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

cropped-201507-me-in-green-copy-200-pixel.jpg

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

cropped-201507-me-in-green-copy-200-pixel.jpg

 

 

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Even If You’re Not Sick!

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 yellow (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 enjoying your favourite activities?
  • 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, reducing high blood pressure, helping with anxiety, and even aiding 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. It is 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 if you’re shy, or don’t want to be around people just yet, Laughter Yoga can also be done one-on-one – in private homes, and by Skype, Zoom or using some other geographically shrinking 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 better with pain. It’s terrific exercise as it gets your heart rate going. Science has proven that Laughter Yoga can have a positive affect on many health issues, increases 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 is me being presented with my certificate 21 August 2016)

LY cert present

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 using other technology.

A Brief History of Laughter Yoga 

Dr Madan Kataria (a medical doctor) started a small laughter yoga class in a park with four friends in 1995. Although it started with joke telling, it quickly developed into something far more powerful.

Dr Kataria worked with his Yoga teacher wife Madhuri, and incorporated her expertise of Yogic breathing, as well as the findings of the celebrated author Norman Cousins (from his 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness), and the scientific studies of Dr William Fry and Dr Lee Berk PdD, into what is now called Laughter Yoga.

Laughter Yoga is an exercise tens of thousands of people in more 105 countries around the world enjoy.

If you want some laughter in your life, then look no further.

Just email me and we’ll set up a time for you (and maybe your family or friends) to experience the uplifting experience of Laughter Yoga! You won’t be able to stop at one! And my first class is free!

A Good Night’s Sleep Is Not A Luxury!

cropped-cropped-201507-me-in-green-copy-200-pixel.jpgI usually sleep pretty well. And I know I’m lucky.

I have many friends and family members who sleep poorly, and they’re not the only ones. If you are one of the many people are chronically sleep deprived, this piece of writing is for you, or someone you know who sleeps badly.

This blog is all about:

  • What sleep is and why we need it,
  • What can happen to our health if we don’t get regular, good quality sleep, 
  • What good quality sleep really means,
  • How you can improve your sleep without drugs.

I learned so much while researching this article – I hope you enjoy it and learn something too! I’d love to know if you, or a loved one, get benefit from the tips at the end of my blog.  Sweet dreams!

cheers Meredith 

A Good Night’s Sleep is Not a Luxury

Irish playwright and author Jean Kerr joked:  To begin with, the average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning, feeling just plain terrible.

And although we may laugh, continued poor sleep is not a laughing matter.

How do you wake up? Refreshed, alive, ready to take on the day with optimism and energy?

Or do you hit the snooze button until you can’t possibly put off rising any longer?

Is this because you’ve slept poorly? Or maybe it took an age for you to go to sleep. Or perhaps your bladder is insistent throughout the night, waking you up just as you’re getting stuck into a good dream.

Maybe you wake yourself with a snore, a pain or reflux.woman-and-can't sleep

Perhaps you just can’t turn your mind off and it goes around and around, replaying events of the day when you think of all the brilliant ripostes  you wish you’d said to that smart alec in the tea room, or that rude sales assistant at the supermarket.

There are a myriad of reasons we find ourselves deprived of sleep. And although the occasional bad night is considered relatively harmless, regular or constant sleep deprivation is cause for greater concern.

In the real dark night of the soul it is always 3 o’clock in the morning – said F. Scott Fitzgerald.

If I can’t sleep, it’s because I can’t turn off my mind. I call it monster o’clock, when all the bad thoughts come out to play. They gang up on me and I am helpless against their relentlessness and malice.

I’m like William Faulker, who said, …Night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday’s omission and regrets.

Fortunately, I have found some good non-medical strategies which I use to quell these monsters of the dark. I will share these with you later.

First, I want to just talk about how good quality sleep is supposed to work. 

The Cycles of Sleep

For thousands of years scientists have been perplexed about our need for sleep. And to some degree they still are, and really serious and interesting research continues. But one thing they do know is that we absolutely need good quality sleep, every night.

Sleep provides a space for a number of essential biological functions to take place.

It’s the time our skin replenishes itself, it’s vital in balancing our hormones, emotional and psychiatric health, supporting our immune system, enabling learning and memory to be bedded down, and cleaning toxins from the brain.

