Jennifer Lawrence Responds to Questions About Body Image

body image

photo by David Urbanke

Body image is a big issue for women of all ages. They are constantly bombarded with messages stating that in order to be desirable or have value, you need to look perfect, be incredibly thin and wear the most fashionable clothing.  The media tends to focus on the outward appearance instead of internal character and worth. Some companies such as Dove are working hard to counteract these images and unreasonable expectations.

Jennifer Lawrence is the leading actress in the movies Hunger Games and Catching Fire. She has also received an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. In the past, Jennifer has received some flack from Hollywood about her weight but now she’s fighting back. When it comes to body image, Jennifer hopes to be a good role model for young girls. While training for her role as Katniss in Hunger Games, she focused on getting strong and fit, instead of thin and underfed.

In a recent interview with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Jennifer makes quite a statement about body image, criticizing the media for encouraging young women to judge each other based on looks. Check out the video here:

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress

I have been visiting the Chiropractor lately and every time I go in they comment on my tight shoulders and neck. It’s really not a surprise because it’s been a constant in my life. I drive my family crazy with constant requests for back rubs and I often get tension headaches from the knots in my muscles.

Why am I so tense? Simple. That’s where I hold my stress. The more stressed I am, the worse my shoulders ache.

Back rubs, heat, icing, and massage therapy help tremendously, but I will continue to have tight muscles if I don’t learn how to relax and manage stress.

No one is immune to stress. It’s how we cope and deal with it that makes the difference.

I found a fun article from that lists 5 easy stress busters:

stress1- Smooch— Kissing releases chemicals that reduces anxiety and enhances feelings of euphoria.

2- Squeeze a Lemon— studies show that the oils found in lemons and other citrus (especially the peel) are refreshing and mood-boosting.

3- Read a Book— This one is my favorite ways to relax and wind down. It doesn’t matter what you read, but even six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent.

4- Get your Game on— A study out of East Carolina University saw significant changes in anger, depression and tension in adults after just minutes of playing video games. According to her website, J.K. Rowling, author of the bestselling Harry Potter series, played minesweeper to take a break from writing.

5- Sniff the Flowers–In a recent Kansas State University, hospitalized patience were more relaxed and felt less pain and fatigue with potted flowers in their room.

These are just simple things, but sometimes that’s all it takes to relieve the stress and tension of the day. Take time for yourself and enjoy the things around you.

What are some things you do to manage stress?


Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention: Six Steps Toward Winning the Fight

Persistent deterioration of short-term memory, progressive confusion and disorientation and frequent agitation are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. What makes it worse is that it may affect some of those closest to us; our parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, most of us know someone who is now suffering or has suffered the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Its effects are familiar to us. However, the simple behaviors which comprise Alzheimer’s disease prevention might not be.

As a teenager, I remember visiting my mother’s mother in the nursing home in which she lived out the last few years of her life. It became routine to be cautioned on the way down the hall to her room that she might not remember me and to not be upset by it. My siblings and I were often given hushed accounts of Grandma’s recent wanderings, emotional breakdowns and otherwise strange behavior. It was an education, to be sure but my experience with Grandma was anything but academic. I loved her and I knew she loved me, somewhere deep down –when she could remember me. I remember identifying the cruel irony of a refined and experienced woman, who had incidentally taught me from her vast stores of wisdom in the past, who now could not keep her memories straight and whose behavior grew more immature with every passing week. It was painful for me, as selfish as I was as a teenager. I’m sure it was heart-rending for my mother who had grown up almost as an only child with an alcoholic father –her mother having been the only stability she knew. It is one thing to study Alzheimer’s disease and it is quite another to experience it real-time with a loved one.

The question that most often occurs when a mother or a father or a grandparent suffers from Alzheimer’s disease is “Why?”. While modern science has done much to answer that question, there is still very much to be discovered. We have been told that it is largely genetic but that there are some things that can be done to reduce the severity or how early the onset is. We can’t change our genetic makeup but we can change our behavior to help mitigate the effects of this type of dementia.

In an effort to offer some enlightenment and hope I’ll touch on what Smith, Wayne and Segal call the six pillars of a brain healthy lifestyle which will give us some means of arming us against the demise of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease prevention in list form, they are regular exercise, healthy diet, mental stimulation, quality sleep, stress management and an active social life. Isn’t it nice that none of these involve needles, feats of strength or undue expense? These are all things we can accomplish with a little determination and planning.

