Tag Archives: exercise

Taking care of your body is spiritual work

It is a real tragedy that Christian religion has taught us for generations that it is better to live outside the body than within. Eastern religion has taken a different route with the body arts of yoga and tai chi deeply embedded in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Early mankind did not see the soul as separate from the body. Nature was part of the “oneness” – that feeling of being intertwined within the matrix of the universe.

As within so without. How we treat ourselves is how we treat our environment. We need to rediscover our body as a temple and an instrument harboring the soul that needs to be nurtured and loved like a good friend.

Our lifestyle choices in what we eat, how we exercise and how we deal with our stress level determines how healthy we are and who we are.

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Now there are some folks out there who might argue that health is like a deck of cards: You have a bad hand or a good hand. The truth is that we do have control. Only a small percentage of people in fact have bad health that can be attributed to accidents or  hereditary factors.

Health is a choice we control. We do have a choice when it comes to eating healthy or processed foods. We can control our recuperation by getting enough sleep and reduce our stress levels. Exercise has an enormous beneficial effect on the body metabolism, immune system and our mood.

Body work is spiritual work because our body gives us a signal in many ways whether we are on track or not.  The Chinese teaching of the five elements is a real eye opener when it comes to typical health issues:

  • Digestive problems for example could mean an issue with letting go of old things.
  • Fear could manifest itself in kidney and bladder problems
  • Liver and gall bladder, anger and frustration
  • Heart, unresolved emotional issues
  • Lung, setting boundaries or crossing the boundaries of others.

We are imperfect beings. Life is an ongoing learning process. But its quite possible to live a long and healthy life when we become more aware and mindful of our physical and spiritual needs.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

http://www.reinogevers.com

    

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Feeling stressed out?

Mankind is living in its best era yet, experiencing better health, peace and higher standard of living than all generations before. So why do so many people suffer from stress and chronic fatigue?  Has the “comfortable” life made us less resilient? Other generations experienced war, famine, disease and all sorts of challenges that we do not have to deal with.

Businessman pushing hard against falling deck of domino tilesMy take on this is that stress is not really the problem but that a host of factors come into play, especially the lack of recuperation in today’s fast track world. Here are some tips to make you more resilient in riding the storm during those tough times. We cannot avoid stress. It is part of life, but we can learn to deal with stressful situations differently.

 

  • Body movement: When you are under stress your body is flooded with a stress hormone called cortisol. The more cortisol in your system, the more your adrenal glands on the kidneys become fatigued. Try body arts that relax you both mentally and physically and bring your entire body metabolism into balance. Yoga, taiji, qi gong, pilates and meditation are ancient proven methods that work. But even a gentle walk in nature and jogging at a gentle pace will help bring down your stress level.
  • Eating good foods:  Too much sugar and salts in processed foods is wreaking havoc in your body. White sugars rob the body of phosphates which are vitally important in almost every intra-cellular reaction. Too much salt interferes with the natural absorption of water in the body, causing constipation, accumulation of toxins and higher blood pressure. You can’t go wrong with a good mixture of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit. The supplement spirulina is loaded with beta carotene, iron, magnesium and other trace materials which your body really needs during times of stress.
  • Healing rituals: When everything around us appears to be in disarray or collapse a ritual can restore balance and sense of belonging and connection. It could be a religious prayer, the lighting of a candle, a meditation or any other regularly performed daily action at a certain time or place of the day. Rituals have been part of human life and social interaction since the dawn of mankind but we seem to have forgotten the significance of them in the rat-race of modern times.
  • Friends and family: A typical symptom of burnout caused by stress is the withdrawal from social interaction. We are social animals and need to talk and interact with our fellow human beings, who give us important feedback, empathy, sense of meaning and comfort. Sharing and volunteering your help for a non-profit organisation, church, neighborhood initiative or any other group that serves a higher purpose often brings you “back to earth”.

If you can learn to ride the storm, change can positively enrich your life in many ways. The challenge lies in dealing with those defining moments of transition from a position of strength and power. During tough times we more than ever need time for recuperation, a time out and activities or hobbies that take the mind away from obsessive worry.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

Awakening the Fire Within – key principles of health and success. Enrolling now will give you a 25 per cent discount.

