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Being open with your feelings

Being open with your feelings

There are some people that have no trouble sharing their feelings. They are devoid of the fear and anxiety that most of us feel about sharing something personal or potentially controversial. Down deep, you’re jealous of these people. Openness provides a level of freedom that eludes those that are more private. It’s important to be able to share your feelings and concerns openly.

Your concerns can’t be addressed if you’re unwilling to share them. You have to face your challenges alone if you keep them to yourself.

Share your feelings and enjoy the resulting freedom it provides:

1. Be more accepting of others. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re afraid to share your feelings, you may be judgmental of others. Naturally, you would expect others to judge you, too. It’s impossible to accurately judge others. There’s always more going on than you realize. Be accepting of others and you’ll expect others to be accepting of you.

2. Start small. Share something small, but relevant. Once you see that you can share your feelings without negative repercussions, you’ll be more likely to share them again.

3. Determine the source of your fear. You may fear judging, rejection, ridicule, or embarrassment. Perhaps attacking that fear is the first logical step to lessening your anxiety around sharing and openness.

4. Be brave. There’s no way to be 100% comfortable about sharing your feelings until you’ve done it several times. There’s a certain amount of courage required at the beginning. Be brave enough to share your feelings. It becomes easier over time.

5. Encourage others to share their feelings with you. You might feel more comfortable if your conversation partner goes first.

6. Stay in the present moment. You generate feelings of fear by worrying about the possible outcomes. Stay in the moment, and your fear will dissipate. Avoid imagining the worst possible outcome.

7. Calibrate the other person. Others are often careless when they believe something doesn’t matter. You’ll find that others are more empathetic and understanding if you let them know that something is important to you. It can be as simple as, “I want to tell you about something that’s important to me.” Put others in the proper state of mind before you share.

8. Be honest. The willingness to make yourself vulnerable will enhance your results. If you’re sharing something that displeases you about the other person, it’s important to empathize first. Sharing your feelings requires consideration of the other person’s feelings, too.

9. Take a deep breath and just do it. The anticipation is usually worse than the actual event. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. You can do it. Focus on how much better you’ll feel afterwards.

Change isn’t easy. Sharing can be scary, but the benefits outweigh the anxiety experienced. In time, you’ll learn to share your feelings and worries more easily. It just takes practice. Focus on the benefits you’ll receive and let the words flow. The other person will appreciate your effort and you’ll find that you get what you want more often.

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Beating the blues… 30 minutes a week!

Beating the blues… 30 minutes a week!

The complications and ups and downs of modern life can leave you feeling stressed and lonely, but the solution is sometimes surprisingly simple. A recent study found that visiting a park for at least 30 minutes a week significantly reduces the risk of depression. Scientists in Australia found further evidence of what researchers have been saying for years. Connecting with nature enhances your physical, mental, and social well being.

If you want to help prevent depression, check out these handy tips. You’ll find ideas for making the most of your local park, and discover other ways to commune with nature.

Benefits of Parks and Other Natural Settings

1. Increase your happiness. Whether it’s a spectacular waterfall or a simple flower bed, we appreciate the beauty and order in our surroundings.

2. Boost your health. Spending time in parks has been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Being outdoors can also help you lose weight and sleep well if it increases your physical activity and exposure to morning light.

3. Socialize more. Parks bring together citizens from different walks of life. Whether you’re people watching or flying a kite, you share a positive experience.

Ideas for Using Your Local Park

1. Work out. Today’s parks often offer much more than jogging trails. Look for circuit training stations, softball fields, and tennis courts. Exercise requires less effort when you’re admiring the scenery.

2. Eat lunch. Squeeze a break into your busy schedule by eating lunch outdoors. Packing a bag lunch usually cuts costs and calories compared to most restaurants.

3. Attend events. Check the calendar on your park’s website. You may find free concerts, movies, and family events.

4. Pause to think. Find a comfortable place to sit and breathe.

5. Clean up. Now that you realize how much your park does for you, you may want to give something back. Join volunteer programs that pick up garbage, plant trees, or conduct tours for school children.

