Using the Pomodoro Technique to Help You Accomplish More

Are you looking for strategies and techniques to be more efficient and productive? Many of us are managing more and/or different responsibilities than we were a year ago. Things continue to change. Are you looking for new things to try that will make things just work better as you go about your daily life?  Check out the Pomodoro Technique for managing time and increasing productivity. Perhaps you have never heard of it, or perhaps it’s something you tried in the past. It may be beneficial to circle back around to see if it is useful in your present situation – or if it is new to you, try it out.

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular and long-used (for over 30 years) approach that utilizes alternating periods of work and short breaks to maximize how much you get done each day. Each work period is called a pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato.’ Francescco Cirillo created the technique as a university student and named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used. (Thus the graphic at the top if this post!)

The concept doesn’t sound too earth-shattering, but its structure is effective and many people find they feel surprisingly good at the end of the day – rather than feeling exhausted at the end of a day of productivity.

The basic technique or pattern is 25 minutes of work and a five-minute break. After four cycles of this, you take a longer 30-minute break.

Taking regular breaks gives your brain a chance to relax and reset. Knowing that you only have to work for a short period of time makes it much easier to stay engaged and motivated. What could be simpler?

The technique works well with intellectual, manual, and creative tasks. You can use it for housework, homework and studying, as well as many job-related tasks. You’ll find that you can accomplish much more in 25 minutes than you ever thought. The Pomodoro Technique will also enhance your ability to focus and concentrate.

Tips for Effectively Using the Pomodoro Technique

Utilize a timer. It’s a mistake to keep one eye on the clock while you’re trying to get your work done. Use a timer and position it so you co see if can’t see it. You can use your cell phone, computer, or a physical timer.

  • There are several specialized programs and apps for your computer or cell phone available online. They incorporate your work time, break time, and longer breaks. Search for “pomodoro productivity timer.”
  • The use of a timer is critical. It provides a sense of urgency and the knowledge that you’ll get a break soon. See how much you can get done in 25 minutes. You’ll be surprised.

Experiment with different intervals. Many people thrive with the traditional schedule of 25 minutes of work alternated with five-minute rest breaks. Others do well with 50 minutes of work and 10-minute breaks. See which works best for you. Consider trying other options, too. You may find that certain tasks work better with longer or shorter intervals. It’s important to experiment and be flexible in your approach.

Ensure that you take a longer break every two hours. This can be 15-30 minutes in length. It’s a good idea to move around. Get a drink of water or take a short walk. Avoid skipping this longer break. It will really pay off later in the day! You’ll have more energy and maintain your ability to focus.

Avoid distractions. Part of the effectiveness of the technique is from focusing intently on the task at hand. You’ll have a quick break in just a few minutes, so keep your mind on track. Let others know you don’t want to be disturbed. Remember, you’re not doing anything but your work for the next 25 minutes

That’s all there is to it. Give the Pomodoro Technique a try for a few days and compare how much you get done, and how good you feel, to your normal day. See if you find it effective and feel more refreshed at the end of the day as many people do.

Tools and More Information

The Pomodoro Technique is a straightforward approach; yet there are tools to facilitate its success for you. As noted above, phone apps are available. Some advocate using a physical timer rather than a phone app.  Simple kitchen timers can work and there are timers specifically designed for this purpose – like cube timers. Check out the options here: https://amzn.to/36jIX57 Books with more information and planners are available there also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steps to Control the Email Monster

Perhaps you manage your emails well, but I struggle with that. It seems that there are emails, emails everywhere. I have multiple email addresses which complicates the situation. As we begin a new year, I want to once and for all manage them better by taking steps to control the email monster.

First, a look at the challenge. I know that being curious and an information hoarder is one of the factors in my own email overload. There are so many email lists that address topics that interest me in all aspects of my life – health, business, personal development, politics and current events, etc. I’m always interested in learning more. Thus the numbers of subscriptions increase regularly and more emails appear in my inbox. I have found some suggestions and have identified some to implement now.

Initial Steps

The first step I took was to delete emails that are outdated. Now this may not be something you would EVER do, but I had hundreds of thousands of emails – yes, it’s true – going back 2-1/2 years in my primary email box. Most were dated material. I sorted by date and just deleted the oldest ones without really looking at them. Then I did a quick scan to see if there were personal emails that I wanted to archive and deleted the rest, up to the last six months or so. Then I sorted by subject and was able to delete groups of emails and keep the most recent and any to archive before sending them to the trash box.