NEW RELEASE: “Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Filed under body arts, cortisol, cortisol effects, exercise mental health, happiness research, longevity, meditation, personal choice and happiness

Why you need to take a break

IMG_1197With work pressure increasing in practically all sectors its not uncommen for people to remain stuck at their desk for hours and taking their “lunch” while tapping away at the computer or taking a call. On the long term this is wreaking havoc on concentration levels, health and productivity.

Under stress your sympathetic nervous system is on alert flooding your body with stress hormones that accelerate your heart beat, increase your blood pressure, dilate your pupils and inhibit other body functions like your digestion. At some stage however the calming side of your body, the parasympathetic nervous system, will want to reduce the arousal system, bringing everything back into balance and tiredness creeping in. Its a natural body reaction that you can’t control.

We need a good balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system – between the arousal and recuperation phases.

Research has indicated that most concentration levels start sinking rapidly after about 50 minutes of uninterrupted work on a computer. At the latest after 70 minutes your parasympathetic nervous system will start taking over. This is the time to take a short 5-10 minute break. And a break is only really a break if you interrupt your work and do something completely different, like opening a window, taking a deep breath, looking at the bird in the tree across the road or chatting to a colleague.

If you have an office job you will have spent some 80,000 hours of your lifetime in a sitting position until you reach retirement age. This is an enormous strain on your back, neck, skeletal and body alignment system. Interrupting your work for 15-20 minutes a day to do some active stretching movements, will work wonders for your health, your mood and your concentration and work ability.

Pushing your break of say half an hour until the end of the work day practically has no recuperation effect. Regular shorter breaks after every hour are far more effective. Taking a power nap of between 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon works very well for some people. It should however not be longer as you then fall into the deep-sleep mode and will wake up more fatigued.

If you have had days, weeks or months of high stress, your body will very likely have high cortisol levels. It means vital organs in your body are being undernourished because your body is in a “fight or flight” mode. You need recuperation, a time out, to bring those stress hormones back to normal. Best you choose a place where you can lock away your cell phone and focus your mind on anything else but work. Check out also our outdoor coaching programmes.

Reino Gevers, coach, trainer, author

PowerBodyMind – Gevers Consulting

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

 

 

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Filed under blood pressure, corporate health, cortisol, exercise mental health, healing nature, lifestyle management, meditation, outdoor coaching, psychology, stress hormones, Uncategorized, work environment

Employee vitality – the human factor

Happiness and joy. Young happy female

Its a common fallacy that technology alone and the cost factor are key ingredients on the global corporate playing field. Yet when looking at highly successful companies its the vitality and positive-mindset of its people who have that slight but crucial edge.

These are the corporates with a high stress resilience in rough times, open to innovation and change and who go into positive resonance with clients.

The mindset of key players in a company is crucial. This means having a permanent learning culture of self-development, reflection and positive feedback. Investment in the well-being of employees makes itself paid on all levels.

As the lines between work, family and leisure time become increasingly blurred in the digital world of today, it is all the more necessary to keep in mind essential human needs. We are social animals who feel a great need to interconnect positively with those immediately around us. It gives us a feeling of safety and security because humans have depended on each other for survival since the earliest of times.

Old style management that leads with fear and intimidation creates an environment that stifles all form of healthy human communication, inevitably stirring basic human survival instincts that lead to mobbing, burnout and other psychological fallouts. On the long-run companies that rule by fear are doomed.

A healthy work environment has room for recuperation phases and encourages them. There needs to be a healthy cycle between intensive work sessions, times of stress and rest periods. Its old school thinking not to include private issues at the work place. Immediate colleagues are often the first support network we fall back on when we have tough times at home. So how do you create a healthy corporate culture?

  • Its a long-term learning process. Supervisors and managers need  to keep their ears close to the ground in addressing the needs of their employees. Listening is one of the most important yet least found ingredients among leaders.
  • Self-development, team training and investment in soft-skills training is a crucial element.
  • Self-responsibility on personal health, nutrition, recuperation and lifestyle management can be actively nurtured in a learning environment.
  • Creating a culture of mindfulness and attentiveness is a high ideal but can be learned and creates a highly positive resonance with clients. We are after all dealing with humans.

