Share a Laugh for a Serious Cause

Can you imagine how tough it must be to be homeless? Where do you sleep? Where do you wash? Where do you eat? How do you afford personal care items such as sanitary products (which STILL attract a GST – can you believe it!), shampoo, toothbrush or toothpaste?

Well, over 44,000 Australian women face this every day.

Share the Dignity is a group that aims to make a difference to these women by providing personal care products – helping them to retain some dignity.

They do this in several ways, and one of these ways is running an Australia-wide Yoga day on Saturday 2 September at 8am.

And I am participating in this through my business LaughterWorx. It’s super easy to attend:

  1. come along at 8am-9am and laugh! (Venue is St Marys Church Admin Hall, cnr Norton & Burnet Streets, Ballina – entry via Burnet Street)
  2. Bring friends
  3. Offer a gold coin to join in – and put something in the personal care basket
  4. Have a laugh – for a serious cause!

If you don’t live near Ballina – don’t despair, you can still join in. Just go to #YogaforDignity, or click on this link to find out where your nearest yoga event is happening.

Homelessness can occur at any time – it doesn’t take much for your whole world to change. Please be part of something that makes a difference in people’s lives 🙂

Is chronic stress leaving you at risk of developing dementia?

According to an article I read in the Aged Care Report Card (HelloCare, 2017). In Australia, one person is diagnosed with dementia every six minutes. Fifty-five percent of these diagnoses affect Australian women. Are you at risk?

Scientists have found a significant link between severe stress in middle age and dementia. In a study done as part of the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden, 800 women participated in the study, from middle age to late life.

The study started in 1968, and the women were quizzed about common stressful situations or events, such as death of a spouse or child, divorce, serious illness, unemployment, abuse and lack of social support.

The women were followed over 38 years and examined for signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. At the end of the study, their findings were that one of of five of the participants had developed dementia (mostly Alzheimer’s).

Experts are starting to believe if you experience prolonged stress it damages your brain, which increases your chances of dementia.  Chronic stress increases the production of the hormones adrenalin and cortisol. When these hormones are increased, your blood pressure and blood sugar rise. While this is okay for a short period of time,  if this happens often, and for sustained periods of time, your brain is affected.

What part of your brain is affected? The hippocampus – which is the part of your brain responsible for memory. The amygdala – which controls your emotional responses. And the prefrontal cortex – which regulates your thinking.

Yes, I hear you say, the brain does create new brain cells. But increased cortisol levels reduce the speed they are created.

So how do you minimise your stress levels when we live in such a stressful world?

You don’t need to get rid of ALL stress – it would impossible anyway. Some stress is actually good for you. But chronic stress is not.

Here are some tips to help you manage your stress levels:

  • You can train your brain to look at the positives, not the negatives, in life.
  • Connection with family and friends is crucial. Strong ties keep us connected, and help us have fun, live in the present and relax
  • Be active! One of the best defences against dementia of any type is regular exercise. Not only does it help maintain normal hormonal balance, exercise releases serotonin and endorphins that help release your body’s natural pain killers and help enhance your mood.
  • Eat whole food, full of nutrition. Junk food isn’t food, it’s just junk. And much of the ‘healthy’ prepackaged food is full of nasties. Cook for yourself. If you don’t know how – learn, it’s pretty simple!
  • Sleep well – your body and your brain need to relax. You can listen to the recording of my Sleep is not a Luxury radio interview here to find out some tips on how to improve your sleep.
  • Keep your brain busy. Crosswords, sudokus, puzzles, learning new things like a language are all great for keeping your brain healthy.
  • The corollary to the above is to let your brain rest. Practising meditation, yoga, tai chi will really help calm the chatter.
  • And of course, LAUGH! You knew if was coming, didn’t you! Laughter does so many wonderful things for your physical, emotional and mental health – but one of the biggest benefits is that it is the best destressor you have. It costs, nothing, and you can do it alone anytime.

 

A new year and a new…. oh not again!

