Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Ways to Start Letting Go

Discover what’s holding you back—and how to get to your good place


By Susan Crandell 

Posted July 07, 2010 from Woman’s Day August 2010

“Letting go is all about adjusting your mindset,” says Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Body for Life for Women. “It starts to happen when the pain of being who and where you are exceeds the work you must do to let go,” says Dr. Peeke. “Once you stop saying ‘but’ and start saying ‘and,’ you’re ready.”
For example, you used to say, “I hate my job, but I don’t have time to look for a new one.” Now you’re saying, “I hate my job, and I’ve rewritten my resume.”
Letting go not only helps you move closer to change, it also has a positive impact on your health. “When you’re holding on to something or stuck in a situation, your body holds on to that anxiety and is in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight—which can do serious damage to your health,” says Dr. Peeke. 
Constant anxiety ups your heart rate, blood pressure and even the production of stomach acid: Research shows people who are under constant stress have a twofold increase in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Research has also established that chronically elevated blood pressure also increases your risk of a heart attack.
“But when the anxiety dissipates, the physical benefits happen within seconds,” explains Dr. Peeke. “Your heart rate drops, as does your blood pressure, and every system of your body that was reacting to the overproduction of stress hormones relaxes.” So how do you actually let go? Follow this roadmap.
Disarm Fight-or-Flight
“You can’t let go if you’re anchored in fear,” says Kay Cannon, an executive coach in Lexington, Kentucky. “We may feel frustrated or confused or overwhelmed, but it all distills down to fear. And when you’re afraid, your body’s fight-or-flight reaction is in overdrive.” To let go of fear, you have to identify the mindset that’s driving it. “Often people don’t make connections and walk around wondering,Why am I so frustrated?" says Dr. Peeke. “You have to make an inventory of stress to pinpoint what’s causing your fear. Write down everything that’s bugging you and try to understand where it’s coming from.”
Say you’re overwhelmed by the demands of a new baby and you feel like you’re a bad mother. Ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Probably not. Consider all the parenting knowledge you have and the network of people you can call on to help.
Acknowledge that being a new mom is hard, and that just because you’re not loving every minute of it doesn’t mean you can’t do it well.
Or say you want to leave your job for something totally different but can’t imagine what else you’d be good at. Think about how your skills might translate into another job; seek the advice of a career coach; talk to friends about making the change and find out if they know anyone who could help guide you. “Once you learn to trust yourself to handle a situation, it turns off the stress response system,” Cannon says. 
Step Back
To let go of a mindset or a situation, pull back and go through your emotions about it. Observing something instead of living it allows you to step away from the action and see more clearly how you feel.
Say you’re angry with a friend who always breaks lunch dates at the last minute. You’ve already told her that it annoys you, but her behavior doesn’t change. Rather than react, “work through your internal emotions,” advises Martha Beck, PhD, author of Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life No Matter What!
You love your friend but can’t stand the behavior. Is it worth suffering through her behavior to keep her friendship? Would the loss of her friendship be greater than the annoyance of her actions? “Taking yourself out of the situation can help you come to a place where you can let go of your negative emotions and make a clear-headed decision about what to do,” says Dr. Beck.
Diane Brennan, president of Brennan Associates, an executive and life coaching firm in Tucson, Arizona, calls it “the 30,000-foot look.” A woman she was coaching felt angry because she wasn’t getting the promotion she felt she deserved. “When she stopped fixating on the fact that she wasn’t being recognized, she realized that her resentment was draining her and negatively affecting her relationships, personal and professional,” says Brennan. 
Observing the emotion for a moment instead of living it finally enabled her to let go of—and move past—her anger.
“She then took inventory of what she was doing at (and after) work and realized she wasn’t taking very good care of herself,” says Brennan. “So she made a conscious This made her interactions with coworkers more positive and helped her approach her boss in a calm, candid way to discuss her career path. She didn’t get the promotion, but she did renegotiate her job duties, which made her feel happier and more in control of the situation.” 
Pinpoint Your Roadblocks 
We all have emotions and mental habits that stop us from letting go. Guilt, negative self-talk, always striving for perfection and ruminating are common ones for women. And they tend to build on each other. We’re expected to always be taking care of (and worrying about) everyone else. If we focus on ourselves, we often feel guilty.
“A woman I know used doing community service as a way to stop herself from becoming an artist. It was a convenient (and altruistic) excuse to avoid doing what she really wanted to do. She put her ambition on hold because it felt selfish,” says Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction. “We want to do everything really well: be a parent, be a friend, have a successful and fulfilling career. When that doesn’t happen, we take it out on ourselves, and this can lead to negative self-talk,” says Fortgang.
The solution lies not in going over and over a situation, trying to figure out how to get it right or what went wrong (that is, ruminating), but simply recognizing that you’re dwelling on things, which only makes you feel worse. “Some people think they’ll get closure or be motivated by continually focusing on the negative,” says Robert Leahy, PhD, a clinical professor of psychology at Weill-Cornell University Medical Center in New York City and author of The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You. “But really it just stops you from moving forward.”
Give yourself a specified amount of time (say, 24 hours) to go over a problem or situation. When time’s up, so is the ruminating, the guilt, the negative self-talk. 
Remember, The Only Person You Can Change is Yourself 

