Let’s start with a bang.. and a trip to A&E.

Well Happy New Year!

Probably too late to say that but I was only just unfurling from my festive cocoon of loveliness which I created with red wine, too many chocolates and Christmas movies under the duvet – when I had an incident with my foot and a door frame resulting in a bang, crash, whallop and a bit of breakage – so I’ve been forced to keep a low profile for a while until I’m mended.

Good news though, the world didn’t end! (I wish I’d been a fly on the wall of those nutters who had hoarded all that food into their basements. awkward.)

So now comes the timely month of setting resolutions…

Let’s be honest, at this time of year who doesn’t want to be a little bit fitter and a little bit less…squishy. But I’m going to try and make my resolutions things I’d like to do more of, not less. And let’s get one thing straight, I can’t give up booze for January, the month is depressing enough as it is without adding to the gloom by banning G&Ts!

I turned 28 last week (another reason for not giving up cake or alcohol in January) one more year past the time I really should have got my sh*t together…in all seriousness though, I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in my pink-banana-shoes.
 
The year 2012 saw me learn…. how to blog! (kinda) how to meditate (in theory anyway), participate in laughter yoga (what a hoot) dance in a drum circle (awesome) go to several lectures (informative) swing dance (more to come)  bake (occasionally).. And let’s not forget the tribal gathering!! (um…no words) And in the process I’ve met a whole community of people just trying to make a little price of happiness for themselves (even if it is in a bonkers way.)
 
And if someone asked me the question – Are you happier? Then I think I could say yes.
 
So where do I go from here? …well, I’m excited about 2013 –  I feel that last year I took the giant leap changing my life. (For those just joining us, read this) and now I just need to get the details right. Easy!? Although if anyone knows how I can get paid to be an adventurer then let me know… doesn’t anyone need anything exploring anymore?!.. (and Space doesn’t count. You’re not going to get me in a Spaceship thanks  Mr. Brandson. I’m veto-ing anywhere that is void of oxygen.)
 
And so unless there’s an urgent call for (Earth bound) explorers I’ve just got to stick it out here. And so I’m still determined to put myself out there when it comes to more weird and wonderful stuff about London town. I’m still planning on researching positive thinking, maybe find a yogi, maybe take up extreme knitting!… Who knows. This city still has a host of adventures I’m going to embark upon. As always, suggestions are most welcome. (Although I still refuse to go and see the women who – ‘channels the spirit of Benjamin’ Seriously, I get almost weekly invites. And the answer will always be no.)

Oh, big news – I’m going to become a hula hooping sensation. (Thanks boyfriend for the amazing birthday presImageent ever)  Seriously, the best way to release your inner-child since climbing trees. 

well, if hula hooping fame doesn’t come off then I guess there are always other forms of exercise. I dragged my sorry bum to the gym the weekend before ‘door- frame gate’ (it was the first time since …the beginning of Dec, ok, the last time was in November but come on, no sane person wants to hit the treadmill in Dec over a glass of mulled wine do they!?)

Anyway, I almost vomited all over my toned-tough-talking instructor as I did my 17,000th lunge. So, like virtually every other person I know, I’d like to kick my bum into some sort of peachier shape. Off to a lecture next week.. I  should say hobbling to a lecture on one gammy leg… led by two (probably sick makingly fit, gorgeous and smug) female personal trainers. I’ll bring back some tips.  

Even if I’m not going to be an Olympian maybe I can learn some spatial awareness. Damn you door frame. Image

Tell me what your new year resolutions are, or are you against them?
 
More soon.

Peace

x

 

 

 

P.S Thanks to Evoling Yogi for the blog award nomination – I’ll get round to writing about it soon. xx

How to stop that hedgehog feeling…

Well winter is finally here and if you’re anything like me you’re already pining for those long warm evenings, beer gardens and bare legs. As the nights draw in (though the lack of sunlight I get working in a basement means it could be dark all day for all I know!) I suddenly find that only mashed potato and hot chocolate will do. (not together!) Personally I’d love it if I could spend all Autumn getting fat, have a massive sleep and then wake up skinny and refreshed in time for summer… sadly hibernation isn’t possible so I’ve found some ways to beat the winter blues.  