How many emails or Facebook posts have you seen starting with ‘A New Year and a New (fill-in-the-blank’.

My question is – why wait? It’s February – we are already nearly half way through the first quarter of 2017 so the New Year has well and truly passed. What do you want to achieve?

I must admit – after a very indulgent Christmas / Birthday / New Year period I looked at myself in the mirror and am not that different to last January. What a wake up call.

Making the shifts I want to see in my life can’t wait for an ‘event’ such as a turn of the hour hand, a calendar date or a birthday. Change happens on a Tuesday morning when I turn up to that yoga class, gym or go for a walk; or a Friday night when I say no to that  extra piece of pizza or 4th glass of wine.

A big change I’ve made has been to do my yoga practice pretty much every morning this year. No, not every morning, but almost. (I even did a little video about it on my Facebook page.) And guess what? This morning, when doing downward dog my heals touched the floor!!! That has NEVER happened before and I’m ridiculously excited about it! There was another exercise I couldn’t do because it hurt my neck – but that’s the thing isn’t it. Looking after yourself is the key.

So why not give yourself permission to look after yourself as if you were your best friend. Does that sound weird? It shouldn’t, because who else can if you can’t? Who else is in your head (apart from that awful critic who criticises you all the time – mine has a VERY LOUD VOICE!).

I listened to a great webinar over the Christmas break with Elizabeth Rider and Grace Keohohou (I did my coaching course last year with Grace and she is, well, incredibly well-named.) They talked about how to combat that inner critic – and came up with finding your INNER CHAMPION. Isn’t that neat?

I have my Inner Champion. She is Amazonian – 188cms tall (or 6 foot 2 inches), because she needs to

artist’s impression of Boudicea

squash my inner critic down to size. She has short red hair in a pixie cut (because I would love to but it just doesn’t suit me). She is strong. She is untamed. She doesn’t take shit from anyone – including my inner critic. (Have you noticed that my Inner Champion has capitals, but my inner critic doesn’t? That’s no mistake either.)

She is my friend. My advocate. My defender. My supporter.

She has my back. She hasn’t told me her name yet – but that’s cool, she will. (In fact, now I look at her description, she is remarkably similar to Boudicea – the amazing Celt warrior queen who fought the Romans.)

Think about it. Could you find your Inner Champion? What is her name? How tall is she? What colour is her skin, her hair, her eyes? Find her – and you will find that part of yourself that is strong, vibrant, brave and courageous. Because the magic in life only happens outside that comfort zone – and if you need your Inner Champion to get you there like I do, then connect with her now.

Cheers, Meredith

 

 

 

A Split-Second Decision Can Change Your Life

We tend to think of the defining decisions of our lives as the big ones. Getting married (or committing to a life partner); buying a house; having kids.

But isn’t it really the smaller decisions we make that have the most impact? Like choosing that particular paper to buy the day when you saw the advertisement for the job that changes your life.

One of the small decisions that changed my life was deciding to sign up to eHarmony. It had been suggested to me by my life coach. It seemed a small enough thing. Sign up, fill out the profile. Go on some dates. Look outside myself.

It didn’t work out that way. I spent a long time filling out the profile – because I wanted it to be a true reflection of me. Within three months of writing my profile (seven years ago on the 21st of this month!) I met the man I would marry six months later. (And yes, we are still married, blissfully!)

And it’s the time after that decision is made when the rubber really hits the road. The days, weeks, months that really lead you to the new journey.

So what decisions – small, almost negligible, that will set you on the path you desire in 2017?

Is health a priority for you? If so, it’s these small decisions every day that will help you reach your goals.

I talk a lot about this in my book ‘The Busy Woman’s Guide to Inner Health and Outer Beauty – 7 simple steps to enriched energy, radiant skin and inner peace for the woman on-the-go’. (You can order a copy by popping over to the My Shop page of this website.)

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Inner Health and Outer Beauty

But here are just a couple of small things you could do to have a big impact.

