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

 

Great Superfood Choices for Summer

Superfood - Cherries

Many of us eat differently in the summer, particularly when the temperatures are hottest.  We eat lighter, and often healthier.  We can make intentionally improve our nutrition by making great superfood choices.

Superfoods are foods that contain more nutrients than average: very high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and more. Here are 13 that you can benefit from and enjoy during these summer months.

1. Cherries
Cherries have multiple amazing antioxidants. One of them is anthocyanin which provides easing of inflammation in your body and can help with joint pain. You can eat either fresh or frozen cherries.

2. Kiwi
Kiwi is sweet with a little tartness and includes many essential vitamins and minerals. It is a potassium powerhouse: a cup of sliced kiwi has the same amount of potassium as a cup of bananas. It also is lower in sugar and calories than many potassium-laden fruits and veggies with 7 grams of sugar – along with 5 grams of fiber – in a serving.

3. Bell Peppers
Choose all colors of bell peppers, such as green, yellow, orange, and red. In fact, using multiple colors adds vibrancy to your meals and often gives you a variance in the nutrients you get. Bell peppers contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and phytonutrients. Plus, they are very low in fat and calories.

4. Herbs
Most herbs are considered superfoods since they contain so many wonderful vitamins and minerals, but here are some of the best ones to find in the summer:
Basil – Nutrients in basil include vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, omega=3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, folate, and calcium.
Cilantro – Cilantro is extremely low in cholesterol, but it contains vitamins like C, E, A, and K. It also has dietary fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Parsley – Like many other herbs, it contains a good amount of folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

5. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is another type of dark, leafy green vegetable just like spinach and kale, except it is a little more bitter. It is full of phytonutrients, especially in the red-purple stems and veins of this vegetable. That is where you get a lot of the nutrients. Swiss chard also contains potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat it raw or cooked; if you cook it, it will be less bitter.

6. Lemons
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants and also contain fiber and micronutrients, as well as being very low in calories. There are endless ways to use them, but here are a few ideas:
Infused Water – Add lemons to water (as well as other fruits you may choose). A simple sugar-free strawberry lemon water tastes like lemonade, without added sweeteners.
Lemon Ice Cubes – Just add lemon juice to an ice cube tray and cover with filtered water. Add these to every glass of water you drink for nutrients and flavor.
Garlic Lemon Sauces – Make a citrus sauce or dressing and use them in a casserole with chicken, over a light salad, on pasta, or even to coat veggies.

7. Spinach
Spinach is more nutrient-dense than romaine or iceberg lettuce and makes a healthy salad on its own or combined with other greens. The top nutrients in spinach include Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Iron, Folate, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Manganese and Magnesium.

8. Avocado
Avocado is actually a fruit, and often considered a “superfruit” – or a superfood fruit. You get a lot of great fiber in avocados, plus vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium.

9. Watermelon
Watermelon is relatively low in calories, is fresh, sweet, and has a high water content so a little bit goes a long way. It is also loaded with nutrients including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which help reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and even protect your skin from UV rays thanks to the lycopene.

10. Strawberries
Strawberries have a higher-than-average amount of vitamin C. They are very antioxidant-rich to help fight illnesses and boost your immune system, and contain an excellent amount of manganese, a mineral that helps improve your health and vitality. Other important nutrients in this fruit are potassium and B vitamins.

11. Summer Squash
There are many different varieties of squash, from yellow squash to zucchini, but not all of them are available year-round. Summer squash have a good amount of vitamin C, as well as lutein and xeaxanthin. You can get help preventing a summer cold thanks to some squash in your diet. You can eat them raw, make a roasted veggie side dish with other veggies, saute with olive oil and seasonings, and include them in a pasta dish.

12. Peaches
Peaches not only have vitamin C, but peaches also contain potassium and fiber. Besides eating them fresh and whole, they can be added to salads, served over ice cream or yogurt, or grilled for a sidedish.

13. Blueberries
Blueberries contain vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They are low in fat and calories as well. Enjoy your blueberries many different ways, such as on your salads, mixed in with yogurt or granola, as a side dish, or just a light snack.

