Simple Fall and Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

thanksgiving decorI love fall decorating in my home. It adds warmth and coziness before the rush of Christmas or other holiday decorating. It can be simple and inexpensive, and other family members can get involved. Here are several ideas to try or to inspire you to think of additional things you can do right now.

1. Outdoor Display
Decorate the front yard with harvest-type items like a hay bale, pumpkins, gourds, etc. You can arrange seasonal items on a bench, chair or swing, and use baskets, burlap bags, or other containers.

A Happy Thanksgiving sign can be easily created out of wood, or create a flag out of felt. For a little color, plant a few mums, either in the ground or in pots and planters around the outside of the house, or along the pathway or drive leading up to it. You can get a lot of decorating ideas at your local nursery.

2. Door Wreath
Nothing says the holidays quite like a door wreath. You can purchase grapevine wreaths in many sizes at a craft store very inexpensively. Then hot glue or wire pine cones, chestnuts, acorns, small gourds and more onto the wreath. You could also use a foam base. To make it more reusable year after year, Silk leaves and flowers can be used.

3. Inside the House
Add fall colors in simple ways like using autumn-colored throw pillows or blankets on your couch. Scented candles in fall fragrances or a spicy, scented air freshener add those great fall scents to your whole house.

Change out some of your wall decor with seasonal scenes, thoughts or objects.  Etsy sellers have made this easy with printable designs. Find something you like, make your payment, and download your new wall art. You can print it on your home computer or put it on a thumb/flash drive and take it to your local printer (Staples, OfficeMax, etc.). Print on a slightly heavier paper and frame as you wish. My Etsy shop has a selection of fall wall art, for example: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DecorateOrganizeGive

4. Mantelpiece Display
The mantel over your fireplace is the perfect place to decorate for Thanksgiving. For a simple display, arrange some pumpkins or decorative gourds and/or Indian corn on the mantelpiece, along with a few candles. Orange, gold or brown glass vases by themselves or filled with live or silk flowers and foliage are also a nice touch. Hang a fall garland or wreath above the mantelpiece, similar to the one on your front door.

5. Create a Centerpiece
An attractive centerpiece can set the tone of any holiday table or buffet table. If you have a buffet or side table, add decorations there too. Here are some suggestions.

Fall Flower Arrangement
You can choose fresh flowers or plants – particularly in yellow, orange, brown or bronze colors – and add greenery or fall grasses to the fresh flowers. Alternately, you can make an arrangement that you can use year after year from silk flowers and foliage in a vase, basket or cornucopia. Add a complementary bow and you are all set.

Pumpkins, Gourds, and Indian Corn
You can make a beautiful fall arrangement by setting out some miniature pumpkins and ears of Indian corn on your table or sideboard. Look for yellow, red, multicolored and purple varieties of corn for an authentic Thanksgiving feel. Scatter them across your dining table or arrange them in a bowl for a nice centerpiece. And of course, there is nothing more gorgeous than a range of gourds. Keep them in a cool place and they can last for ages.

Candles and Seasonal Items
Candles always add a warm feel to a room. Pair them with displays of acorns, chestnuts and mini pumpkins.

Decorate or Paint Pumpkins
Painting pumpkins with a design can be great fun and result in some unique decorations. Acrylic craft paints, found in all craft stores and craft sections of other stores work well. Or you can choose or make stencils and spray paint them. Here’s some more information about painting pumpkins. Ehow – Painting Pumpkins

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to do some fall/Thanksgiving decorating.

If you are interested in additional fall decor items, go to this Amazon link to shop or just to get more ideas:  Fall Decor Items

Enjoy this season before the December holidays begin! It’s a lovely time of year.

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

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Celebrate and Enjoy Autumn

No matter what the year has been like up to this point, I hope that all of us will celebrate and enjoy autumn! Various polls over the years have indicated that the season most cited as “favorite” is autumn/fall. There are a variety of reasons for this: relief from extreme heat, beautiful fall colors as leaves turn, return to school and fall schedules, the multiple holidays of the season, and more. Even in this most unusual year, there are reasons to celebrate and enjoy this time of the year. And perhaps it’s even more important than ever to do that.