You may have heard this one before, but it’s really crucial to getting in the mindset to let go. And it leads to a big benefit: feeling in control. Maybe you’ve struggled for years, trying to break your family of the little habits that drive you crazy, whether it’s your husband leaving a trail of dirty laundry across the bedroom floor, or a sullen tween who’d rather slam a door than talk to you. You may not be able to reform them, but you can let go of (and control) the anger and frustration you feel about it.
Start Small
A change in mindset doesn’t happen overnight—little changes lead to big ones. Dr. Leahy recommends starting by scheduling some stress or worry time every day. “If you have a negative thought at 10 a.m., say to yourself, I’ll set aside that thought and come back to it during my worry time later tonight,” he explains. “You’ve just let go of that thought. Yes, you’re going to come back to it, but you didn’t let it take over. Doing this helps you practice letting go in a small way every day.” 
4 Small Changes to Make Today
1. Embrace the mantra "don’t worry, be happy." 
Yearning for a new job, a new house? Consider your circumstances. You may find that you’re grateful for and content with what you already have.
2. Take a joy test. 
Home in on the little things that’ll make you happy by finishing these sentences: “I’ve always wanted to…” or “I’d love to…” Think about what’s doable. Maybe you’ve always wanted to speak Spanish or enter a 5K race. Then take steps to weave those things into your life.
3. Make things better right now. 
Feeling sad because a good friend has moved away? You can’t follow her, but you can stay in touch. Make a regular date to call her on Skype.
4. Ignore the peanut gallery. 
Fear of being judged by others is often what causes us to stew in negative emotions like guilt. “How could she leave her child with a stranger while she works?” “How selfish is she for going out with friends instead of home to her kids!” If family and friends criticize, don’t react instantly with anger. Take a breath and consider where they’re coming from: Often criticisms come from people’s own insecurities. If their comments aren’t constructive, say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” This will help you let go of any guilt and anger toward them. 

How to Say “No” Gracefully

by Woman's Day, on Tue Dec 21, 2010

Learn how to politely decline time commitments without the guilt

by Beth Levine

No. It’s one of the shortest words in the English vocabulary, but it’s also one of the most difficult for many of us to say.
We all know that setting limits will lower our stress level and save our sanity, but sometimes we are caught off guard by people who simply won’t take no for an answer. Read on to learn how to put your foot down with these master manipulators.