In fact, if you don’t sleep for months on end, you will die.

The average person needs between 7-9 hours every night. And this sleep needs to follow a pattern.

Scientists call this ‘Sleep Architecture’.  Sleep can be divided into two main categories – REM and non-REM sleep. REM means rapid eye movement, and it’s what we do when we dream.

Non-REM sleep has four stages:

  • Stage 1 – you move from wakefulness into drowsiness to falling asleep. If you fall asleep in front of the ballet or at the movies, you are in this category!
  • Stage 2 – eye movement stops, brain slows down, heart rate slows and body temperature drops.
  • Stages 3 and 4 are called slow wave sleep – the ‘dead to the world’ phase. This is where your body temperature and blood pressure drop further and your breathing slows.

Then you enter REM – where you dream.

These five stages form a 90-110min cycle – and a robust sleep would see you enjoying this cycle between four and six times a night.

But not everyone does.

And this can be dangerous.

 

The physical risks of sleep deprivation

Without your body getting the sleep it needs, you are at risk of a number of health conditions.

Diabetes – Studies have shown a sharp increase in the risk of Type 2 Diabetes for people with chronic insomnia. This is for a number of reasons, including impact on your hunger hormones, insulin resistance and weight gain.

hypertension-867855_1920High Blood Pressure – As reported in the journal Sleep, researchers found the risk of high blood pressure increased by three and a half times among insomniacs who routinely sleep less than 6 hours a night.

Heart Disease – People who don’t sleep well consistently have higher blood levels of stress hormones and substances that indicate inflammation, a major factor in cardiovascular disease.

Sleep Apnoea is also an issue. Obstructed breathing during sleep raises heart disease risk, and stress hormones. People with untreated moderate to severe sleep apnoea have three times the risk of stroke as those without it.

thick-373064_1920Weight management – Health issues such as weight gain and obesity can be a big problem. A study at the University of Chicago showed that those who slept only 4 hours a night had a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, the body’s hunger hormone. The study participants also noted a 24 percent increase in appetite, with a preference for foods high in sugar, salt and starch – all the foods that help with weight gain.

Immune system – when we sleep poorly, our T-cells go down and inflammation rises. This results in our reduced ability to fight off viruses, leaving us at a greater risk of getting sick.

Ethics and morality – In their study, the Universities of Washington and Oregon found a link between the amount of sleep we get and our morality. Sleep deprived participants scored lower on a moral awareness decision making scale the the control group.

dependent-765179_1920Alzheimer’s Disease: During sleep, our brains do a big toxic clean out. In particular, a neurotoxin called beta-amyloid can collect in your brain if your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs.

Beta-amyloid, which is a protein, has been found in clumps in some parts of the brain of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a bit of a catch 22 – because the more beta-amyloid you have in parts of your brain, the harder it will be for you to enjoy deep sleep; and the harder it is for you to enjoy deep sleep, the harder it is for your body to clear out the beta-amyloid, and other neurotoxins.

Mental Health and Sleep

A study at the University of California, Berkeley looked at how a night of sleep deprivation affected the emotional memories that the participants made during the study. The participants were shown a number of words – positive, neutral and negative words like calm, grief or willow, after a sleep deprived night, and were asked to rate them on their emotionality.

pexels-photo-24897After two subsequent nights of normal sleep, they were given a surprise memory test, and asked to look at the words again and categorise them. The study found that the participants had a significant deterioration in their ability to recognise the words they had seen earlier.

Even more astounding, their recognition of positive and neutral words deteriorated by 50 percent, whereas their ability to recognise words with negative connotations deteriorated by only 20 percent.

The study concluded that when you are sleep deprived, it’s possible that you create twice as many negative memories as positive or neutral memories, leading researchers to draw a link between sleep deprivation and depression.

Memory and Sleep

Researchers believe that sleep helps us process the day’s events, and helps us lay down memories of those events for the long term. Scientists in the 19th and 20th centuries believed that sleep helped us consolidate these memories.wood-man-people-men

However studies in the 21st century have found that memories are less set in concrete than that. More recent discoveries indicate that memories can be changed – which means that accurate memories can be corrupted into inaccurate memories, but also that inaccurate memories can change to become accurate.