A part of taking care of ourselves when there is much uncertainty and stress at many levels is to find and create ways to relax and renew our bodies and minds. It can be alone or with loved ones.  We often think of self-care as routines and practices. In addition to those, identify and choose some activities outside of your normal daily and weekly patterns. Here are a few autumn-specific ideas to celebrate and enjoy autumn.

Enjoy Nature in All its Autumn Glory

One excellent thing to do in the fall is to enjoy nature. Wherever you are located, the change of seasons is evident. It is more subtle visually in some areas than others, but changes are everywhere. If you are fortunate enough to live in or be close enough for a visit, the annual changing of leaf colors in some parts of the country are certainly worth a drive. Taking photos of the beauty and sharing and/or printing them for display are ways to bring enjoyment to yourself and others. Here’s a link to a fall foliage map for 2020 where you can see by date, through November, where the colors will be best. Fall Foliage Map 2021

Engage Friends in a Virtual Activity

As we continue to demonstrate caution in interacting with others during the pandemic, our creativity is our best ally. Choose an activity, set a time and guidelines, and invite friends and loved ones to participate. Use Zoom, Google Meet, or other group platforms to gather at the appointed time to share the results.

Here are some options; add any that you think of.

  • Pumpkin carving or decorating (paint, glitter, etc.) – have each participant prepare ahead of time and share the results, or connect on your virtual platform for a specified period of time to do the carving or decorating together.
  • Share a favorite family recipe that you especially enjoy in the autumn. Show both the prepared item and have a recipe to email.
  • Autumn wreath making – send out suggestions of materials to gather ahead of time and make the wreaths at the same time while connected on your virtual platform.
  • Share ideas for adding autumn scents to your home – invite people to share and possibly demonstrate their favorite ways they do this. (candle or oil scents they love, potpourri they put together, etc.)

Visit a Local Apple Orchard

Most apple orchards and pumpkin patches have adapted their offerings to make them safe for participants this year. Check ahead of time to make sure you are comfortable with them. In some cases you can pick apples, in other cases you will be able to walk through the orchard and choose apples to sample and buy. There are usually apple treats to take home, and perhaps recipes to make at home. To find apple orchards in your area, go to the Pick Your Own Website at http://www.pickyourown.org/  I wrote specifically about enjoying a trip to an apple orchard in a previous post:  Take a Trip to an Apple Orchard

Head to the Pumpkin Patch

Grocery and other stores offer pumpkins for purchase and it’s so handy to just pick up what you want there. But why not go to an actual pumpkin patch? Many cities and towns have big pumpkin patches where you can walk around and look at all the various sizes and shapes of pumpkins to pick out your favorite ones. Besides those for carving and/or decorating, purchase some of the varieties that are best for baking or cooking and experiment with fresh pumpkin recipes at home. There’s an added bonus at a pumpkin patch – it’s a great opportunity for some photos with pumpkin backgrounds with the family.

Have a Fall Picnic

Identify a place where you can enjoy the fall weather and scenes and pack a simple picnic lunch. If you want to try outdoor exercise, you can do some hiking too. Or you could picnic in your own back yard. If you have a fire pit or grill to use, roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Marshmallows = S’mores for many of us; add the graham crackers and chocolate for that favorite treat.

There are many things we can do to celebrate and enjoy autumn and still keep ourselves and our families safe. Make some plans now and have a great time. Here’s a link to a free instant download of a Fall Bucket List form to use as you plan. Fall Bucket List 

Here’s a great tool to help you dream about and plan daytrips and mini-vacations throughout the year:

Planner & Journal For Day Trips, Getaways and Mini-Vacations

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.           

Follow me on Twitter!  Follow me on Instagram!  Follow me on Pinterest! 

Follow me on Facebook!    Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

The Benefits of Elderberries Throughout the Year

Benefits of Elderberries

Elderberries are on my mind. In late summer and early fall when I was growing up in southern Wisconsin the elderberries were ripe and ready to pick along the rural roads. It was always such a treat to find them and bring them home to be carefully taken off the stems, washed and readied for pie or jelly.

Elderberries

Elderberries then were a treat which we looked forward to. Until recent years, when I found and began purchasing the jelly and learning more about it, I had no idea of all the health value of these tiny berries. They have become one of the superfoods sold in various forms: fresh or dried berries, syrups, extracts, supplements and tablets, and jellies. There are even gummies now for those who prefer that type of supplement!

