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Wellness Pathway #108: Get a Regular Massage

People under estimate the therapeutic value of touching. Two things decrease dramatically with age: laughing and touching. Young children laugh about 300 times a day. Older adults laugh about 15 times a day. Infants can die from lack of touch. It’s that critical. And yet as we age, the amount of touching we experience — both giving and receiving — decreases in a similar order of magnitude. Who would not think to pick up, hold, stroke, rock, and pat a newborn baby? It’s instinctive. Unfortunately, we do not think to do that for each other as adults. Perhaps the sexual connotations and temptations interfere with our ability to give and receive touch.

One great and safe way to experience touching is to get a massage, at least twice a month. Licensed massage therapists (LMTs) are able to work the soft tissue in ways that stimulate circulation and promote relaxation. Such touching can soothe the nervous system, decrease blood pressure, increase the flow of blood and lymph, relieve swelling, eliminate metabolic byproducts, and aid in bone and tissue repair. It’s a great way to spend two hours a month. To find an LMT, ask your friends, your doctor, the people who work at your local health food store, or use the LMT locator service provided by the American Massage Therapy Association (http://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/locator.htm).

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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Wellness Pathway #116: Get To Sleep Early

Most people in the world are sleep deprived. And we brought this on ourselves, after 1879, with the advent of the electric light. Throughout most of human evolution, people fit their patterns of life and work, of activity and rest, to the natural patterns of light and dark. In northern and southern climbs, away from the equator, we slept more in the winter than in the summer. You can experience this yourself by tent camping away from electricity. Once the sun goes down, there’s not a lot to do other than to go to sleep.

Unfortunately, our bodies still require these longer periods of sleep in order stay healthy and recover from the day even though most of us can’t find the time. Human anatomy hasn’t changed much since 1879. Recent studies suggest that the earlier sleep starts the more effective it is. Wait to fall asleep too late in the night, and you shortchange the body’s repair process. An ideal scenario is to get to sleep by 10:00 PM and to wake up around 5:30 AM. If you can only afford six hours of sleep (not a good idea on a regular basis) 10:00 to 4:00 is better for you than 12:00 to 6:00. Get to sleep early tonight! You’ll be glad you did.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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Wellness Pathway #117: Breathe Deeply

Most people know that 30 minutes of vigorous, aerobic exercise a day is essential for good health. This week a new study revealed that being sedentary is actually more dangerous to your health than being overweight or being a smoker. Vigorous, aerobic exercise not only burns calories at the time of exercise, but it also raises your metabolism and burns calories throughout the day. Thirty minutes of exercise can have a 24-hour effect.

So too with relaxation and deep breathing, only the ratio is even greater. Two minutes of deep breathing, twice a day, can lower your blood pressure and stress levels all day long. Now that’s a pretty good deal. What’s four minutes out of your day? The technique is simple. Sit in a comfortable position with your back and shoulders straight. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Hold to the count of seven. Breathe out through your nose or mouth to the count of eight. Take no more than twelve breaths (every ten seconds) in two minutes. Eight 15-second breaths are even better. Do this in the morning and in the evening for better health and longevity.

Reader Reply: I especially like your Wellness Pathways. I am enjoying drinking red tea and taking flax seed. However, your tip to “Breathe Deeply” is in exact contradiction of what is stated in the book, “Breathing Free” by Teresa Hale. She states that overbreathing (taking deep breaths and taking in too much oxygen) causes high blood pressure. I have been doing the breathing exercises (shallow breathing and holding my breath after exhaling) described in her book for a month or so. My blood pressure has gone down from an average of 144/75 to 138/72. Her results are documented at her clinic in England as well as a similar clinic in Australia. It is based on the discovery of Professor Konstantin Buteyko and more than forty-five years of practical and empirical research in Russia. (Ed. Note: There is some debate here. For the results of a blind randomized controlled trial, see http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/xmas98/bowler/bowler.html.)

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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Wellness Pathway #123: Do Crossword Puzzles

Last week we had a friend visiting who, upon picking up a pen while reading the morning paper, somewhat sheepishly admitted that he had picked up the habit of doing crossword puzzles. I coached him to continue the habit, because more than one study has found an inverse relationship between the incidence of crossword puzzles and Alzheimer’s disease. The more crossword puzzles you do, along with other brain-stimulating activities, the less chance you have of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease drops by as much as 50%.

One theory is that brain-stimulating activities build dendrites, the connections between brain cells. Whereas the number of brain cells declines with age, the number of dendrites declines with idleness. The more we use our brain, the more dendrites we make, and the more resistant our brains become to Alzheimer’s. Watching TV is typically not a brain-stimulating activity. Doing crossword puzzles, playing card games, reading newspapers or books, and working jigsaw puzzles are more to the point: stay intellectually active to stay healthy over time.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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Wellness Pathway #129: Appreciate Beauty

These Wellness Pathways tend to rotate between nutrition, fitness, and wisdom tips. That’s because “Wellness” means a condition of optimal well-being. Nutrition and fitness will only get you two-thirds of the way. There are also pathways of the spirit, which go to the core of who we are and how we feel as human beings. If anything distinguishes us from other animals, it’s our ability to appreciate beauty. Last night I was arranging a beautiful bouquet of flowers in our new home that a friend gave to us as we were leaving our old home. The act of arranging the flowers was refreshing. Seeing the bouquet on our kitchen table continues to nourish our spirits.