Scientists now refer to the act of memory work while we sleep as memory evolution. Further studies have indicated that different parts of sleep – or different sections are our sleep architecture – strengthen different memories. More work is being done in this area.

Daniel Schacter of Harvard University argues that we create memories not so we can think about them and look to the past – but to use them to base decision making in the future.

Why don’t you sleep well?

Not being able to sleep is terrible. You have all the misery of having partied all night… without the satisfaction , said Lynn Johnston.

So why do people not sleep well?

The reasons are as varied as there are human beings on the planet – but scientists have identified some patterns and similarities through their research.

Jet lag and shift work are two major contributors to poor sleep, as the body’s circadian rhythms are disrupted and our internal clocks get confused.

anxiety-1337383_1280Anxiety can be a major cause. I know that when I was in the corporate world if I had a big client presentation to make, or an early plane to catch (which was most Monday mornings) I slept poorly the night before.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is being recognised as a contributor to sleep deprivation. Researchers think that people produce too much melatonin, or are extra-sensitive to normal amounts.

Ageing has an affect on our sleep, as we get older we don’t sleep as much, and we don’t sleep as deeply. This is not to be confused with not needing as much sleep – we do need as much sleep as we age, we just don’t always get it.

Movement disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, sleep walking, sleep eating, a constant need to urinate, and sleep terrors are all contributors to sleep deprivation.

Caffeine, alcohol, and heavy or rich meals in the evening can contribute to poor sleep.

And medical conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and depression and anxiety can also interrupt sleep patterns.

As Charlotte Bronte so beautifully said, A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.

If you suffer from any of these or other medical conditions, then see your health professional. This article is not designed to replace quality medical advice!

woman sleeping pexels-photo-46100-mediumHow do you improve sleep?

So that’s the bad news. But don’t worry, there are many non-medical strategies you can employ to try and improve your sleep.

Philiip K. Dick, author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which was later turned into the film Bladerunner, said:

Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.

I agree!

But you could try these tips to help you improve your sleep. I have split them into three categories – preparing your space, preparing your body and preparing your mind, for a good night’s sleep.

Preparing your body

clock-1143439_1920

  1. Keep regular sleep hours: If you are an insomniac try going to bed and rising at the same time every day, even on weekends. This pattern might help reset your circadian rhythms which might in turn help you sleep more soundly.
  2. Eating and sleeping: Give yourself at least 2 hours (but 3 is better) between eating and sleep. Eat a smaller portion at night. That way your body is not trying to digest when you’re wanting to sleep.
  3. And if you suffer from heartburn or reflux, then consider the type of food you are eating, as some foods can contribute to digestive disorders. Also, you could try sleeping on your left side, as there is evidence that sleeping on your right side increases the likelihood of heartburn.
  4. Dim the lights: Start dimming the light about 2 hours before retiring. This will signal to your body that you are getting ready for sleep.
  5. Have a bed readying strategy: Do anything you need to do before bed, like cleaning your teeth, before you start dimming the lights – so you don’t need to get all ready for bed then turn the bright bathroom light on to clean your teeth.
  6. Frequent urination: If you suffer from nocturia, or the need to urinate regularly through the night, try not to drink any liquids within 2 hours of retiring.
  7. IT devices: Don’t read your tablet or phone in bed. The blue backlight tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime by repressing the melatonin release which your body needs to sleep.
  8. Regular exercise: Regular aerobic exercise (although not within two hours of bedtime) is good for helping your body need rest.
  9. Stretching: Stretching and toning exercise that incorporate deep breathing, such as yoga and tai chi, can help your body get ready for rest. You could also lie on the floor with your legs up the wall, a well-recognised relaxation technique.
  10. Mindful drinking: Reduce your alcohol and coffee intake and these can keep you awake.coffee-777612_1920
  11. Warm bath: A warm bath with lavender oil is a well known cure for helping the body relax.
  12. Napping: If you sleep badly, and you need a nap, even a little 10-15 minute shut eye in the middle of the day – then grab it. Even this short period of time can help your brain recharge, improve memory and cleanse itself.