During a previous flu/cold season, I posted “What are Elderberries and What Can They Do for Me” . The focus was on how they help during the winter. For many people, elderberry is their go-to to ward off or shorten flu and colds. But there are many other benefits of elderberries. The benefits of this unique fruit can be gained all year-round.

Benefits of Elderberries 

Elderberries help lower blood sugar levels by stimulating glucose metabolism (study in the Journal of Nutrition). This can be both a preventive and assist if you are struggling with your blood sugar levels.

Elderberry is often used as a diuretic, whether as the fruit (fresh or dried), a supplement or syrup. Using it in your food – a smoothie, in tea, in baked goods, or as jelly on bread – or taking it in other forms are all helpful. It also improves digestion and general gut health.

Many berries are high in antioxidants, and elderberries are no exception. They have lots of vitamin C, flavonoids as well as additional immune-strengthening compounds. All of these help us stay healthy and fight off infections by protecting our cells.

Allergy season is actually multiple allergy seasons, depending on what you are specifically allergic to. Allergens tend to increase inflammation in your body, which leads to symptoms like swelling, redness, itching, coughing and congestion. Elderberry boosts your immune system as described above and also helps reduce the inflammation.

And there’s more! Elderberry can improve bone and joint health, thanks to the various natural properties of the plant, including the anti-inflammatory properties and the antioxidants. It can be of value to those with arthritis and osteoporosis.

In addition to the internal health benefits, elderberry promotes healthy skin by improving skin rejuvenation. There are commercial products like scrubs, tinctures, and masks available through shops that sell natural beauty products. These can provide softer, more supple, glowing skin and also help with acne and blemishes.

As the benefits of elderberry have become more widely known, more and more products like syrups, supplements, gummies, etc. have been developed. A variety of them can be found here: https://amzn.to/31dowDg
Dried elderberries and powder can also be purchased: https://amzn.to/2Hkc4sz , as well as teas: https://amzn.to/31U5cK8

These tiny berries pack a wallop! Give them a try and see how they benefit you.

Using Planners and Journals to Make Fall/Autumn Most Enjoyable

Autumn treeNow that we are into a new season, it is a good time to reflect on your regular routine and what you anticipate in the coming few months. Even if you have not used a daily planner before, now is a great time to start creation a fall journal and planner routine.

Fall truly is the season of comfort and change. The weather gets cooler, and you want to get warmer and cozier in your daily life. The kids are back in school, with all their homework, activities and projects. You have things you want to accomplish before the end of the year. This is also the time of year when people like to meet up with family and friends, read and write more, practice gratitude, and spend more time relaxing.

There is so much going on! Using a fall journal and planner routine can make it all much more manageable so that you can do what’s important to you and your family and enjoy it more.

Journaling in the Fall

If you are new to journaling, you might not be aware of how beneficial this simple practice can be. Or maybe you are just not sure what types of things to journal. Here are some ideas, specifically for this season of the year.

  • Use Fall Journaling Prompts – Prompts are suggested topics or questions that give you ideas of what to write about. To download a list of 25 fall-inspired prompts, go here: http://carolbrusegar.com/falljournalingprompts
  • Write What You are Thankful for – You can also journal about what you are thankful for each day during the fall season, which is wonderful for creating a positive mindset.
  • Write About Your Year So Far – Look back to the beginning of the year and note what you have accomplished so far this year, and what you want to finish or get done by the end of the year.

Using a Daily Planner in the Fall

In addition to journaling, use a planner every day during your new daily routine. Break down your larger projects or goals into weekly and daily tasks. Schedule events and activities that you and your family want to do – visits to pick apples in an apple orchard, participating in some Thanksgiving activity that benefits others, road trip to see the changing leaves, etc. Use a Fall Bucket List to brainstorm and select ideas to pursue and schedule. Read more about this here: http://carolbrusegar.com/autumn-pleasures-and-treasures/make-a-fall-bucket-list/ You can download a sample Fall Bucket List form there.