The next step, one that will be continuing for a few weeks, is to unsubscribe from lists and newsletters I don’t read. I have too often just scrolled past many of these emails but allowed them to continue to accumulate. After doing an initial unsubscribe blitz, I continue to review what comes in daily to identify additional lists to drop. For maintenance, I will be trying to go through to identify those I haven’t read in 30 (or 60) days, delete emails that have accumulated and unsubscribe from the list.

Establish Daily, Weekly, Monthly Habits

I’m working to establish habits for managing email. Each day, my goal is to take action on emails that come in rather than just scroll past with the thought that I’ll come back to them. This is when I am identifying additional lists that I am not actively using and unsubscribing and deleting past emails. For those with dated, often daily information (like sites offering free or sale ebooks daily), I quickly open, scan, glean what I want and delete.

Often there is an offer of a workshop, webinar or product. These I either act on immediately or flag so I can come back at the end of the day or within the timeframe of the offer if I can’t make an immediate decision. If emails require replies, I do that immediately if possible or flag them for response later.

Some subscriptions contain information I want to archive for future projects. These I quickly review and save into specific folders, getting them out of my inbox.

In addition to the daily practices, I will each weekend go back and delete or otherwise act on items that have served a purpose during the week but are now outdated – for example reminders of upcoming classes, webinars, and events that have now occurred.

I am going to experiment with using a general “save” folder for items I want to delay acting on but want out of my inbox and clean that out monthly. I think this will serve dual purposes: reducing the clutter in my inbox and knowing where to find them more easily when I want to. I suspect that a good number of these will never be acted upon and will be deleted at the end of the month.

With these steps and others that I may try, I am confident that I can make great progress to control the email monster!

Additional Strategies to Consider

Here are some additional suggestions to control the email monster that may be worth considering, depending on your situation:

* Create a “Spam” Address – an email address that you’re going to check on either a weekly or monthly basis. Use this when you sign up to get a freebie that puts you on an email list where you may or may not have time to read the messages. That leaves your regular email address cleaner.

Extract Important Info – Sometimes I leave emails in my box to save important information and flag them. An alternate strategy is to extract the info and put it into a database or a folder in your documents that you can label so it can be easily located. If it doesn’t seem worth that effort, perhaps it can be deleted.

Set Up a Shopping Folder – When you shop online, you get receipts, warrantees, additional offers, etc. Each of these can be a subfolder under your shopping folder. To save receipts for tax purposes, label the subfolder with the tax year. Then filter or sort all receipts into that folder. Then they will be handy when you need them.

Set Up Filters – Most email programs can filter information so that before you even look it’s labeled a certain way. Gmail does this automatically into primary, social, promotions and you can add updates and forums in your settings. Explore the options provided by your email service.

Each new year, I seek out resources that will help me be and do what I choose. Here are two books that you may want to check out:

 

Indistractable, How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal. (National Bestseller, Included in the Top 20 Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year 2019 by Amazon, Goodreads Best Science & Technology of 2019 Finalist)

 

 

 

 

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.

 

 

 

 

The Year the Hugs Went Away

Hug

 

“A hug is a wonderful thing. It’s a marvelous gift to share. It’s a grand way to say; ‘I care.’ A hug communicates support, security, affection, unity, and belonging. A hug shows compassion. A hug brings delight. A hug charms the senses. A hug touches the soul.”

~  Unknown

2020 – the year the hugs went away. What a year it has been!  As a person living alone, I have lacked anyone in my own safe-at-home household to hug for all these months. A few “back hugs” – arms around the shoulders from behind – have been a brief taste of the real thing. Are you in that situation? Who do you know who is?

Individuals have different attitudes about hugging. Some reserve it for intimate relationships within the family – and may even be limited in that expression there. Others – like myself – identify themselves as huggers and apply them generously.

A major venue for hugging for me in the past several years has been within my faith community where we are unapologetic master huggers. Across all the boundaries that often separate us, we hug – genuinely and warmly. The hugs express acceptance, affirmation, inclusion and love. In these months, the hug deprivation is real.