Preparing your space

  1. A Sanctuary: Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Invest in a good mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets or doona. Keep your bedroom just for sleep and sex.bed-1232590_1920
  2. Cool and dark: Keeping your bedroom cool and dark will help your body drop into drowsiness and then into sleep.
  3. Control noise: Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible. If you are in a noisy place, you could try having heavy curtains or double glazing to block sound; use a fan or sleep machine to create ‘white noise’, or have recordings of gentle sounds, like rainfall, playing while you drop off.

Preparing your mind:

  1. Stress can keep you awake – so write down anything that’s worrying you and know you can deal with it in the morning.
  2. IT devices: I’m adding them in this category as well because scientists are linking the electro-radiation from these devices with disrupted sleep, and they also impede your brain from clearing out neurotoxins at night.
    pexels-photo-45718
  3. Sleep Diary: Keeping a sleep diary may be useful in identifying what’s disturbing your sleep. Try it for a month and see if there is a pattern.
  4. Learn and apply some gentle relaxation techniques. These might include deep breathing – which is what I use at monster o’clock. I put my hands on my tummy and breath deeply in and out for a count of 5 – my stomach rises and falls with my breath. I try to do this 20 times but usually fall asleep before I get there
  5. You could try tensing and releasing muscle groups. Start with your toes and clench them, then release them, go onto your calves, then your thighs – you get the idea.
  6. The Cognitive Shuffle developed by Canadian Neuroscientist Luc Beaudoin might be worth giving a go. With this strategy you think about things that don’t make any sense. Picture a random sequence of objects for a few seconds each – say cow, fridge, water bottle, coat.  Or you could think of a word – say Teatime. Start by thinking of all the random words beginning with T, then with E, then with A.
    The thought behind this is that the brain .The thought behind this is that the brain tries to figure out if it’s safe to sleep. If you’re thinking about stuff that makes sense, then your brain may figure it’s not safe to sleep yet. By thinking nonsense, your brain triggers the sleep switch because it knows it’s safe for you to drop off.

Or, as Dale Carnegie recommends, If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep. This is usually if you’ve been in bed for about 20 mins with the light out and still can’t sleep.

In the end, there are many causes of sleep deprivation, and many dangers associated with it. But I hope you can try some of the tips I’ve given you and that these will help you improve your sleep.

Thank you, and good night and sweet dreams!

vintage-woman sleeping 1501595__180

References:

Robert Stickgold, Sleep On It!, Scientific American, October 2015

Harvard Medical School, Focus on Sleep, General Ways to Improve Sleep, Issue #1 of 5 email series, September 2015

Harvard Medical School, Healthbeat – Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep, email subscriptipon, July 2016

Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, Improving Sleep – A Guide to a Good Night’s Rest, 2015, http://www.health.harvard.edu

Vivian Giang, http://qz.com/424120/our-poor-sleeping-habits-could-be-filling-our-brains-with-neurotoxins

Brian St. Pierre, The Power of Sleep, Precision Nutrition, August 2016, www.precisionnutrition.com/power-of-sleep-infographic

Premature Death Statistic – Are You At Risk?

Another week – how’s yours been?

Last week I posted an entertaining piece about how life has changed over the last hundred years. Things we enjoy now could never even have been dreamed of in the early part of the 20th century.

What I didn’t inlcude was the top five leading causes of death. And I left it out because I wanted to do some research. Well I did, and here it is: Five leading causes of death in 1915 vs 2015

I created this graph to show how our health has changed over a 100 years.

What we see now is really a domination of lifestyle diseases on mortality rates (the 2015 statistics came from the National Health Scheme in the UK and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Australia.)

Dementia aside (so much is unknown about this condition), our leading causes of illnesses are basically how we treat ourselves. No-one else is doing this to us – but us!

I think that is astounding information. Even more shocking, is that suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44.

What can be done about it? The answers are easy to find – but perhaps not so simple to implement.

Here are the top 5 things I do to make sure I don’t end up on this list:

Food – I eat whole foods – farm fresh as often as I can source fruits & vegiesthem. Small amounts of protein (about the size of my palm) and large amounts of plant foods. Lots of nuts and seeds.And I have treats, good quality dark chocolate, and home made things like my paleo mini-muffins are a great way to have something sweet without eating foods laden with highly refined sugars and chemicals. I also make sure I take  good quality pro- and pre-biotics so my gut health is supported.