Day trips and getaways can be part of your fall plans. This Planner and Journal for Day Trips, Getaways and Mini-Vacations can be a helpful tool for this season and all year long!

Setting Up Your Holiday Plans

Use your planner and journal to prepare for the holidays of the fall through the end of the year. Here are some topics to consider:

  • Halloween party plans or costumes
  • Activities to do with your kids during the fall
  • Menu options for Thanksgiving and other holiday plans
  • Deciding on activities during Thanksgiving break
  • December priorities leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holidays you celebrate
  • Plans for those holidays

End-of-Year Goals
Start it simple by adding in some end-of-year goals, then a schedule of when you would like to achieve these goals. Make a list of tasks to be completed, being as specific as you can so you stay on track.

I hope you will try this and will find value as we move into a very busy time of year.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Quiet Your Mind With a Brain Dump

OverwhelmedDo you find yourself feeling overwhelmed? Maybe occasionally, maybe more often? As we move into a new season within the reality of the COVID pandemic, it’s easy to feel like it’s all too much. Things are still uncertain and subject to change at any moment. Conflicting opinions and beliefs about our current reality cause stress and many emotions.

Finding calm can be next to impossible when you have a million thoughts swirling around in your head. It’s stressful when you have so many details going on inside your brain. These rambling, disorganized thoughts are always with you and it can seem like there’s no escape. Here’s one simple trick that can help you to overcome that helpless feeling. It’s called a brain dump, and it truly is as easy as it sounds. Using this technique relieves the pressure of an overcrowded mind.

What is a Brain Dump?

A brain dump is simply taking what’s in your brain and transferring it to another place. This place can be onto a piece of paper or into digital form like a computer app or word processing program. What’s important is that you clear your mind of all the clutter so that you can think clearly again. Dumping the excess thoughts and information from your brain to a different storage location frees up valuable space. It also unloads a heavy burden and diminishes your feeling overwhelmed. You’ll feel a lot freer once you’ve experienced this process.

When to do a Brain Dump 

Consider doing a brain dump at any of these times:

  • When you feel lost, confused, or like your life has no direction.
  • When you are under a lot of stress or your anxiety is worsening.
  • When you feel out of control in your life and you don’t know how to gain control back.
  • When you have been living a chaotic or disorganized life.
  • When your ideas are getting lost among the other thoughts.
  • When your to-do lists are too long, and you can’t keep up with them.
  • When you start becoming irritable or moody for no other good reason.

Benefits of a Brain Dump

Benefits to performing a brain dump include:

  • Clearing your head. Just seeing the information in front of you gives you a sense of control over it. Your brain is cleared, kind of like a computer cache. There’s now more room in it so that it will function better.
  • Allowing you to see options. Once you have taken all those thoughts from your head and placed them in a place where you can see them, you then have a lot of options. Information is far easier to sort when it’s right in front of you than when it’s swirling around in your mind.
  • Helping you organize what you have extracted. You can now organize information into a format that makes sense, process things and make plans. Now it’s much easier to manage all the components of your life. It will be easier to gain focus and to be more productive in your home and work situations.

How to do a Brain Dump

Performing a brain dump to reduce your feeling overwhelmed

is easy.

First, choose your format. If you prefer pen and paper – perhaps in a journal – that’s great. Writing things down by hand can be therapeutic, and it can help you to retain information. Perhaps you prefer using an electronic tool, which also offers benefits and gives you digital records.

I’ve written previously about using mind-mapping a way to declutter your mind and reduce overwhelm: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-mind-mapping-to-declutter-your-brain/ You may explore that and other possibilities and then decide.

Second, set aside some quiet time, at least half an hour. Write down everything that’s in your head: thoughts, feelings, frustrations, responsibilities, stresses, etc.  Keep going until you can’t think of anything else. Try to use the time you’ve allotted, but don’t frustrate yourself if you truly can’t think of more.

Third, come back to the information later to categorize and organize it in a way that makes more sense. What’s important is that you remove the clutter from your mind, and then find a way to organize and process it all. Here are some suggestions of categories to include as you sort.

To aid in clearing the clutter, include 1)  a “parking lot” category where you place thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc. that you want to set aside for now. You can review them later to see if you want to do anything with them. 2) a “discard” category where you dump things that are extraneous, destructive or just the lowest of priority.

