Have you laughed today?

It has been scientifically proven that the benefits of laughter are many.   It can strengthen your immune system by decreasing stress, reduce pain by releasing endorphins, relax your muscles, change your perspective to a more positive and realistic one and strengthen your relationships.  If that is not enough keep in mind that  it makes you look prettier :).

There is no downside to a heartfelt laugh, unless it’s inspired by cruelty or when it makes it impossible for others to enjoy the movie :).

Today I would like to encourage you to fit humor into your day.  It’s good for you and those around you.  And don’t worry if you have no time to browse the internet for hours to find inspiration, I did a little legwork for you.

Enjoy and stay healthy and well humored!   12107083_10106786756337830_3743272190719526438_n   1335989224502_1561991 c46d66e5e0621a91e85be98a7bceaa1c5c5174761cd2798374efdb3c165becaa ca257f921b7626aefbc108aa9ab43b8a calories Funniest_Memes_i-make-you-strong-i-make-you-healthy_13850 Unknowndiet-water

Home made paint

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Another summer day arrives.  And with it a gazillion: “what are we doing now?!”  The little’s don’t skip a beat and I suddenly feel myself aging rapidly :).  What is a mother to do so she doesn’t earn a one way ticket to the loony bin?  Activities, lots of em.  This summer I have done everything I can think of and afford.   The pool, fruit picking, the aquarium, playdates, dancing, pretending to be a superhero, reading and lots and lots of painting and crafts.

Today Lucas and I tackled another project, home-made paint.  A while back my mom shared this recipe with me and I finally got around to doing it. I have to say the paint isn’t really great but there is a lot of fun to be had with it.  For one, making the paint is something a 3-year-old can help with.  Basically you mix equal parts of flour, salt and water then add a few drops of food coloring.

Lucas especially enjoyed shaking the mixture

Lucas especially enjoyed shaking the mixture

"can we shake it some more pleeeeasseeeee"

“can we shake it some more pleeeeasseeeee”

 

Here is what we did:

mixed 2 spoonfuls of flour, 2 spoonfuls of salt and two spoonfuls of water in a jar.  Then we closed it with a lid and shook it, that was pretty fun.  Then we added a few drops of food coloring and shook it again.  We put the mixtures (we did 4 colors red, blue, yellow and green) in separate containers.  Then we proceeded to test the paint.

Lucas experiments with the new paint

Lucas experiments with the new paint

As I mentioned before it’s not great quality, it looks a little like watercolor but it has a grainy consistency.  But the best part of it is that it’s not toxic at all, it could even be edible (thou I wouldn’t recommend it yuck 🙂

This paint is most suitable for babies, its all natural and safe

This paint is most suitable for babies, it’s all natural and safe

It’s also so cheap to make I don’t mind just letting the baby play with it.  In the end I figured that was the best use for it anyways.  Baby body painting :).

Marcos prefers painting his cute little footsie than the paper.

Marcos prefers painting his cute little footsie than the paper.

 

I also figured we could use this type of paint for a paint fight a la Pollock 🙂  We could lay out some cheap white fabric on the ground (preferably outside) and then give everyone a couple of squirt bottles filled with paint.  The paint war would be limited to the area of the fabric.  In the end I’m sure an interesting and fun work of art would turn up.  If anything it would be a fun way to kill a few summer minutes :).

Untangle your brain

I am a stress freak.  Maybe some of you can identify with that statement.  You know, when you get so wound up your brain is like a ball of christmas lights.  I know this is harmful to my health in all levels so I try to do things in order to calm down.  It’s not easy, it is a constant exercise for me.  Not an hour goes by that I am not trying to keep myself on check.  I work out, I read, I do short meditations and I recite mantras (not all at once).  Yet I find myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown almost every month, and not necessarily  around my period :).

For me the problem is greatly influenced by visual experiences.  I am an artist at heart.  So it is not unusual for me to try to find or create beautiful things.  Also since my brain is in such chaotic state often, I need my surroundings to be orderly.  Well, I have a 10 month old, a 3-year-old, 2 Chihuahuas and a hubby.  So let’s just say my home isn’t as orderly as I would like most the time.  You stay home parents probably feel my pain :), but living in messy environments is not exclusive to parent hood.  Since I can’t spend all day tidying up; what is a girl to do?!