 

 

SuppNutrisearch independent Comparative Guidelementation – I take a quality nutritional supplement – because no matter how good the quality of my food is, the quality of our soil and modern farming practices have reduced the minerals that are now in our food (more detailed information on this is in my upcoming book – I will certainly let you know when it’s coming out!)

This book on the left here (The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements) is an independent study of the supplements on the market (there is one for North America, and one for Australia/ New Zealand.) It’s what I used to make my choice for pharmaceutical grade, athlete quality supplements.

 

Exercise – I exercise every day so I’m building muscle, strong bones and flexibility. This will help me as I age because I won’t be at the mercy of falling over, breaking bones and ending up sitting in a chair all day (or worse.) I’ve been sharing my progress on this blog so feel free to go into the Archives and check out what I’ve been doing.

As you probably know if you’ve been reading my blog, I have an exercise physiologist who I see every eight weeks or so, and she reviews my routine and makes adjustments. This last visit saw my weights training move up a significant notch – which I find really exciting and challenging! I’ve found having a ‘coach’ really helps keep me on track.

 

Active mind and social connection – I keep my mind active with reading, researching (for my book as well as for my own benefits), crossword puzzles and word games, sudokus. I keep socially connected through memberships so I get to hang out with interesting people, some who may not have the same ideas as me, which challenges my thinking.
newspaper crossword

 

 

Reflection and gratitude – I meditate regularly and keep a gratitude journal. woman meditating
Reflection helps me focus on quiet and silence, and helps me have a place where I can do some dedicated, mindful breathing. This helps my nervous system stay in the calm place, not the being-chased-by-a-tiger place where I lived in my corporate career.

Gratitude because, well, there is so much to be thankful for: my loving husband, the beautiful place where I live, my ability to travel, good friends – the list goes on. I believe it’s really important to acknowledge how thankful I am for the life I live.

 

What are you doing so you don’t become a victim of your lifestyle? I’d love you to share your suggestions and ideas – that way we can all learn from each other!

If you want to see something truly extraordinary, check out my EnrichYourEnergy Facebook page for the post I did on Thursday 24 March about Ernestine Shepherd, the oldest female body builder in the world. Then try to give yourself an excuse for not caring about yourself!!

Until next week,201507 me in green copy 200 pixel

Cheers, Meredith

Update On My Health And Fitness Journey

I shared my measurements with you last time, and I was pretty pleased with the result.

Here is my update, the first lot of figures were from 17 July 2015, the second lot of figures are from last Wednesday, 16 March 2016.

blood pressure                132/84       132/78

oxygen saturation          98                95

Resting Heart rate         84                 73

Body fat                            45.7              34.2    (this is one of the things I’m happiest about!)

Waist                                  102               96      (half of this I achieved over the past 2 months)

Waist to Hip ration        .94                .86

So how am I doing this? (and I say doing, because I don’t intend to stop).

At the gym, 5 times a week. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays I do cardio – bike and treadmill, with a bit of rowing and step machine thrown in.

On Tuesdays and Thursday I do weights – so am building strength – strong bones and denser muscles.

And I do yoga at home. And walk along the beach. And wear a Fitbit to make sure I do my 10,000 steps a day, track my activity, and keep my water intake up.

It doesn’t have to be the gym, but I like the discipline of it, it works for me.

I have an exercise physiologist I see every two months to keep me on track. I have realized that really, it’s impossible to achieve great things without a coach of some sort – whether it’s exercise or business or changing behaviors – a coach or support of some sort really helps make the difference by keeping you accountable.

DSCF3399Think about it!
Until  next time,
Cheers, Meredith

 

 

Measuring For Success – My Story

Hi there,

I just have to share this because I’m so excited!

As part of my healthy for life focus, I’ve got myself an exercise physiologist. She helps me by giving me a program of weights and stretches that is customised for me. I have a number of stretches I do every day, and a weights program I follow at the gym 2-3 times a week.

Some of my goal is to shed kilos, but my main goal is to be fit and healthy – and strong – as I age. Strong bones and muscles are essential as you get older as they can stop nasty things happening – like a hip breaking then falling over (people think it happens the other way around, but often an older person’s bones are just too brittle to hold them up and they snap.) I really don’t want that happening to me!