  1. Give yourself a chance to sleep well. Late last year I did a radio interview about the importance of getting a good nights’ sleep – so if you’d prefer to listen than read, just go to my Speaking and Presenting page and check out the recording.Conventional wisdom says you need between seven and nine hour’s good quality sleep a night. Your brain, your skin and your body does a bunch of work while you are asleep, so even if you think you aren’t doing anything, your body, skin and brain are very active. Check out my blog post A Good Night’s Sleep Is Not  A Luxury to get some tips on how to improve your sleep.
  1. Incorporate exercise into your day – make it a habit. Don’t give yourself the option – just do whatever you have to, to make it automatic. Prefer a walk in the morning? Then put out your clothes the night before. Even that small decision can make the difference between you going for that walk and losing time deciding which outfit to wear, and then deciding you’ve run out of time and you’ve lost another day.Prefer yoga or swimming? Put the time in your diary, make sure you have your equipment and do it. Maybe buddy up with a friend.  It doesn’t matter what it is, dancing, tai chi, martial arts, biking, dancing…. Just get it into that diary and commit.I do a gym workout five mornings a week. I don’t think about it, I just get up and do it. And the beauty is that I have that headspace to use for other things because I’m not having that endless conversation with myself about do I want to / don’t I want to.
  1. Take time out for yourself. Get my book and you can read about some of the ways to say ‘NO’. This is a really important thing to do to set boundaries on your time and space. It doesn’t have to be a big time out, it could be a bath with lovely oils, or ten minutes of meditation. Even just taking seven minutes to do some deep breathing – just concentrate on the breath in, breath out – will have major benefits.
  1. Think about food a bit differently. Not only is food fuel for your body, it’s information too. You put in good information – and your cells will convert that information into nutrition. When you reframe your food intake, it might lead to some surprising results.
  1. Make a decision that your health is the biggest priority you have in 2017. Each decision you make, especially the small ones, will impact this. Look, I know you have a million demands on your time. So do I. But if you maintain that your health is your priority – if that is your guiding principle in 2017 – you will get there.Sure, go out to dinner and have fun. Get together with friends and enjoy a night out. Sleep in occasionally. Treat yourself. But even during these times you can make decisions that mean you value yourself.

This year I choose to continue my focus on my body size. It’s taking longer to slim down than I had hoped, but I know I am physically stronger than I was a year ago – so I’m moving in the right direction. I have identified two new habits I need to instil to move me along my path. One is for health, the other for my business.

The first is to ‘surf the urge’. Neuroscientists are discovering that rather than feeding our desires – say that glass of wine at night when you walk in the door, or the cigarette when you get off the train – if we just sit with the need, if we ‘surf the urge’, it goes away. If we give in to it, it gets stronger. I find this profound, because it really gets into the inner workings of our minds.

My second habit is around my business. My days will be more structured – and I have a feeling that will really help me because I won’t be spending time deciding what I’m going do for the day – it will already be in my calendar.

What will YOU choose in 2017?

 

Live life happy! 🙂

Meredith

 

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine!

You’ve heard laughter is the best medicine right? Well, the science is in and it’s proven to be true!smiley-163510__180

Do you, or does anyone you know, suffer from any of the following?

  • Health concerns such as high blood pressure, heart disease or hypertension?
  • Do you feel blue and want to feel pink (ie happy and positive)?
  • Do you know you need to exercise but the idea of going to the gym is just not for you?
  • Does your brain feel foggy and you wish you could think more clearly? Is this impacting your performance at work, or even at home?
  • Do you shove your feelings down and not let them out for fear of… well, just for fear?
  • Do you feel social isolated but hate the idea of ‘joining’ groups?
  • Do you travel for work and find it hard to connect with anyone outside the office?
  • Do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks?

Then you may need a regular dose of laughter. Laughter can do amazing things for you, including:

  • Helping you stay RESILIENT in the face of life’s challenges
  • Improving your MIND POWER performance through increased oxygen flow to your brain
  • Gives you HEALTH BENEFITS including strengthening your immune system so you can ward against illness, reduces high blood pressure, helps with anxiety, and even can aid those suffering from depression
  • Helping you to MANAGE STRESS, the number one killer in the western world, and
  • Enhancing your mood by releasing ENDORPHINS 
What would you rather be - yellow, or blue?
What would you rather be – yellow, or blue?