One of the main reasons we get seasonal depression is due to the decrease in the amount of light we get. Light triggers messages to a part of the brain called the ‘hypothalamus’ (No relation to the animal haha) This part controls sleep, mood, libido and appetite so a decrease in light has an impact of how effectively the brain manages these functions – i.e. we’re moodier, sadder, sleepier, ‘hungrier’ and less sexier. Brilliant.

So, what can we all do to try and put a bit of spring in our booted feet? Although these may not get your leaping out of bed at 7am in the same way you can in July – I hope that’ll at least help make climbing out from under the duvet a little easier (and maybe I can put that potato masher down.)

  1. Run around a bit  –  One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to get more light! There are recommendations a plenty about light boxes but much as I’d love to splash some cash on a giant light bulb it’s not a financially viable solution, so the next best thing is to get outside moImagere. Combine this with some exercise and you’ll not only be getting the most of the light (and stopping any sort of Vitamin D deficiency!) but exercise is famously as effective a treatment of depression as antidepressants. Gotta love those natural endorphins.  (If the thought of jogging in your lunch break is pretty replusive, like me, you could always go for a wander at lunch and take some other form of exercise later to get the same effect. This lady loves lunchtime yoga)
  2. Put a B in it!  Vitamin B to be precise – needed in the body for energy. B6 boosts the neurotransmitters in your brain-box needed for mood balancing. Fantastic feel good foods rich in B6 include sweet potatoes, eggs (also a egg-cellent source of Vitamin D), fish and avocado (these last Imagetwo will also give you lovely shiney hair too, cause you’re worth it.) Also in this category are bananas, blueberries, brown rice and beef. Beginning with B and also excellent for turning that frown upside down by increasing seratonin. Lean red meat is one of the best sources of protein which stops energy levels from crashing causing you to reach for that biscuit tin.
  3. Have a cup of zen – Consider swapping your regular cup of joe to green tea. ImageYes coffee gives you that kick up the bum in the morning but it can also lead to anxiety, muscle tension and er… gut issues apparently! Research shows that green tea can help as an antidepressant and it’s also thought to boost your metabolism (anything to stop a potato pot belly!) 
    Give it a go – look how chilled out she looks!
  4. Pop a pill – St.John’s Wort, Tyrosine and 5-HTP are all natural supplements which lift your mood. Cod-liver oils will not only give you lovely lubricated joints but they’re also a dose of Vitamin D when the sun’s not.
  5. Get zesty – Researcher have found that just the smell of oranges can give you a pep. Citrus fruit are also famously full of Vitamin C which can ward off winter colds – which can only be a good thing cause, lets be honest, who feels sexy with a cold?!
  6. Have a laugh – if you’re feeling blue get out and socialise. Socialising releases endophines and scientists have found that those who laugh more live longer! (click here to see more benefits of laughter and what happened when I tried laughter yoga) 
  7. Jump on a flight – Nothing really is as good as some genuine sunshine so if funds allow, book yourself a winter holiday. Not only will it give you something to look forward to but you will reap the Imagehealth benefits of the extra light, (you lucky things – only London lunchtime walks for me sadly.)

So there you have it – no need to go into hibernation just yet. Let me know if you have any other tips for getting me out of the house, circus class is definitely next on the list.

I should say however if you are suffering from winter seasonal disorder of a more serious nature you should consult your GP and don’t suffer in silence.

Good to hear from you as always.

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More soon.

Peace.

x

 

 

Think yourself happy and eat a sandwich.

So after an irritating conversation morning including the words ‘money’ and ‘priorities’ it was unsurprising that the fuzzy warm glow of happiness which I have so carefully been cultivating felt more like a damp stormy drizzle…  but in this new pursuit of happiness I put down the plate I was thinking of throwing across the kitchen, made myself a camomile tea (ok so it was a coffee but the image isn’t half as romantic) and decided to try and find out if anyone had devised some ‘mind exercises’ to make you happier.  (Yes apparently I’m prioritising the mind over the body re: exercising, sorry trainers.)

