Whatever you want.

This week, the text is replaced by …

You know yourself best.

Go and fill the next 5-10 minutes with whatever makes you happy or does you good.

Take care and enjoy!

Birgit

Activity-Trance

Foto: Pixabay

Today, an interesting expression caught my attention: “Activity -Trance (source: audio book “Sei kein Systemling” by Patrick Lynen).

It completely resonated with me. I also have the impression that there is one thing that almost disappeared from our lifes: silence.
It’s also very popular to have a lot to do and to be under stress.
It’s somehow more honourable to save the world than to end work early.
Hustle and bustle is popular.

It almost seems as if every moment has to be filled – with experiences, activities, movement.
With input from outside or with your own hustle and bustle. Don’t waist a minute!
The TV is running in the waiting room at the doctor’s – and sells additional services.
Smaller time gaps – e.g. while waiting for the bus or in the queue at the baker’s – are filled to recheck the mobile phone.
Reading a book while riding the train, listening to a Podcast, answering e-mails or quickly ticking off this important phone call while being squeezed into the overcrowded underground…
At home, the radio or television are playing in the background and during the work day, colleagues and bosses help to fill every moment.
Because we let them.

Lunchtime hunger is quickly satisfied on our way to the next meeting with a bite of the breadroll we bought at the baker’s.
We tick them off one after the other, duties, tasks, activities. Like in a trance. As if we are remotely controlled.

And when we a potentially unfilled moment approaches, it almost feels strange.
Do we perhaps stun ourselves with this activity trance, because silence has become unfamiliar to us?
Worst case: our system is so overly stressed that it is no longer able to unwind on its own. Then, often alcohol comes into play after work.
Directly moving from mental anesthesia to physical anesthesia.
Don’t get me wrong – a tasty wine in a cosy atmosphere – how nice! Only if you observe yourself reaching for it regularly to create that comfortable atmosphere, you should think about it.

Like being conditioned, our mind constantly asks – what now?

Nothing.
Simply nothing.

“..and then you also have to have time to just sit there and look .” (Astrid Lindgren)

When was the last time you just sat anywhere?
Do you remember how boredom feels?

Allow silence to arrive and stay curious about what might show up in your mind.
No music playing in the background, no smartphone, tablet, e-reader or book in your hand.
Just be.

Take a break. Feel. Listen in. Seize.
Moments free of external input.

To get back in touch with yourself and your needs.
If you want to hear your inner voice, provide it with moments it can speak up.
Whatever comes up may not always be pleasant, but it should always be heard. (Otherwise your inner voice will place its complaint in other places like your back muscles, your stomach, your head or in other parts of your body that cause you problems if you ignore your needs ;-)).

So…
Take a break.
Just sit.
Listen in.

Be good to yourself!

Yours, Birgit

Mind the Gap

Photo: Pixabay

“Actually, I am on healthy diet, but it’s so delicious!”
“Actually, I should have said no when my colleague asked me for help – now I’m behind again with my own tasks. But just say no?”

Do they sound familiar to you, those “actually – but” sentences? They are a pretty safe indicator for you experiencing the Mind-Behaviour-Gap.

What is the Mind-Behaviour-Gap?

It’s the gap between what you know and want to do and what you actually do.
This phenomenon has been investigated for years – most recently with regard to consumer behaviour, e.g. in organic and sustainable products. For example, in a German study* 60% of respondents stated that they prefer to shop at weekly and organic markets or farms – but in 2018 Germans bought most of their food at discount stores. The Mind-Behavior-Gap is therefore a well-known phenomenon and – admittedly – hardly anybody manages to close this gap completely. Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep it as small as possible.

Why keeping it as small as possible?

Imagine you have a friend who values meetings with you as much as you do. Every time you meet, the time together is enriching and beautiful. There’s only one catch: 80% of meetings don’t happen because your friend cancels short notice. Every time you agree on a date, you are looking forward to it and then, shortly before – canceled again.
How would you feel about it?
What would you think about your friend?
How “seriously” would you take the planned dates?

And now imagine that this friend is – yourself. You know what is important to you, plan accordingly and then you regularly find yourself in situations where you didn’t really want to be.
Again, you are on the road for others and you do not do what you had in mind. You feel that this is not right and a latent dissatisfaction spreads. Most likely, your subconscious speaks to you here because it feels kidded.
The more often this happens to you, the bigger the Mind-Behaviour-Gap is, the less authentic you go through life and the more you run the risk of feeling the following symptoms:
– Frustration
– decreasing motivation
– increasing strain
– decreasing stress tolerance
– dwindling belief in your self-efficacy
– Feeling of the “victim role”, up to depressive moods
– loss of self-esteem