_DSC0049Anyway, like I said, I have a program I follow. My beloved laminated each of the individual exercises/stretches for me, and I looped them onto a key ring and carabiner so I could keep them with me when I travel. Pretty nifty huh!

 

 

MEASUREMENT

Because healthy weight (not weight LOSS) is my goal,  I have been thinking about the best measurements to use to track my progress.  (Our brains are wired to want to find what we lose – maybe that’s why so many diets – about 95% – fail.)

The scales can be useless. Women sometimes retain water, which shows up on the scales and makes them seem heavier than they really are. I have even seemed to put on 2 kilos in a 24 hour period – which is pretty ridiculous really! The other thing to remember is that muscle is denser than fat – so as you strengthen your muscles, it can appear you are putting on weight, where what’s really happening is you are getting stronger. woman measring waist

So I look for other measurements. Such as measuring my waist, hips, upper arms and thighs. These have seen a decrease in the last six months, with my waist being 3 centimetres smaller than it was last October – a really good start. (By the way, this photo is not me, mine are below.)

Another measurement I use is the rowing machine. I row as fast as I can on setting 5 for 250 meters. In the last four months I have shaved 8 seconds off my row – going from 116 seconds to 108 (most recently again this morning. I have reached 106 once too – but really need repeated achievements before I use it as a new benchmark.)

girl-putting-bra-25487218

But even better for me is my flexibility is improving. And the best measurement for that is putting on a gym bra. I don’t know about you, but my gym bras just seem to be tighter around the chest than my other bras, so I usually do them up at my front, then twist them around so the catch is at the back. Twice in the last few days I’ve been able to reach around and do my bra up at the back! (I wear these bras when I’m going to run on the treadmill as I’ve not found a sports crop top-style that keeps me from bouncing.)

So there you are. Some tips on how to measure your success.

Here is a before and after photo of me. If you look carefully in the ‘before’ photo, you’ll see my very large middle.

Before
Before – see that middle!

 

After (well, during really - I'm still on the journey)
After (well, during really – I’m still on the journey)

Other measurements, thanks to the gizmo my exercise physiologist has, are my body fat reduction (down 1.4%), and my blood pressure – down from 132/84 (which isn’t too bad really) to 102/74 – hit that one right out of the ballpark!

So when you are working to achieve your goals, think carefully about the measures of success you’ll use, and choose a variety so you don’t get hooked on just one, as this can bring your mood down, and affect your motivation, if you don’t see a change.

Until next week,

Cheers!

Meredith Yardley

201507 me in green copy 200 pixel

I Am A Corporate Refugee

When I was 16 I left school and worked in a curtain factory. I didn’t like school, it had ridiculous rules like having to wear hats and gloves (yes gloves!), so much of it didn’t make sense to me. And I wanted to earn my own money. I couldn’t wait to grow up and make my own decisions about my life. So I got a job in a small family business which I did for about a year.

manual typewriterThen my grandparents (who wisely saw there wasn’t much of a future for me where I was) asked if I’d like to go to a business college and learn clerical skills. I have always loved the new and exciting, and of course said ‘yes’. And I learned to type on one of these! Who remembers these old manual typewriters?

I also learned shorthand (which I didn’t keep doing – of course wish like crazy I could do it now), bookkeeping (which I never maintained), and other clerical activities.

My typing was fast (could have been more accurate), and jobs were easy to get back in the early 1980s, so I didn’t have much of a problem finding employment. And I am so glad I was given that opportunity of because keyboard skills are really needed now!

I did a number of clerical, typing, and secretarial roles until I got what was a dream job for me and a huge change of pace – working on a major newspaper. In fact, I was third generation on this newspaper. One of my grandmother’s brothers had worked there, then my mother and father met there (they were journalists), and then I worked there for eight years as the personal assistant to the Editor. It was a very exciting time and I loved most of it! No two days were alike, and I liked being at the centre of the news during really exciting (and sometimes tragic) events like the first and second Gulf Wars, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the Newcastle earthquake (NSW, Australia), and major sporting events.