To capture useful ideas, thoughts and possibilities, use one or more categories like ideas, projects, priorities, etc. If you would like a FREE downloadable and printable Idea Journal to facilitate this, go here:

Idea Journal

Some people choose to do this when they feel a clear need, as described above. Others find it good weekly practice, which can keep things from building up so you are feeling overwhelmed. Once you have done this at least once, you will be able to see what might work best for you. You’ll find you feel more refreshed and can think more clearly after your brain dump session.

Amazon has a selection of brain dump notebooks, notepads, journals, etc. Brain Dump if you’d like more tools.

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.           

Follow me on Twitter!  Follow me on Instagram!  Follow me on Pinterest

Follow me on Facebook!    Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

Understanding How Deep Breathing Works to Reduce Stress

deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques are often cited as an important tool that can help you to immediately alleviate stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger. Yet, many people have difficulty practicing deep breathing exercises because they either don’t believe that it’ll help or they try once and then don’t try again. Understanding deep breathing at the biological level makes us more likely to do it.

I’ve written about deep breathing before here: https://carolbrusegar.com/deep-breathing-for-stress-relief/ That article included benefits to our bodies, types of deep breathing exercises and how to fit a practice into your daily life.

What’s going on in our bodies when we are stressed and anxious? How does that change when we employ this practice? Having a basic understanding can increase our appreciation of the practice and motivate us to do it.

The Fight or Flight Response

The body has two systems within the nervous system: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system. Both of these systems contribute to the reasons why deep breathing exercises can calm us down.

 Our biological systems have a natural ability to react during times of stress, especially in those situations where we’re facing a huge threat. Having this ability has been a matter of physical survival. In prehistoric times, humans came face-to-face with all sorts of wild animals, such as bears or tigers.

In response to such a threat, our body activates the Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response, or FFF reaction. Our threats today aren’t ordinarily of the lions and tigers and bears variety, but the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the physical sensations we get when we feel stress, anxiety, or severe anger and frustration.

These can include sweaty palms, increasing heart rate, and faster breathing. The activation of the FFF response is preparing our bodies to either run, fight the threat, or freeze.

Perceived Threats

The activation of the Fight Flight or Freeze Response can occur whenever we perceive that we’re up against a threat – whether we really are facing a threat or not.

Situations involving personal relationships, work responsibilities, work promotions, verbal arguments with others, and bad news about your health or the health of loved ones are just a few scenarios that can trigger the FFF response.

Despite the fact that all of these situations may be emotionally hurtful or painful, our body’s nervous system may interpret them as physically threatening. As such, our bodies activate the natural FFF response to get us ready to fight or run away.

Triggering the Opposite Reaction

In order to tell our biological systems that the situations we’re facing don’t require a fight or flight response, we must trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system produces the opposite response to the FFF, causing a relaxation response instead.

The Fight Flight or Freeze Response also diverts your blood flow. To prepare you to fight or to get ready to run from a perceived threat, blood is diverted away from the brain to the extremities in the body, such as the arms, legs, hands, and feet. No wonder when we are stressed or perceive a threat in some way, we aren’t able to think clearly!

Deep Breathing Reverses This Process

Breathing exercises send the blood supplies back from the extremities (since we’re not concerned with running or fighting) to the areas of the brain that allow us to think, reason, and problem solve.

This is why breathing exercises work to calm us when we experience acute stress, anger, or frustration. Blood is returning to the brain and it becomes easier for us to think.

 A Simple Approach for an Immediate Change in Times of Stress or Anger

In the heat of the moment when FFF has been activated, this simple approach can really make a difference:

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Tense your whole body for four seconds while inhaling deeply.
  3. Then exhale slowly.
  4. Repeating this three or four times can take you back to a state of relaxation and calm.

The body’s natural ability to fight or flee from a perceived threat has been useful throughout the ages and is still useful today. However, reversing the process through breathing exercises places you in a better position to think more clearly and reason about the stress or issue that you’re facing.

In addition to this on-the-spot approach, consider developing a daily practice that can help you better deal with ongoing stressful and challenging situations as described in my earlier post – https://carolbrusegar.com/deep-breathing-for-stress-relief/

The more you get into a routine of practicing breathing exercises, the better you’ll become at doing so, which will give you the ability to reduce stress, anger, and frustration easier than before.