We spend most of our lives at the workplace and it is sad to see that so little effort is being made in investing in the “human factor”. Do we live to work or work to live?  To quote Studs Terkel:

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Are you into conspiracy theory?

A broad cross-section of people I have come across lately believe in conspiracy theories.  The argument mostly goes like this:  The world is being ruled by a small group of people who decide and control most of the things that happen in the world today from political decision-making to technological invention.

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Conspiracy theorists seem to have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.  Here is the top 10 list of conspiracy theories compiled by Time magazine:

Some conspiracy theories in history have in fact been proven true, like the Nixon cover-up in the Watergate affair, the Iran-Contra affair and the Libyan involvement in the terror attack on the Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.  One of the most absurd allegations during  South Africa’s apartheid era also turned out to be true many years later.  Research was actually being conducted on a virus that would only kill the blacks.

But there is a need to be a bit more  sceptical when it comes to some of the conspiracy theories out there. The common thread seems to be to find a way to explain in simplistic terms many of the events happening in a world of growing complexity. A lot of people have the tendency to form an opinion and then verifying what they believe with some information on the Internet. On closer scrutiny the article or website turns out to be a badly written diatribe of a single opinion without any valid sourcing or solid evidence

Take the story on the so-called “fake moon landing”. I cannot possibly imagine thousands of people working on such a complex space project over many years and all of them keeping a “fake made in a Disney film studio” a secret for decades. The world is so intricate and complex that the truth in the end always comes out. A cover-up, especially if many people are involved, simply doesn’t work. It is a human tendency to tell their family and friends “a secret.” Someone will always spill the beans.

The issue that needs to be addressed is the gullibility with which every half-truth, speculation and downright wacky theory is being claimed as truth while sound investigative journalism, scientific study or a judicial finding is being ignored or slammed as being part of this conspiracy thing. Part of the problem is that established media is not doing its job and has lost credibility by placing emphasis on superficial entertainment instead of being a watchdog on society and itself blasting some of these theories into the world without verifying the facts.  A growing number of people feel alienated in a fast-changing society and are seeking simple answers.

Conspiracy theories first and foremost feed on fear. Here lies the bigger problem. Fear breeds irrationality and a victim mentality. It is just a short step away from blaming a religious or racial minority, the politicians, the media or anyone else for all that is going wrong in the world.  It’s a “cop out” mentality of refusing to stand up and taking responsibility.

We have the freedom of choice on most things that matter. Health and personal happiness is a choice. It is a  choice of what we eat, how we exercise, what we read, what people, family and friends we want to spend our time with and especially what information we are feeding our minds with.

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Are you getting enough sleep?

An important, often underrated aspect of good health, is getting enough sleep. Your mood and your performance during the day depends a lot on how good your sleep was the previous night.

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The onset of many modern illnesses such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are meanwhile also attributed to lack of sleep. So how much sleep is really enough?

Generally school-aged children require about ten hours of sleep while the average adult requires between 7-8 hours. Going to be early however, doesn’t necessarily mean that your sleep is good.

Insomnia or the inability to fall asleep is especially prevalent among people with highly stressed jobs. Apnea, a momentary suspension of breathing, is also widespread.

These are some of the questions you might ask if you have the feeling that you are not sleeping enough:

– Are you having problems falling asleep?

– How many hours are you actually sleeping?

– How often do you have problems during the day staying awake?

If you are feeling drowsy after a midday lunch you can easily rejuvenate yourself by taking a short ten minute catnap. But in most cases we are expected to burn our candles on both ends, giving our bodies too little time to recuperate. You can improve your sleep by doing the following:

  • Avoiding heavy meals, drinks and stimulants such as coffee in the evenings.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time.
  • Take a catnap during the day to catch up for last sleep
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark with television and computer screens turned off
  • If you wake up worrying about something, write it down on paper and postpone it to the next day.
  • Breathing exercises such as exhaling twice as much as inhaling will help you relax
  • Progressive muscle relaxation is also a method that could be useful

If you are one of those few people who sleep ten hours and more a day, then you might have a problem too. A study by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) in the US links too much sleep with chronic diseases in adults aged 45 years and older.

Published in early October this year, the study involved more than 54,000 participants in 14 states in the US. Both short and long sleepers reported a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and anxiety, compared to optimal sleepers who got seven to nine hours of shut-eye on average.

