Be the change

Our children are stressed more than ever. They are on a non-stoppable – high – speed treadmill. Demands from school, parents, extra curricular and a never ending intrusive connection to social media and cell phones. Our children are on 24/7, always on the go.

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As a tragic result, we see anxious, depressed and stressed out children like never before. Nearly 7% of Canadian teens suffer from some serious and/or disabling anxiety.

According to an article in Globe & Mail ” School study paints a picture of teens under pressure” – this is a serious problem.

The article reveals the Canadian study of 103.000 grade 7-12 students. It  shows that teenagers are under so much stress that they are losing sleep, being driven to tears and experiencing greater levels of stress than parents and teachers expected.

Read the statistics of the study here

Dr. Atkinson, a clinical psychologist working in Toronto, sees children who are confused and overwhelmed, who are not able to experience life in a natural way, because they have to do more and move faster.

I see stress and anxiety as symptoms, a serious wake up call to all of us. Something needs to change.

Underneath stress and anxiety there are needs and suppressed emotions – stress and anxiety are natural reactions to what the children are experiencing, they are signs of overload, but the children have nowhere to go. This way of living has become the norm, we are all stressed. While this unhealthy environment goes on and on, we are creating children who are worn out, burned out before they even begin, maybe for life.

This means that children today need us more than ever.

The good news is that we by pulling the emergency brake can help our children deal with stress and burnout. Not by telling them and staying on the treadmill ourselves, but by slowing down and dealing with our own stress.

They need to see us:

  • get off our own treadmill
  • say “no” and mean it
  • say “yes” and mean it
  • meditate
  • go for walks
  • be mindful and present
  • be in the moment
  • do nothing
  • take a nap
  • have time to chat
  • have time to listen
  • have fun
  • take a long bath
  • do yoga
  • read a book
  • bake a cake
  • take care of ourselves
  • say what we mean
  • listen to our bodies
  • follow our hearts
  • take deep breath
  • have no plans

They need us more than ever: to support them, encourage them and spend time with them. 

It can be hard to do these things, but lets do it, for ourselves, our children and the future.

Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

 

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Love as a daily supplement

I just thought this was wonderful………

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Love as a daily supplement!

Seriously, if we want to loose weight and keep it off,  we must look beyond what we put on the plate and how much we exercise. This parts are important, of course, but there is more to it than that.

A healthy bodily balance can only be kept if we also are aware of our emotions! Feelings are just as important, if not more so, than what we put on our plate and how much we exercise. And when it comes to the most difficult part: keeping the weight off – emotions, and how we feel about ourselves, is paramount. We are much more likely to make healthy choices when we listen to our body’s signals and it’s needs, and we need to include the emotional needs as well.

In my morning paper, the Danish Politiken, I found a great article that supports my thoughts! The title made me smile: “She recommends love as a daily supplement”  – I topped up my tea and sat down to enjoy the article.

Professor Berit Lillienthal Heitmann from Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen ( Center for Sygdom og Samfund ) and an honorable professor at University of Sidney, has been researching obesity for over 25 years. She is convinced that we will never find a solution to why we become overweight and obese, if we only look at the dinner plate and at how much we exercise.

Prof. Heitmann considers stress, lack of nurturing in childhood and bad sleep/sleep apnea, etc. as important factors affecting our ability to succeed in loosing weight and keeping it off.

She says that we can all loose weight by eating less and by exercising, the trick is to keep it off.

Her research has shown that a calorie is not just a calorie. In a study where she looked at nurses in Denmark, she found that those nurses who felt pressured and stressed, put on more weight than those colleagues who were not stressed, when eating  the same amount of calories.

She also did a study with a rare group – identical twins, where one of the twin was overweight and the other was not. What she found in this group was that the one twin, who was overweight had often felt neglected as a child and had missed contact with the mother.

Something points to the fact that nurturing and compassion plays an important role. Berit Lillienthal Heitmann keeps doing research in this field and I will be following her closely, because I think she is on to something really important.

Love as a daily supplement

I wholeheartedly recommend love as a daily supplement too and preferably high doses of it!

“Don’t forget to love yourself” Søren Kirkegaard (Danish philosopher, 1813 – 1855)

Read more:

Self-compassion

Lets play!