Read about how to deal with common bad habits that can hurt friendships.
The Flatterer

Whether it’s the friend who tells you how smart you are and how much she’d appreciate your help on a volunteer project she’s working on, or the school mom who insists that the students will be so disappointed if you don’t make your special cupcakes for the class holiday party, the flatterer plays to your vanity by making you feel indispensable. Photo: © Jessie Ford/Woman's Day
Reality check: 
If you want to help out because it gives you pleasure, fine, but no one is irreplaceable. “If it’s not brain surgery, others can do it—maybe not with your pizzazz, but it will get done and the cosmos will not explode in the process,” says Susan Newman, PhD, author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It—and Mean It and Stop People- Pleasing Forever.
Your response: 
Turn the tables—flattery goes both ways. Instead of giving in, put the ball in the flatterer’s court. Say something like, “You’re such a fabulous baker—I could give you the recipe! Why don’t you try your hand at it; I’m sure the kids would love it.” 
The Guiltmeister

Your mother insists that you never call—never meaning your three calls a week aren’t enough. Or your friendsighs that you seem to have time for everyone but her—and does it while the two of you are together having lunch.
Reality check: 
Step back and get perspective. If it were a perfect stranger in your position, what would you think? If your grown kids behaved this way toward you, how would you feel? Ask a friend for some insight. If it seems like a bigger minefield than you know how to handle, consider talking to a psychotherapist to help you sort it out. (Find one at
Your response: 
“You can’t do enough for some people, so don’t try,” says Dr. Newman. Arguing is futile—you’ll never win—so just calmly tell the other person how it’s going to be. “Mom, I’d rather we didn’t have this same argument over and over. If we can’t talk about something else, let’s hang up and call back when we can.” Or tell your “neglected” friend, “I’m sorry you feel this way, but I try to see you as much as I can.”
The Saboteur
You’re committed to losing those excess pounds, but every time you go out with a certain friend, she tries to get you to order dessert. “Just this one time can’t hurt!” she says. “But you can’t come and not have the chocolate cake!” The saboteur tries to validate her choices by making you behave as she does.
Reality check: 
Be a leader, not a follower, and think about how angry you’ll be when the number on the scale climbs after all that hard work. “Saying no is not about selfishness but about self-respect. You’re standing up for what is right for you,” says William Ury, PhD, cofounder of Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation and author of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No & Still Get to Yes.
Your response: 
Stand firm, and then redirect the conversation. You don’t need a lot of excuses or explanations. “No, thank you. Tea is just fine for me. Are you going to watch American Idol this season? I wonder how the new hosts will be.” the whiner Every time your coworker receives a difficult assignment, she starts in on how unfair it all is, that she’s the one who always gets the hard stuff. She keeps going until you finally offer to help just to make her stop complaining. 
The Whiner

Every time your coworker receives a difficult assignment, she starts in on how unfair it all is, that she’s the one who always gets the hard stuff. She keeps going until you finally offer to help just to make her stop complaining.
Reality check: 
Even if she has a point—your boss does give her more difficult work—this has nothing to do with you. It’s between her and the boss, and it’s up to her to deal with it.
Your response: 
Cut her off at the pass before she really gets rolling. “You know, you may have a point. This does seem to be a pattern. Why don’t you set up a meeting with the department head to see if you can sort this out?”
The Bully
Bullying among grownups is more common than you may think. A 2007 study of nearly 8,000 working adults conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 37 percent of workers had been bullied. Adult bullying can take many forms, but the bully always uses his anger and intimidating demeanor to get you to do more than you want.
Reality check:
No matter what you have done or not done, no one deserves to be treated disrespectfully or in a threatening manner.
Your response: 
A bully wants to get under your skin, so don’t let him see you sweat. Don’t respond in anger (he feeds on negative emotions) and don’t allow yourself to be browbeaten into doing something you don’t want to do. “A calm, quiet, firm, neutral voice is more powerful than a loud no. It conveys more self-control and strength,” says Dr. Ury. “Speak assertively and be very clear about what you want to happen. Say, ‘I don’t appreciate being treated this way. Come back when you calm down,’ or ‘I think I’ve made myself clear—I won’t discuss it anymore.’”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Guinness book of world records

19 girls and 1 car on top of the world

December 16, 2010

Aymen Saleem, a second-year A’ Level student at Karachi Grammar School, was browsing newspaper headlines in her living room, when she came across a story about the world’s largest cake. The story sparked her curiosity and soon enough she was searching for her very own record to break. After a quick search on Google, she found the perfect challenge. All she needed was 19 willing girls and a Smart Car, a two-door micro-car manufactured by Daimler AG in  France and Germany. Luckily for Aymen, she happened to have one of them parked in her very own driveway. It was a birthday present from her father Yousuf Saleem.