More Tips for Enjoying Nature

1. Take a walk. What can you do if there’s no park nearby? Stroll around the neighborhood or a local college campus.

2. Plan your vacation. Go camping or incorporate outdoor activities into any vacation. You can rent bikes or kayaks. Breakfast on the beach or go horseback riding in the mountains.

3. Tend your garden. Growing your own food and flowers is a great way to increase your gratitude for the earth. Plant tomatoes in your back yard or share a community plot.

4. Go for a dip. While green spaces provide impressive benefits, blue spaces may be even more powerful. Spend some time near water. Install a fountain in your back yard or ask a hotel if you can purchase a pool membership. Some facilities offer discounts for local residents.

5. Bring your pet. Observing wild animals is entertaining and educational as long as you take reasonable safety precautions. If you want to interact more closely, walk your dog or play Frisbee together.

6. Gaze at stars. Learn about science the fun way while you stimulate your sense of wonder. Shop for a basic telescope or check the calendar for public programs at community observatories.

7. Redecorate your home. For rainy days, invite the outdoors in. Arrange your furniture so you sit by a window with a view. Set out fresh flowers or pretty seashells.

Talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression that interfere with your daily life. Otherwise, increasing your exposure to green and blue spaces may be all you need to lift your spirits and stay fit.

 

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Stop and reflect before you quit!

Stop and reflect before you quit!

There are times when we feel we have just had enough. Whether it’s a bad job, a family crisis, or a horrible diet, there are times we all consider quitting. Quitting isn’t always a bad choice. We’ve been taught to believe that quitting is synonymous with failure, but some activities or relationships aren’t worth continuing. It’s important to arrive at a decision to quit or continue consciously, rather than making a reflective decision.

Avoid quitting prematurely:

1. Hit the pause button. Most poor decisions could be avoided by taking a short pause. When you’re stressed, overworked, overtired, and fed-up, rash decisions become the norm. Give yourself the time you need to make a wise decision. Allow your head to clear before you make a decision that changes your life. Most decisions can wait.

2. View the situation objectively. Try to be objective and weigh the situation carefully. Enlist the help of a friend if necessary. It can be easier to evaluate someone else’s situation accurately than your own.

3. Consider the worst-case scenario. Think long-term. Quitting is an easy choice when you only consider the short-term ramifications. You can relieve your stress almost immediately! However, what are the long-term consequences? If you quit your job, what will happen if you can’t find another one?

  • Reconsider quitting if the long-term consequences are too severe. A little relief now isn’t worth long-term pain.
  • Who will be impacted by your quitting? Your boss? Coworkers? Family? The members of your church softball team? Who is affected?
  • What message are you sending to your children? What would you recommend to a child in a similar circumstance? Your children are always watching. Be sure to set a good example.

4. Ask yourself if a new approach is warranted. Maybe you shouldn’t quit. Maybe you need a new plan. Not getting the results you desire isn’t necessarily a sign that you should call it quits. Poor results indicate an ineffective process. Perhaps all you need is a tweak to your approach. Major accomplishments are accompanied by numerous failed attempts.

5. Ask yourself why you’re considering quitting. Is it because you don’t believe you can be successful? You don’t have the resources you require? Do you not enjoy the job, activity, or relationship in question? Are you lacking the necessary time?

  • Some reasons for quitting are better than others. Quitting a second job you don’t need so you can spend more time with your children is a good reason to quit. Ending your marriage because your spouse won’t pick up his dirty socks might be a bit extreme.
  • Is there another solution besides quitting?

6. Consider the times you’ve given up in the past. How do you feel about those events today? Was quitting a good idea or do you regret it? How are you likely to feel in the future about quitting in your current situation?

7. Sometimes it’s necessary to lower your head and keep going. There are times when quitting is the best choice. However, when it’s not the best choice, it’s necessary to be strong and keep going. Stick with that horrible job until you have something else lined up. Give counseling a try before quitting on another relationship.

  • If your default coping mechanism is quitting, you’ll never accomplish anything.

Take a moment before making a hasty decision. Quitting isn’t to be taken lightly. Before making the decision to quit, consider the consequences, consult with a trusted friend, and consider your history. In some instances, quitting is final. Avoid creating long-term challenges to alleviate stress in the short-term. Give yourself the time you require to make a wise decision.