Check out these cookbooks – one especially for children. Eat light and healthy with these Summer Superfoods!!

Easy Superfoods Cookbook

Superfoods for Super Kids Cookbook

How About a Midyear Check-in?

check inIf you are anything like me, you are amazed to realize that the midpoint of the year is upon us. It’s a great time to do a check-in with ourselves. It can be about personal goals and situations, family or groups in which you are involved, work, business or any other area of life. As the days, weeks and months seem to whiz past us – or we whiz through time on a roller coaster – a milestone like mid-point of the year can be a good reason to assess and refocus.

(If you are reading this at another point of the year, you will probably see that similar questions can be used at any point when you want to assess and regroup.)

I suggest a few simple questions to get started. Here they are:

What do you consider your accomplishments and high points of the first half of the year?
What attitudes, habits or practices helped those things happen?
What held you back from being at a different point at mid-year in each of the areas you are reviewing?
What needs to change so your results are different in the second half of the year?
What are your major goals for the next six months? (or another timeframe you choose)
What do you need to do to make them happen?
What additional resources or tools (of any kind) do you need?
What are the first steps to take and when will you take them?

I am finding this very helpful. I am ending the first half of the year with a very productive last month. By actually writing down what contributed to that will help me build in things to maintain and accelerate my momentum. Identifying what held me back earlier in the year allows me to make sure those same things don’t sabotage me in the coming months.

Although it is easier to read through questions like these, think of some responses and move on, the impact will be so much greater if we write down answers. The resulting document can be kept where it is a visible reminder on those days and even weeks when life takes us off course.
May your second half of the year be enhanced by your thoughtful assessment and planning!

FREE TOOL: I have put these questions into a worksheet in 2 formats. Use the one that works best for you. The links below will take you to the PDFs that you can download and print. 

Mid-Year Assessment Form A

Mid-Year Assessment Form B

 

Habit Stacking: A Gentle Way to Enhance Your Life

Habit StackingIt’s summer and the time of year when routines ordinarily shift. Whether you have children on summer break, hours are adjusting at work or volunteer and extracurricular activities go on hiatus or ramp up, the season usually brings changes. In this year of 2021 the changes include phasing out of pandemic restrictions and figuring out what this new season will include. Habit stacking can be a great tool as you make adjustments in your own and your family’s lives.

Habit stacking is adding small things to our already existing routines. We all have morning, evening and other routines that are habits we barely think about as we do them. For example, you may get up, eat breakfast, shower, brush your teeth, and possibly exercise each morning, in that order.

Creating a new habit can seem like a job that requires effort. You’ve heard that it takes 21 days of repetition to establish a new habit; others say even longer. Yes, repetition will be necessary, but habit stacking is an easier way to make some desired changes.

Author S.J. Scott wrote a book called Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness. These are all things you can do in five minutes or less – tiny habits at its best. The book is a great tool for learning this technique.

Habit Stacking Works in All Areas of Life

Tiny habits work in all areas of life:

  • Leisure (Your days off, vacation time)
  • Organization (Keeping the house and/or workspace clean, organized, and decluttered)
  • Finances (Making and saving money, reducing debt)
  • Productivity (Finding your best working hours, getting tasks done on time)
  • Spirituality (Connecting with the earth and your Higher Power)
  • Health and Fitness (Your mental and physical well-being, including what you eat and how you exercise)
  • Relationships (Developing loving relationships with family and friends, getting along with co-workers)

Getting Started with Habit Stacking

The basic process is this:

  • decide which of the above areas you want to improve and identify why this is important to you
  • identify a current routine which you can augment with micro habits on this topic
  • choose and add/stack those micro habits to it.

For example, if you want to focus on health and fitness and you do a few minutes of yoga in the morning, you can stay on the mat and do five minutes of meditation. After that is complete, you can do four minutes of visualization, and to finish it up, do three minutes of deep breathing.

Here are some examples of areas of life where we already have routines that we can augment with the tiny habits we choose to add.

  • When we wake up in the morning
  • When we start work
  • On a break or lunch
  • After work
  • After dinner
  • When exercising

These are examples – adjust with your own life routines.