Recently I came across a style of “doodling” called zentangle.  It’s a meditation done by pattern-drawing.  According to the creators, “the Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.  Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well-being.”  Simply put it’s a structured way of doodling that helps you unwind by keeping your focus on the task at hand (creating an image through pattern repetition).  You don’t have to be an artist to try it and you don’t need too many tools.  It is actually a lot of fun and most importantly, it works!  I am new to the technique but I assure you it is not as complicated as it might look.

Here are some of my “zentangles”

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Basically you need a pencil, a pen and a piece of paper.  Here are the basic steps…

Draw one dot in each corner of a 4×4 piece of paper

Connect the dots to create a frame

Draw a pencil guide-line that divides the frame into sections

Using a black pen draw the “tangles”

One of the things I love the most about this is that there are no corrections.  No erasers used at all.  There are no mistakes!  What might feel like an error is just an opportunity to make something else.  You never know what you are going to end up with.  And having the guidelines just makes it feel like you have no responsibilities  for the outcome of this wonderful doodle.  I swear it’s kind of addictive, in a good way.

There are a bunch of “how to” on you tube or you can get most the information you need at zentangle.com  I am currently using the book Yoga for your Brain its got easy to follow instructions and it teaches you step by step how to make some simple “tangles”.

So if you suffer from chronic stress, like me, I highly recommend the Zentangle Workout :).  Remember if you are one of those people who doesn’t have time to meditate once a day you should meditate twice a day!  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Let’s calm down

 

Photo on 4-16-14 at 1.21 PM

I’m always telling my three-year old to calm down.  The poor thing can’t contain all his excitement and growth and inevitably he gets a:”Lucas just calm down a little” from me every day.  Since I say it so much you would think it to be an easy task for myself.  You would be wrong.  Every day I am overwhelmed by important and menial tasks.  It seem’s like there is never a moment I am not doing or thinking about something.  In retrospect I am just like Lucas.  I have so much going on inside of me I think I could explode.  But being an adult I get away with being overly hyper without anybody telling me to just calm the “beep” down.

This is no exclusive of mine. Most of us live in a constant fight or flight state.  We are moving way too fast and we can’t keep up.  Even if we attempted to sit down and smell the roses, chances are we would be thinking about what we have to do as soon as we are done smelling them :).  This constant stress is destroying us.  Most of us fail to acknowledge how detrimental it is to our health.  We say we are stressed all the time, we say we need to relax, we say we need to rest, but we don’t.

Stress is one of the major causes of chronic disease and we need to  face it.  More importantly we need to do something about it.  Perhaps do nothing sometime :).  Or take a more active approach.  Make a point to address it and release it.

There are many ways to deal with stress.  Helpguide.org in collaboration with The Harvard School of Health provides a great guide.  For today  I  will focus on some of their mini-relaxation exercises for when you have little time to spare. Ideally we should make time, but well’ get there.  Baby steps guys :).

One minute to spare, try this…

Place your hand just beneath your belly button. Feel it rise and fall as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.  Done, life is a little better.

Two minutes

Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply, saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel light-headed, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should be able to take on that crying baby.

Three minutes, wow that is awesome…

Sit down.  Scan your body for tension.  Then gradually relax your body.  Start with your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.  If you did this with your eyes closed open them and get on with what ever you where doing.  Now you can do it better!

Five, amazing before you know it you will be doing 20 minutes of pure relaxation every day…

Give yourself a little massage, you deserve it.

Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Next, use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.

Now massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your eyebrows to your temples.

Finally, close your eyes. Cup your hands loosely over your face and inhale and exhale easily for a short while.

Don’t you feel better just reading this, imagine if you actually did it!

If you can try one of these every day I’m sure you will start smelling the roses more frequently.   And that will lead to more beauty and calm.  Your health will benefit greatly from this.  Not to mention you will be happier and that will spread to those around you.

Take care and try to calm down a little :).