On Wednesday, Aymen and 18 other girls, from different A’ Level institutions across the city, including KGS and Southshore School, managed to break a previous record by fitting into the vehicle with its doors closed for five seconds. The current official record holders are the Climb FitTeam of Australia who compressed 18 students into a standard SmartCar at the Warringah Mall, Sydney Australia on January 25, 2010.

The girls managed to meet the challenge at the BBQ lawn of Creek Club in front of a jury at a historic event organised by Karim Mohammadi and Rehan Elahi. The chief guests included the federal adviser on textiles Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, adviser Sharmila Farooqi, Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro and former cricketers Wasim Akram and Saleem Yousuf. The girls had been through the drill numerous times. They positioned themselves and with precision crammed one by one into the two-door car in layers. Within a minute they were all inside the car and not only did they manage to break the world record, they managed to stay in the car for a gruelling 10 seconds, double the current record time.

“I want parents around the country to encourage their children to achieve greater things and believe that when you try, you achieve,” said Aymen. Other participants Tanya Pabani, Fatima Ismail and Zahshanné Malik were thrilled about their feat but more interested in meeting Wasim Akram.

Baig said he had initially been sceptical but was won over after he saw them fit in the car in three layers with one literally on the floor mat. Aymen’s parents Yousuf and Shireen told The Express Tribune that even though at first they felt it was just another outdoor activity, they provided them with a coach Hassan Aslam once they realised how determined they were.

The participants included Sarah Ahmad, Hafsa Naveed, Alina Akram (the extra in case someone got injured), Zashanne Malik, Fatima Ismail, Rabbya Kamran, Anam Afridi, Muneezeh Jamal, Hala Faruqi, Dania Fayyaz, Sana Ghazi, Sana Currimbhoy, Zoya Currimbhoy, Hiba Javad, Sana Javad, Nadia Khan, Neha Salauddin, Rida Ashraf, Eman Samir, Tanya Pabani and Aymen Saleem. The team coaches were Hassan Aslam, Sharam Saleem and Shereen Saleem.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Short Term Goals Are The Best Resolutions


With every passing day of December, millions of people around the globe start creating beautifully worded resolutions for the New Year but unfortunately, most of them forget their own self-commitments before the end of January.

Whether New Year resolutions bring any positive or desired change in our lives could not be determined collectively. Individually, it is my personal observation and experience that such artificial bindings rather damage our character. Failure to follow our resolutions disheartens and disappoints us. Instead, everyday resolutions with short-term goals to achieve play a pivotal role in developing our confidence, building our self-esteem, polishing our persona and fueling our passions to achieve our targets comfortably.

There may be some successful people who manage to fulfill their commitments with themselves but for the rest of the majority it is quite irritating to not get any results from irregular efforts. It is not possible for every person to suddenly become a die-hard achiever without a persistent pursuit of goals. Keeping focused on a single target needs perseverance, determination, will power and total concentration, which is in fact bitterly difficult to attain. 

However, setting a series of short-term goals on day-to-day or weekly basis is comparatively much easier to achieve.

Constant success in achieving short-term goals acts like hi-octane to keep the vessels of our ambitions and passions not only running but also moving ahead at a faster pace towards our destiny. We do not need exceptional motivation or a driving force of a jet engine to keep dashing for a 100-metre distance. Collecting our positive energies to attain success in accomplishing small tasks does not even require any mentoring under ordinary circumstances, though a mentor's presence around is always inspirational and no lesser than a magnetic field.

So, try to change your track by switching to short-term goal setting and go all out to achieve them.

I'm a Freelance Journalist, Freelance Writer, Poet, Photographer, Blogger and moderator of (to go online soon).
With a career background of Business Communication and Public Relations and a flair for writing plus an obsession of Photography I look forward to sharing my knowledge, experience and passions with the rest of the world.
My primary goal is to become a successful top Blogger and Affiliate Marketing Expert through moderating my own websites and blogs and groom the newbies to independently earn money online.