We have stayed with virtual gatherings all these months in commitment to the safety of all of us and of those with whom each of us is connected. We have rejected the modified form of gathering has been adopted by some churches – fewer people, distanced and masked. The risks are not worth it. It’s nearly impossible for me to imagine being in the same space with these dear people and not hugging them. And so the physical separation continues for the well-being of all.

What is so powerful, so profound about hugs? There has been much research done, and the conclusions include the physiological and the psychological impacts. According to “The Power of Hugs: Benefits to your Health” in SteptoHealth.com, hugs release several hormones in our bodies. Hormones are substances produced by one tissue and transported by the bloodstream to another tissue to affect physiological activity. Oxytocin, the attachment or bonding hormone, is released by hugging, as well as serotonin and dopamine, which have a sedative or calming/wellness impact. The impacts of hugs can even be as specific as reducing blood pressure and easing a headache, strengthening the immune system or helping you overcome fear. It is also noted that these effects can persist long after the end of the physical contact.

Psychologically, hugs cause the brain to release endorphins – any of a group of peptide hormones found in the brain that act as neurotransmitters. They promote healing and create feelings of well-being, build self-esteem and bring joy.

We’re missing a lot when we aren’t hugging! Until we can safely hug, what can we do to prevent negative physiological and psychological impacts of hug deprivation? Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW says, ““The paradox of hugs is that though they are quintessentially physical, they can also be enacted mentally. I often invite my patients, if it feels right for them, to imagine someone they feel safe with, including me, holding them. This works because the brain does not know the difference between reality  fantasy in many ways.”

This form of visualization can have a profound impact on us. It flips the script from focusing on the absence of and need for physical hugs to creating at least some of the positive impacts through the power of our minds and imagination. We can remember and recreate nurturing and healing hugs to help tide us over until it’s safe to do in person, in real time.

Will you try it and encourage others who are missing and needing physical hugs to do the same?

Perhaps you’d like to express your virtual hug materially to some special people; check out some options here:

http://carolbrusegar.com/Hugs-Gifts

Have a Hygge Holiday Season and Winter!

Hygge

 Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

“Holiday season” is defined in various ways. Yours may or may not be the same as mine – and any of us may decide to modify our definition in this unique year of the pandemic. Personally, I celebrate Christmas through the 12th day of Christmas, January 5. There are ways in which I extend it even beyond that. I wrote about that last year (pre-pandemic) here: https://carolbrusegar.com/expanding-parameters-december-holiday/

At whatever point you read this, the ideas can be applied to the days and weeks ahead – including through the winter months as we continue to stay at home much more than usual. Let’s all have a Hygge holiday season and winter!

Hygge has become increasingly popular everywhere in recent years. Perhaps you are already a devotee,  perhaps you’ve never heard of it, or perhaps you’d like to explore the idea more. So let’s start with what it is and where it came from.

Hygge, pronounced (Hue-gah) is a Danish word originally derived from an Old Norwegian word meaning well-being and protection from the outside elements. Denmark has notoriously cold, long winters. The concept of hygge has been used by Danish people to help mentally combat the brutally dark, relentless winter season and fill their homes with comfort and love. Hygge is a word that is so important to Danish people; it’s often used to describe what their culture is all about. Hygge is not necessarily something specific that you can buy, because it’s more of a feeling than a possession. Hygge really is the epitome of Danish living; in the last several years the concept of hygge has made its way to the US and many other countries with extreme popularity and trendiness.

Hygge can widely be described as a feeling of coziness, comfort, familiarity, friendship, laughter and seasonal homemade food and drinks. Although it’s possible to achieve hygge any time of the year (an outdoor BBQ with friends or a movie under the stars with family are great examples of summertime hygge), Hygge is generally associated with the colder months. This is because of its ability to uplift spirits during dark, long winter months. It can be especially comforting and enjoyable during these months of the pandemic. As we are staying safe at home to protect ourselves and others, focusing on creating peaceful, cozy surroundings can fill us with the feeling of contentment. Here are a few, simple ways you can bring holiday hygge into your home.

Warm lighting – achieve a great sense of hygge, by lighting some candles, having a real or gas fire or setting up string lights. Warm lightning is key to coziness.

Cozy linens, blankets and textures – get out all of those soft, fluffy blankets and have them available on the couch or chairs and by the windows, so that you can easily cuddle up with your favorite books and movies and relax.

