The benefits of a simple smile

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Smiling and being happy has a huge range of benefits for both you and those around you – whether you’re whistling whilst you work or attempting to turn a frown upside down!

But happiness, and more precisely, smiling, isn’t just something we do to illustrate our joyful mood – it has a range of health and wellbeing benefits too, PLUS it can help you build rapport with those around you. So what are those additional benefits?

Lower stress and anxiety levels

Smiling actually lowers your heart rate which, in turn, will lower those stress and anxiety levels.

Release those endorphins

Endorphins aren’t just released when you exercise or have been running – they’re also released when you smile! Endorphins help diminish stress hormones in your body, they make you feel happier AND they lessen any pain you may have!

Help your immune system

Smiling actually helps strengthen your immune system too. It increases the white blood cells in your body, enabling your body to react faster when invaders attack your immune system.

A smile is both contagious and attractive

Smile and the whole world will smile with you – well, ok, at least 50% will! But smiling will cause those around you to at least crack a grin with you and it is SO much more attractive to the opposite sex.

Approachable and trustworthy

As mentioned in the above point, we find those who smile attractive. That in itself is great – but we’re also more likely to approach a smiling person, as we trust them more – making it great for those who need reassurance, those who want to build their credibility and those who want to get to know you better!

Great for leadership and productivity

A person in authority who smiles, is more likely to be liked, trusted and admired by his team – and your team are more likely to want to approach you with any problems and issues they may have. But having a team that smiles is important in the workplace too, as it helps to increase their attention span and their focus – leading to an increase in productivity.

Finally, putting a smile on your face, whether it’s a forced or genuine one, helps you feel more positive, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. And if you want to break the ice or ease embarrassment – guess what? A smile will help you there too. So get smiling!

 

Want more than a smile? Try Laughter Yoga

Image © olly/Dollar Photo Club

Breathing your way to better health

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

Breathing, it’s something we all naturally take for granted as something we automatically do. And why shouldn’t we? After all, we take as many as 20,000 breaths in an average day!

However, with so many stresses in our lives and pressures on our time, more and more people are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression – and this is impacting how we breathe. Over time, constantly being on edge (or in fight or flight response) changes our breathing, from relaxed and slow to stressed and fast – and this can lead to a drop in our health and wellbeing. Shallow breathing can result in symptoms such as increased migraines, IBS pain, anxiety and stress, and if you suffer from asthma – an increase in attacks.

Stress, breathing and the work computer

There’s also evidence to suggest that, those who work on computers and those in busy office environments, tend to hold their breath whilst working (referred to as screen apnoea), leading us to become even more stressed and anxious.

Children naturally breathe better

Children and babies naturally breathe from their abdomen, unfortunately, as we get older, stress takes over and we shallow breathe, taking in short sharp breaths from our chest and only using the top third of our lungs. In effect, breathing in this way means you’re just on the edge of hyperventilating!

The result of bad breathing

Breathing poorly or shallowly, can result in an increase in feelings of depression, anxiety and insomnia. But it also means you have an incorrect balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your system – and this can affect your ability to fight off ailments and tiredness. Your body, brain, vital organs and skin simply won’t be getting enough nutrients to maintain optimum health.

So how can you improve your breathing and get back onto calmer ground?

Controlled breathing for better health

Controlled breathing, or taking slow, deep, consistent breaths, involves breathing from the abdomen. This type of breathing activates the body’s relaxation response, causing you to relax, unwind and take yourself off high-alert. Breathing in this relaxed fashion can also help boost your immune system and lead to a healthier heart and longer life.

Benefits include more oxygen being carried around your body, your immune system is better equipped to fight ailments and anxiety, stress and depression levels lessen.

How to breathe properly

Take ten minutes, several times a day, to practice better breathing techniques. You need to be using your diaphragm, so place your left hand on your upper chest and your right hand on your abdomen, in the gap between your ribcage.

When you breathe, your right hand should move up and down – your left hand shouldn’t be moving – otherwise you’re not using your diaphragm enough.

Work on changing your breathing to this correct position over the course of the next few days.

Next, you want to actually slow your breathing down, so your whole body can relax. Look to be completing 8 to10 ‘cycles’ a minute – a cycle is one in-breath and one out-breath.

By focusing just ten minutes at a time on your breathing, you’ll be relaxing your entire body and taking yourself off high-alert – and onto better health!

 

Yoga for beginners is now available HERE

Image © rocketclips/Dollar Photo Club

Tuning into yourself

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 14 March 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

We all have an inner guidance system, one that helps us distinguish between what is good or bad, right and wrong, happy or sad. It can even help us make decisions over which path to take and what action steps to follow. However, because we don’t understand how it works, it’s often overridden by the thoughts and opinions of others and even our own ‘logic’… so how can you tune into this inbuilt system and be better guided?

What is this guidance system?

Tuning into yourself is the key to accessing this guidance system. It allows us to activate the tools we all naturally have in us – our emotions and feelings. Some people refer to it as ‘a gut feeling’, others call it ‘inner knowing’ or our ‘higher self/soul’, but whatever name you give it, it is designed to work specifically for you.

How does this guidance system work?

The beauty of this inner guidance system, is it’s so easy to use! You simply tune into yourself and acknowledge how you feel, what emotions are there and whether they’re positive (high vibration/light feeling) or negative (low vibration/heavy feeling).

If it’s that easy, why don’t we all use it?

When it comes to looking for a solution or answer, we often think we have to hunt or search for it. This implies looking outside for an answer. We want to see a solution or hear advice from others. Going inside and listening to feelings is just too easy, too normal.

On top of this, we also often have a need to gather the advice and opinions of others, so we can make a ‘judgement call’ based on the popular choice, the logic-based decision and the answer that will keep everyone happy – including ourselves.

And therein lies the problem.

We don’t always like what can happen as a result of our answer. It may feel right for us, but the subsequent work or action steps around it may themselves feel uncomfortable – especially if they’re taking us out of our comfort zones. We then override the initial good/right feeling we immediately get with our decision, with the feelings we have when we think about the repercussions of that answer. We need to be brave and have faith to follow it through – and that can be hard.

How to connect in with yourself

Learning to connect in with yourself and your inner guidance system isn’t hard – it just takes practice and a willingness to stop and focus. So stop what you’re doing and focus on your breathing.

  • Take a few slow breaths in and out and close your eyes.
  • Ask yourself ‘Do I want to…[your first option/path]?’ or ‘Do I want to… [your second option/path]?’
  • Notice the feelings and emotions around each option/path. Do they feel heavy or light? Calm or stressed?
  • Notice the thoughts that pop into your head – but only the immediate ones. Do you immediately think ‘no’ or ‘yes’?
  • How does your body feel with each? Do your shoulders sink or does it feel heavy, as if burdened down?
  • Open your eyes and follow your intuitive answer.

You can repeat this several times, if you need to, as it doesn’t always happen immediately, especially if you’re not used to connecting in this way. However, it’s something that can be built up over a period of time, so use it often and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of connecting in with you!

 

Looking for Reiki sessions or training? Click HERE for guidance 

The colour of happiness…?

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

It’s a known fact that colour affects how we feel and we often use colour-based phases to portray moods – ‘in a black mood’, ‘tickled pink’, ‘feeling blue’ etc. But when it comes to giving happiness a colour… is it all subjective?

We naturally sway more towards warmer, brighter colours, when it comes to explaining happiness, especially those in the red, yellow and orange spectrums. But our mind will only link these colours to happiness, if we have a happy experience of those colours.

For example, red can be indicative of both passion and danger. Yellow can be a warning or brightness, even blue hues can be seen as calming or cold.

Why? Well we often subconsciously link a colour back to how we perceive that colour in nature. For example, blue and green hues remind us of the sky, water, trees and grass, so we’re more likely to feel relaxed and calm with these colours.

However, if you had a traumatic experience in a grassy field or in a lake of water, you may well feel panicked and stressed around these colours! We store hundreds of references to each and every colour and, when we see this colour, we immediately associate our associated feeling to it – this is why we can sometimes feel a dislike for a particular colour, even when we don’t consciously remember the reference we may have attached to it!

This is often why colours can’t accurately be labelled as ‘happy’ or ‘calm’ colours – as it’s all a matter of personal preference (based on our internal representation of those colours)!

The only accurate way to define what colours represent happiness to you, is to spend time looking at different colours and seeing what feelings, moods and emotions they evoke in you.

Once you find the colours that make you feel positive and happy, then you can start incorporating them into your home decor, clothing and interior décor… because once you’ve found what makes you feel happy, you’ll want to ensure you surround yourself with it on a daily basis, to expand those positive vibes!

 

Learn more about the The Journey HERE.

Do what makes you happy!

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Written by Sarah PJ White

We all want to be happy, right? Some people spend a small fortune trying to find something they can do or buy to make them happy. Others will spend their whole lives waiting for something to happen that will make them happy.

The sad fact is, people are often delaying being happy, because they don’t have that magic ‘something’ that will warrant them being happy! Their happiness plan consists of ‘When I get/have this, I’ll THEN be able to be happy’ or ‘I’ll be happy when…’

I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s the first step to being happy. And it’s the one secret that will save you a lot of time, money, frustration and effort…

Happiness is a conscious decision. You decide to be happy and you will be happy.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s true! You can be happy now, no matter how your life has panned out so far and no matter what you have (or don’t have) in your life.

The problem is, so many of us have made happiness a condition of something. We tell ourselves not to feel happy, unless those conditions are met – and we tell ourselves we CAN’T be happy until that happens.

Your mind is a powerful tool and, used well, it can help you overcome any obstacle, feel whatever you want and associate any emotion with any experience – including happiness.

The second secret to being happy is to smile. Have you tried smiling, even if it’s just a fake one to start with? The very act of smiling instantly upturns your mood. You start to feel lighter, brighter and happier. Look to smile more – at everyone and no one – just smile for the sheer pleasure of smiling.

A smile is contagious. Smile and the world will smile with you – ok, maybe not the whole world, but those in your world will start to smile with you, meaning they’ll soon be feeling happier too.

The third secret to being happy is to do what makes you happy! Because we make a mental list of what we need in place before we can be happy, we often don’t take the time to notice the little things in our lives that do make us happy. It could be playing music or listening to music, dancing or sitting still, baking or reading, surrounding ourselves with friends or being alone – it doesn’t matter; there is no right or wrong here. The important thing is that you know what makes you happy, as only then, can you make a decision to do more of it.

So make yourself a list of things that make you happy. Go ahead and write them down – and then make a decision to do more of them. Schedule in regular time slots to do at least one thing from this list and you’ll start feeling happier, faster.

 

Don't forget Laughter Yoga can also help!