7 Common New Year Resolutions

7 Free Inspirational Quotes

"Party like it's 1999"

That's what Prince said in his famous song, 1999, written all the way back in 1982.

But, whether it's 1982, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011... it sounds like a very good life philosophy to take into a new year, don't you think!

Especially, if you think of 'partying' - like I do - as another form of living in the moment, enjoying what you do as much as you can, flowing with what life brings you, and - above all - growing...

So, on that note, I give you 7 free inspirational quotes to inspire you to GROW this coming new year.

And I shall link these inspirational quotations with the most common new year resolutions, to help illustrate the benefits of making AND achieving those resolutions (should they apply to you).

Just in case you needed any convincing, so to speak.

Common New Year Resolution #1: LOSE WEIGHT

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
--Jim Rohn

So, does it *really* matter than you lose weight, or is it actually more important that you look after your body via healthy eating, and regular
bouts of exercise.

Losing weight is hard, maybe even 'impossible' for you right now. But walking a bit more, and taking a little bit of extra care about the temple that is your body (don't laugh!) is something you CAN do.

Choose a resolution you can achieve. It's only fair on you.

Common New Year Resolution #2: STICK TO A BUDGET

"A fool and his money are easily parted."

Hmm, it can be difficult to stick to a budget, it really can.

After all there are so many 'shiny things' to buy. There are so many items on sale at such cheap, cheap prices. And you're going to go into debt at the end of the month, anyway, so what harm does this little extra spend make now?

Still, it is hard to argue with proverbs, you've got to admit.

Common New Year Resolution #3: FIND MY SOULMATE

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."
--Mother Teresa

Love makes the world go round.

It also makes the world go 'round the bend' with frustration:
* Why are there so many frogs to kiss?
* Why are all the best women taken?
* Why can't he (or she) be more, y'know, 'normal' like me?

Quite simply - and it's time to stand in front of the mirror now, Dear Reader - if you're serious about finding a great partner in the new year, then you seriously have to change what you're doing to attract them into your life.

Stop blaming the supply of fish.

Look in the mirror. The blame lies there. (Ouch.)

Common New Year Resolution #4: QUIT SMOKING

"If people don't love themselves enough to cut down on their smoking, they may love someone else enough to do it."
--Anonymous smoker

I've never been a smoker, so I don't know how confoundedly difficult it is to quit the habit.

I don't know how this habit weaves itself into the patterns of daily life, so that something as simple as that first cup of coffee in the day also yields a yearning for a quick drag.

I don't know how someone else's smoke can do the same.
But if you're a smoker, you do - you know all of these things.
And you also know that it *is* possible to quit smoking - IF you want to.

It's up to you...

Common New Year Resolution #5: FIND A BETTER JOB

"Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies."
--Albert Camus

What is the point of work, at the end of the day, if it's NOT a means to a satisfactory end?

Work to live or live to work. It's a simple choice. It involves costs you might not be willing to pay - like saying 'bye bye' to the very latest car or TV or iPhone, etc. - but it IS a simple choice.

Work to live or live to work. Again, it's up to you...

Common New Year Resolution #6: LEARN SOMETHING NEW

"Education is the best provision for old age."

There is nothing better for an aging mind than to be kept busy - busy with learning.

Just like the body needs exercise, so does the mind. And this is especially so when you consider the often mind-deadening impact that

'popular' TV has on it.

So learn a new language.

Or find a new hobby.

But keep stretching your mind...

Common New Year Resolution #7: GET ORGANISED

"The way to do things is to begin."
--Horace Greely

Of course, it's important to plan - to plan your day, to plan your week and even to plan your new year. (It's probably not going to be possible to achieve ALL of your goals, your new year resolutions, without some
form of planning.)

But planning only takes you so far. Action needs to get involved, too.
And that just means taking the first step...

So there you are, 7 free inspirational quotes and 7 of the most common new year resolutions.

Let's hope you're able to put these inspirational quotations into practice - this time, this year.

Let's hope that these final, cutting words WILL NOT apply to you...
"Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits."
-- Author Unknown

Happy New Year

What better way to learn something new, to stretch your mind, than to try and do the 'impossible' - to earn an income from your very own website. It's all explained here...

