Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul. I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away. Lyrics to Drift Away, recorded by various artists, most notable Dobie Gray.
The magic of music. So many of us use music as therapy and never realize it. It can relax us, motivate us, move us to joy or tears, ease pain, help us sleep and bring groups of people together. With COVID-19, live music has been brutally forced into silence and people around the world are feeling the pain. Even churches have gone quiet. It seems these days that the only place to freely sing is in the shower or alone in our cars.
While we can’t enjoy live concerts or sing in groups or around others, we still have an enormous stock of recorded music available to us everyday. It is more important now than ever to make music a part of our daily lives. I’m not talking about some light background music while you are working or having dinner. Dive into your music library and really LISTEN to songs that transport you. Not long ago, I accepted a FB challenge to post 10 album covers that influenced my musical taste. It was really enjoyable going back to the songs and albums that I hadn’t listened to in years. The real benefit I got from the challenge was that I was focused on the music and with that focus, it worked its magic.
There is a ton of research out there about the health benefits of music. I have attached a link below to one article that I particularly liked. The research goes down many paths of the power of music, but most agree on the following benefits:
Keep in mind that music is a very personal experience, and certain sounds can have a negative effect. Just as quickly as it can induce a positive mood, music that doesn’t jive with your brain can bring on feelings of irritation and anger. So choose wisely, my friends! Spend some time to find what moves you.
This week your challenge is to get lost in some music. Use it as a daily meditation. Maybe when you come home from a rough day, stick in some earbuds and lay on the bed and listen to songs from one of your famous “mix tapes” from college. Or enjoy these pleasant fall days with some deck time and your favorite band. Wherever you do it, make it the focus to get the full benefit. Sing along and enjoy the ride!
LOL! Laughter is good for the soul.
When is the last time you’ve laughed so hard that tears poured down your cheeks and your belly hurt? Remember how you felt afterwards? Like a weight had been lifted from your shoulders? That is just one of the medicinal qualities of laughter. Beyond stress relief, there are other beneficial qualities, as well. Laughter strengthens your immune system, releases endorphins which boosts mood and diminishes pain, burns calories, and can quickly change your perspective on a bad event or day. Further, laughter is contagious. I love the memories from school of being in class and making eye contact with my smirking best friend and feeling the irresistible urge to laugh. And as soon as one of us let the slightest giggle escape it was over. All of us have had days that just completely suck but then something silly happens causing a good hard laugh. Afterwards we inevitably say, “Ah, I needed that!”
In the past several strange, isolated months, laughter has been a bit hard to come by. With parents and students experiencing the new stress of homeschooling, the uncertainty of the months to come, and the fear of a loved one getting sick, laughter is scarce. Further, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather from spending time with friends and family. While quarantining has protected us from illness, we are missing out on the social stimulus needed to experience humor.
But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Just like all the wellness challenges, sometimes it just takes a little focus! Your challenge this week is simply to laugh. Not just chuckle - but a good hard belly laugh! Understanding that it’s difficult to conjure that up out of the blue, especially if you are alone, below is a list of some things that might help. Personally, I get a huge kick out of scaring people. If you have anything to add to the list to get others laughing, list it in the comments on the Facebook post.
Here are some suggestions to help:
The challenge this week is to do something new - and do it with intention!
Have you noticed that time seems to speed up as you get older? Remembering back to vacations as a kid, they seemed to last forever. Now when I go on vacation they seem to end just as they start. Many studies have been done on this time speed phenomenon and one recurring finding centers on routine. In our youth, we are constantly experiencing first experiences - many we look ahead to and count down the days or even years to get them. When those first experiences happen we tend to savor the moment and take in everything about the event. As we get older, our lives start falling into a routine. We get settled into relationships, jobs, hobbies and habits. We’ve tried many things along the way and we’ve made up our minds about what we like and don’t like and stick with the likes. We settle into a comfort zone. As a result, the brain doesn’t have to work to process any new information or remember the specifics. It’s the same thing day in and day out. The brain literally doesn’t see the need to retain the memory of each thing resulting in gaps that makes it seem like time is speeding up.
So let’s slow it down. Studies have found that the more engaged we are with an experience, the longer it lasts. In other words, time slows down if we pay attention. Be mindful. Being mindful means incorporating all our senses into the remembering process.
There are some specific things you can do to slow it down. One way is to stop multitasking. Through your day think about each task you need to get done and think about the process of the task before and while you do it. More importantly, STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Be spontaneous and unpredictable from time to time. If you really cannot do that then plan a first. None of us are too old to learn or experience something new. If you can’t think of anything (yawn) talk to CrossFitWV member Bill Lynch. He tries something new every month! Consider buddying up with a friend or group of friends and take turns picking the new experience.
Once you’ve chosen your new first, tackle it with intention. Be completely focused on what you are doing without any distractions. Consider journaling your experience afterwards.
Try planning some firsts with yearly milestones, like some do with New Year’s resolutions. Maybe try something new every change of season, or on your birthday - some of the best gifts are experiences!
So slow down, savor the moment, be present, breathe. Challenge yourself and enjoy the ride!
Oh, those awkward moments at the gym! You’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about. You bend over to pick up your weight, you hit the bottom of a deep squat, and Whoomp there it is! It’s a natural body reaction, but we all prefer that it’s one that occurs in non-public settings.
Sometimes, though, that natural body process could be telling you something more. Excessive gas can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. These microbes - such as bacteria, yeasts and viruses - are vital for physical and mental health, immunity and more. However, some can be harmful, especially when they multiply.
What are some signs of an unhealthy gut?
You could go to your doctor and she could run a test on your stool sample to give you an exact picture of your intestinal health. But there are some things outside of medical intervention you can do to help improve your gut health:
A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and weight control. So pay attention to the signs and take measures to improve your gut health!
This week, your challenge is to eat food high in fiber at least 2x per day.
*I am not a doctor, and in no way intend to give medical advice. Always consult with your physician if you are having digestive/gastrointestinal issues that you think need treatment.*