To explore the topic more, check out these books for adults and children about deep breathing for health:  Deep Breathing for Adults and Children

The Practice of Deep Breathing for Stress Relief

Breathe“Calm down, take a deep breath.” “BREATHE.”  We often give or receive this advice when we or someone else is stressed, irritated or angry.  As the pandemic continues, we have a group of stressors that we may not have experienced before. Expanding our repertoire of tools to deal with them can only be a good thing. The practice of deep breathing is an important one.

A few breaths in the midst of a stressful situation are but a tiny piece of the most effective use of deep breathing for our well-being. How does deep breathing benefit us and how can we gain those benefits?

Deep breathing exercises can effectively invoke your natural relaxation response and change the way your body responds to stress. Here are some details.

Your body can use deep breathing to allow the following body functions to happen:

  • You can increase the level of NO (nitric oxide) in your cells. This helps dilate blood vessels
  • You can lower your blood pressure
  • You can slow your breathing down with deep and meaningful breaths
  • You can lower your heart rate so you can feel calmer
  • You can slow down your metabolism so that it is more relaxed and efficient

Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere and at any time. By doing deep breathing, you engage your brain so that you experience an increased sense of focus, profound calmness, and relaxation of the body.

While you can do deep breathing exercises anywhere, you need to do it for 20-30 minutes per day to lower your levels of stress and anxiety. That time can be spread throughout the day, as described below. Deep breathing will bathe your brain in the vital oxygen your brain needs at all times.  You can experience calmness, peacefulness, and a better sense of well-being.

Types of Deep Breathing Exercises

There are several ways you can go about deep breathing to reduce stress:

  • Visualization with deep breathing. This only takes a few seconds to complete the exercise. You consciously relax the tenseness in your shoulders and neck, which is where many people tighten up during stress. Then you take a deep breath and visualize the bottoms of your feet as having holes in them. Imagine that, through those holes, warm, comforting air is flowing up from the ground to fill up your entire body. The warmth is relaxing and you’ll feel less stress within seconds. Imagine your muscles soaking up the warmth and relaxation under the feeling. Do this several times a day when you feel the most stress.
  • Breathe with a stuffed animal. This exercise takes a little bit longer but it can be extremely soothing. The purpose of the stuffed animal is to remind you to breathe through your abdomen. As you take those deep breaths, it will rise and fall with each breath. If it isn’t, you aren’t breathing deeply enough. Lie down on a couch or bed and put one hand in the area of your chest. Place your stuffed animal in the middle of your abdomen. Keep your eyes closed and allow your body’s muscles to sequentially relax from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Breathe in a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and slowly breathe out. Try this for about twenty breaths and repeat throughout the day when you feel the most stressed out.
  • Escape breathing. Escape into your mind by seeing yourself in a calm and serene place. Use all your senses to imagine yourself in this place. Breathe deeply and imagine yourself as calm as possible in this place. It may be a beach with the crashing waves of the ocean, the forest with its rustling leaves and the sounds of birds, or a meadow, where the wind is blowing serenely on your face as you breathe in deeply.

Fitting Deep Breathing into your Day

Try these tips:

  • Do the deep breathing exercises while engaged in other daily activities: while stuck in traffic, waiting for an appointment, sitting on the train or bus. You can even do deep breathing while walking around.
  • Set one or two deep breathing sessions per day, perhaps in the morning and just before going to bed. This will allow you to de-stress so that you can start your day stress-free and end your day stress-free.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is when you use your brain just to notice the world around you without any type of judgment or criticism. This will increase your focus on the here and now so that you aren’t dwelling on past stressors.

To explore the topic more, check out these books for adults and children about deep breathing for health:  Deep Breathing for Adults and Children

Nature and Fractals Reduce Overwhelm and Stress

Fractal 1Many of us have times of overwhelm and stress during these times of uncertainty. It may be only sporadic or more pervasive. Overwhelm is the consistent state of feeling in over your head, overburdened, and unable to sustain manageable control over the various expectations in your day. It has a domino effect. Usually beginning in one area of life, it can extend to all areas as the body begins to fatigue from the chronic stress.