And if you'd like to read more about common new year resolutions (and why you're not going to achieve them), visit this page
From Steve M Nash - Owner of

New Year's Resolutions For Better Brain Health - Part 4

Fun - Resolve to enjoy life. Play. Take up a hobby or renew an old one. Choosing an optimistic outlook helps lower stress. Stress causes toxins to develop in your body and damages neurons in your brain. Playing games, involvement in creative hobbies and participating in sports can help you to learn new skills and each new skill learned builds more brain connections. A hobby leads to a sense of accomplishment and often requires you to "think outside the box," thus developing problem solving skills. One of the best ways to improve cognitive functioning is to use more areas of the brain simultaneously.

When you are playing a game, painting, crafting, woodworking, playing sports, etc. think of all the areas of your brain you're using. Motor skills, language, imagination, memory, your 5 senses and more are all activated. Your brain is an organ which grows and learns new things by interacting with the world around you. The more opportunities you take to experience through perception and action the greater your cognitive functioning. Play is also important to cognitive development in young children. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master; free play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. In very young children there is a definite link between "pretending" in play and language skills. When play is allowed to be child driven-not parent or adult directed, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, and discover their own areas of interest. As they direct play and play with others their brains are constantly taking in new information and producing neurons to store that information.

Use it or Lose it - Recent research in neuroscience has shown that the brain remains remarkably flexible as we grow older-that is, it retains its ability to reorganize itself, to adapt to new tasks, and to build new neuro-pathways as demands are placed upon it. This means that older brains don't "wear out" and are fully as capable of meeting challenges and learning new information as younger brains are. When we are young, the brain is constantly being exposed to new and novel stimuli. We are constantly exposed to new sights, sounds, and experiences. We are exposed daily to new information and are required to build new skills. This forces our brains to constantly build new neural networks in order to deal with and integrate this new data. But, as we get older, the exposure to new stimuli lessens. Our physical world becomes "old hat" to us. We no longer get the constant stimulation from new information that we did in the classroom, etc. We settle into a routine and we begin to feel very comfortable with those routines. The end result is that our brains no longer receive the constant stimulation that they did when we were younger. We tend to gravitate toward activities that are more comfortable to do, not realizing that the brain needs the stimulation from more difficult activities if it is to stay active, challenged, and working at its best.

Find a way to stay mentally active. Don't read just one newspaper, read two or three. Think about what you read, how do you feel about it? Do research, evaluate the facts and form your own opinions. Think critically, make your brain work! Learn sign language, the younger the better but even older folks and seniors can benefit from learning a new language. Word searches, Sudoku and crossword puzzles are another great way to challenge your brain. A study published in Neurology magazine September 2009 reports that engaging in mentally challenging activities as little as twice a week can prevent cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia by as much as half. A warning though-to be truly beneficial to the brain, an activity must be novel and challenging. Finishing the "easy" crossword or Sudoku puzzle while watching T.V. probably isn't doing you much good. Turn off the T.V. and spend a day working an "expert" puzzle or try computer based brain exercises which provide more variety. An individual activity, no matter how novel, is not sufficient to sustain the kind of challenge most beneficial to your brain. For example, reading or doing crossword puzzles, though each is good on its own, provides little variety on a day-to-day basis. We now know that brain fitness depends on combining a variety of activities that differ in frequency, intensity and variety. We need to keep our brains "on their toes" with activities that are unexpected and require us to think.

De-Rut - Use your brain in new ways. Sometimes called "Neurobics" or brain exercises, these simple changes to your routine are a great way to build strong neuro connections. If you are right handed, try brushing your teeth or working the TV remote with your left hand. If you normally have the phone up to your left ear while you converse, try switching to the right ear. Write a sentence each day with your non-dominate hand, when walking or climbing stairs, try starting off each step with your non-dominate foot. Walk backwards! You are essentially doing things you normally do but doing them differently. While your brain is adjusting to performing these tasks, underused neuro-pathways and connections get activated. This stimulates the growth of new brain cells and brain connections. Try multi-sensory activities pairing senses in new ways. Shower or get dressed with your eyes closed, listen to music you wouldn't typically listen to-and write a letter (while you're listening) detailing what you like or don't like about it. Change your routine, drive home a different route, shop in a different grocery store, and rearrange your bedroom. To be considered a brain exercise, the task must be challenging, novel and include variety.