I knew it – I’ve said it all along – play is a need! I feel the truth of it in the core of my very being – we need to play – as much as we need to be loved, feel connected, eat, drink and sleep – we need to play. But, seriousness reigns, it has taken over, work and duties rule the world.

We play when we are children, but as soon as we start school we are trained to sit still, put play aside, in order to learn to concentrate on more important stuff, like Math, Social Studies and English.

We are hushed and told to behave, we learn what is appropriate and what is not – and as we grow, sadly, play becomes more and more inappropriate. “You are too old for that! ” Play becomes a guilty pleasure taking our focus away from the “real” things in life, like work.

Dr. Stuart Brown, a researcher who has dedicated his life to the study of play and how play affects us, has found wonderful things about the importance of work, and so sorry: play! His research shows that play is good for us!

Kids do it, naturally. People in love do it, naturally. Animals do it, naturally. We all do it, naturally! But most of us work to suppress that part of us, many of us have actually forgotten how to do it and  become uncomfortable even thinking about it. The old messages come up – don’t be silly now – it’s not appropriate – don’t make a fool of yourself, and so on.

I am so happy I stumbled upon Dr. Stuart Brown and learned about his research on play. Play is a need.

At the moment I am devouring Dr. Brown’s book that is simply called Play. On the back of his book it says:

Play is fun, but it is anything but trivial. It is a basic biological drive as integral to our health as sleep and nutrition. When we play, we are open to possibility and the sparks of new insights. Play – defined as any kind of purposeless, all-consuming,restorative activity – is the single most significant factor in determining our success and happiness.”

I am sure he is right – if we don’t play there is an imbalance, there is something missing. I am sure you will agree with me that nothing heals like a good laugh, play makes us forget and we are in the moment, nothing else matters  –  it is food for the soul, and at the same time we connect with others and create bonds.

I hope you will enjoy this Ted Talk

The message is clear – LET’S PLAY 😉

More about the book,  http://www.stuartbrownmd.com/

Life is too important to be taken seriously – Oscar Wilde

Compassion

Last week I wrote about Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and researcher of meditation. His research shows how meditation changes the brain and benefits us profoundly. Fascinating to find research that actually proves there is something we can do right here, to improve overall health. Meditation is one of them.

Dr. Davidson has been looking at war veterans who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. If you did not get a chance to read it, here it is

Today my post is about the connection between meditation and compassion. Dr. Davidson’s research shows that our ability to be compassionate, increases when meditating regularly and our capacity actually increases the more we meditate.

Compassion, including self-compassion! is such an important capacity  – when we are met with compassion, we are more relaxed, we are happier, we perform better, we laugh more, we enjoy life more -we grow and feel nourished. When we feel compassion, we are better parents, friends and lovers.

The Dalai Lama heard of Dr. Davidson’s research and invited him to Dharamsala India, to interview monks with extensive experience in meditation. Davidson was amazed by the level of compassion he experienced there.

I hope you will give yourself time to see this interview about compassion, with Dr Davidson here – it is a great interview!

Meditation is an act of self-compassion. It fulfills a need – a deep underlying need for just being, in peace and stillness. When we satisfy our needs and allow ourselves to be with whatever is, we reconnect to love and compassion residing inside us. Research shows that it builds the area in the brain, adding to the capacity of compassion.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”  The Dalai Lama

Meditation changes the brain

I recently read some research concerning how meditation affects and supports us. I always find it encouraging to find research that proves it is possible to improve our health and life-balance naturally – research that challenges and changes the way we think of the world.  Professor of psychology and psychiatry, Dr. Richard Davidson, a pioneer in the research of neuroscience, has made revolutionary discoveries. He became fascinated with meditation in the 60s and has been meditating since he was a medical graduate student at Harvard University. He is passionate about meditation and his research concentrates on how meditation affects us and changes the brain.

Professor Richard Davidson’s latest research has been with war veterans from Iran and Afghanistan. Soldiers who returned home with deep traumas and wounded souls, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and high anxiety. He studied how meditation affected them. And he has shown that meditation has a tremendous positive effect on the war veterans suffering from  PTSD and anxiety.

His research shows that the brain is elastic and that it is an organ that is transformable.

A Danish Documentary (in English) called Free The Mind, has been made about Richardson’s work – it has just been released.

Free The Mind – read more about the documentary and see the trailer here 

“You should sit in meditation for 20 min a day -unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour” – Old Zen adage