Be Happy & Healthy & Live Longer

Not sleeping and feeling stressed? Not sure what to do? Well it seems there is something we can all do that’s free, fun and makes us not only feel happy but can reduce our stress levels, make us less anxious and depressed and boost our immune systems too. What is it? Hug! All we have to do is hug! Apparently 8 good hugs a day is recommended.

A proper deep hug, where hearts are pressing together, has the following benefits:

  1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
  2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
  3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
  4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the solar plexus chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
  5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. When we were babies touch showed us that we were loved and special. Those associations of self-worth and tactile sensations are still embedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received as children remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
  6. Hugging relaxes muscles, releasing tension in the body and can take away pain by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
  7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
  8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
  9. Hugs, like meditation and laughter, teach us to let go and be present in the moment by getting us out of our circular thinking patterns and connecting us with our hearts, feelings and breath.
  10. The energy exchange between people hugging encourages empathy and understanding.

Source: Mind, Body, Green, BBC News and The Mail Online

The Science of Happiness – Gratitude

Here’s something worth trying…

Close your eyes and think of someone really influential in your life right now, someone who has done something amazing or important for you. Then write down as much as you can about why this person is so important to you. When you’ve finished call them and read what you’ve written.

If we start every day by thinking about what is is we are grateful for in our lives, then write those things down in a “gratitude” diary, by the end of the week we will have created quite a list. Imagine what that list would look like at the end of a month, a year, five years! It’s a great start to the day but also makes great reading particularly when we are feeling low, and even then, I’m pretty sure we can all think of something or someone we are glad or grateful to have in our life.

Blackberry Picking

blackberriesIt’s blackberry picking season! So my plan for the week is to get out and get stocked up.

Found in abundance in hedgerows and free to all, great as puddings or fresh as snacks, the health benefits of the humble blackberry are huge.

Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants, blackberries are also low in calories, carbohydrates and fat, making them one of the best fruits in the world.

Just one cup of blackberries contains half of your daily recommend intake of vitamin C, which protects the immune system, helps to heal wounds and may lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer.  Vitamin C may even help to lessen the appearance of wrinkles.

For me, its a win, win situation. I’m out in the countryside, picking free food, which not only tastes amazing but can be made in to so many delicious dishes, they are super nutritious, and, if that’s not enough, they may even help with my wrinkles!

Top tip: Remember blackberry bushes are really thorny so cover your arms and wear some gardening gloves. Choose blackberry bushes away from main roads. Leave the low hanging fruit as they may have been caught by foxes or dogs taking a comfort break. Don’t store loads of on top of each other as they will bruise. Make a day of it and go blackberry picking in the countryside with friends then invite them over to share your home-made blackberry and apple pie.

Source: Health Diaries and BBC Good Food

Indoor Skydiving

skydiveJust before I found out I had breast cancer I booked an indoor skydiving treat for myself and a friend. However, once everything kicked off I wasn’t able to go and to be honest, wasn’t even sure that I should. 

When I read in the LSN (Lymphoedema Support Network) newsletter that the reason why the rebounder (aka mini trampoline) is so good for our lymph system is that on the bounce we experience weightlessness (zero gravity), I started to think about what other fun things I could do that would give the same result.

Well, indoor skydiving is a zero gravity experience, so I checked with the LSN who emailed me back yesterday saying “It is a passive sport so go ahead and enjoy it!”.

This opens up a realm of possibilities, which I will check out first before posting, but the good news is that there is stuff we can do that is a lot fun but also great for our lymphatic system too!

Rebounding DVD

jason-vale-dvdMy rebounder (aka mini trampoline) is one of the BEST things I’ve bought recently. If my arm is feeling a bit sluggish or tight then all I have to do is stick on my exercise playlist and bounce around for it to start feeling ok again.

It is addictive and I did get a bit carried away when I first got it and pulled a muscle. In the week that followed, when I laid off the rebounder, I really missed it. So, I decided to try and do things properly and bought ‘Jason Vale’s Rebounding Workout DVD’.

Early morning workouts are great for waking up the body and getting the lymph moving. So, I’m going to try and get in to the habit of getting up and working out before I do anything else.

Here’s the plan:

1. Glass of filtered water and a slice of lemon
2. Easy Bounce Workout
3. Glass of ‘King of the Juice‘ and a piece of fruit for breakfast
4. All over dry brushing before having a bath/shower
5. Towel dry and then use E45 lotion with a few drops of Argan Oil

Once I’ve got that nailed I will move on to the Medium Bounce Workout.

Exercise Playlist

Everybody has their favourite workout playlist so I thought I would share mine with you. Whatever I’m doing whether its running, rebounding or skipping, these are the songs that get me out of my chair and make me feel good again.

Warm up or cool down to:
Beautiful – Mariah Carey, followed by…
Waiting All Night – Rudimental (love the video to this one, really inspirational)

Then, in no particular order…
Best Song Ever – One Direction
Titanium – David Guetta
Bonkers – Dizzee Rascal
Witchcraft – Pendulum
You Bring Me Joy – Amelia Lily
Stay Too Long – Plan B
Good Feeling – Flo Rida
Hot n Cold – Katy Perry
Buck Rogers – Feeder
Only Girl In The World – Rihanna