Tip Tuesday: Alternatives to Cards

One thing that I hate building up but also hate throwing away are greeting cards. This tip it to help eliminate that. Believe me, greeting cards do have their place in my mind. Sending someone well wishes from afar or trying to cheer someone up with that perfectly funny card are perfect ways to use greeting cards. What is not perfect is the unwritten rule that I greeting card has to accompany any present and merely serves to let the person know who the gift is from. I say skip that, if you are handing the gift right over, don't waste the $2.99 plus that you spend on a card, just to sign a quick name. The person will be throwing it away quickly as it is. Or if they don't they just collect in a desk until you feel you've waited the correct amount of time to justify tossing it. Instead think of something more inexpensive, useful, or personal and release the need for a card. 

1. If you are giving the person a book or journal, write your personal message just inside the cover. No need for a card and that person will always be able to keep that message. 

2. If you are giving cash or a check tape that inside of a magazine the person will like. You can also write a personal message on the first page of the magazine. Still getting your point across but giving the person something they can  make use out of my reading. 

3. Make something out of thing around the house. Take five minutes with that in mind and I'll be there are a few ideas you can come up with. You can cut crumple up a paper bag and create a old fashioned look.  Cut up magazines to make colorful artwork to add to a homemade card. 

4. Write your message on the back of a photograph. This lets the person know who the gift is from but also serves as something the person will want to put up on their wall. 

5. Write the person a letter. It will be a lot more personal and save worthy than just a cheap-o card. They might not read it right away but it will be fun for them to go back and read later. 

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Tip Tuesday: Destress with Any Amounts of Time You Have

You don't need to head to a relaxation retreat to find some stress relief. Take these tips from Outside Magazine to relieve stress whether you have 10 seconds or 10 years of free time. 

10 seconds-Laugh. Even just anticipating a chuckle is enough to relieve stress and to elevate hormones that combat depression and boost immunity. It's to think of a couple funny moments here and there, or as I often do watch some clips from the Ellen Show. 

5 minutes-Chew gum. Chewing two sticks a day for two weeks can fight off anxiety and fatique and improve mood. Or in my case chew on something really crunchy or chewy. I find a lot stress can be held as well as taken out with your jaw. 

15 minutes-Meditate. Even just a quarter hour of meditation can bring stress levels down. Don't know where to start? Start with sitting still with your emotions. Sit in the moment and be completely aware of what you are feeling. If it is something negative shift your thoughts to a more positive emotion like thankfulness or joy. 

30 minutes-Go for a walk or jog. Being out in the fresh air will help bring a new clarity to your mind and you will be boosting your cardiovascular health and muscle tone. 

45 minutes-Take a nap. A 45-60 minute daytime nap can bring spiked blood pressure back down to normal.  For me 30 minutes is the perfect nap. 

90 minutes-Stretch it out with yoga. Nice gentle yoga will help being you back to Earth and calm your central nervous system. 

1 year-Move to Switzerland. This country is at the top of the Better Life Index for life satisfaction. Strong sense of community and high life expectancy make living the Swiss life sweet. 

10 years-Get a dog. A dog will help lower your blood pressure and improve your psychological well-being. 


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Tip Tuesday: Releasing Expectations

Expectations play a huge role in our lives. They play an important role when we are driving down the right side of the road and we expect people coming from the other direction to stay on the left. We expect that when we board a plane we are going to land safely at our destination. They are what allow us to go out into the world, for the most part, safely. 

However, expectations can also set us up for disappointment when we let our lives be run by them. When we have expectations for future events we have a good chance of being let down when what we thought would, happen didn't. 

It can be something as small as sending a friend a text message and expecting them to text back quickly. When we are checking our phone we are looking for the expected outcome, a return message. When that message does come as quickly as we wish, or at all, we feel anxiety and disapointment. 

 Or if we are expecting the vacation we are about to have is going to go off without a hitch. When problems arise we are disappointed, yet again when we didn't receive the expected outcome.

The best way to have no expectations is to have no expectations. Easy enough right? Here are some tips. 