So what can you do to minimize the Mind-Behaviour gap

1. take responsibility: it is you who do not act according to your own values and guidelines. It is not the fault of the others that you do not do it, but in the vast majority of situations you have the choice of how you want to act and behave. If the phone call with your girlfriend is already too long because you wanted to do something else, then it is not too long because she talks so much – but because you have not (or not clearly enough) communicated until when you have time. And if you now think “yes but the friendship as well matters a lot to me” – all right – then we’re already in the middle of …
2. Clarity: become aware of what is important to you. Clearly separate values that “you should have” from those that really correspond to YOU. Which three values distinguish you? And with what behaviour do you implement them? How do you deal with value conflicts? What has priority? Make a conscious decision! And check this point from time to time. Stay flexible. Life changes, circumstances change – you change. Maybe in a few years something else is important to you? That’s okay! Correct. But once you have established the values, show…
3. Integrity: Keep your promises to you. Admit to yourself honestly, if it didn’t work out and think about what you have to change, so that it works out in the future (maybe something else is more important to you in secret after all?). Thus preserve your authenticity and respect for yourself.
4. self-esteem: Be worth it to yourself to stand by yourself and your values and to go your way. That’s not selfish. On the contrary, people who are at peace with themselves and rest in themselves are an enrichment for their environment! The more you are at peace with yourself, the less you “have to fight for something” – because you are no longer on the road against someone, but for yourself.

I wish you a “gap-less” week in which you succeed in integrating as much as possible of what is important to you.

Sincerely, Birgit

*Study of the household appliance manufacturer Ritterwerk in 2018

Three times the charm

Photo: Pixabay

Your energy flows to where your attention is.

We tend to remember unpleasant things forever. Having had this bad experience does not seem to be enough – we let it wander through our minds again and again. And since thoughts evoke feelings, we experience the unpleasant every time anew. And we give away a lot of energy for something that a) can’t be changed anyway and b) isn’t even pleasant.
This may be due to the fact that evolution equipped us with a mechanism which is supposed to protect us from any danger. This mechanism leads to the fact, that we perceive everything that’s not working according to our ideas as unpleasant.
On the other hand, we do not spent much attention to pleasant things – we take them for granted.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, between all the things that are not going according to plan, an unbalanced overall picture quickly emerges in our heads, leaving us rather dissatisfied and tense.

The good news is – we are not helpless at the mercy of this imbalance. Our brain is an amazing masterpiece of nature – in a figurative way it is like a muscle. If we keep using and training muscles, they will grow and become stronger. Our thought patterns are like mental muscles. The question is: which mental muscle do you want to train?

There is a good way to train and promote our eye for the good and pleasant things in our lives. If you establish the following tip as a daily ritual, it will be particularly effective.

This week, consciously focus your attention on everything that goes well. Every evening, write down hree things that were pleasant, worked well, made you happy or made you smile. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular at all – often it is the little gestures, moments or observations: the fresh coffee in the morning, the person in the tram who offers his place to an elderly lady, the sun on your skin …
If it is difficult for you to remember in the evening, you can also make a short note during the day – for example with your mobile phone – if you have experienced something positive. Then, allow yourself 5-10 minutes in the evening to review these notes again.

Go continue this ritual for longer than just one week. Soon you will probably come up with more than three things and your mind will be trained to get a more balanced and relaxed picture of the world.

By the way: if you are to experience one of these days you would rather prefer to forget, it helps immensely to take a look at the positive notes of the past days.

Take care three times,

Birgit

Slow Motion Mode

“This year went faster than the last.”
“Perhaps it’s a matter of age that everything seems to pass by quicker and quicker?”

These are sentences I frequently hear when I am having a chat with my friends about time and how fast it passes.

Just recently I read an interesting interview with Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa, one of the most famous German time scientists. In this interview he says: “We are … richer in experiences, but still poorer in experience. Because experiences are no longer transformed into experience. “

With so many choices available, we often rush from one event to the next – without taking our time, processing our impressions and consciously saving it. It seems as if we are always scratching the surface, but not going deeper. Everything seems faster and less intense. Prof. Rosa continues: “If you want to feel rich in time, you should now and then waste a day, planning nothing, doing nothing productive.”

I recommend combining this with the “slow motion technique

For one day, imagine your perception is like a camera in a Hollywood movie. During the day, zoom in people, encounters, scenes and situations every now and again. Develop an awareness of all the details. At the same time, sometimes try to fade out one level of perception (e.g., sounds / noises). Maybe one or the other scene will even seem like slow motion, because you suddenly perceive much more consciously and intensively.

By this you can train your sensory perception and enrich your impressions. Maybe one or the other detail will amaze you. In any case, your experience will grow deeper and more concious.