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Finding Calm in the Storm

Finding Calm in the Storm

Finding inner peace in the modern world is a significant challenge especially after experiencing loss and grief. Everything about modern society feels like an obstacle to experiencing peace of mind. But there are ways to find and maintain inner peace. Inner peace is a choice, and many of your habits determine how much peace you experience in your daily life.

Experience these 9 calming strategies that help find inner peace and enjoy life on a deeper, more satisfying level:

1. Focus your attention on those things you can control. Why worry about those things you can’t control? It sours your mood and makes you less capable. Literally ask yourself, “Is this something I can control? Will worrying be beneficial in any way?”

2. Spend time in nature. The original humans didn’t live in a 3-bedroom ranch and eat microwave popcorn. Take a long walk in the park or spend a weekend camping. You’ll feel dramatically different compared to sitting in a building 24 hours every day. There’s something peaceful about spending time among the birds and the trees.

3. Be true to yourself. Few things are more disconcerting than living a life you weren’t meant to live. It continuously gnaws away at you. Live a life that’s congruent with your values. It’s too easy to allow society dictate your choices. You don’t have to spend your life on a career that’s impressive to others. You don’t have to chase after a fancy house. Make your own decisions about what’s most important to you.

4. Eat nutritiously.You might not realize how bad you feel because you’re so used to it. Try eating the way you know you should for just a week. Note the change in how you feel. Now try eating some junk food and see what happens to your mood and your overall sense of well-being. You’ll feel like you’ve been run over by truck.

5. Exercise regularly. Have you ever noticed how great you feel as you’re walking out of the gym? Exercise feels good, and you feel good about yourself for doing it.

6. Do something nice for someone else. This is a great way to take your focus off of yourself. You become more aware that others are struggling, too. When you are kind, you receive kindness in return. You’ll also feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when you help someone else.

7. Be assertive. Be open and forward with your needs and desires. You’re not only more likely to get what you want, but you’ll also feel more in control of your life. Being passive results in having less control, which runs counter to inner peace. Be bold without being aggressive.

8. Meditate. Meditation is calming. It also helps to see life and its challenges more accurately. Things are often better than they seem. Meditation can prevent your mind from making a situation seem worse than it really is.

9. Avoid trying to change others. You’ll have as much success trying to change the weather. It’s hard enough to change yourself. How will you ever manage to change someone else?

It’s important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Eat properly, exercise, and be true to yourself. Be assertive and take control of your life. All the accomplishments in the world can’t replace inner peace. Avoid chasing after those things that society has determined to be important. Decide for yourself and live the life you were meant to live.

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Feeling Lighter with Forgiveness

Feeling Lighter with Forgiveness

As a caregiver, you can find yourself in situations where you feel judged, belittled, left out, or not appreciated. If someone hasn’t walked in your shoes, words can be said that can be hurtful and misunderstood. You can forgive others in these tough and uncomfortable situations without feeling like a doormat. If you stop waiting for an apology, it is easier to move forward. The advantages of forgiveness are the same whether the other person apologizes or not. Think of pardoning others as something you do for yourself rather than for them. Below are some suggestions:

1.Lighten up. Grudges are a heavy burden. When you release your anger and disappointment, you’ll free up energy you can devote to the things you love.

2. Show compassion. Each of us makes mistakes. When you give someone a second chance, remember that you’ll probably need one yourself someday.

3. Strengthen your relationships. Family and friends are precious. Develop connections that can withstand conflicts. Resolving your disagreements can even draw you closer together when you cooperate on finding solutions.

4. Take control. You’re in charge of your own happiness. Start feeling content right now instead of checking your phone to see if your boyfriend apologized yet.

5. Promote healing. Most of all, a loving and forgiving heart is good for your mental and physical health. You might even live longer.

Sometimes you want to forgive, but resentments still linger. These steps will help you overcome the barriers to reconciliation.

1. Wish others well. Imagine yourself celebrating the good fortune of someone who offended you. Force yourself to speak kindly to them, and you’ll eventually start to cherish them for real.

2. Hold yourself accountable. In most cases, you probably played some part in the conflict. Acknowledge your actions and figure out how to make positive changes.

