Posted by Rachel Dolhun, MD on Dec 8, 2014
Via Psychology Today
At a family dinner recently, Kerri* was taking a second helping of mashed potatoes when her aunt reached across the table to touch her hand and said, “Dear, do you really want to do that?” In stunned silence, Kerri looked first at the spoon in her own hand, then at her aunt, and finally at her mother. “So many thoughts went through my head. I was humiliated, stunned and angry. I knew that this meant that my mother had been talking about my eating disorder. I was furious with her. I felt exposed and horrified. But the strongest thought and feeling that I had was that I had to get away from the table,” she said. “Oh, and that I hated my aunt.”
If we give Kerri’s aunt the benefit of the doubt, we could say that she was trying to be helpful, that her action was motivated by concern for her niece. But what about those supposedly caring or concerned relatives, friends and even strangers who ask other inappropriate, intrusive, or downright rude questions?
If your children’s school seems to suddenly be devoting its time and resources to something called SEL, it may be leaving you wondering what happened to good old reading, writing and arithmetic (or even that new darling, coding). You’re not alone. SEL stands for social emotional learning, and it’s a hot topic at the moment among educators with good reason.
While you may not have heard the acronym SEL before, you have probably seen social emotional learning sprinkled throughout schools’ mission statements, behavioral expectations and curricula, under the varying monikers of character, resilience, personal responsibility, self-control, “grit,” emotional or social intelligence, among others.
The Collaborative for Social Emotional and Academic Learningdefines social emotional learning as: “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
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About the author:
Jessica Lahey is an educator, writer and speaker. She writes about parenting and education for The New York Times, The Atlantic and Vermont Public Radio. Her book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” will be published by HarperCollins in 2015. Find her at JessicaLahey.com.
Recently over dinner, a friend I’ve known for 15 years told me that I am “aging well.” I was both flattered and intrigued by the compliment. Of course I quickly realized this didn’t mean I wasn’t aging at all, but that there was something about the way that I was aging that stood out to him.
I thought about the comment over the next few days and considered what “aging well” meant to me. As I slide into my 40s, aging well isn’t just about counting the lines on my face, it’s about feeling good in my own skin. Aging well is about taking care of my body so that I can enjoy the next 40 or so years of my life with energy,low stress, vitality, limber joints, strong muscles and organs that do their job and don’t get sick.
But aging well is also about taking care of my spirit — nourishing my emotional body as much my physical body — with thoughts, experiences, people and activities that bring me joy, and avoiding those that don’t.
My perspective on aging has changed in the past few years. I actually feel grateful to be aging, because I feel so much happier with who I am today than I did 10 years ago. By incorporating healthy lifestyle choices like whole foods, daily exercise, enough sleep, plenty of water, chemical-free sunscreen and appropriate supplements — I believe the biggest difference to how I am aging comes from one thing: how I handle stress.
I feel like I’m finally learning how to use my inner guidance system — the intuition and feelings that steer me in the right direction and help me avoid the stressful choices I could be making that would accelerate aging.
Stress can come in many forms — physical, emotional, mental — and not all stress is bad. Eustress (“eu” means well or good in Greek) was a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye to describe the kind of stress that activates your body to work towards a tangible goal. Instead of causing your body and mind to shut down or go into fight-or-flight mode, eustress actually motivates you to get what you want!
So as I age, I’m getting better at noticing what triggers my stress response and getting into the habit of mentally reframing the difficult moments into an opportunity to motivate myself to learn and grow in the process.
Here are three steps you can take to reframe stress and use it to your advantage to age well and gracefully:
1. Realize that not all stress is bad.
There is a type of stress that feels more like excitement or anticipation that you can actually thrive on. Eustress can be motivating and helps you reach the goals you care about most. But when the stress scale tips to worry or anxiety, think about your overall health and well-being and ditch it right then and there.
2. Realize that problematic situations can be seen as opportunities for growth.
When faced with a challenging event like a disagreement with a colleague at work, there are always two roads to go down: You can either approach the situation as a problem, or as an opportunity for spiritual growth. This not-so-subtle distinction can mean the difference between distress and eustress — always try to choose the latter.
3. Know your triggers and respond mindfully.
One fast way to turn off the negative stress response is to take a few deep breaths when you feel yourself being triggered. Keep in mind that you have the power to change your perspective on any situation. You can either choose to “fly off the handle,” or you can stay calm and collected. Just those few breaths can make all the difference, cueing your brain to shift out of aggression and into a more stable state of mind.
I realize now that there are a million tiny stressors around me all the time, and it’s up to me to navigate not only how I react to them, but also how I choose to make them a part of my life (or not). By making how I feel my top priority (rather than what I accomplish, who I impress, what I look like, etc.), I am making conscious choices every day to shift my attention and thoughts to what will bring me joy, gratitude and love.
