spirit came back. An evolved life requires balance. Sometimes you have to cut one thing to find balance everywhere else.”

~ Sarah Hepola, author

How Alcohol Affects Your Brain and Behavior

You may think that alcohol relaxes you, but in reality, you’re disrupting your brain’s natural functioning. Every time you drink alcohol you’re slowing down, impeding and even destroying your beautiful brain’s ability to do its job.

Scary and true.

Your brain is your body’s control center. It’s the maestro of the orchestra, directing a wide range of abilities and vital life processes, including breathing and maintaining a regular heartbeat, and influencing your emotions.

When you introduce booze into the mix the melody changes from one of harmony to potential discord.

While all the systems in your body feel the effects of alcohol, the Central Nervous System (CNS), is acutely sensitive. The CNS is made up of billions of neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior. And none of these are for the better.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior.

 

The Great Depression

Alcohol depresses your CNS—slowing motor function, thinking, comprehension, and reasoning.

Booze makes nerve cells in your brain dull and less excited. This may surprise you. You may think that alcohol is a great ‘pick-me-up.’

In the short-term drinking alcohol can make you become more animated and socially confident. But this is only because the first wave of alcohol affects parts of your brain that involve inhibiting your behaviors.

The first drops of alcohol are like a green light signaling to your neural network, ’Let’s go! It’s happy hour. Time to party.’

But look more closely and you’ll see many warning indicators that your brain is either slowing to a crawl or getting ready to brawl.

Take a look at the list below. How many have been true for you after knocking back a few too many?

• Slurring and altered speech

• Hazy thinking

• Slowed reaction time

• Blurred vision

• Uncoordinated muscles

• Foggy memory

Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects your brain and behavior.The role of different parts of your brain and how alcohol compromises optimal functioning follows:

Central striatum and prefrontal cortex: Contains connections that make up the brain’s reward system and regulates impulsive behavior. This is also the part of the brain that is affected first, causing your behavior to become looser, less guarded and increasing the likelihood you’ll do something impulsive you may later regret.

Hippocampus: Your brain’s memory storehouse. Even a small shot of alcohol can cause forgetfulness and memory loss.

Cerebellum: This part of your brain works with the primary motor cortex to control your movement, maintain balance, and enable complex motor functions. When you’re drunk, your motor function is impeded and reaction times slow. If you can’t stand or walk in a straight line after a night on the booze you’ll know why.

Frontal lobe: Your judgment, behavior, and emotions are controlled by this part of your brain. Alcohol affects the natural rhythm of your emotions and may cause anxiety, depression, crying, fighting, and aggression. Alcohol can make good people turn bad, and happy people become sad.

Reticular activating system: This part is in the midbrain, and controls sleeping and waking. Alcohol can depress these systems, causing you to pass out. Alternatively, it can disrupt your normal sleeping patterns, causing insomnia and waking you up at annoying hours. Lack of sleep increases irritability and low mood.

Medulla: This part is in the hindbrain, and it controls your heartbeat, breathing, and other important life functions. Heavy drinking sessions can disrupt everything, putting your life in danger.

Neurons: Your brain has billions of these nerve cells. As you’ve already read, alcohol can reach and enter these cells and damage, or even, at high enough levels, kill them off completely.

Blood vessels: When you’re intoxicated, alcohol causes your blood vessels to relax and open wide—slowing blood pressure to crawl. At very high levels of intoxication, booze can shrink your blood vessels and send your blood pressure soaring, exacerbating such conditions as migraine headaches, or worse, compromising your heart.

Hypothalamus: Finally, alcohol depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus, which control sexual performance and arousal. Sexual urges may increase, but sexual performance and sensory pleasure decrease.”

Shut off, shut down…and worse

Okay, now you know what happens in your brain when you drink, and how this compromises your behavior and health. The chances are high that you know that alcohol can be dangerous. But very often, it’s not a story that’s often heard.

Many people don’t abuse alcohol and enjoy a good time. But a lot of people don’t.

Alcohol affects just about every part of your brain and your nervous system. It ‘shuts down’ different parts of the brain and compromises your health, causes you to engage in unhealthy behaviors and engage in activities you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t ‘under the influence.’

In essence, you’ve lost control. At worst, letting alcohol get in the driver’s seat could take your freedom and your life.

Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood of making bad decisions, engaging in risky behavior, increasing the alcohol dependence, and can lead to addiction and alcoholism.

In the following chapter, we’ll look at why some people develop alcohol dependence and how relying on booze to deal with life can escalate to alcoholism. You’ll then be better armed to avoid getting immeshed in the alcohol trap.