3. Put yourself in their shoes. When someone fails to apologize, it usually has more to do with them than with you. They may feel ashamed or vulnerable. When you think about their pain, you may feel like you have more in common.

4. Resist all-or-nothing thinking. Distinguish between the human being and their actions. If your boss criticizes you unfairly, list the things you still like about her.

5. Write it down. Venting your feelings in a diary or an imaginary letter helps to sort things out. You can express yourself freely without worrying about widening the divide.

6. Reach out. If someone close to you has trouble apologizing, you may need to make an extra effort. Let them see how you apologize and take responsibility for your actions so they can discover more options

7. Set boundaries. On the other hand, you may decide to limit contact if the relationship is dragging you down. You can still have affection and respect for someone you may need to keep at a distance at least temporarily

8. Cultivate your peace of mind. The more secure you feel, the easier it is to focus on helping others rather than judging them. You’ll understand that your future depends on your choices rather than real or imagined insults.

Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past and free yourself from anger and resentment. It’s a decision you can make on your own regardless of whether others apologize or show little remorse. You have nothing to be sorry about when you give yourself the happiness you deserve.

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Mindfulness… for Balance!

Mindfulness… for Balance!

Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, has become extremely popular over the last few years. While meditation can be very simple, there are several common mistakes and misconceptions about meditation that you’ll want to avoid if you’re new to the practice. Getting started on the right foot increases the odds of maintaining your meditation practice and getting the most benefits from it.

Use these 16 practical tips to avoid meditation pitfalls:

1. Sit up straight. Slouching may be comfortable for a couple of minutes, but it takes more strength than you think to support poor posture. Sit up straight and let your skeleton support your weight.

2. Start slowly. Just a couple of minutes is enough to start. There are two good reasons for this. It’s easier to be compliant when you only have to sit for three minutes at a time. It’s also challenging to meditate for an extended period of time if you’re not experienced

3. Meditate multiple times each day. By sitting for just a couple of minutes, you should have time to sit for multiple sessions. You might want to try meditating for a few minutes each hour.

4. It’s all about the breath. Your breath connects you to the moment and helps to keep your mind focused. The breath isn’t something to be focused on intensely, rather it acts as an anchor to maintain awareness of the present.

5. Count if necessary. If you’re struggling to maintain awareness of your breath, count your breaths. Count each inhalation until you’ve reached five and then start over.

6. Keep your eyes opened slightly. It’s easier for your mind to wander from the present if your eyes are closed. Keep your gaze lowered and soft.

7. Acknowledge thoughts but avoid dwelling on them. All thoughts should be treated the same. They’re just phenomena passing through. Let them go and return your attention to the breath.

8. Be patient. It seems like it should be easy to concentrate for a few minutes, but the mind likes to stay busy. It’s a challenging habit to break. Be patient.

9. Sit comfortably. It’s not necessary to sit with your legs folded up like a pretzel. Any position that can be held comfortably for the planned time is good enough.

10. Use a timer. Without a timer, you’ll find yourself worrying about the time and continue to peek at the clock. Set a reliable timer and you won’t be as preoccupied with the time.

11. Increase your meditation time by 5 minutes each week. Avoid the temptation to progress too quickly. Ideally, you’ll look forward to your meditation sessions. Progressing too quickly causes restlessness and agitation.

12. Consider getting expert assistance. There are many free opportunities to meditate with others. Look for local meetups or contact your local Buddhist temple. With so many people meditating, you’re bound to find an expert willing to help.

13. Take every opportunity to meditate. Meditating at home under perfect conditions is great practice, but the ultimate goal is to have the ability to meditate anywhere. A skilled meditator can meditate on a 99-degree packed, loud, smelly, subway.

14. Be persistent. If you’re meditating each day with the full intention of improving, you’ll eventually become a skilled meditator.

15. Stretch first. Your meditation position should be comfortable and easy. If your position feels like a stretch, you won’t be comfortable. Stretch first.

16. There’s no reason to be concerned about your hands. Just place your hands comfortably on your lap. Allowing your hands to be lower can eventually pull down on the shoulders and become uncomfortable.

Meditation can bring you both mental and physical benefits. Use these tips when beginning to meditate and you’ll quickly become skillful at a practice you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

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