1. Regular Exercise

If you recall my last post about increasing fitness by living a more active lifestyle, you’ll see this one should be more easily attainable than we thought. I will add that for exercise to aid in Alzheimer’s disease prevention we should include both strength and aerobic activities to our weekly routine. So be sure to take the stairs, park farther away and do those bicep curls with your grocery bags on the way to the car, as I had mentioned in the other post. They also suggest that we include some balancing exercise as well, so either do all of the above on one foot, trade your chair for an exercise ball or take up tight-rope walking. If you do happen to take up tight-rope walking, keep in mind that they add the caution that any brain injury or head trauma will greatly increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So, wear a helmet and don’t take unnecessary risks.

2. Healthy Diet

Smith, Wayne and Segal suggest a Mediterranean diet with lots of fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and fresh produce. They warn that smoking and alcohol will increase your risk so dramatically that those who both smoke and drink can expect to begin experiencing symptoms 6-7 years earlier than others. One more good reason to quit smoking and keep alcohol to a minimum. It shouldn’t be too shocking that these two mindless activities are not good for your mind. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available to those who find it very difficult to quit. For me, quitting alcohol was the most difficult thing I ever did but the benefits have enriched every part of my life. I offer heart-felt encouragement to all who struggle toward that great goal. The last thing they suggest about diet is that you eat 4-6 smaller meals and take the supplements which are indicated to increase brain health.

3. Mental Stimulation

Whereas exercising your body keeps blood and oxygen at optimum levels in the brain, doing something with the brain itself will keep it strong and flexible. How is this done? I’m not suggesting “brain-ups” or “cortical-hyperextensions” or the “cross-hippocampus sprint”. This one can be done just about anywhere and need not take more than a few minutes at a time. It is to learn. Learn something new, like a language, a foreign culture or anything that interests you. The more you learn, the more your brain enjoys it, gets good at it and is curious about other topics. An active mind is a very important way to combat the deterioration of brain activity associated with Alzheimer’s type dementia. The more your brain has to work to understand or remember some new concept or piece of information, the stronger it gets. They suggest logic, word or number puzzles and games (crosswords, Scrabble, Sudoku, etc.) and figuring out riddles. Memorize something short and then work to increase that skill. The point is to get out of your comfort zone and teach your brain to learn and adapt. I’ve been told that genius can be learned. I firmly believe that intelligence can be increased dramatically by using some or all of these suggestions.

4. Quality Sleep

If you’re like me, you love to sleep but you also can’t seem to get to sleep early enough to enjoy it. They suggest establishing regular sleep habits, getting 8 hours each night and limiting naps. Avoid things that keep you up, such as movies and computers in bed and do a few things that aid in restful sleep, such as light stretching, reflective journaling and relaxing meditation. Keep in mind (no pun intended) that your brain needs rest just as much as your body –give it 8 good hours whenever possible.

5. Stress Management

Stress puts the body and brain into a survival-type mode which attempts to conserve and limit functions. These limitations serve a function when they are brief but can be destructive when they last for long periods of time. External events and stressors can’t always be avoided on planet Earth, however, humans have a great deal of power when it comes to reason and response. It is important to identify when we are feeling stress. Only then can we figure out what the cause is and what we can do about relieving it. On occasion, stress is helpful and can help us think and act quickly. In most situations though, our stress is triggered by our own thoughts or by the expressions of others. Usually the best response to stress is to take a few slow, deep breaths. Once the body is slowed down and provided with oxygen, the mind can assess things more objectively. If stress has become your proverbial “middle name” you might need to initiate some habits. Schedule some daily activities such as a walk during your lunch-break, doing some diversionary reading, stress-relieving exercise, frequent positive self-talk or a few minutes of prayer or meditation. It is important to remember that it is our ability to use positively or mitigate stress that determines our health, not the stressors themselves. In the words of William Henley, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

6. Active Social Life

It should be no surprise that study and mental exercise are not the only ways to flex those gray-matter muscles. However, you might not have guessed that social interaction is great way to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Though spending time with a textbook, a stack of flashcards or a word puzzle will certainly increase your knowledge and challenge your ability to learn, memorize and recall information, they are not nearly as dynamic and unpredictable as spending time in good conversation. This is especially effective when that conversation is with a new neighbor or acquaintance. With incalculable topic possibilities in a conversation between two people, good conversation can be highly stimulating and can promote brain health. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions: volunteer, join a club or social group, take group classes, set a weekly date with friends, get out to see local attractions in a group, stay active on social media sites and get to know your neighbors. Also, considering that relationships are not only important but combine intellectual, social, emotional and often spiritual aspects, they are particularly effective in combatting dementia. They suggest taking time to nurture those relationships, even during times of increased stress and amid the busiest of schedules.