If your overwhelm becomes more than occasional, you may notice that you develop chronic headaches, stomach aches, body aches, and can’t seem to get enough sleep.  These are symptoms of adrenal fatigue and your body’s natural reaction to chronic stressors.

Mother Nature’s Surprising Antidote to Stress and Overwhelm

As we continue forward, it’s helpful to expand our strategies for coping with the stress, not only of the immediate but of all the unknowns of the coming months. Most of us find that being out in nature is one of those strategies. What is it about a stroll in the woods or going for a walk along a country lane that seems to bring a sense of inner peace?

Or perhaps walking barefoot on the beach, watching the waves and collecting seashells brings much joy into your heart.

Is it simply because you’ve “got back to nature”? Is it because you are outside breathing fresh air for a change instead of being stuck in the stress box you call your office?

Those are all true, but there is another perfectly natural one-word explanation for why you feel so calm and content. FRACTALS! They’re all around you, wherever you look.  They are even inside you – your body is full of fractals: Your veins, nerves and even your bronchial tree is fractal.

What are fractals and how do they reduce stress?

The simplest way to describe a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself over a decreasing scale.

Take trees for example. The branches are copies of the trunk, only smaller.  The smaller branches are copies of the larger branches they stemmed from. Twigs are copies of the smaller branches. Each part of the tree is a smaller copy of the whole.

If you were to look at a snowflake under a magnifying glass before it melts, you would see that it is made up of the same complex repeating pattern.

Since the beginning of humanity, we have been surrounded by fractals.  They are Mother Nature’s building blocks and our evolutionary comfort zone. More examples include fiddlehead ferns, broccoli, aloe vera plants, crystals, angelica flowers (and many others), lightning, and seashells.

How do you use fractals for stress relief?

  • Don’t spend so much time inside. Get outside more. Stand and watch the clouds, or sit on a park bench and watch the trees swaying in the breeze for a few minutes. Do some deep breathing and fill your lungs with fresh air while you’re there. You’ll soon feel your stress melting away like a snowflake that lands on a surface.
  • If you can’t go outside when you feel your stress levels rising, just look out the window for a few minutes instead.
  • Add fractals to your indoor environment and take breaks to view and appreciate them and their soothing patterns.  These can be houseplants like fractal succulents or aloe vera. They can be seashells that have those patterns.
  • Fractal art and other man-made fractals, according to research, are equally effective. You can just as quickly lower your stress levels by watching a fractal screensaver on your computer for a few seconds or watch a video like this one:
  • Fractal Coloring Books can serve this purpose, too. These are distinct from mandalas and are labeled as such. Here are some examples:

Yes, it might seem incredible, but studies have shown the calming effects that fractals have on the mind really do take effect very quickly.

Fractals are all around, hiding in plain sight. Focus on them and relieve your stress and overwhelm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Procrastination

End ProcrastinationProcrastination is a human dilemma. So many of us find ourselves procrastinating either in particular areas of our lives or under certain circumstances. There are even some of us who have perfected it and apply it to most parts of life!  A distinction I think is important is to realize that “all procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” Timothy Pychyl has done extensive research on the topic and points this out.

I quoted him and wrote earlier on procrastination here: PROCRASTINATION: IS IT HAMPERING YOUR TRANSFORMATION?

Perhaps you find yourself with a list of things that have been delayed during the past 18 months due to the pandemic. Are those things just delayed or are you procrastinating? Take some time to look at those things as you look at strategies.

There are many ways to approach procrastination; probably the key to managing it in our own lives is to find ways that makes sense to us and are implementable.  Here’s a simple list of four approaches from an article by Alexandra Sutcliffe to begin with:

    • “Write down your list of goals, breaking them into manageable chunks. Too big a goal and your eyes will gloss over it on the list, but broken into segments and you’ll feel more like tackling one at a time.
    • Set up a reward for later. Try disconnecting your laptop from the internet for a set period, after which you can relax and reconnect. This way you’re not denying yourself, you’re merely deferring the pleasure until you’ve got something done.
    • Attach one task to another, such as, a daily walk you enjoy, followed by the ten minutes of language study you keep putting off. Creating a routine will make any task feel more achievable.
    • If you constantly catch yourself admitting how you never get things done, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, use affirmations to spur yourself on. Remember, affirmations must always be positive, and in the present tense. Try, ‘I take charge and get things done. I seize the moment and take action.’”