Home cooking and baking – cooking some traditional holiday meals and treats will help bring holiday hygge into your home. Comfort foods like holiday ham, stews/soups/chilis, breads of all kinds, cookies, and apple/pumpkin/sweet potato pies will waft soul-warming scents throughout the air, making your home feel cozy and cared for. Baking together is a perfect hygge activity. It may be items that have become traditions, or a way to try new recipes that may be added to that list for coming years.

Comforting scents – filling your home with festive and cozy scents can be done in a variety of ways.  You can use scented candles, scented wax in a wax warmer, or scented oils. A wide variety of scents are available – warm vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices as well as pine and peppermint are some holiday favorites. Potpourri can be placed in open bowls in various rooms and refreshed with scented oils, or simmered with water on the stove or in a slow cooker. Scented pinecones and fresh evergreen trees or boughs are always a great addition.

Warm beverages – drinking these can warm body and soul. Hot chocolate can be varied in many delightful ways, as can apple cider. I wrote about the latter earlier: Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!  Of course there are many other options for all ages!!

Try some new things, repeat things that you’ve enjoyed before, and have a Hygge holiday season and winter!!

 

If you’d like to learn more, I have two recommendations:

Here’s a great book written by a Dane who is a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

This coloring book not only has Hygge designs, but includes the concepts along with some journal pages, tips for coloring and some finished products to illustrate them.

Hygge Happy Coloring Book: Coloring Pages for a Cozy Life (Design Originals) Discover the Scandinavian Secret of Happiness & Enjoy the Good Things in Life with Mellow, Relaxing Hygge Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Pandemic is Changing a Holiday Outreach to Prison Inmates

TG in Arkansas

Hours riding in vans, loading and unloading equipment at nine different locations, going through prison security nine times, set-up and waiting, greeting hundreds of inmates, preparing and facilitating communion at each location. That has been my experience of the week after Thanksgiving for the past several years. Being part of Timothy’s Gift Christmas Tour to multiple correctional institutions during that week has become an anticipated and cherished part of the holiday season. It’s a holiday outreach that touches those who visit as well as those visited in profound ways.

The purpose of the tour is to deliver a message of hope and affirmation that each person is loved and not forgotten. Those who experience the program of music, words, personal greetings and affirmation have expressed the power of it. Letters from inmates we receive indicate impacts well beyond the ninety minute program at each location.

Enter the Pandemic

But not this year. The pandemic has, of course, halted such programs into prisons. The absence of this tour has created an emptiness for me and others who regularly participate. Seeing photos and remembering experiences in institutions in different states over the years – Arkansas, Ohio, Florida – accent the vacancy this has left. As I look at the faces in the photos, I think about what life must be like for the inmates now.

It’s difficult to even imagine the impact of the pandemic isolation of the past months in a correctional institution. We have certainly felt the impacts of stay-at-home orders over the months. In prisons, during the worst days, they have been confined to a single location with almost no time outdoors to get exercise. Food was brought to cells and barracks, no educational programs were available, no work assignments that normally  helped pass the time, no church or group meetings for inspiration and comfort, no visiting allowed by loved ones.

The normal activities have opened up as much as has been possible in the past months, depending on the location and the virus statistics there. As on the outside, restrictions may have been lifted and then re-imposed. Precautions are still necessary and very limited visitation of family is generally allowed now. It’s impossible, however, to know how long it will be before outside programs will be allowed and when people will be comfortable going in.

Plan B for Holiday Outreach

Thanks to the genius of Timothy’s Gift founder Ron Miller and people he engaged in the project, a different kind of holiday outreach has been created for this unusual year. Since we can’t go in person, a DVD of a Christmas program including music, spoken word, and humor has been professionally produced. It has been sent to 62 prisons in Florida and Arkansas for them to show to groups and to be available for individual viewing!

We look forward to getting feedback from inmates, administrators and staff of the institutions about this holiday outreach. The DVD will reach many more people than a program in rooms with limited capacity could reach, and in so many more locations than can be visited in any one tour. Although this approach lacks the impact of “when I was in prison you visited me,” it is a way of touching hearts and minds with a message of care. Hearing that they are not forgotten – even in the midst of a pandemic – is important, in whatever way it is possible to get the message.

If you are interested in learning more about Timothy’s Gift, go here:  https://www.facebook.com/timothysgift/community/ for photos, comments from inmates and more.  To support Timothy’s Gift, go to http://timothysgift.com/give

 

The Miracle of the Christmas Ship – a True Story for Your Enjoyment

Many of us love to read Christmas/holiday stories and books during December. Every year there are a lot of fiction books published to feed our reading hunger.