S.J. Scott believes that you should only add micro habits to one routine at a time. So using the example above, you will augment your morning yoga routine to improve your health and fitness to start with. You can add micro habits to other routines after this is one is established. Repetition is key; doing your expanded routine including the new tiny habits each day for 21 to 30 days will establish a lasting pattern.

Example of Habit Stacking

Let’s look at a daily routine for enhancing relationships using habits stacking. We will use dinner time as our example. You can stack several mini-habits like this:

  • When we prepare dinner, I will ask about their day.
  • When we sit down to eat, I will say how grateful I am for not only the food but having them in my life
  • During the dinner, I will put away my cellphone and focus on what they say
  • During cleanup, I will touch my partner’s or child’s lower back to make a physical and emotional connection.
  • After dinner, I will take their hand, and we will walk around the block while I express my love

Just like goals, being accountable will help you to succeed. Tell people what your stacked habits are, and if they see you miss a step, they can remind you what you need to do.

 

Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness includes access to a companion website with bonus downloads, checklists and videos. Here’s where to access the book:

Get S.J. Scott’s book here: Habit Stacking

 

The Power of Empathy – “I Feel You”

Empathy“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. – Mohsin Hamid

 

Perhaps you have heard people use the phrase “I feel you” as they listen to some heartfelt sharing from another. Perhaps you have used that shorthand expression for EMPATHY.

The dictionary definition for empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” That definition goes on to include that you can have this connection and understanding even when others have not fully explained their situation to you. In other words, you are tuned into the plights of others, and you can react in ways that show you understand what they are going through even when you don’t know all the details.

I can’t think of many other things more needed in our world today, full of fractures and divisions, than empathy. Clearly there are people with stories that need to be heard but even more important is to be able to genuinely say “I feel you” in response to them. And it goes beyond that. It’s part of a cycle so beautifully described in these words by Stephen Mattson:

“Imagination leads to empathy, empathy leads to understanding, understanding leads to action, action leads to experience, and experience leads to wisdom – which leads to even more imagination.”

Mattson notes that the cycle begins and ends with imagination because “When you can’t imagine, you can’t empathize, understand, or relate with the actions, struggles, pain, suffering, persecution, and trials of others — you become apathetic, unmoved, stoic, and inactive.”

The impact of our ability to empathize with others’ situations and experiences is huge. It begins with those closest to us and can ripple beyond. Can you imagine the impact if more of the decision-making at all levels were based on conscious efforts to imagine and empathize with the situations of all the people affected in a given situation? The lack of that is clear to us as we look around. As Charles M. Blow has said, “One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”

Practicing imagination and empathy also supports our own emotional and social wellness. How can being empathetic make you a happier, healthier, more well-rounded person?

You Can Be More Accepting of Others

When you have empathy, you recognize that everyone is entitled to their own experiences, that we are all different, and that you cannot change others. Acceptance of others’ differences, views, feelings, and thoughts means you do not judge them for these differences but instead are empathetic to how those differences impact their lives and experiences.

Empathy allows you to see others as unique instead of wrong, to value their perspectives, and to appreciate what you might be able to learn from others.

You Can Give Up Trying to Control Others’ Feelings

It is not possible to tell someone else how to feel, or to control others’ reactions. Everyone has a right to their own perspectives and emotions, and when you have empathy, you are able to see and appreciate this. This acceptance of others’ emotions is the key to empathy, and when you develop acceptance and empathy toward others, you have mastered a vital life skill.

Your Relationships Will Improve

When you have empathy, you learn how to treat other people with the care and compassion you wish others would use when they interact with you. Empathetic people also work to understand and respond to the needs of others, which they, in turn, will likely reciprocate with you.

Empathy helps you deal more effectively with interpersonal conflict, which means there will be less friction and strife with those you care for, and you can even learn how to better motivate those with whom you live and work.

You Can Share More Fully in Others’ Joy

Empathy does not have to be limited to understanding the challenges and turmoil of others. Empathy can also include understanding and responding to the joys and good events in others’ lives.