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease often create a feeling of unpredictability and unrest in the lives of those it affects, including their families and friends. The purpose of this post is to offer a sense of empowerment and control. As I said before, we cannot change our genetic makeup but there are some things we can do to alter the course, intensity and onset of this disease. In short, those things which increase healthy brain activity, strengthen the brain and can be effective in fighting Alzheimer’s-type dementia.

For more information, read the full article:

The Grieving Process: 7 Steps Toward Healing

grieving processIn the past couple of months, I have seen a lot of friends lose someone close to them. Just weeks ago, a good friend of mine lost her 5 month old baby to influenza. It was sudden and heartbreaking. I’ve had my friend and others on my mind a lot lately. Watching them go through the grieving process has prompted this blog post.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross is well known for her 5 steps of grief (to learn more click here), which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages represent natural responses that many people have when grieving the loss of a loved one. These emotions can be experienced after a loved one has passed or even before, if the loss is expected such as in a prolonged illness. Even though these stages may help those suffering from grief to find meaning and understanding, they are not the be all–end all of the grieving process. No one person is alike and grief is unique to each individual and the circumstances of loss. Some may stay in one stage for a long time. Some may only experience a stage briefly or skip stages all together. Others may go back and forth between stages, or perhaps even repeat them. This is not a pigeon hole. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Here are 7 things that you can do while grieving that will aid in the healing process. 

7 Steps Toward Healing

grieving process1. Let yourself feel the grief. Putting off or ignoring your feelings will cause anxiety and problems later on. Don’t judge your feelings as being good or bad. They are what they are and they will not last forever. 

Have a ritual or a token to remember your loved one by. Maybe you can put together a picture album or have a special chest of belongings. One friend planted a memorial garden for her son, another had special jewelry made that she could wear. One woman worked hard to increase awareness of her child’s disease. Whatever it is, make it personal.

2. Sometimes friends might feel uncomfortable around grief and might not know what to say or do. They might try to make everything better or “right again”. Reassure them, thank them and let them know that it is natural for you to feel this way. 

3. Take care of yourself. Get moving. Get out of the house and eat healthy and get enough rest. 

4. Have a gratitude journal. Try to find something good in your life each day. No repeats. Even if it is something as simple as eating your favorite food, finding a beautiful flower or a friendly smile.  

5. Take a break from your grief when it becomes too overwhelming. Get lost in a good book or a favorite movie. As odd as it sounds, traveling can be a good way for some individuals to process grief. It is important, however, to revisit your grief and not avoid it, otherwise it will delay or hinder the grieving process. 

6. Help others. One of the best ways to move through grief is reaching outside of yourself and helping others in need. You could volunteer at a homeless shelter or make something for those you care about. 

7. Find Support. Many times, joining support groups and talking with those who have gone through similar experiences can really be helpful. A friend of mine joined a support group for widows when her husband suddenly passed away. She found immense comfort in the group. 

 The most important thing is to treat yourself with love and kindness. Don’t get trapped in the idea that you should feel a certain way or do something specific.

No one can really say for certain how long grief will last. Don’t rush it or make specific deadlines. It may not completely go away, but ebb and flow throughout your life, getting easier as time goes by. Although you cannot go back to the way things were before the loss of your loved one, in time you will be able to adapt and accept your new life, looking forward with hope and joy. Some feel guilty when this happens. It is not a sign of betrayal, but that the grieving process has run its course. You are beginning to heal.  

Suicide Survivors: There is Help, There is Hope, There is Healing

Today is International Survivors of Suicide Day. It’s a special day where suicide survivors, or those who have lost a loved one to suicide, can get together to gain support, friendship and healing.

suicide survivorsIt is estimated that every 40 seconds a person in the world dies from suicide and that every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it all. I have never personally lost someone to suicide so I am not about to say that I understand how it feels. But I can imagine the devastation that is brought by such a tragedy.

In the United States, there are 34,000 people that die from suicide each year, leaving family members and friends behind to pick up the pieces. The AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) has a great website for those suffering with this type of loss. The website provides comfort and helpful information such as: how to cope with a suicide loss, handling the holidays, helping children, friends and family, healing guides and personal survival stories. It also contains links to other helpful websites, connections to special programs and listings of local and online support groups.

Within the website I found three main themes of comfort for suicide survivors…

1) You are not alone. There are millions of people dealing with suicide loss.

2) There is help. It is important to reach out to others.

3) It will get better. Enjoying life does not mean you are betraying your loved one, but that you are beginning to heal.