Doesn’t that sound fabulous!!!

So how does this work? You attend a Laughter Yoga class!

Laughter Yoga is about fun, not about turning yourself into a pretzel, or telling bad jokes.

You see, our brains don’t know the difference between something that is real and something we imagine.

That means that even when laughter is forced, your body and mind still get the benefits as if you were laughing for real. Think about that. You can do a fake laugh and still get the benefits.

Here are some other great things about Laughter Yoga:

Who can do Laughter Yoga? Everyone. Well, sick, stressed. Old, young, in the middle. Age doesn’t matter.

Where do people do Laughter Yoga? Laughter Yoga is run in hospitals, aged care facilities and schools. At work in big, medium and small businesses, non-profit groups, community groups, private clubs, senior citizens clubs, men’s sheds. And one-on-one in peoples homes, and by Skype, Zoom or other geographically-overcoming technology.

Why do people do Laughter Yoga? Because of the benefits that I’ve listed above, and more. It can aid connection for those who are socially isolated, it can help people deal with pain better. It’s terrific exercise as it gets your heart rate up. Science has proven that Laughter Yoga can have a positive affect on many health issues, increase innovation and creative thinking, and just adds more laughter to life!

What if I have mobility issues and can’t get on the floor. No problem! The ‘Yoga’ part of Laughter Yoga is the breathing – there is no need to get on the floor in a pretzel shape! In fact, Laughter Yoga can even be practiced sitting down! So if you are mobility challenged, even to the point of being in a wheelchair – you can still participate in Laughter Yoga.

The great news is that:

I am now a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and am available to run a Laughter Yoga class for YOU!
(this photo is me being presented with my certificate August 2016)

LY cert present(I have been trained by  in the method devleoped by Dr Kataria –
the medical doctor who developed the practice.)

I can take you through a LAUGHTER YOGA class in a big group, a small group, a two-on-one or a one-on-one. We can do this face-to-face (depending on location) or online via Skype, Zoom or other technology.

Laughter Yoga has been around as a practice since 1991 and is now practised by tens of thousands of people in over 100 countries around the world. Isn’t it time you treated yourself to a big laugh?

Giving Thanks Is Not Just For The USA

As you’re probably aware, November is Thanksgiving month in the United States. And it got me to thinking, why not have something similar in other countries as well?p1070138

It doesn’t have to be something formal – a particular day or month. Rather it can be a very personal, private type of thanksgiving.

So I stated to do a bit of research and BAM! Did I find some amazing stuff out there in the multiverse about gratitude, being thankful, showing appreciation – however you want to describe it.

In his book The Last Lecture, Randy Paul said ‘Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.’

There are also some amazing health benefits you can get by being grateful.

  • Physical benefits: People who are grateful seem to be more careful about their own health. They do smart stuff like eat well and exercise regularly.
  • Spouse / Romantic relationship benefits: According to a 2011 study by Kubacka, Finkenauer, Rusbult, and Keijsers reported in Psychology Today, people in a partnership / romantic relationship feel gratitude for their partner when they feel their partner is being responsive to their needs. They then feel motivated to respond in kind – and this develops a positive gratitude cycle over time, increasing caring. Surely that’s got to be a good thing!
  • Stress reduction: According to a WebMD article, gratitude can reduce, or better manage, stress. It is thought that feelings of appreciation have a positive effect in helping people cope with their worries.
  • Sleep benefits: Several studies on the benefits of sleep and gratitude have been conducted over the past few years in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. They have all found that regularly recording why people are grateful helps them sleep better. It seems to have something to do with the participants having more positive thoughts rather than negative ones. (The first of these studies was conducted by Nancy Digdon, Department of Psychology, Grant MacEwan University, City Centre Campus, Edmonton, AB, Canada; another  conducted by University of Manchester).
  • Gratitude just helps you feel happier. By acknowledging the good things you have you can connect with something bigger than yourself. And even if you can’t find too much to be grateful about, some scientists believe that it that act of searching for something to be grateful about is the key.