Learning to be happy for others is actually a skill you need to practice, as our brains are hard-wired to respond to others’ distress but naturally do not respond as strongly to others’ happiness. But, learning to do this not only helps you connect with others more fully, but it also can enhance your own perspective on your joys and blessings in life.

Final Thoughts

Empathy is your link to yourself as well as other people. Going far beyond sympathy, empathy is our ability to have the “I feel with” experiences regularly. Through imagination and personal experience, we are able to relate to others on a deeper level.

This skill is one that should be cultivated throughout one’s life, as it is essential for personal development. There are many books on the topic to explore, including some for children. Can you imagine the long term effect of having truly empathetic people in charge of our organizations and government. Cultivating this in ourselves and the younger generations can be a path to long term change.

Books on Empathy for Adults and Children

Planning for Summer!

Summer at LakeSummer of 2021 is shaping up to be a season of emergence – from restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, from our personal decisions about staying safe, from isolation of various types. Caution is still important; the pandemic is not over. But higher and higher rates of vaccinations are allowing us to make some plans. Planning for summer – what a concept! Last year we couldn’t really make plans!

One tool to use is mind mapping – I wrote about that last year at about this time. http://carolbrusegar.com/creatively-planning-with-many-unknowns/ That post includes additional general mind mapping resources.

Another approach is creating a vision board for the upcoming season. I wrote about that here: https://carolbrusegar.com/create-a-spring-and-summer-vision-board/

Perhaps you are planning a vacation far from home. Even then, there are weeks of summer during which you can enjoy staycations, day trips, mini-vacations and fun outings of all kinds. Put on your thinking cap and think of yourself as a local tourist. Use the same approach as when you are going to an unfamiliar location and spend some time to discover things to enjoy. Make a list and do some planning – get some dates on your calendar.

Here are 5 categories of things to explore.

Find The Water

When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better than dipping into a cool pool or lake or going for a swim in the ocean. Take a look at what options you have in your area. Go explore local lakes, rivers, and creeks that you can swim, wade, boat or fish in. If you’re living close enough to the beach, take a daytrip to go swimming or get in a boat.

Finding local pools is another great option. Many cities have public pools that are surprisingly fun and underused. Of course neighborhood pools are another fun option. If you don’t have one yourself, meet up with a friend who’s lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a pool.

And don’t forget about having fun with water at home. Get a kiddie pool, water toys, or turn on the sprinklers and cool off. Note: these are not restricted to children!

Dive Into History

How much do you know about the local history in your area? Make it a point to read up on it this summer and explore local historic places and museums. It’s fun for adults, but also a great educational experience for the kids. Encourage them to read up, explore, and maybe even create a project around some aspect of history that interests them.

Many cities and areas with a rich history offer various different tours that you may not be aware of. It’s worth contacting your local visitor or tourist office to find out what you’ve been missing. You can start close by and expand your exploration to a wider circle of possibilities.

Use Calendars of Nearby Events

Take a look at your local calendars of events. There are usually citywide listings available from visitors bureaus and through media outlets. Look also for more localized listings through neighborhoods or larger sections of your city or town. There are often classes, concerts, movie showings, and even festivals you may not be aware of.

Between events your city or county puts on and various other events hosted by cultural centers, museums, and churches for example, you’ll be sure to find quite a few things you may want to attend this summer.

Fun In The Back Yard

In addition to water fun in the back yard, what else can you do? How about dining al fresco – at a table or on blankets for a picnic – or having a campfire/fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, making S’Mores or even sleeping under the stars? Treat your home like a vacation spot, get everyone outside and have some fun.

What outdoor games fit into your yard? Badminton, frisbees, and croquet are a starting point. Plan for occasional outdoor game nights during the summer months.

Explore A New Culture

We sometimes think of traveling far from home to explore another culture, but most likely there are multiple opportunities right in your own city, town, or area. What cultural groups beyond your own are represented close by?

Identify one or more and research what is available. Restaurants, summer cultural events, sections of town and classes are possibilities. Find some books, movies and music of that culture. You might even learn a little of the language.

By simply putting some planning and effort into a staycation you can have amazing experiences this summer that will cost a fraction of a regular trip.