One day one of the other secretaries popped into my office to tell me she’d been accepted at university to study by distance. I didn’t even know there was such a thing.  She told me why she was doing it and a thought popped into my head “If she can do it, I can do it”.

So I applied to three universities and was accepted by all three, chose one, and started studying for my Bachelor of Arts.studying-learning-pile

This was a major change for me, and if I’d thought about it at any length I probably would have talked myself out of it. Luckily I didn’t because I became hooked on learning and discovered I was a pretty good student. University was nothing like school, it was real learning. Putting forward an opinion and backing up your thoughts. Researching. Critical thinking. Philosophy, Literature. My world just opened up.

All the time I was studying, I was working too, climbing that corporate ladder. I decided the career path I wanted was to be head of the Communication department of a major Australian corporate business. So I chose to do a Masters of Arts in Communication Management. That’s what all the hard work was for, right? To climb the corporate ladder? So I worked hard, got one job after another and made a small name for myself in the media, public relations and communication industry.

About 10 years ago I was offered, and accepted, a job I didn’t even know existed, by a global multinational corporation. I was hired for my communication skills in a space called ‘Change Management’. The idea was that I would go into a large corporate, with a number of other people who had complementary skills, and help the staff adopt, and adapt to, a new way of working. This was usually because a new technology was being rolled out and the way they did their jobs was going to change.

This was a huge change for me. I was in the big sandpit! Firstly, I had to learn a whole new business language. I needed to use tried and proven strategies and methodologies. And I needed to travel. In fact, as most people travel to work by train, bus, ferry or car, I mostly travelled by aeroplane. I’d fly out about 6am on a Monday, and return home on Friday evening. Sometimes these jobs would go on for months.

I was earning good money, flying around the country working for different corporate businesses, and working hard to make a positive difference in people’s lives. And I really enjoyed it.

Most of the time.

But then I really started to feel the social dislocation that comes from only being at home on weekends. I couldn’t sign up to a yoga class, or take on a hobby, because I didn’t know where I’d be from one week to another. So my life continued to be work, work and more work. I started to study again, thinking a Change Management diploma would be a smart idea.

I even moved house from one state to another in Australia for a particular role.

And this led me to another major change in my life. I met my beloved husband. This is us on our wedding day

our wedding day     wedding pix 105

We met in January 2010, and married in July 2010. And we realized that the life I was living as a single corporate woman was not congruent with marriage harmony. It’s hard to feel close to someone who spends over half their life away from you.

So I quit. Just like that. And I must admit, took a year off working because I was simply exhausted. I hadn’t realised how burnt out I was, not just the working and traveling, but I really didn’t look after myself very well during this time. At one stage I was so ill I nearly contracted pneumonia.

After a year of doing not much at all but enjoying myself, I decided I wanted to work for myself. No more making someone else rich, I wanted to reap the benefits of my hard work directly.

After a couple of false starts I discovered what my inner self had known all along – I am passionate about change – about supporting people to help them make it work for them. I followed the John De Martini method of discovering my other values and came to the conclusion that I could combine all the things I love into a business – change and growth, health, food, travel, inner peace and mindset.

And Enrich Your Energy was born.

I have worked hard to learn a bunch of new skills too (I never stop studying!) Some of my skills from my corporate days have come in handy in my new life, but some skills I have had to learn. And for many of these I have learned at the feet of an Australian master – Benjamin J Harvey. His business (with his business partner Cham), Authentic Education, has opened up my world, helped me to develop new skills, and capitalise on my existing skills to really be a change agent to help people who want to get the most out of their lives.

So because of my willingness to embrace change, I am now running my own business, I have a product partner who I trust completely (click here to discover how you can support your health as I do mine), and a beloved husband who is on his own road to being healthier.

I have learned a bunch of new stuff. I even have a Nutrition Certificate from Sanoviv Medical Institute, a Coaching Certificate in Heart-Centred Coaching from Direct Selling World Alliance. And I continue to learn and read and study.

And the best bit is,  I help other people embrace change in their lives too – to help them identify, and then achieve their own health and lifestyle goals.

So now you know my story.  If I can help you, please get in touch.

Me in August 2015
Me in August 2015
Us, 5 years married
My beloved and me, 5 years married