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7 Simple ways to get your energy levels back up – Part II

Here is the second of my two-part Blog series on the seven simple ways to boost your energy level, increase your lifespan and improve your general outlook on life.

The first three steps I elaborated on in my last blog were:

1. Liberating yourself from sugar addiction

2. Drinking good water

3. Eating less and eating good, seasonal local foods

  1. Moderate exercise

There is a wonder cure out there and it is so glaringly obvious that most people are simply not seeing it. You can significantly improve your health, boost your life-span, reduce your stress level, improve your mood, reduce high blood pressure and improve your bone density by simply getting more exercise.

All the latest medical research pinpoints lack of exercise as one of the major causes of many of our modern-day diseases. Even such psychological illnesses as depression are at least partly linked to lack of exercise.

Only a generation or two ago most of us humans had exercise equivalent to a brisk 20 kilometre run per day. Since the 1950s most jobs have moved from agriculture and heavy labour on the factory floor to sitting in the office.

Our anatomy and our body metabolism are not designed to sit in a chair for eight hours a day. Taking a break does not mean having your lunch in front of the computer and multi-tasking at the same time. Why not take a walk around the block for at least 20 minutes? You will feel much, much better and have more energy to cope with the typical “early afternoon energy sink-hole.”

But when you decide to get more exercise, it would be wise to do it right. Doing heavy workouts in the gym or going for long, exhausting jogging runs with no prior preparation or only periodically, will do you more harm than good. If you have to catch your breath and can hear your heartbeat “bursting from your eardrums” you are overdoing it. Give your body time to adjust, the energies to regulate themselves, before continuing at a more moderate pace.

One of my course participants, who had trouble fitting in an exercise schedule during her busy working day, chose to cycle to work by bicycle, triggering a major shift in her sense of well-being and personal health. You could also choose to climb the stairs rather than taking the elevator. Another way of tricking out the inner monster telling you it is nicer to slump down on the coach than going for a walk, would be to park the car further down the road

  1. Power nappingImage

Some of the most successful people in the world, had a habit of taking a short afternoon nap to rejuvenate. To name a few: Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and John F. Kennedy. Here are some tips on good power napping: http://www.wikihow.com/Power-Nap

Most of us are not getting enough sleep. Research (Read: The science of power naps: http://goo.gl/CDQi0L) indicates that power naps lasting no more than 10-15 minutes can boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning. Naps also improve our mood and feelings of sleepiness and fatigue.

  1. Avoiding vampires

 We all have vampires around us. These are the folk that are so angry and upset with life that they are preoccupied in finding the first person in the vicinity to throw their verbal garbage of negativity at you. You want to be polite and aren’t getting in a word edgewise at this person who is telling you the world has gone mad and is going downhill because all the young people are on drugs and too lazy to work. The government is controlled by a secret organisation manipulating us and isn’t it so terrible what is just happening in Timbuktu. True there are bad things happening in the world. But at the same time a lot of good things are happening at the same time. Why not shift the focus. The art of happiness is in dealing with the normal yin and yang cycle, the ups and downs, the darkness and the light of what is life. We are co-creators of our reality. Reframing and shifting the mindset to a positive spin, immediately opens the gate to a warm flow of energy.

  1. Getting into sync with nature

For the past couple of years, I’ve made it a personal ritual to take at least a two-week time-out in nature on a hike. Luckily my wife has found just as much joy in the activity. Initially you take a few days to get accustomed. The body detoxes, muscles ache and your back is hurting from lugging a backpack all day. But after walking for a couple of days many of the basic senses return. You find your natural rhythm. You smell the fresh mountain air, the grasses and herbs, hear the different bird songs, the rushing waters of a creek and feel the rain and the sun on your skin. For months after the hike, I’ve felt myself surging on a much higher energy level. It need not be a hike. You can get your hands dirty by digging in the garden, planting a tree or flower and reconnecting with the natural forces.

I am convinced there is a universal truth surrounding us from which we have been disconnected by living in concrete jungles.

Nature is a source for solace and regeneration, a way of reconnecting to your soul’s purpose by sensing your part as a human in the bigger play of things.

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