  • Firstly, be aware of when expectations are entering your mind. Once you learn what you are feeling you will be more equipped to release them. 
  • Remember how disappointing expectations can be. Put yourself in a prior situation when your expectations didn't meet outcomes. Remember how that felt to feel disappointed. 
  • Understand that people and situations are unpredictable. We have no way of knowing what is going to happen tomorrow. We can't plan for everything.
  • Realize that "unpredicted" things that happen are called life's little surprises. If you head out on a trip and take a wrong turn, that is not you getting lost, it is you discovering another way to get there. Learn to enjoy that.
  • Lastly, try something new.  The reason new things are sometimes scary to us is because we feel we have no control because we don't know what to expect. What a way to release expectations than put yourself in situations when you have no choice but to.

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Each Time for the Very First Time

When was the last time you experienced something like a child? Or you experienced something for the 500th time, but it felt like the first time? Whatever your answer is, I'm sure it could be more. When we do something over and over again, say put our feet in grass, it may not feel as fun and interesting as the very first time we did it. Why do babies smile so much? Because everything that is going into their brains is new information. 

I recently saw the movie The Giver, based on the book by the same name by Lois Lowry. It's something I read in high school as well as reread just the week before the movie came out. However, being the visual person that I am, the film moved me to the point of not quickly letting go. 

In the film Jonas experiences joyful experiences for the first time in his life at the age of 12. He is raw and excited, and relinquishes control of his emotions to the moment. I ask again, when's the last time we were able to do that?

Without going into much more detail of the film or book (which is something I could gladly do) I want to take inspiration from Jonas and live my life as if I am him experiencing everything for the first time. The first time he rides a sled down a snowy hill, he feels the chilled wind in his face and is joyful in the moment that he loses control to the slope of the hill. He dances for the first time and experiences laughter, emotional connection, and the overwhelming feeling of love. 

The way we choose to experience things is within our control. We can walk out of our homes and stay within in confines of our own mind and thoughts. Or we can open ourselves up to the entire world around us, taking note of every sound, organic or man made, and experiencing it as a fact of life on Earth. We can shop in a store and choose to view all the colors and feel all the textures of that which is around us. We can experience the people that come into and out of our plane of view, wondering what their feelings are. 

I was recently posed with a life choice that challenged me to choose between my head and my heart. I'd always like to think of myself as a heart person, but I let me head win over in this one. I do think it's for the best. But after this choice I almost felt a shift in me. Whereas I didn't follow my heart on this grand scale, this time, I somehow began to give myself permission to follow my heart on a smaller scale and on a daily basis. For instance the other day on Cascades hill I decided I wanted to roll down it. When I got myself in position and proceeded to let go, I couldn't control my laughter. As I was knocked around by the hill I saw the world spin around me. Once my body came to a stop, even amidst a spinning headache, I still couldn't stop laughing. I experienced true joy. My hope was to experience that like Jonas probably would. I succeeded. 

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Tip Tuesday: Water Before Coffee

Here is another tip to help you get going in the morning. Instead of firstly reaching for a cup of coffee-reach for a cup of water. 

I first got on to this concept from an international school student at Jackson High School. When I was working as a building substitute at Jackson High, one of the many tasks I did was administer an ESL exam.  I got to have conversations with all the students, who's first language was not English, to test where they were at. One of the questions asked had the students talking about ways they stayed healthy. One of this student's suggestions was to drink a full glass of water in the morning to "clean yourself out." I guess I hadn't really thought of it before. 

But think about it...fatigue has a lot to do with dehydration.  Once you rehydrate yourself you may start to feel more energy. I recently came across another point that drove this concept home for me. When you wake up in the morning you have just gone 8-9 hours (depending on how many you sleep) without water. Would you normally go throughout your day not drinking any water for 8-9 hours at a time. I hope not. 

So my challenge to you is this: Try for one week drinking one full glass of water as soon as you wake up. See how you feel. Do you have more energy in the morning? What about throughout the rest of your day. I'm not saying you can't have your coffee too, but try hydrating yourself first.  I'd love to read comments from you on how it goes.

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