So how do you go about tapping into this gratitude bug? Here are five ideas – but don’t feel limited to these!

  1. Keep a journal. One study found subjects who wrote down one item that they were grateful for every day reported being 25 percent happier for a full six months after following this practice for just three weeks!
  2. Share your gratitude by saying thanks! Acknowledge what others do for you. Even writing little notes is a lovely way to say thanks to someone. Wouldn’t you like to be recognized for the efforts you are making? Then why would someone else be different.
  3. Look outside yourself. What has made your family and friends happy today? Starting a ‘gratitude chat’ can have wide reaching and positive connections with family, friends, colleagues, team members – the list goes on.
  4. Look inside yourself. Meditating on your thankfulness can calm your mind and help balance out negativity.
  5. Picture it out. You’ve heard of a vision board – well, you could make a gratitude board. Find pictures, sayings, symbols of what you are grateful for – these could be family members, friends, holidays, even your favourite pair of comfy shoes or piece of sports equipment! Just surround yourself of reminders of what you appreciate and this can make a big difference.

So, now you have some ideas – let’s really take the bull by the horns and have a 30 day Gratitude Challenge!

I’ll post on my Enrich Your Energy Facebook page what I’m grateful for – and you share with me what you are grateful for. Let’s get some energy going around this – particularly important coming up to Christmas when people can get a bit stressed out. I write regularly in my Thankful Journal, but this will take it to a new level – and I’m EXCITED!!!!!

In appreciation of you reading my blog….

Meredith

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I’ve Been A Bit Quiet Lately Because…

… of lots of reasons.

I had the honour and privilege of being part of Lismore Theatre Company’s recent play Better Be With The Dead.

Written by local playwright Lisa Walmsley, it was a comedy, horror, witchy kind of play that was just plain fun! And it wasn’t just the actors that thought so – we had terrific audiences who were very kind in their reviews and obviously enjoyed themselves very much.

So a big thank you to my fellow cast members, director Jos Wright, playwright Lisa Walmsley, backstage crew, and especially my beloved husband Henri who stepped up and took on the reins as stage manager. 🙂  And a super big thank you to my mum and friends who travelled to the Northern Rivers to watch me in my biggest role yet!

How Laughter Can Add To The Business Bottom Line (Part 1)

laughing woman-1138446__180What are the key employee concerns you have for your business?  Stress management? Absenteeism? Burnout? Long hours? Stagnant performance? Conflict? Stuck thinking?

The list goes on and on, doesn’t it?

So what can you, as an executive or business owner, do about helping your employees improve their performance, manage their stress, not take so many days off, think more clearly, work better as a team, improve their communication skills, reduce conflict, increase their motivation and more?

Have you ever considered introducing more laughter into your business?

Not laughter as in telling bad jokes or watching questionable slap stick comedies. But laughing simply for its own sake.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that indicates laughing, as a physical exercise rather than a cognitive one, is extremely beneficial to our health.

This type of laughter is called Laughter Yoga. The ‘yoga’ part of Laughter Yoga is the deep breathing that is a fundamental part of the exercise. There is no requirement for gym gear or weights, yoga mats or leotards!

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga is an aerobic exercise. It comprises a series of short laughing exercises mixed with role play and playfulness, interspersed with grounding exercises, clapping, stretching and deep breathing.laughing ladies-495749__180

Science has proven that 20 minutes of sustained laughter can bring significant physiological benefits.  Laughter Yoga is the only technique the engages the aerobic nature of laughing with the deep breathing of yoga, stretching, chanting and clapping to bring a holistic mental and physical workout.

