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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Happiness Tips Come Your Way

Tonight we will look at some common things in our world that affect our happiness quotient, and correlate some interesting studies that might have you look at these things, just a little differently.

You brought us some new studies tonight related to happiness. What are they discovering?
• We’ve talked about how laughter can make us heart healthy by opening blood vessels to allow blood to circulate easier, but now a Maryland study says music can have the same effect.
• Music may be one of our best de-stressors whether you are listening to the music or playing it
• Blood vessels open when people hear music they like, and they actually begin to close when they hear music they don’t particularly like which is EXACTLY what happens with stress or tension (blood vessels stiffen and become rigid constricting blood flow--- hardening of the arteries)
• Hospitals like Mayo Clinic are using music as part of its cardiovascular healing program—so listen to some music and open your heart

You found another interesting study related to something really unusual… gum! Will you explain?
• Some of our viewers may be familiar with past studies by the American Dental Association that states chewing gum following meals can help with tooth decay and it has been shown to lower acid reflex episodes
• Perhaps you know that chewing gum helps lower food cravings and calms our appetite. And that’s an easy way to cut our consumption
• A new study at Baylor College of Medicine showed that chomping on a stick of sugar free gum can increase standardized test scores. Students who chewed gum during finals had better scores than those who didn’t—that gives an academic edge to gum-chewers!
• Gum chewers require fewer breaks, paid better attention and stayed quieter longer

Sounds like you and I should go out and buy some gum and listen to our ipods a little more each day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What makes us happiest?

A February study focused on happiness as it relates to what gives us greater happiness- new possessions or experiences. What won out?
• People may like those new toys but research indicated that in the long run experiences make people happier than acquiring new possessions
• They discovered that the joy of the acquired possession such as a new car or computer fades over time where experiences seem to last longer on the happiness scale

Most of us think that getting new things, especially in this recession would make us happy, but what were some of the reasons for this surprise finding?

• Experiences tend to somehow get us more connected with people. We do the experience with others, or share pictures or talk about our experiences more than our possessions.
• People feel greater vitality and “aliveness” when they have experiences that add to their life, versus possessions
• Happiness from a new thing lasts 8-12 weeks, but experiences create memories that can last for a lifetime.
• Most people say they wouldn’t trade anything in the world after experiencing a great adventure

We’ve discussed the fact that the quality of our friendships enhances our happiness levels, but how can we make our selves more likeable to increase our potential for happiness?
• Smile more. No surprise, studies show that the more you smile during a conversation, the more you are perceived as happy. If you smile more, others mimic that behavior
• Have an open, friendly disposition. Lean in towards people, touch others, turn your body towards theirs, and nod and say yes as they speak. This means focusing on the other person, versus checking your emails or twitter account while you are talking to someone.
• Laugh at yourself. Showing vulnerability and humor makes you more approachable and likeable. That doesn’t mean putting yourself down—it means just keeping it light. Remember laughter is contagious.
• Show you like the other person. We want to get closer to those who act like they like us—it’s no surprise. Look for ways to show that you enjoy spending time with the other person…. It will pay off in raising your happiness quotient as well as theirs

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It is launched!

Check out our brand new website with instant links to twitter & WEEK, and a focus on our new therapy staff, wellness consultants, and more :-)

Check out

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

School's Out...Surviving Summer :-)

Some parents believe that June, July, and August are the longest months of the year. Kids are bored after just three days of freedom from school… teens want to be out doing something each and every night… and constantly someone is in the kitchen complaining there is nothing to do around here. So how can parents survive the hot, lazy days of summer and still maintain their sanity?

Here are some hints to keep your mental health intact:
1. Try to create some daily structure in your children's lives. Make a specific time for chores, television viewing, computer usage, and activities with friends. Sometimes it is helpful to have a family meeting and create a formal schedule for summer activities
2. Establish a time each day for reading. Join a summer reading program through the library, or set up a reward system for books read during the summer months. Each of us needs to keep our brain well exercised and skills quickly diminish when we don't keep our mind active.
3. Set a specific time each day to talk to your kids. Establish a consistent routine for discussion of the day's activities and plans for the following day. Use this time to explore feelings, and perhaps ask your child what was the “best part of their day.” Many parents have found it useful to ask their children what new thing they learned today in an effort to facilitate introspective thought.
4. Plan fun activities on a regular basis. Try summer camp, a weekly trip to the library or museum, or one of the unique summer programs that are available through Lakeview or the Park District.
5. If you have a teenager, check out classes that can be transferred as college credit. Look into volunteer opportunities, or a part time job. Some community agencies are looking for teens willing to help other teens. Call the Mental Health Association and ask about volunteering for the Teen Crisis Line, or call one of the local hospitals about volunteer opportunities.
6. Put together a list of fun activities that can be shared as family nights. Activities could include movies, miniature golf, baseball games, indoor football, concerts, the zoo, or riverfront activities.

Any other tips for parents and ways to "survive the summer?"

~Don't forget to make time for yourself. Make time for taking a walk on the Rock Island Trail, read a book, take a summer class, or just relax in your back yard.
~ Make plans to “have a date” with your significant other. Make sure you don't lose connection with your partner during the hectic summer months.
~Make time to be with your friends
~Remember if you are not taking care of yourself, it is impossible to care for anyone else!