I decided to offer a true story to the mix, The Miracle of the Christmas Ship. It is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon.com and will soon be available in paperback as well. It’s a short book – if it were fiction it would be called a novella. Short and sweet – no long tome. It’s an inspiring story from the past that also provides historical context. I hope you will check it out and enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

https://carolbrusegar.com/the-miracle-of-the-christmas-ship/

 

Developing a Flexible Mindset When Uncertainty Reigns

MindsetHere we are in a persistent time of uncertainty and change. The months continue to go by in succession. One of the most needed things as we move forward is developing a flexible mindset in a time when uncertainty reigns. It’s always an asset, but now essential for our mental health.

What is a flexible mindset? It’s not being wishy washy or indecisive. It’s being able to bend without breaking. You can change your thinking to overcome obstacles and challenges without failing or breaking down. A flexible mindset allows you to explore more options. You can see multiple solutions to a problem or new situation and examine the impacts of each of them.

The situation of the past months of the pandemic have forced all of us to be flexible and make changes not necessarily of our own choice. Whether you see yourself as having a flexible mindset or not, you have had to respond and adapt to changing circumstances.

There are strategies to proactively develop that flexibility rather than be forced into it. Here are a few to consider as we move forward:

Embrace the Unknown. When an obstacle appears, think of this as an opportunity rather than a defeat. What could you learn from this, if not immediately then in the longer term? This is a reframing of your thoughts and automatic reactions. Try out some new ideas and look for the benefits rather than grudgingly complying with a solution imposed on you.

Let Go of Old Ways. These past months have interrupted our habits and routines in ways we could not have imagined. Our brains use the same neural pathways and connections over and over in our daily and weekly routines. It’s comfortable. Perhaps you are still feeling resentment over some specific changes that is preventing you from being open to new ways of doing things. Letting go of them opens you to being creative about current and future options. We may never to back to “normal” as we remember it.

See Obstacles as Opportunities. These times give us the opportunity to look at new possibilities that indeed can be better and healthier as we move forward. Even simple daily tasks might be done differently. Developing a flexible mindset means that you can try out things you’ve never done before. This can be applied to just about any situation. You might look at additional options for things that have been imposed upon you.

Recognize the Benefits of Developing a Flexible Mindset. As you go through this process be sure to recognize the impact on your life that developing a flexible mindset is having. You will likely feel more creative and confident in solving problems and situations you face in the future.

Our mindsets deeply affect how we handle life. If you would like to learn more, I recommend this book by Carol S. Dweck:  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: https://amzn.to/32H90A2

 

A Thanksgiving Like No Other: Resources For the Celebration and Cultivating Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Like No OtherThanksgiving 2020 is a Thanksgiving like no other. In the midst of a wildfire of COVID-19 which has spread across the country, it is in the interest of ourselves and everyone else to take a pause. There will be another Thanksgiving. We will celebrate with our extended family and friends again. The risks of people being infected, getting sick and even dying are severe.

Let’s embrace this Thanksgiving like no other  by following the medical and local leadership advice and planning a celebration at home with only those in our immediate circle.

Last Thanksgiving I shared a collection of online resources to engage and entertain children and the whole family for the day and the entire weekend. There are great things to download and print, games, learning opportunities, recipes, and more. Plan for enjoyment:   https://carolbrusegar.com/thanksgiving-free-online-resources-entertain-family/

Through these past months of the pandemic, everyone has had their life disrupted in some ways. The severity of that impact has varied greatly. All of us feel loss of a variety of people and things. There’s a lot of pain and sadness, depression and anxiety. Many of us will find it more challenging to be thankful right now. Yet the very intention to identify, acknowledge and celebrate can be therapeutic in the midst of extraordinarily challenging times.

Gratitude is powerful. It can shift our thoughts and mindset and open us to more positives. It can inspire us to do things to enrich others’ lives. Expressing our gratitude to people who have enhanced our lives and supported us through difficult times helps both us and those to whom we communicate.