Sexy Sobriety: Your Challenge

Educate yourself. Next time you decide to hit the bottle monitor what happens to your brain, your mood, and your ability to function. If you’re around other people who are on the booze, study how excessive drinking affects them.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when my new book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f

Would you like to drink less? We value your advice—help customize this book to peoples’ needs, navigate to here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5K8KSN7

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the December Detox challenge. The best Christmas present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety https://www.facebook.com/YourBeautifulMindControlAlcoholBook/

Boost happiness, joy and prosperous productivity by 600%—create a magic morning

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

“If you win the morning, you win the day,” says millionaire author, podcaster and polymath Tim Ferriss. Despite his phenomenal success Tim suffers from anxiety and credits a robust morning routine and other health behaviors with giving him more bounce throughout the day.

Ferriss kick-starts his day with 10-20 minutes of transcendental meditation, five to 10 minutes of journaling or Morning Pages, making his bed, and a healthy dose of positive vibes. He also does at least 30 seconds of light exercise. 30 seconds!

“Getting into my body, even for 30 seconds, has a dramatic effect on my mood and quiets mental chatter,” Ferriss wrote in his book Tools of Titans.

I’ve followed a similar ritual for years—long before I discovered Tim Ferris. But whenever I am tempted to flag my meditation or my ritual of writing in my journal, I find it helpful to remind myself these are the tools Titans like Tim use to achieve phenomenal results.

Below are just a few of the many Magic Morning routines and rituals you can use to prime your day for miracles:

Meditation and mindfulness—enjoy some sacred silence

Affirmations—empower your beliefs with feeling-based reminders of your intentions

Goals to go for—set your priorities, including health and well-being activities (exercise etc.)

Inspiration—journaling, visualization, reading

Co-create—partner with spirit, tap into your Higher Self, evoke the muse…and get ready to create

 

Importantly, complete these crucial focusing activities before you get to work.

I experience many of these activities simultaneously when I meditate, write my Morning Pages, and consult the oracles; and also when I go for a walk in nature, listen to an uplifting audiobook or podcast, or sip my morning coffee.

Ferriss, in a podcast episode, sums up the potency of similar mindful practices: “It’s easy to become obsessed with pushing the ball forward as a Type-A personality and end up a perfectionist who is always future-focused.

“The five-minute journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person. That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person—which is not something that comes naturally to me.”

I’m not alone in knowing the positive difference daily habits like journaling or taking the time to reconnect with my higher self, makes to my resilience and happiness levels.

Get your day off to a high-vibration start.  Choose, develop, and apply your own Magic Morning routines.

 

This is an edited extract from Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness and, overcome obstacles and elevate your success read the book here—myBook.to/Bounce.

Bounce Your Knowledge

Monday, November 20th, 2017

 

Knowledge is power. No matter what your situation, no matter what your current level of expertise or knowledge is always, always be informed. Not everybody has your best interests in mind, and everyone is capable of mistakes.

When you empower your mind with the knowledge you need you’ll feel more in control and boost your capacity to bounce.

When I was building my home all the experts told me everything was fine. But I had heard of the planned changes in the building code and became alarmed. In short, I had to battle with my architect, battle with the local council, and battle with my builders during my quest to have them make changes to the design.

At the time of gathering all the knowledge I needed I didn’t feel like I was bouncing at all. I felt incredibly frustrated and overwhelmed. But then, when came to sell my home and the new owners found that the house met the new building code requirements I feel a spring in my step. My house easily sold. Other homeowners weren’t so lucky, and have been stuck with sub-standard homes they can’t sell and have had to try and recover damages from their architect, builders, and councils.

Similarly, when an intruder tried to break into my rural property the police told me not to worry. But the man kept coming back. The police said he was harmless. I told them harmless men don’t threaten me or my partner with violence.

I had to become informed about how to have a trespass notice issued correctly—the police kept telling me differing advice. Finally, I said, “I will not be the woman people read about in the paper—the one who was assaulted by an intruder and is dead.” In the process of finding out the right way to deter an intruder, I reclaimed my safety, my peace of mind and my power.

Many of my clients who have been experiencing bullying at work have done the same. They have found out their legal rights, either for themselves or with the help of an employment lawyer, and have taken back their power. Sometimes this has been by learning to be more assertive, or by realizing their job sucked and finding another one, or working for themselves.

Similarly, my partner recently queried the medical advice his doctor gave him recently. Often doctors are too quick to prescribe medication without having first completed a full diagnosis—including asking you about lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your poor health.

My partner had done considerable research into the side effects of medication he was given for his blood pressure, and was alarmed that his doctor’s response to his concerns was to prescribe more medication to reduce the side effects of the first medication. Google ‘scary side effects of medication’ and you may be alarmed. But a cautionary note, don’t stop taking any medication without checking—you may risk worsening your original condition.

Whatever your situation, bounce your knowledge—become informed.

This is an edited extract from Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. Coming soon.

 

 

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