Lucy Gross-Barlow: As a Speech/Language Pathologist of over 26 years and having practiced in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, Lucy brings to her clients a diversity of patient care knowledge. For the past 12 years, she has specialized her practice in the area of processing disorders and remediation of learning impairments, and she has a passion in seeing her clients succeed in their communicative and learning skills. Lucy now desires to extend the knowledge she has gained in processing and learning remediation to as many children as possible to enable them to reach their full learning and communicative potential in life.

Lucy is a founding partner of The Therapy Group, an association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, learning specialists, Speech-Language Pathology Aides, parent teachers, administrators and advocates pioneering an industry in web-based consulting for parents who seek to help their children with learning challenges or those learning with disabilities in achieving academic and social success. Providing parents with resources, learning therapies, proprietary products and programs worldwide.

New Year's Resolutions For Better Brain Health - Part 3

By Lucy Barlow

Exercise. You knew it was going to be on this list, it's on every resolution list. We know that exercise has positive effects on the brain and has been proven an effective antidepressant. Movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate so more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and the removal of toxins. 25% of the oxygen, blood and glucose from each heartbeat goes directly to your brain! That's more than any other organ in your body and obviously indicates the importance of keeping your heart beating at an optimum. Exercise improves higher mental processes of memory and "executive functions" that involve planning, organization, and the ability to multitask.

As you exercise your muscles contract, that contraction releases a protein (IGF-1) into your blood stream. When this protein reaches the brain "good" chemicals are produced including brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) which support and protect the synapses or neuron connectors. Regular exercise increases levels of BDNF. BDNF stimulates neurons (brain cells) to branch and connect in new ways. New junctions between neurons are the basis of learning. Strenuous exercise specifically has been found to provide brain-boosting effects in the hippocampus, a region of the brain linked to learning and memory. If you're having trouble figuring out a problem, feeling down in the dumps, suffering from writer's block, or just not up to whatever the current mental challenge might be, Exercise! Studies have shown higher levels of thought clarifying and mood enhancing neuro-transmitters present in the brain within an hour of exercising. Most experts agree that exercising for 30 minutes or more at a time is most beneficial to both body and brain.

Get physical with your kids. A survey taken in the late 1980s by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that 96% of surveyed school systems had at least 1 recess period. Another survey a decade later found that only 70% of elementary schools allowed students a recess period. Many school districts responded to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by reducing time allowed for recess, the creative arts, and even physical education in an effort to spend more time on reading and mathematics. This change may have implications on children's ability to store new information, because children's cognitive capacity is enhanced by a change in activity.

Further, some children need proprioceptic (sensory) or vestibular (movement) input to absorb and process information properly. A change in academic instruction or class topic does not offer the needed change in cognitive effort and certainly does not offer a physical release. Even a formal structured physical education class may not offer the same benefit as free-play recess.

Expecting children to sit quietly at their desks and learn what it being taught is unacceptable. Numerous studies have shown that children pay better attention in the classroom after they have returned from recess. Reduced time for physical activity may be contributing to the effect of behavior on academic difficulties because as schools promote more sedentary styles of learning, classrooms become a more difficult environment for sensory or vestibular learners to navigate successfully.

Lucy Gross-Barlow: As a Speech/Language Pathologist of over 26 years and having practiced in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, Lucy brings to her clients a diversity of patient care knowledge. For the past 12 years, she has specialized her practice in the area of processing disorders and remediation of learning impairments, and she has a passion in seeing her clients succeed in their communicative and learning skills. Lucy now desires to extend the knowledge she has gained in processing and learning remediation to as many children as possible to enable them to reach their full learning and communicative potential in life.