Beyond gray hair and wrinkles, I think aging is an attitude — and aging well means facing life with a youthful spirit. Each day I strive to find new vitality for life, and new things to be grateful for and excited about. I’ve noticed that the more I focus on gratitude, the healthier and happier I am.
I’m excited to continue aging well over the next years of my life. More than ever before, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m not out to impress anyone, to prove myself, or to conquer the world — I feel very much at peace with who I am and where I am in my life. And if that’s aging well, I’ll take it!
About the Author
Kaia Roman is an entrepreneur and public relations consultant who focuses on the planning and implementation of communications strategies for people, projects, and products working towards a better world. From moving to an eco-commune at age 7, to being trained as a mind-body therapist at age 11, to creating the first college major in Sustainable Living in the U.S. and co-authoring the first book ever published on biodiesel fuel at age 22, Kaia’s life has been anything but ordinary. She has been the publicist for rock stars, shamans, and scientists, launched multiple companies, produced music festivals, served on many non-profit Boards, and been a guest on the Today Show. Kaia has lived in several countries, practiced yoga in India, studied nutrition and constitutional medicine, and hitchhiked and surfed her way around the world. However, her greatest accomplishment and life adventure is that of motherhood; Kaia has two magical daughters and has been married to her wonderful husband Dan since 2003.
We expect 2015 to even better as this lifestyle becomes the new normal. Here are 10 trends to watch over the next year:
1. It’s About Wellth, Not Wealth
That’s right: balance is the new achievement. Working 80 hours a week in a soulless job that brings home a pot of gold is losing its luster. We’ve gone from “profit to purpose.”
A whopping 98% of our readers want to live with purpose, and 97% say that finding happiness is one of their most important goals in life. The original English word for “wealth” was actually “welthe” derived from the words “wealth” and “health.” (I even have a book coming out about wellth—stay tuned!)
2. The Rise Of Stealthy Healthy Restaurants
We’re going to see more hot restaurants serving up healthy fare without marketing themselves as “healthy.” Get ready to see more organic, farm-to-table ingredients, grass-fed meats, gluten-free options, and even green juice cocktails popping up on menus.
In Los Angeles, for example, one of the toughest reservations is Roy Choi’s Commissary (pictured), where you’ll find a menu that’s filled with vegetables and fresh, fruit-infused drinks. In Brooklyn, the Meat Hook Sandwich Shop is upping the sandwich game with grass-fed meats. Also in New York City, chef Marco Canora has everyone buzzing about bone broth with Brodo.
Then there’s the incredible expansion of the fast-casual sweetgreen in DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. With lines around the corner, sweetgreen is showing how popular organic, local salads can be.
But none of the above make a big deal about the health benefits of their menus. Their success comes from the quality of the food alone, which tastes pretty darn good!
3. The Morning Party Is The New After Party
Gone are the days of drinking too much at networking events. If you’re looking to network, prepare to show up at 6am and enjoy some group meditation, stone cold sober. Charlie Knoles, Dina Kaplan, and Zach Bell are making “The Path,” an invite-only meditation meetup, the place to network among the conscious and successful set in New York. (You may even land a job!).
And if you can’t sit still that early in the morning, you’re not alone, as Morning Gloryville and Daybreaker are packing in up to 500 people in their early morning raves. No booze, just great music and great people. I could’ve used this in college!
4. The Hottest Gym Is The Great Outdoors
So many people have desk jobs now that the oldest gym on earth — the great outdoors — is becoming its most popular. Whether it’s running, hiking, playing sports, goofing around on a fire hydrant or a HIIT workout at the park, more and more people are taking their fitness outside, with 92% of our readers believing that exercising outdoors is the best option. Bad news for gym memberships!
5. The Ideal Body Is The One You Have
People are embracing skinny, svelte, strong and everything in between. It’s not all about that bass, it’s about liking what you’ve got. Whether that’s Meghan Trainor singing about her booty, Gisele kickboxing, women kicking ass in Spartan Race, or even someone like Kimanzi Constable talking about how men struggle with body image, too, the cultural conversation has shifted from an obsession with flat abs to a commitment to loving what we’ve got and treating our bodies with care.Feeling good is the new looking good.
6. It’s Time To Take Note Of Telomeres
Pronounced tell-em-eers, these little “buffers at the end of chromosomes” are the keys to aging or reversing aging. Do I have your attention?!
In late 2013 Dr. Dean Ornish got lots of attention for a study that suggested that lifestyle and dietary changes such as practicing meditation, yoga, and eating more plants could help lengthen telomeres, which effectively had the power to reverse the aging process. Telomeres will continue to gain momentum as a hot topic, having already been a focus of the 2014 documentary film, The Connection, and playing a central role in Cameron Diaz’s next book, a follow-up to her bestselling The Body Book.