Turns out, it’s a mind field (excuse the pun..please keep reading.) A quick google of ‘brain exercises for happiness’ reveals pages of results, the first being an interesting scientific article which, in short, tells us that we can train our brains to be happier! I particularly like this quote from neu­ro­sci­en­tist San­ti­ago Ramon y Cajal “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain.”  So the initial findings re: changing my soggy mental state look good – just got to start focusing on the positives or ‘emotional self-regulation.’ OK …mental note: ‘Brain – I am the boss of you ok.’ Brain put in place. Check.

Turns out scientists are trying to put together a ‘happiness formula’ – using a hugely scientific method they are.. wait for it… asking people how happy they are to gather data “It may sound silly but we ask people ‘How happy are you 1-7, 1-10?” Revolutionary. Anyway, their results are genuinely interesting – happy people live longer.  In one group the difference in life span between the happiest and the most depressed was 9 years (!!!)  According to the article, being depressed is worse than smoking, given that cigarettes can take off 3 – 6 years.  Reader – if you are a depressed smoker you’re down a possible 15 years!

However, good news if you’re married because according to this research it can add 7 years onto a man’s life and 4 years to a woman’s. (Ladies what does this say about us?) So things are looking up married – depressed – smoking men out there – you’re back to being just 8 years down which is actually pretty good if you look at it?!

So, happiness makes you live longer. That’s one more reason for keeping up this escapade.

Back to brain exercises and a visit to the leading blog on happiness ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchin Rubin, who has dedicated her life to writing about the topic. She suggested that I take the Authentic Happiness Inventory devised by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania which measures my overall happiness (?!) In an inane 24 questions my score came out at 3.42 – 5.00. I leant nothing apart from this score is 67% ‘as high or higher than all web users’ and 75% of users within my post code. Brilliant. (?!) I do wonder what kind of person rated themselves against the following statements (and surely they must be one of the most irritating people on the planet?!) :

2. I am usually in an unbelievably great mood.

7. Most of the time I feel fascinated by what I am doing.

12. My existence has a lasting, large, and positive impact on the world.

23. I like my daily routine so much that I almost never take breaks from it.  (Seriously!)

Distracting myself from the anger I felt at the total waste of energy I had just put into that questionnaire I popped back to Gretchin Rubin who lays out ’12 mental exercises – zany but productive.’  Now, like any normal person, I think anybody who uses the word zany in a serious context should be publically outcast – but this women has some credentials (and a book publishing deal) so I give her the benefit of the doubt and continue reading… She suggests that the key to the door of happiness lies in the ability of the individual to experience ‘novelty and challenge’ (i.e. if you’re stuck in a rut you ain’t likely to be that happy) and then goes on to list Dorothea Brande’s 12 exercises to keep your brain ‘keener and more flexible’ (sure,  i’m game) which were written in 1932. She argues that by facing difficult challenges you will overcome them and essentially become happier. This I can understand, there are certain things in life which were initially scary but once completed gave me a sense of satisfaction (with exception of a certain trapeze swing over a river in S.E Asia which I still have mental scars from…) However, I think that Dorothea needs a new list – because I’m really not sure how No. 8. ‘Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions,’ is going to do anything except make me look like a narcissistic moron.  I do fancy having a go at No. 7 though, ‘Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.’  Hilarious as this would be, it feels more game show than path to enlightenment.

In all seriousness, Dorothea does provide some excellent advice –  I won’t hear a bad word said about  No. 11 – set yourself random tasks, for example eating a meal in the unlikeliest place you can find.

Now if you excuse me I’m off to eat my sandwich in the public toilets and the good news is, all this talk of food has completely made me forget about said conversation this morning and the clouds appear to have lifted.

More soon.

Peace.

Pinkbananashoes

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If you want to find out your happiness level click here

Scientific research on happiness click here and here

To read the full list of Dorothea Brande’s exercises click here to go to The Happiness Project