In addition, this exercise will help you keeping your focus once  you need it (for example, when you’re working or reading something on a train ride and the person next to you is talking on the phone – happens to me regularly :-))

On vacation, this comes more naturally to us – for example when we are somewhere for the first time, everything seems to be much more intense or if we are reading a good book while lying on the beach and forgetting the world around us.

Try to find this magic also in everyday situations:

Perceive surrounding sounds or voices like background music and focus on something close to you.

  • Chew for a little longer while eating. Focus on the taste.
  • Watch your hands or fingers for a minute
  • While waiting in a queue, curiously watch the behavior of the person in front of you.
  • Do everyday behaviors with greater attentiveness – like opening a door.

Set the scene and enrich your senses!

Happy filming,

Birgit

Greet your feet

We stress them all day. In the morning, we hide them in socks or stockings and in nice shoes – that are very often far too tight. Sometimes we get blisters (I always think my shoes make my feet fit them and not the other way round …). Most time of the year they live in darkness – but despite all this, they walk us through our lives.

Our feet are a masterpiece of nature. They help us keep our musculoskeletal system in balance, and even though we strain the soles throughout the day, they contain many important and sensitive points that are related to our energy channels (meridians) in the body. A professionally performed foot reflexology massage can also help reduce stress by stimulating nerve paths and muscle relaxation.

This way, being kind to your feet also has a positive effect on the rest of your body and your well-being. And there are many ways to do your feet good:

  • Treat your feet regularly to a relaxing foot bath
  • After cleansing, cream your feet with a foot lotion and massage them lightly. Make sure to include all areas of your feet (including the heel and toe ends).
  • To relax, massage your both feet consecutively for 20 minutes each with a good massage oil. If you are under stress, try this: in the middle under the ball of the foot is the midriff-solar-plexus-zone. A gentle massage of this point reliefs nervous tension.
  • You can also apply a simple foot reflexology massage by using spiky massage balls. Sit upright on a chair and roll your bare feet alternately with light pressure over the massage ball.

And my last tip: free your feet and walk barefoot more often!

When walking barefoot, we perceive the underground much more and can reconnect with nature more easily. In addition, walking barefoot trains the muscles (not only those of the foot) and can thus help to alleviate postural deformities, back problems and flat feet.

By the way, if you walk barefoot regularly, you have less cold feet. Why? Because walking barefoot stimulates the blood circulation (which is often hindered in shoes and socks), and your feet get used to being naked – just as your hands are used to.

During summer, you can also visit barefoot sensory paths or create your own:
http://www.barfusspark.info/loesungsk/katalog_en.htm

So, greet your feet an enjoy!

Birgit

Spread the Laugh!

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 
― Charles Dickens

Laughter is the best medicine. It improves the effectiveness of the lung, showers our brain with oxygen, relaxes the muscles and is a massage for your internal organs. It boosts your immune defence, stress hormons are reduced and hormons that lead to happiness are released. So, frequently laughing heavily contributes to your health.

Research on the positive side effects of laughter has found that laughing …

  1. intensifies your breath
  2. produces endorphines
  3. strengthens your immune defence
  4. decreases symptoms of stress
  5. triggers self-healing effects which also lead to pain reduction

Medcine also uses the healthy benefits of laughter. The initiative “ClownDoctors” is a community of freelance artitists, who visit children in hospitals and homes for the elderly. The ClownDoctors are trained to bring laughter, happiness and variety into the lifes of the often critically ill children and the sometimes solitary elderly. (http://www.clowndoctors.co.uk/)

Have you lately had a hearty lough? Can you still remember yourself laughing to tears and laughing so much that you had forgotten, what you where lauging about because you started to laugh about your own laughter?

I love to laugh (out loud ;-)) and often carried others away with me – because laughter and it’s small sister smiling are heavily contagious. Have a look:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk9-gkT2bI8
So if you give in to your laughter, you do not only do good to yourself but also to others.

As humor differs from person to person, I will not recommend specific actions today. You may know best what makes you smile or laugh. So immerse yourself into the laughter today and have fun!

Happy Sunday!

Birgit

PS: Laughing about yourself is also very alleviative!


Meditation

Even if nowadays there is a lot of evidence and research on the practice of meditation and its benefits, I often feel people are reacting a litte reserved when it is suggest as helpful method for relaxation. Perhaps it’s because people have various and different assumptions on what meditation is – pleasant ones as well as mysterious ones.
In fact, everybody can practice meditation anywhere at anytime. You do not need to follow a certain belief or have special talents or previous knowledge. Meditation is like a journey to yourself. Even if it might be helpful to establish a routine, meditating at the same place and at similar times when you start, it does not require a special location or time to be of benefit for you.