7. Fitness Omnivores
Most people are no longer monogamous when it comes to fitness. Rarely does someone “just do yoga” or “just run” or “just hit the gym.” In our recent reader survey, we found that most of our readers practice two or more activities during the week.
What’s even better is that we’re not just working out to look good; we’re doing it as part of our desires to lead a healthier lifestyle, as 93% of our readers agree that “fitness is a way of life, rather than just an activity.”
8. Supply Chain Transparency In Fashion
With organizations like Cradle to Cradle pushing sustainable certification, companies like H&M creating a sustainable collection, actress Olivia Wilde getting behind Conscious Commerce, and supermodel and actress Amber Valletta (pictured) launching Master & Muse, sustainability is seeping into the fashion world. We’re seeing more companies like Zady take it a step further to provide complete transparency in their supply chain, informing consumers about everything from when clothing was made, where it was made, what material was used, and whether workers received fair wages to make it.
9. Supplement Start-Ups
The supplement aisle is the most confusing one at the grocery store, typically filled with unfamiliar brands, labels that no one can understand, and, unfortunately, a staff that isn’t educated on what the supplements can actually do!
There’s a new generation of companies that are providing better solutions for consumers, and they’re actually appealing to a younger audience. In our reader survey we found that 66% of our readers under age 34 regularly use supplements. That’s right, you don’t need squeaky joints and a membership to AARP to pop pills!
There’s a huge opportunity to connect to a younger demographic, and companies like SmartyPants, Aloha, and Jessica Alba’sThe Honest Company are doing just that—they’re all putting up serious growth numbers.
10. Functional Medicine Goes Mainstream
Arguably the most credible medical clinic in the United States, The Cleveland Clinic, has embraced Functional Medicine, naming Dr. Mark Hyman (pictured) the Director of the clinic’s new Functional Medicine Center. The center will even have a rooftop garden!
This leads me to another trend spearheaded by Dr. Hyman. When eating for optimal health, people tend to be in two camps: Paleo or vegan. Well, enter the “Pegan” (see Mark’s blog). He defines this way of eating as a healthy diet with a focus on whole, fresh, sustainably raised food and a high percentage of fruits and vegetables.
That’s all folks. It’s going to be an exciting year in wellness!
About the Author
As Founder & CEO of MindBodyGreen, Jason’s goal is to inspire people around the world to live their healthiest lives, by making informed choices about how we treat our minds, bodies, and environment. After being told that he required back surgery, Jason opted for yoga and is now completely healed. Jason has been featured in The New York Times and Vogue Australia, and has a BA in History from Columbia University, where he played Varsity Basketball for four years. You can read about some of his favorite life lessons here.
By #KimSin for http://www.mindbodygreen.com
Long days, a mountain of deadlines and hours of sitting or standing, can take your stress up to astronomical levels and send your body out of whack.
Fortunately, a quick yoga break at your desk can bust that stress and bring your inner calm back in a snap. We tend to store tension in the neck and shoulders, round in our posture and get tight in the hips, especially when we sit too much. This sequence will address your entire body’s tension and leave you feeling less stressed and better able to take on your workday and life.
As you move through these poses, remember to breathe deeply. When you inhale, breathe in calm and when you exhale, breathe out that stress. Enjoy!
Photos courtesy of the author
Stand with your feet hips width apart or sit at the front edge of your chair with your feet on the floor.
Extend your left arm outside your left hip and place on a flat surface like a desk. Alternatively you can keep your left arm engaged by your side.
Place your right hand on the left side of your head and fold your right ear toward the right shoulder.
Take five breaths and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hips width apart. Inhale stretch your arms skyward and interlace your hands, but stretch your index fingers up.
On your exhale, stretch up and sideways to the right and hold for five breaths.
Come back up to center and repeat on the other side.
Modified Pigeon Pose In A Chair
Sit at the front edge of your chair with your feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
Reach your arms up and inhale, then sit your butt back and stretch your arms forward. If you’re able, take your arms to the floor or to your desk.
Enjoy for five breaths then take the same pose on the other side with the left ankle over the right knee.
Forward Bend With Hands Interlaced
Stand with your feet hips width apart and knees slightly bent. Interlace your fingers behind your back.
On an exhale, fold forward from your hips and take your arms overhead while releasing your head. Breathe for ten breaths, release your arms and roll up with your knees bent.
About the Author
Kim teaches an approachable, deep style of Vinyasa that safely challenges the body and soothes the mind. She presents a strong attention to alignment in a modern, easeful way. A steady focus on breath, layered with alignment promotes an inner relaxation through body and mind connection. She studies extensively with her main teacher and mentor, Jason Crandell, and is influenced by her studies in the Iyengar and Ashtanga tradition. Kim has appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal Magazine in 2011 and 2012, and also serves as a Lululemon Ambassador. In Kim’s class, you will breathe deeply, laugh hysterically, and move rhythmically into stillness.