For some of us, all it takes is the right idea at the right time – it’s finetuning or recalibrating our approach. For others – or for any one at a particular time and circumstance – there are deeper issues. Simply adopting a strategy won’t be sustainable because of the deeper issue.

Would you be interested in one report that includes a spectrum of ways that you might experiment with? I invite you to download my FREE “21 Ways to End Procrastination.” You can explore the options, try some and see what is effective for you.  In addition, you will have access to a worksheet that allows you to dig deeper and consider what is behind some particularly stubborn patterns of procrastination.  It’s also FREE.

  1. Click on the link below and opt in
  2. Check to prove you’re not a robot (:-)
  3.  You should be sent to the document in Dropbox where you can download it to your computer
  4. If that doesn’t happen, you will get a link in an email that will come to you within a few minutes to get you to Dropbox for your download.

21 Ways to End Procrastination

 

 

 

Summer Superfood Smoothies For Health And Energy

smoothiesAccording to the calendar, summer is winding down as kids start returning to school in just a few weeks. But the weather is definitely SUMMER! I have noticed my early summer focus on healthy eating has diminished. Perhaps you have also. This is a good time to re-look at some options and boost our health and energy as we move into fall with all of its unique 2021 challenges.

If you’d like to refresh your memory of options of summer superfoods and what they offer, I wrote about them here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/

Why are smoothies such a good way to consume those great superfoods? Here are three good reasons.

Quick and Easy Preparation

Superfood smoothies are very quick and easy to prepare. They take literally 5-10 minutes at the most to prepare. Gather your ingredients, do any chopping, throw the ingredients into the blender and within a minute the smoothie will be ready to drink.

If you are preparing for one person, I hope you have a personal blender which makes the process easier. There are many varieties; check them out here: Personal Blenders

They Taste Delicious

You can combine ingredients to fit your taste preferences, either of green-based or berry-type smoothies. Eating or drinking something “healthy” that we don’t enjoy means we likely won’t continue consuming it very long. So experiment with recipes and variations to find combinations you love and look forward to drinking. (I suggest a great recipe book below.)

Drinking Your Smoothie in the Morning Starts Your Day With Energy

Although smoothies are great whenever you choose, there can be benefits to having one for breakfast. Of course, they are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals and high-calorie pastries. And they deliver lots of nutrients which will help you to feel more alert and energetic and ready to start the day.

Now, let’s look at a few tips for creating healthy superfood smoothies.

1) Use either fresh or  frozen ingredients

Fresh ingredients are great when they are easily accessible and economical. But frozen ingredients can contain just as many nutrients as fresh. If they were picked and frozen right after being harvested, they’re going to maintain the same level of nutrients as they had when they were fresh. Many times frozen ingredients are cheaper to buy, and there is less waste too.

2) Use natural flavorings

If you find your superfood smoothies to be a little bland, always use natural flavorings to enhance them. Did you know for example, that dates can help to add sweetness to a smoothie instead of sugar? Honey is also an excellent natural flavoring to add sweetness.

3) Add water to thin the smoothie out

If you find the smoothie is too thick, water is the best thing to use to thin it out. It’s healthy, readily available and will help to thin the smoothie out without adding additional calories.

4) Tailor your ingredients to your needs

Any superfood smoothie will provide a healthy alternative to many of the other things you might eat. Perhaps you would like to boost your immune system or want to take off some pounds. If you have those goals, you can research ingredients or recipes that will work for that.

5) Pair your superfoods carefully

Not all superfoods will go well together. So, when thinking of what to add in the smoothie, be careful to match the right superfoods together. Orange fruits and avocado or kale and almonds, are great examples of superfoods which work well together.

This cookbook will help you with both tailoring your ingredients to your needs and in deciding on combinations of superfoods. It provides recipes, indicates what they offer your health, and is a great reference. http://Simple Superfood Smoothies: A Smoothie Recipe Book to Supercharge Your Health

smoothy book