Adela Rubio describes 3 reasons that gratitude shifts our energy: It shifts your focus to the present moment, creates a new orientation, and establishes a indelible connection with Source. “Gratitude is a powerful transformation tool. It changes you and the world you live in!”  https://adelarubio.com/3-reasons-gratitude-shifts-energy/#

Perhaps there is no more important a time than this to structure a gratitude time into our lives. It can be as simple as having a small notebook or some paper clipped together where you write five things each day. As the days pass and you look back, you can see where you have been and what has touched you. Another approach, recommended by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD and professor at the University of California Riverside, is a weekly gratitude exercise. Once a week, perhaps Sunday evening, reflect upon and write down five things for which you are grateful. For some, daily expression becomes boring and routine; weekly can be more meaningful.

Or you can take a more structured approach with prompts for you to write about each day (or less frequently but regularly). I offer you this free, directly downloadable 30-day Gratitude Journal to get started (or to resume a left-behind practice).  http://carolbrusegar.com/30daygratitudejournal

Z. Colette Edwards, MD, MBA has written a post that includes multiple aspects of gratitude. It was written this year and reflects our current reality in the midst of the pandemic.  Dr. Edwards is a physician and life/executive/wellness coach who blends traditional medical and integrative perspectives in her work.

Dr. Edwards includes a list of 20 Ways to Celebrate Gratitude which focuses on things we can do to express our gratitude to others, which has benefits for both ourselves and the recipients. For example, “Email or text notes or drawings to healthcare workers” or “Verbally thank the grocery store clerk who is stocking shelves non-stop or checking one customer out after another, and thus putting themselves at risk.” Here is the full post: https://peopletweaker.com/hcr-blog/gratitude-during-difficult-times/

Yes, it is a Thanksgiving like no other. Cultivating gratitude in yourself and encouraging it in others can be a powerful positive force now and for the weeks and months ahead.

Here’s a book with 105 short essays on gratitude. Each is written by a different author with a unique perspective and story. It’s a great thing to pick up and read an essay or two when you need a boost.  A Gift of Gratitude

 

 

 

The Power of Sound to Calm and Heal

Power of Sound

The power of sound to calm and heal has been known for centuries. Sound is extremely effective for helping us manage stress, overwhelm and anxiety. Music is one category of sound, and you may find certain kinds of classical or jazz music calming. While driving my grandchildren from school recently, the local classical radio station played some lovely music and my twelve-year-old grandson commented at least twice about how relaxing it was and asked how to find the station. I was a bit surprised and delighted to hear that.

Nature sounds are another category – waterfalls, bubbling brooks, chirping birds, falling rain, and ocean waves are all calming. Of course, actually experiencing them in nature is wonderful, but recorded and simulated versions are readily available. Perhaps you have used sound machines to help a baby, child or yourself get to sleep. They generally have a similar selection of options to choose from in addition to white noise. Use of a sound machine can be part of sleep training for children that establishes lifelong patterns.

As you noticed in the list above, water is a common inclusion. Taking time alone to simply breathe and allow the calming effect of water to permeate your mind can be powerful. You have probably noticed large water installations in commercial building lobbies. As you walk in, it has a visual and auditory impact. A waterfall or bubbling brook can be included in a yard or garden to add to the ambiance if you have a large space and the resources to do it. There are many options for small indoor fountains/waterfalls that can be used in a bedroom, meditation room, office or any small room at a range of prices. Indoor Water Installations

Discovering the Sounds That Work For You

As with so many things, what is effective for one person may not be for another.  If you would like to try out different sounds to see what is most calming, relaxing, and/or sleep inducing, here are two options:

+ Amazon.com has a variety of CDs, many of which offer a “Listen Now” sample that you can experience immediately.  Some are also available to stream if you are an Amazon Prime member – no CD required. Check it out here: Sound Therapy CDs

+ Free apps are available here, as well as in other places:  https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-calming-apps-destress-clear-mind/ Discover what works best for you.

Trying Frequency Sounds to Calm and Heal

The power of sound is reflected and verified in scientific studies. Advanced techniques like frequency sounds which include both healing sounds and binaural beats are available to explore through recordings and apps too. They are effective in reducing stress and in healing. An article in AwarenessAct.com points out that “Frequency sounds can be used to help us as human beings calm down. This is especially important since we’re facing a lot of stressful things right now. We’re seemingly stuck within a huge crisis and it feels like things are going to get worse before they get better…Sound healing, for the most part, is something that uses vibrations through vocal measures or even instruments like gongs to get music that can really work to calm.”  https://awarenessact.com/frequency-sounds-to-calm-you-down-during-times-of-crisis/

At the above link there are several videos holding different healing sounds and binaural beats. Some are hours long so you can have them playing in the background during the day or through the night. Please note the instructions about whether or not headphones are needed to get the full benefit of a particular video.