Studies have shown that our bodies can’t tell the difference between laughter that is genuine and laughter that is faked. That means that just by faking laughter your body is getting the benefits of aerobic exercise.  Laughter Yoga is the only technique that gives adults the opportunity to have sustained hearty laughter for a period of time without the mind having to be engaged. There is no judgment, just laughter for its own sake.

The only equipment/space requirements for Laughter Yoga is a space where people can stand and move in comfort, some chairs, and room for participants to keep a water bottle handy.

So I’m sure you want to know more about the areas where can Laughter Yoga help a business, and how. Well, wait no longer. I’ll be sharing six articles about the benefits of Laughter Yoga for your business.

The first one is a modern day scourge – Stress.

Laughter Yoga and Stress Managementwoman stress-1006100__180

There are many types of stress – physical, mental and emotional.

In the modern business, hours can be long, conflict can be high, pressures can be great. Competition can be robust and exhilarating, but can also have a bad effect on morale. A high performing manager with a squillion dollar portfolio to invest,  1000 team members to manage, a medical facility with patients as well as staff to administer or a school to run can feel just as stressed as an employee who feels under-appreciated, underpaid, bullied, or guilty because of time not spent at home.

Laughter Yoga uses physical expression and playfulness to help release pent up emotion. Most people in the business world spend a lot of energy maintaining a persona – Laughter Yoga creates a safe environment for that mask to be relaxed.

laughing man-1232063__180Intense laughter has been shown to release endorphins which simply make people feel good. It also provides an environment for people to express themselves without fear, helping increase communication skills. Potential conflict can be avoided, as it is often built up stress that makes people lash out.

The role playing component allows participants’ focus to be on the activity, rather than thinking about work which gives their brains a chance to refresh. It also allows the person to enjoy the sort of creativity they engaged in as children. Childlike, not childish, is the type of play that Laughter Yoga encourages.

Laughter yoga can even help with the stress of aches and pains. Laughter Yoga helps the body release endorphins, often called the ‘feel good’ hormone, but endorphins are also the body’s natural pain relief.

By laughing, participants can release out pent up emotion. Think about the last time you really had a good laugh – it’s a very cathartic experience.  Oh you can’t? hmmmm, then you are SO overdue for a Laughter Yoga session!

Up next

In my next article I’ll talk about the business benefits that can be achieved using Laughter Yoga for Increased Mental Acuity, including creative an innovative thinking.

Laughter Yoga can be run in pretty much anywhere in a business.

Laughter Yoga is all about being healthy and safe, so it can even be run one-on-one for those busy executives who just need to let their hair down in a safe place.

If you’d like to find out more about the Laughter Yoga sessions I run for business, just drop me a line at meredith@meredithyardley.com.

 

Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho!

cheers Meredith

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In The Past 12 Months, I Have Learned…

LY cert present…how to Leader Laughter Yoga and received my Certification from the Laughter Yoga International University (August 2016)

 

 

me Silver Medal TT TMI

 

… how to speak extemporaneously. In August 2016 I was awarded a Silver medal (2nd place) in Toastmasters Area contest for Table Topics (where you speak for up to two minutes on a subject with no chance to prepare), and third place in Toastmasters Area contest for Evaluation (giving feedback)

 

AE PHD

 

….how to run my business. I was awarded my PHD (Programs for Highly Paid Difference-Makers) by Authentic Education (December 2015)

 

 

DSWA coaching cert

 

 

… how to coach – my team and my clients and received my DSWA Coaching Certificate (August 2015)

 

 

I’ve done all this so I can help YOU! Help YOU be the healthiest person you want to be. It’s YOUR turn now. If you want to

  • take the next step in your health,
  • treat yourself right,
  • reach your potential,
  • be a good role model for your family and friends

then email me NOW and we can see how I can help you.

For me, life is a never-ending opportunity to learn. Learn to be a better me. Learn to help you be a better you. I’m here to help YOU be the healthiest you, you can be.

Don’t delay. This body of yours is not on loan. You can’t trade it in. Start looking after yourself TODAY! 

Get in touch – meredith@meredithyardley.com.