The scientific benefits of meditaion are really amazing and diverse. Only to name a few, meditaion can

  • reduce your stress level
  • build your resilience
  • increase your compassion
  • strengthen your focus and concentration
  • improve your mood and emotional intelligence
  • foster your optimism and relaxation
  • enhance your self-esteem
  • increase your cognitive thinking and creative skills
  • improve your immune system

There are different types and techniques of meditation. The guided meditation can be like an inner journey – sometimes even an imaginary journey like the ones you will be provided with in this blog. It may be as well a mindful journey through your body and its sensations when practicing a bodyscan.T

The classic, silent meditation is like a mental retreat from your environment and your thoughts. This can be achieved through focusing on your body (e.g. on your breath), on a mantra (mantra-meditation) or on a real or visualized item (e.g. a candle).
Actually I think we are very familiar with the “mental retreat”. Think of how you commute and drive your well-known route by heart, as if you are on “autopilot” – while your thoughts are drifting away elsewhere. I call this an reality-trance. The difference is, that in this case we are led by our thoughts. They walk us to wherever they want – whereas meditation increases our ability to conciously focus our attention to one thing and let go of your thoughts – an ability that is very helpful in other context, especially nowadays, where we are constantly exposed to various distractions and impressions.

Many people believe, it is important to get rid of your thoughts when practicing meditation. So they work hard not to think of anything, get angry when they do not succeed or say things like “this does not work for me” when they continue having thoughts.
Does’nt sound very relaxing, does it?
In fact, it is natural and normal that thoughts will come up while you are meditating – as well as physical sensations like twitches or itching in different areas of your body. At this point the difference lies in your reaction to it. Practicing meditation would mean you perceive those sensations and thoughts, you accept them but do not evaluate them or turn your attention to them. Instead, you continue tuning in to your meditation. It’s like watching yourself as an external observer: “aha, now I think of” and then let go of the thought. Or like “my eyebrow is itching” and not scratching but just accepting it (it will go away, I promise!).

Like with all other relaxation methods, same rule appplies to meditation: constant dripping wears the rock away. It’s training your mind, body and sould to become silent. Sitting in silence will become easier over time. Try to meditate 1-2 times a day for 5-7 minutes in the beginning. You then can continuously increase the time (20 minutes is already advanced level).

Lay down or sit while practicing, find a comfortable position – but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. (If you sit, do not recline). It is not necessary that you are a master of the tailor seat or lotus position. Just take care, that your is upright so you can breath easily and openly.

Enough theory for now – now go and try it out. Below I have added some Links and tipps to start with:

  1. Mindfulness App: This App provides a nice introduction into mediation; the free version includes a guided mindfulness meditation and the possibility to configure your personal one by chosing from different options and background noises.
    Google PlayiTunes
  2. Headspace App: supports you to medidate and life mindfully; not only does it include bite-sized meditation sessions for busy times, but also hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety.
    Google PlayiTunes
  3. Youtube: Youtube is worth a look and listen – but take your time and try out different versions to find the one you resonate with. Content, tone of voice and the type of meditation play crucial roles in your decision whether you like it or not.

And now relax and enjoy,

Birgit

Press against stress

Acupressure is a punctual massage originating in the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Called Shiatsu, it is also part of the Japanese medicine. Acupressure means applying physical pressure to specific points of your body. Applying this pressure can be used to safely treat painful points on tendons or muscles. According to TCM, there are various zones and points on the body that can relieve symptoms and discomfort, including stress.

If you would like to use acupressure to relieve stress, there are four helpful points and steps you can treat and apply as follows *:

  1. Back of the hand: the soft valley against stress

The point “valley sink” is on the back of the hand. Place the thumb of your right hand on the soft spot between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. Press this position for ten seconds, then release for about two seconds. Repeat this sequence for one minute, then switch sides.

2. Knee: „Divine Equanimity“ for inner peace

Sit on a chair and put both hands on your knees. The position your ring finger is holding shows the point “Divine Equanimity”. Treat it with a soft massage for five minutes by gently brushing your fingers down.

3. Chest: the Xiphoid

You will discover this area against stress on your chest by first looking for a point above the belly button. It lies where the bones of the sternum converge. This is the so-called “xiphoid process”. Four fingers above this point is the area you should then massage intensively with your index and middle finger for at least five minutes.

4. Head: after the Acupressure

The acupuncture on your chest works best when treating a point on the head immediately afterwards. You will find this point by thinking of a connecting line between the upper edges of the ears on the skull. From the middle, you go two to three fingers backwards. Massage the small depression you will recognize for five minutes in the direction of the forehead.

The biggest benefit of acupressure: you can apply it everywhere and anytime. So there is always time help yourself relieve the stress.

Have a wonderful week and be gentle to yourself,

Birgit

*Source: www.focus.de/gesundheit
Photo: Pixabay