To help all of us in this process, I have created two items which are available on Amazon:

Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations    This includes five sections: 1) Research: Finding Possibilities; 2) Day Trips for Us (specific trips or destinations you are interested in); 3) Day Trip Preparation; 4) Our Day Trips (a page for each trip you are planning, plus journal pages and blank pages for journaling and drawing; and 5) Your Day Trip Log (a list of the day trips you have taken

3-Part Bucket List and Journal  With this 3-Part Bucket List, you will divide your desires into three main categories: 1) things I want to learn about, 2) things I want to learn to do, and 3) things I want to do. In addition there are goal setting/planning sheets, journaling pages and doodling/sketching/mind mapping pages.

Happy planning for summer!!

Five Useful Applications of Mind Mapping

Mind MapMind Mapping – do you use it regularly? Have you tried it but use it only sporadically? Have you rejected it as a tool in your toolbox? Or do you really not know what it is or why you should consider it? I invite you to consider five useful applications of mind mapping that can make a real difference.

If you want an introduction or refresher on the concept, I have written about it here: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Many people who seek to embody a positive mindset and to break down roadblocks on a regular basis find that mind mapping is extremely effective in these five ways.

Rocking Your Goals Daily

Mind maps can help overcome our tendency to lose focus on goals and be distracted – even going down the proverbial rabbit holes. Having visual mind maps posted where you see them makes it easy to review daily as a visualization and inspire massive action. A good mind map contains your short-term and long-term goals. By viewing your short-term goals daily, you can make mental connections on how achieving them with confidence will lead to the completion of your long-term goals.

Use a goal-setting method that works well for you. The S.M.A.R.T. goal setting system is highly recommended, and it works very well in a mind map structure. With a mind map, everything is in one place, and at a glance, you can be motivated to work on that short term goal right away. The images will stimulate your brain to find ways to help you stay on track with your goals.

Making Your Meeting Count

Planning a meeting often goes off track as you may forget different important items as you make up your written agenda. By using a mind map, you can organize your thoughts and make different connections to related topics, which may not have occurred to you. Meetings that are planned and delivered via a mind map keep the team engaged as everything is drilled down in a logical form and delivered in short keywords and images.

For a couple of years, I prepared mind map agendas for a weekly committee meeting. They provided a unique and helpful way to navigate meetings that included lots of discussion and tangents. The visual made it easy to switch the order of topics and see the way back to what was missed.

Controlling Information Overload

Information overload can cause stress, anxiety, and even mild depression. In a busy workplace and life, you are taking in vast amounts of information, and sometimes it can be quite complex. This may result in overload and overwhelm.

Mind maps using a single page with keywords, images, and the brief notes that you can attach to various branches are so efficient. There is no searching around for related data as it is all in one spot. You can quickly make connections between different facts, ideas, and topics, which gets your brain working in a flow state.

Preparing for Presentations

If you have ever watched an ill-prepared presentation, you know how painful that is. By using a mind map, you can brainstorm ideas and dump them into your mind map. A mind map functionality allows you to quickly sort/move/edit/add to your presentation and make it come alive.

With mind maps, you are more focused on the key ideas, and there is no wandering off-topic. Having a mind map rather than a script makes for a much more engaging presentation. With color and image usage, you will keep the audience participation alive and full of discussion.

This can also be applied to informal, personal situations like important, perhaps difficult conversations – whether one-on-one or small groups like family or friends.

Making Decisions More Easily

Like information overload, you are faced with difficult decisions every day. A mind map allows you to start with your main problem and develop a hierarchy of possible solutions. Entering keywords in related sub-branches helps you organize options. Your brain will sort through these and make connections that you would not have on paper or if you were thinking out loud. Going through your mind map will have you looking at the main issue from different angles, which, in turn, brings up those unique solutions. It also helps you narrow down possibilities. Making decisions becomes so much easier as you become more familiar with and use this amazing tool.