I am hopeful that this introduction to the power of sound to calm and heal has been helpful and has ignited your interest in using it for yourself and others. Try something new and share what you discover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing the Art of Staying In

painting watercolors

We are past the holiday season with winter surrounding us, whatever that looks like where you are. The pandemic has affected everyone. Let’s continue the challenge of developing the art of staying in safely!

Earlier, I offered some ideas for fall that included getting out in nature for activities of various kinds: https://carolbrusegar.com/celebrate-and-enjoy-autumn/ Now let’s focus our plans and activities on things we can do at home safely, possibly with a small number of friends or family.

The art of staying in begins with focusing on activities and pleasures we may not have taken time for in more active seasons. Some will take some time, others are just tweaks of things you may already be doing.

Being Healthier By Using Spices

Many of us are tiring of cooking at home much more than we used to. We may be eating the same few things over and over. New recipes can perk up the rotation; even just adding additional spices can enhance a dish or a beverage. And here’s a bonus – besides tasting great, certain spices are widely considered as “healing spices” that can boost the immune system. Anything we can do to strengthen our body’s ability to fend off colds, flu and other seasonal ailments is especially important this year.

Turmeric is one of the top spices in this category. It is closely related to ginger and has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 4000 years. It is ideal in rice and chicken dishes. Here’s a simple recipe to try: https://www.food.com/recipe/turmeric-lemon-chicken-19687  Turmeric can be used in teas and other warm beverages. For example, Turmeric Golden Milk which also includes honey and pumpkin pie spice.  https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Turmeric-Golden-Milk-2226958

Cinnamon is a favorite flavor and is used in many fall recipes, especially baked goodies. It is also an antioxidant powerhouse.  Experiment with additional ways to consume more of it this fall. Try adding cinnamon sticks to your water – I like to combine them with apple slices in my infused water – and to hot beverages like apple cider or coffee.

For ideas about using some other immune-boosting spices, go to https://carolbrusegar.com/use-healing-spices-to-boost-immune-system/ .

Scents of Fall DIY Projects

Making your own scrubs, bath salts, candles, etc. is a great self-care activity. The process is enjoyable; the results provide relaxation. In addition, these items are great gifts for others. To get some ideas and “recipes” go here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/scents-of-fall-diy-projects/

Did you make Clove/Orange Pomanders when you were a kid? I did. They add scents of fall, too, and can be artistic projects as well. Check this out for ideas for designs, ways to make them last longer, and ideas for using them. https://www.almanac.com/content/how-make-pomander-balls

Learn Some Watercolor Painting Techniques

At my granddaughter’s birthday party, we had a painting party utilizing a YouTube video to guide us. It was great fun and expanded my interest in similar resources. I found that Jay Lee Painting has a variety of videos teaching watercolor techniques using simple trays of watercolors. You can use heavy art paper rather than canvass and have a relaxing and enjoyable time alone or with others.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=watercolor+painting+jay+lee

Take Advantage of Online Arts and Other Events

Early in the pandemic, I was intrigued with the number of concerts that were being given online so that musicians and other performers could stay connected with their followers and boost the spirits of anyone who watched. I anticipate a surge of such events as we move into the holiday season. Watch for announcements, check on websites or social media platforms for offerings and enjoy them. For example, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is having its first-ever Virtual Winter Season, December 2–31, 2020. In the spirit of making dance accessible to all, it will be free for everyone to enjoy. What a treat!  For more information: https://www.alvinailey.org/blog/announcing-aileys-virtual-season-dec-2-31 Festivals and other such events are often virtual these days. Find some you are interested in and see what they are planning.

For all of these events, enjoy them alone/with your household, or have some friends tune in at the same time and share the experience by connecting electronically during it.

Developing the art of staying in can be enjoyable and open new vistas and interests at the same time. It can boost your spirits and transform the time at home.

How the pandemic is affecting us continues to change. I invite you to be journaling through these changes if you are not already doing that. I created a free downloadable and printable journal a few months ago at the beginning. It can still be useful.  You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts are in list form and you can write about what seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis