Saturday, February 25, 2017

Best Exercises to Ease Depression

Start Slow

It may be the last thing you want to do when you're feeling down, but exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain and can help ease depression symptoms. You don’t have to do too much, maybe just go for a short walk. If you can push yourself to do it a few days in a row, you may not need as much of a push the following day.

Walk or Run

You don’t have to run a marathon or be a speed demon. You don’t even have to run. Start with walking, and you can decide if you want to go faster as you get stronger. It’s not just the exercise that helps -- the great outdoors can lift your mood, too.


The fixed and moving poses of this meditative form of exercise can make you stronger and more flexible. That can give you energy and a sense of well-being. The breath control involved in yoga also can calm your emotions. You can look for videos online, but a class gets you out into the world and around other people. Namaste!


Touching soil may boost a key brain chemical called serotonin, and that can help lift depression. You'll also be active and outside. If you don’t have a patch of dirt of your own, call a local community garden to see if you could work a plot there.


It’s good exercise and a great opportunity to let out some emotion without talking about your feelings. You can just hit the ball against a wall, but if you want it to come back across a net, you’ll need someone on the other side. That's a chance to socialize. And if you commit to a time with someone else, you’re more likely to stick to it.

Exercise at Work

If you need a distraction to get your mind off negative thoughts, take a few minutes and step away from your desk. Find a quiet place and do some stretching, or go up and down a flight of stairs -- anything that gets you moving can boost your mood.


It’s a great, whole-body workout, and some people find the water helps calm them. It doesn’t have to take a huge chunk out of your day: Just 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week may be all you need.


You can get good exercise on a stationary one, but hitting the bike path is a great way to take in the world around you. You don’t need anything fancy -- any two-wheeler will do. Ride it to the store, the coffee shop, or your friend’s house. Just make sure to get it checked by a mechanic first, and don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Strength Training

You use weights, machines, or your own body resistance (like with pushups) to build strength, muscle mass, and flexibility. A simple set of hand weights will work, or even just the floor. The workout isn’t the only thing that improves your mood -- a sense of accomplishment and better body image can help, too.

Walk Your Dog

Fido can help ease your stress, and he may be just the motivator you need. Grab a leash and maybe a Frisbee and get out there. The fresh air won’t hurt, either.


It’s a win-win-win: exercise, social engagement, and fun. All those can lift your spirits, and you can start at home. While nobody’s watching, turn on a favorite track and let your body move to it. Even short dance sessions can feel good. As you gain your footing and confidence, check for classes at local dance schools or look for a group that gets together to dance.


You may need to work up to it, but three 20-second sprints, with 2-minute breaks in between, may be as good for you as 50 minutes of moderate jogging. And they can be a quick way to release some pent-up emotion. Just make sure you warm up -- and ask your doctor if you don’t know if you’re healthy enough for that kind of high-intensity workout.


It’s a great workout: You jog, sprint, jump, and throw. You can do it indoors and out, winter and summer, and in a large group or with just one other person. You can even shoot hoops by yourself.


The focus needed for a long game can help distract you from negative thoughts, and being part of a team adds a feeling of connection. And when you’ve got a whole team that expects you to show up, you’re more likely to, right?

When Teachers Get Mindfulness Training, Students Win

By Jill Suttie

According to a new study, training teachers in mindfulness can affect the whole climate of the classroom.

No one would argue with the fact that teaching is stressful. Not only is the work highly challenging, teachers are also frequently underpaid, undervalued, and subject to harsh scrutiny. No wonder teacher burnout is on the rise and that many feel like leaving their profession.
But teacher stress is not only a problem for teachers; it can also be a problem for students. Stressed teachers impact students’ stress levels through a contagion effect, and since student stress impacts learning, this can hurt the quality of education in the classroom. Students learn better in a climate that is more emotionally positive and less stressful, and past studies have shown a clear link between positive emotional classroom climates and academic achievement.
Now, a new study from the University of Virginia provides strong evidence that mindfulness training for teachers can help them cope better with stress on the job while also making the classroom environment more productive for learning.
Two hundred and twenty-four teachers from 36 urban elementary schools in New York City with primarily low-income/high-risk students were randomly assigned to receive instruction via a program called Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE), a 30-hour mindfulness-based training for teachers spread out over a four-month period. The program involved training in mindful awareness, stress reduction, and emotion skills aimed primarily at increasing teacher wellness rather than improving teaching, per se.
Teachers reported on their levels of well-being, mindfulness, confidence in their teaching ability, physical health, and psychological health before and after the program. In addition, their teaching quality was independently measured before and afterward by raters who didn’t know which group of teachers they were observing.
Analyses showed that receiving the CARE training improved the teachers’ mindfulness and their ability to manage anger and other difficult emotions, and lowered their psychological distress and sense of time urgency—particularly important benefits in such stressful conditions.
“If you’re a teacher, you can’t walk out while you’re teaching; and if you’re a student, you can’t walk out, either—it puts a level of pressure on teachers that I don’t think many people recognize,” says Patricia Jennings, the lead author of the study.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the study also found improvements in the emotional climate of the classroom and increased class organization for those teachers who’d been through the training. Those trained via CARE behaved differently in the classroom—smiling more, asking more questions, remaining curious about student misbehavior rather than moving toward punishment, and taking deep breaths and slowing down encounters with students when annoyed rather than yelling.
“After training in CARE, you might see teachers take things less personally,” says Jennings.
But what’s most exciting to her is that these changes were accomplished by training teachers, not the students themselves.
“The intervention totally focused on the teacher—we didn’t do anything for the kids at all,” says Jennings. “While we may want our kids to be mindful, taking time out of the day to do mindfulness with kids without integrating it into the general curriculum is really hard.”
Jennings’s study is the largest study to date looking at how mindfulness training impacts teacher well-being and the emotional climate of their classrooms. It adds to a growing body of research suggesting that mindfulness affects not only teacher stress, but also interpersonal interactions that can have an important impact on learning.
“I had a very strong suspicion that emotional reactivity was interfering with a teacher’s ability to be their best, and that the solution wasn’t just a matter of teaching more skills, it was really a matter of teaching them to self-regulate so they could be their best,” says Jennings.
Her future research plans include increasing the capacity for this kind of training in schools, studying the impacts of combining CARE with student-focused mindfulness or social-emotional learning training, and looking at whether or not mindfulness training impacts implicit bias or other barriers to effective teaching. She hopes that studies like hers will focus more attention on the issue of teacher well-being.
“I think it’s really important for people to recognize that teachers need all of the support they can get and that they need our help and not criticism,” says Jennings. “If we don’t turn the corner on how we’re helping our teachers, we’re not going to have enough teachers to do the job.”

Inspirational Quote – February 25, 2017

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream.”

Of course not! Sometimes the right time to set another goal or dream another dream is when we are older and, hopefully though not always, wiser. That’s when we are free from the constraints of perhaps raising a family, working, being at other people’s beck and call and having no time to call our own. Enjoy and take pleasure in achieving your goals and dreams as you now have the time and freedom to do so. Never let anybody tell you that you’re too old to do anything. Just make sure your insurance is up to date and off you go!

Say Your Truths & Seek Them In Others

In a lyrical, unexpectedly funny talk about heavy topics such as frayed relationships and the death of a loved one, Elizabeth Lesser describes the healing process of putting aside pride and defensiveness to make way for soul-baring and truth-telling. "You don't have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you," she says. "Be like a new kind of first responder ... the one to take the first courageous step toward the other."

Friday, February 24, 2017

How Sexual Rejection Affects Men in Relationships

What happens when a woman doesn’t give a man the attention he assumes he deserves!

We all probably know that most women feel hurt when men turn down their love-making advances.  What happens when she rejects him and turn him down? On the other hand, most of us tend to think that the same rejection does not hurt men as much. This kind of thinking is mostly based on two assumptions:

The first is associated with the Masculinity Theory, which suggests that physical and surface-level reasons drive a man’s desire. In contrast, a woman’s desire is mostly driven by emotional connection. The assumption here is that men won’t hurt much once rejected because they will only miss out on the physical act.
The second assumption is associated with the $exu@l Script Theory. The suggestion is that men should initiate physical affections while women act as gatekeepers in Straight relationships. In other words, a woman should either say yes or no to a man’s advances. Men are bound to experience more rejection if they initiate physical affections more often.
These two assumptions lead to the conclusion that rejection hurts men less because they actually expect it. However, just because men are more likely to experience rejection doesn’t mean handling it is any easier. In fact, the opposite might be true. The more often a man experiences rejection, the more it can really impact his confidence, ego, and interest in physical affections.
Studies show that a man’s desire to get some and his self-esteem reduce once she rejects him. Men start to get depressed and wonder whether something is going on if every time they make a move, it is rejected. To a man, it means not being wanted by his partner, which is often offensive to them. Men rarely perceive rejection to mean their partner doesn’t want to get some at the moment.
Occasional rejection due to bad timing is bound to happen in every relationship. It might be when a partner is sick or not in the mood for a good reason. The thought that you will always be interested at the same time as your partner over several years is nice but far-fetched. There will be plenty of times when either partner faces rejection.
However, regular rejection wears men down over time and makes them question both themselves and their relationships. In addition, it ultimately has a negative effect on their self-esteem and decreases their level of interest in getting down. Staying positive or imagining physical affections is often tough for men if they get rejected regularly. For them, not thinking about it is a lot easier. Because rejection is difficult, men often start behaving in ways that can help them avoid it. The resultant behavior might include pulling back from getting down by showing less interest or reducing the quality and frequency of their advances.
Studies also show that men often under-perceive their female partners’ interest in getting down, especially when they are motivated to avoid rejection. Men are more likely to miss sexual cues from their partners if they think they will probably experience rejection. Insecurity, receiving poor feedback at work, or having a bad day are a few of the factors that can lead to such thoughts. As a result, men are less likely to initiate physical affections or even think about it. For men, misjudging their partner’s mood and experiencing rejection yet again is too risky.
It is quite understandable that your partner might not be in the mood to get down now and then. This applies in particular if they feel you are merely looking for a physical release. However, a shift might happen if men vocalize or express that their desire isn’t merely about a release. Men should instead express their desire to feel close to and connect with their partners. They should also talk about wanting to receive validation of their worth and desirability.

Your partner might reject you less often if they know it hurts you more deeply than they thought. They may also try to initiate physical affections a little bit more or become more mindful of how they reject your advances. Instead of a cold shrug, your partner might revert to saying something polite and offering an alternative.

What Would Buddha Do About the Economy?

By Jenara Nerenberg

Clair Brown suggests that the moment may be ripe for Buddhist thought to insert itself into Western economics.

The financial collapse of 2008, coupled with growing income and wealth disparity, has made many Americans question the benefits of a free market economy. Are our current economic policies really the best we can do?
According to Clair Brown, a UC Berkeley economics professor and director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Society, the answer is no. An expert in economic theory and a practicing Buddhist, Brown believes we should consider integrating a Buddhist value system into economics, arguing that if we focused more on relieving suffering, on our interdependence with each other and nature, and on sustainability, our economy would work better for more people. Her thinking is explored in a newly published book, Buddhist Economics.
I talked with Brown about the promise and potential of Buddhist economics, what went wrong in our current economic framework, and how it all connects to individual well-being.
Jenara Nerenberg: How do you define “Buddhist economics”?
Clair BrownClair Brown
Clair Brown: Buddhist economics is based upon three main assumptions: People are interdependent with each other, people are interdependent with nature, and happiness requires helping others and reducing suffering, because the suffering of one person is the suffering of all people.
JN: What prompted you to write a book on this topic?
CB: Students care a lot about inequality and sustainability, but somehow both are discussed outside of economics, as though it’s separate. But that’s not satisfying. Students want something that’s much more integrated and holistic.
Economists have worked a lot on these problems, but once again by the time we’ve worked on a problem and beat it to death, it’s still separate. So we know a lot about inequality and sustainability. We also know all the reasons that free markets don’t work and that the assumptions don’t hold. But it’s very hard to find a way to integrate it all.
So for me, as a practicing Tibetan Buddhist, I thought, “How would the Buddha teach introductory economics? How would he bring it all together?” And my students loved it and really helped push my thinking along.
JN: What is some of the most compelling research you came across when working on the book?
CB: I started off with Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner, whose work looks at how people are living to evaluate their quality of life. When Amartya Sen read my book, he thanked me for pushing along what he’d been doing, especially because sustainability wasn’t a big part of his work at the time. Ecological economics is the reason why I say humans are interdependent with nature. Our well-being is interdependent. And in looking at human suffering, I turned to the United Nations—they were working on sustainable development and basic needs, relieving suffering of extreme starvation and extreme poverty.
Then there’s the fascinating topic of how economists disagree over what is human nature. The competitive market model assumes we are selfish, as Adam Smith shows. But new research shows just how altruistic people actually are and so economists finally have proof and can no longer say that humans are just selfish. And that was a big breakthrough. Of course only economists need such proof!
JN: How has economics contributed to our current political climate and what can be done about it?
CB: You know, a lot of economists who studied inequality predicted that the enormous rise in inequality would eventually lead to social unrest. We’ve had a rise in inequality since the ‘70s and it’s gotten worse and worse. It’s well-documented. So we see how bad the inequality is—not just in income, but in wealth.
I look at the people in the cities that have been devastated in the Rust Belt of the South, and I have enormous empathy for them because they have suffered. They don’t have jobs and don’t have the ability to feel good about taking care of themselves and their families. And they’re suffering enormously, because their way of life as they’ve known it—their religion and community life—sort of died for them, and it was a large part of our inequality. So the sad thing is that they—without having enough background in history, politics, and economics—were taken in by someone like Trump who blamed current conditions on trade and immigrants, which economists know is incorrect.
Integrating sustainability into relieving suffering fits really well. Once we’re ready to let go of the idea that people are only selfish, and once we’re willing to assume interdependence among people and nature, then everything works. It all comes together and it’s also compatible with what neuroscientists are finding about people’s well-being and the way minds work.
JN: Which neuroscience research has caught your attention?
CB: Research shows that when people are shown images of people helping others, the happiness centers in their brain light up. And when the images show people behaving selfish and mean, then their brain activity moves away from it. Once again we are verifying that people are actually naturally generous and kind and that somehow society comes and puts a cloud over our Buddha nature of loving-kindness. Society tells you to go make a deal, a lot of money, be competitive, gain power…but that’s not how you become happy. But if society tells you that’s how you become happy, then we’re in a dilemma. And that’s causing us pain.
JN: Do you have other thoughts on economics and well-being?
CB: You know, the relationship between the individual and the larger economic structure is really important. What we say in Buddhist Economics is that individuals should do the best they can—live mindfully, take care of people, have a low carbon footprint, and so forth. But the other thing that they absolutely have to do is get up, go out, and when there’s an injustice being done—as today there is with immigration and the United States withdrawing from the Paris agreements—they have to go out and protest that.
We must stop injustice against people and we must stop harm to the earth. We can’t just sit at home and feel good about how nice our life is, because we live in the greater world. And right now we absolutely have to go out and push our government to behave in a way that protects people and doesn’t harm them and protects earth and doesn’t harm it.

Inspirational Quote – February 24, 2017

“Everything that you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for.”

Let’s say we put our wish out there to the Universe or Greater Power and believe it has been received and understood and that a process has begun in making it a reality for us. I believe that, perhaps in order for us to truly appreciate and value the end result, we may have lessons to learn beforehand. Now these lessons may not be easy for us and we may struggle to understand or comprehend what they could possibly teach us, but we need to trust that they are for our own good and will ensure that, when our wish is realized, we are in the right place mentally, physically and spiritually to truly appreciate it.

A Champion for Every Foster Child

"Research into foster children shows a clear correlation between their educational struggles and their chaotic home life - and how this gravely affects their future. Enter FosterEd. It is the brainchild of Jesse Hahnel, an attorney at the National Center for Youth Law, who believes that if foster children had someone advocating for their education, at least some of those dire statistics might be alleviated. At the heart of his program is a fairly straightforward idea: Provide every foster child with someone who cares deeply about his or her education."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Inspirational Quote – February 23, 2017

“I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday.”

Sometimes our dreams and aspirations seem so distant that we may feel we will never see them realized. However, at least we have a purpose in having something to aim for which, let’s face it, is better than having nothing to look forward to achieving in the future. Even if it feels as though we’ll never get there and perhaps wonder if it’s worth it, remember time never stands still so every single second, minute, hour and day that passes gets us just that bit closer to where we want to be. Never give up and remember the saying “All good things come to those who wait.”


For the Traveller: By John O'Donohue

We think we travel to find adventure and a change of scenery, but there are other tiny gems that come to us along the way of the road that are not from travel brochures. It is "the compass of our soul" that is the secret guide for finding our way in this world. When we are lost in faraway lands, or "in that part of the heart that lies low at home," there is a silence within that can show us how to find our way. Awaiting us on our next journey is "a crystal of insight, you could not have known you needed." In this poem, John O'Donohue invites us to listen, taste, feel and see all that comes to us as we travel the world beyond our front door. What talisman to guide your life will you find on your next journey?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reasons You're Not Hungry

Loss of Appetite

Hunger is your body’s signal that it needs fuel. Your brain and gut work together to give you that feeling. So if you don’t feel like eating, a number of things could cause that dip in appetite, including certain medications, emotions, and health issues.


When you get stressed, your body reacts as if it’s in danger. Your brain releases chemicals, including adrenaline, that make your heart beat faster and slow your digestion. That can curb your appetite. This is called the fight-or-flight response, and it lasts only a short time. If you're stressed over a long period, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, and it makes you hungrier, especially for high-calorie foods.


Many medicines can have appetite loss as a side effect. Some of the most common ones include antibiotics, antifungals, and muscle relaxants. Drugs that treat depression, migraines, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Parkinson’s disease can also affect your hunger. If you haven't been eating, check with your doctor to see if any of the medications you take could be causing the problem.

Cold or Flu

When you’re sick, your immune system kicks into high gear. It releases chemicals called cytokines that can make you tired and not eager to eat. It’s your body’s way of telling you to rest so it can get the energy it needs to fight what’s making you ill. But eating a little something can give your immune system a boost. Try a bowl of chicken soup: Research shows that it helps with inflammation, and that can make you feel better.


You’re supposed to be eating for two but don’t feel like chowing down? That’s because many moms-to-be battle nausea, especially during the first trimester. Although it’s called morning sickness, it can strike any time of day. Easy-to-digest foods, like crackers or dry toast, can calm the queasiness. Also, try to eat small meals or snacks often -- an empty stomach can make things worse.


Your thyroid hormones control how your body turns food into energy. When that gland doesn’t make enough of those, your body functions slow down. The result: You use less energy and your hunger dips. But because you’re not burning as many calories, you may actually gain weight. Your doctor can test for the condition and, if that's the problem, give you thyroid hormone to speed things up again.


A pounding head alone can be enough to make you lose your appetite. But a migraine also can cause nausea and vomiting. And you may not feel like eating even after it goes away. A dip in hunger is common in the day or two after a migraine. Medications can help prevent them or treat them when you have them.


This condition happens when your body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells. Their job is to carry oxygen throughout your body. If you don’t have enough of them, you may feel tired and weak, and have little appetite. If you have symptoms, which also include chest pain and headaches, your doctor can give you a blood test to see if you’re anemic. If you are, she may recommend iron or vitamin B12 supplements.


A lack of appetite is a common side effect of cancer. The disease and its treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy, might also cause nausea, pain, or dehydration. They can even change the way foods taste or smell. Talk to your doctor if you have a hard time eating enough at mealtime. You may need to have 6 to 8 smaller meals a day.


Up to 30% of older people have less of an appetite than they used to. It can happen for a number of reasons. As you age, your digestion slows, so you tend to feel fuller for longer. Your sense of smell, taste, or vision may also get weaker. This can make food less appealing. Hormonal changes, a chronic illness, and medications can also curb your hunger. Talk to your doctor -- she can help you figure out what’s going on.


If your diabetes isn’t managed well, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves in your body. One of them may be the vagus nerve, which controls your stomach muscles. When this nerve doesn’t work the way it should, food doesn’t move through your gastrointestinal tract as quickly. Called gastroparesis, this condition causes a loss of appetite and bloating. It’s treated with changes to your diet, medication, or surgery.

Stomach Bug

If you have nausea, diarrhea, and cramps, you may have a stomach bug, or gastroenteritis. That’s when a virus, bacteria, or parasite infects your stomach and intestines. Chances are, the last thing you feel like doing is eating. Once the nausea goes away, start with bland foods, like bananas, rice, or toast. And drink plenty of fluids to make sure you stay hydrated.

Stomach Disorders

When eating leads to nausea, diarrhea, bloating, or stomach pain, your appetite can nosedive. This often happens with stomach disorders. One of the most common is irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic condition of your large intestine. Colitis and Crohn’s disease are more serious illnesses that trigger some of the same symptoms. If you’re having these kinds of problems, see your doctor.


For some people, this can lead to cravings and weight gain. For others, it can have the opposite effect. Depression triggers your brain to release more of a hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). It can make you less hungry. With severe depression, you may lose interest in cooking and eating. If your change in appetite comes with a change in mood, talk with your doctor about it.


A mild form of traumatic brain injury, this can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea. In some cases, you may lose some of your sense of smell. That can make food less appealing. If you think you have a concussion, see your doctor. He can find out for sure. If it's not serious, he may tell you things to do to help you feel better faster, like get plenty of rest.