In addition to trying these five useful applications of mind mapping, I encourage you to learn more. There are a wide variety of books, workbooks, and journals available about various aspects of mind mapping and how to effectively use it. Check out what’s available here: Mind Mapping Resources

 

Writing is a Powerful Tool to Enhance Your Life

Power of Writing

Writing is a powerful tool. It can help enhance your life in many ways.  As Joan Didion said,

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”  

Writing helps you create a connection between your inner self and your outer self. The mind-body connection is very powerful, and by externalizing your inner anxiety and issues you are taking a conscious positive action to improve your situation.

There are so many benefits to different kinds of writing. Here are some ways to use writing.

Processing Emotions

A simple way to understand and come to terms with your emotions is to write down whatever is bothering you. Often we have lots of emotions but don’t really know the root of them or how to manage them productively. Writing has an astounding ability to give you clarity and to start arriving at solutions. It can get you out of the confusion or paralysis you are experiencing and enable you to move forward.

One of many formats to use is letter writing. Writing a letter to yourself, a loved one, friend or someone with whom you have or had an issue in the past can really help to clarify the problem in your mind. It helps you to think through issues and to put them in context. Often the very act of writing the problem and suggesting a solution can help you achieve peace and come to terms with it.

You don’t actually need to send the letter, particularly if you have written in anger. The act of writing will have helped lessen the anger which was the purpose of the exercise. Remember, this letter can be to yourself, another person, or someone no longer alive. This strategy helps you separate out your thoughts and feelings.

Clearing Your Mind

Especially in times of uncertainty and change, our minds can be full of a wide range of thoughts. Many of them may be unimportant or irrelevant. Sometimes you have an overwhelming number of things you feel you need to do. Getting rid of them can allow you to focus and to effectively problem solve and plan.  A simple way to achieve this is to “core dump.”

Core dumping is a technique devised by David Allen (Getting Things Done). You simply list everything you need to do that day. This helps to clear your mind to allow you to focus on the most important things.

Another method of mind clearing is to write a stream of consciousness first thing in the morning every day. The important point with this process is that you write continuously without stopping to think or edit about what you are setting onto the page.

Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) calls this method, “Morning Pages”. She advocates writing three pages or approximately 750 words of your stream of consciousness first thing in the morning as a way to clear your mind. This leaves only those important thoughts you need to focus on for the day.

Creating a Record

Diary keeping has been undertaken for centuries. It’s a powerful tool for keeping a record of activities and actions. My mother kept diaries for decades, and they are now a family treasure that provides so much history that was captured in just a few lines a day. By being able to re-read these you get to remember the past including your thoughts and feelings. Keeping your own diary allows you to recall things forgotten in the overload of events and information we experience. You can also gain understanding and insight in unique ways as you look back.

Capturing Achievements

Keeping a record of your achievements can be beneficial to your self-confidence as well as self-knowledge. The record can be in various forms: journals, diaries, goal lists, to do lists, calendars. I am a sporadic journaler, but I keep my weekly task/appointment/goal calendars. These can be used to glean lists by year later on

Recording your achievements allows you to recognize and celebrate your achievements big or small. Looking back, we may recognize achievements and accomplishments that weren’t apparent at the time they occurred. This can be especially helpful when you find yourself feeling discouraged, depressed, or overwhelmed.

Big Thinking

Dreams and goals are important as they help us to learn, grow and achieve success. Writing down your hopes and dreams allows you to not only dream about the future you’d like but to visualize it. By visualizing your dreams, you are making them more real. Consider dedicating a notebook just to this purpose. Your written record of your big thoughts will help you track them giving you a greater opportunity to achieve them.

Writing is such a powerful therapeutic tool because it allows for observation and tracking over a period of time. This provides the ability to track thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. Triggers can be identified as well as patterns.

If you want to relieve stress, gain clarity on your problems and solve them then why not pick up a pen and start writing? Another unexpected benefit is that you will probably find that you get to know yourself better.

If you want your life to change, writing is a powerful tool. By using one or more of the methods above you will be creating a commitment to change and self-improvement. You can set goals, hold yourself accountable for making the changes and monitor your progress.

Here are a variety of books on writing for self-discovery if you would like to have some ideas:  Writing for Self-Discovery Resources