Lucy is a founding partner of The Therapy Group, an association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, learning specialists, Speech-Language Pathology Aides, parent teachers, administrators and advocates pioneering an industry in web-based consulting for parents who seek to help their children with learning challenges or those learning with disabilities in achieving academic and social success. Providing parents with resources, learning therapies, proprietary products and programs worldwide.

New Year's Resolutions For Better Brain Health - Part 2

Sleep. Everyone knows you should have 8 hours of sleep each night right? Unfortunately only 27% of Americans report actually getting 8 or more hours. A recent Gallup poll reported that Americans get an average 6.7 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions. Sleep deprivation results in the loss of sleep's benefits for cognitive processes such as memory and insight formation: the building blocks of learning, creativity, and scientific discovery. Rather than slowing or shutting down while we sleep, our brains are using the time to process information. Your brain is elaborating on what it has taken in during the day.

Elaboration ties the new information with previous knowledge, these connections become part of the brain's organizational system and enable that information to be solidly stored and easily retrieved. Not only is it important to get enough sleep, it is similarly important to maintain a regular sleep cycle or Circadian rhythm. These rhythms are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day and are synchronized with the sleep/wake cycle. Studies indicate that the brain needs regular daily cycles of sleep and wakefulness for memory consolidation or to process and file in long term memory the information we learn. Scientists believe that as we take information in, the brain stores it in a holding area "short term memory", waiting to embed the information in long term memory while we sleep. If we often disrupt the brain's schedule, some of the information held in short term memory may not be fully processed and stored. Strengthen your sleep cycles by exposing yourself to bright light and by waking at the same time each day. Those weekends of sleeping in can actually do more harm than good to cognitive functioning by sabotaging your circadian rhythm.

Find moments of Peace. People who meditate or practice relaxation exercises say it increases their energy, relieves stress and improves both physical and cognitive performance. However, what effect meditating has on the brain has long been a matter of scientific debate.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used MRI to compare 15 subjects who report meditating regularly and 15 subjects who have never meditated. They found that the subjects who regularly meditated displayed an increase in the thickness of the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula, areas involved in attention and sensory processing. The growth of the cortex was not attributed to the development of new neurons, but rather from wider blood vessels and more supporting structures and connections. While meditation is often seen as a religious exercise, I'm not suggesting that you must take up yoga or join an ashram to improve cognitive functioning.

Meditation is primarily about learning to relax and breathe. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit uninterrupted for 15-20 minutes each day (set a timer so you won't be tempted to keep checking your watch). Close your eyes relax and breathe. Pay attention to your breathing, your inhale, and your exhale, how some breaths are naturally deeper than others. Just breathe naturally but pay attention to each breath. Focus on breathing and progressively relaxing your muscles. If you find your mind wandering, just go back to focusing on your breathing. As you learn to use this focus to relax, you'll find that you will be able to take short 2-5 minute "meditation" breaks throughout the day. If you find disruptive thoughts drifting in, something you need to do, grocery lists, recalling an argument, etc., think about a happy place or happy time then go back to focusing on your breathing. Learning to relax takes practice, don't expect to master meditation right away, but the benefits of improved memory, focus and emotional well-being make the effort well worthwhile. This time for you is an important part of brain health. Learn to say "no" when you're asked to do something you simply don't have time for, give yourself 30 minutes every day just for you, reduce your number of volunteer obligations if you're over extended, help your children learn to engage in one activity at a time.

Lucy Gross-Barlow: As a Speech/Language Pathologist of over 26 years and having practiced in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, Lucy brings to her clients a diversity of patient care knowledge. For the past 12 years, she has specialized her practice in the area of processing disorders and remediation of learning impairments, and she has a passion in seeing her clients succeed in their communicative and learning skills. Lucy now desires to extend the knowledge she has gained in processing and learning remediation to as many children as possible to enable them to reach their full learning and communicative potential in life.

Lucy is a founding partner of The Therapy Group, an association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, learning specialists, Speech-Language Pathology Aides, parent teachers, administrators and advocates pioneering an industry in web-based consulting for parents who seek to help their children with learning challenges or those learning with disabilities in achieving academic and social success. Providing parents with resources, learning therapies, proprietary products and programs worldwide.