Perhaps it’s because we now park ourselves on the edge of a beautiful lake, with lush vegetation and a family of white swans, but our awareness of beauty has gone up a notch or two. In the process, so has our gratitude for the gift of life. But the attitude of gratitude and the appreciation of beauty are not restricted to gorgeous natural settings. We often felt the same way when we lived and worked in the inner-city of Chicago, under very different conditions. We can decide to appreciate beauty — or we can let ourselves be too busy, impatient, or stressed out. What will it be for you? Here is one reader’s reply:

“I’ve really enjoyed the LifeTrek Provisions, and they come at just the right time. May was a terrible month with significant health and career challenges. Though limited in what physical activity I could do, on May 27, I began walking daily on a treadmill at the local community center. At first, I tried to read or do something “productive.” Finally, I decided that these walks, looking out at a beautiful field and hills with the sun coming up over them, were really a walk away from these recent events and a walk to a newer, healthier, and (hopefully) wealthier life. It made the walk much more purposeful than just exercising. I’ve been through the range of emotions on these walks, and feel strength, energy, and purpose returning as I move away from the events of May. While I’m not certain about what I’m walking towards, at least I’m walking away from unpleasantness, a job that took too much out of me, and pain in my back. Starting tomorrow, I will start imagining what I’m walking towards! I’ll trust my body and mind to get me to where I need to be. Thanks for sharing your insights in these Provisions!”

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

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Wellness Pathway #133: Visualize Wellness

In this week’s Provision I wrote about the use of self-directing affirmations to stay focused on the important and to develop effortless support systems. The technique works because it marinates the mind with your best intentions until they become reality. Positive, self-directing affirmations have measurable, physiological effects. Runners use them all the time to enhance performance. Repeatedly saying what they want and know to be true, as though it was already true, provides a competitive edge. It lifts the spirit, focuses the mind, and strengthens the flesh.

This technique works in every arena, including wellness. Affirming what you want, as though it were already true, in daily sessions of repetitive writing and recitation will move you in the direction you want to go. Visualization works the same way. Instead of saying the words, “I have perfect blood pressure,” you visualize your heart beating perfectly throughout the day and the blood pressure monitor reading less than 120 over 80. The longer you hold these images in your mind, the more powerful the effect. This works even for stubborn health problems. Things go better when you visualize wellness rather than disease.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

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Wellness Pathway #141: Turn Off the TV

I’ve written before about the importance of being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day. Brisk walking, the most natural of exercises, is also a most healthy exercise. Sadly, even walking is beyond what most people manage to fit into their schedule. But television, now there’s something we have lots of time for!

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day (that’s more than 52 days of nonstop TV-watching per year). By the age of 65 the average American will have spent nearly nine years glued to the tube.

In study after study, an inverse correlation has been found between television watching and physical activity. The more television a person watches, the less time they spend in physical activity. This contributes directly to the increase in a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.

A professor of neurology from Case Western Reserve University reports that television watching is the only activity that Alzheimer’s patients did more of earlier in life than their counterparts. Want to get healthy? Turn off the TV. Just about anything you do will be better for you.

Coaching Inquiries: How much television do you watch? Are you willing to reduce or even eliminate your television time? Could you go “cold turkey” or would you need to phase out, slowly? What action is right for you?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

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Wellness Pathway #144: Sleep Seven Hours

Perhaps you saw the news earlier this year. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and the American Cancer Society found that people who typically sleep more than eight hours per night or less than four hours per night had a 15 percent greater chance of dying, for any reason, than those who typically sleep somewhere in between. The use of sleeping pills was also associated with an increased mortality of 25 percent. Seven hours of sleep was the magic number when it came to life extension.

That may seem counterintuitive (isn’t more sleep always better?) but a correlation has been found in multiple studies between mortality and those who sleep either very much or very little. This is probably not a problem for most readers of Provisions, since the average sleep time in the western world is now six and a half hours, but I would bring it to your attention just in case you’d like to start setting your alarm clock in order to live longer. Most people sleep in 90-minute cycles, so shoot for seven and a half or six hours (rather than something in between). If you suffer from insomnia and are sleeping less than four hours per night, seek out a sleep therapist rather than sleeping pills. Relaxation and a good mattress in a dark, quiet room can work wonders.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

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Wellness Pathway #146: Remember When

There was a time when people thought that the human brain would always and inevitably lose capacity as a part of aging. After childhood and adolescence, when the brain is developing in quantum leaps and bounds, the brain was thought to more or less shrivel and die. Now scientists are not so sure. Nutrition, exercise, and cognitive stimulation have been shown to stop or slow age-related memory loss. Here’s what you can do to stay as sharp as possible.

One, eat a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. You can get the former from fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, and from flax seeds. You can get the latter from blueberries and other dark-pigment fruits and vegetables. Two, get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, such as walking, running, bicycle riding, or swimming. And three, stay mentally active and challenged. Doing puzzles, discussing problems, and recalling memories are good ways to keep your brain engaged. Right now my 89-year-old uncle is in town for a visit. He is constantly peppering conversations with the question, “Do you remember when�?” That wonderful habit is part of what keeps him so sharp.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

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Wellness Pathway #148: Write About Your Feelings

One of the speakers at the International Coach Federation meeting was Mark Bryan, co-author of The Artist’s Way at Work. The methodology of The Artist’s Way involves a practice called morning pages, where people write three pages at the start of every day — before they read, watch, or process any other information. The writing becomes an opportunity to listen carefully to the trek of life along with any associated feelings. Three pages force the writing to go beyond a “to-do list” to the level of deep emotional processing.

I was impressed by the article Mark passed out from the American Psychological Society. In controlled studies, significant benefits accrued to those who wrote about their emotional experiences compared to those who did not write. Writing reduced stress and improved performance. For example, unemployed executives who wrote about their job loss found new positions more quickly. Physician visits were reduced and physiological markers (including a wide variety of serum antibodies) were improved. Distress, negative affect, and depression were all minimized. The takeaway is clear. If you want to feel and function better, write about your feelings.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services