It gives me profound professional joy and satisfaction to help guide you on your life journey. I will work with you to sharpen your coping skills as well as your ability to manage stress more effectively. In the face of tough times, I would be honored to help you navigate what often seem to be insurmountable obstacles. I’m inspired by Helen Keller’s wise words: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Our goal in working together, is to reveal and nurture that ‘strength undefeatable’. Together we’ll customize a lifestyle plan in which you will create and practice new habits and behaviors that will optimize your health and wellbeing, and be sustainable for a lifetime.
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Gift Yourself with Happiness Boosters
Happiness doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have to make it happen. Take a moment and identify what makes you feel happy. For some it’s sharing coffee with a friend while you catch up on life. For others it’s kicking back and listening to your favorite music. The key is you need to know what puts that smile on your face and boosts your mood. Then you need to make time for that happiness booster every single day when it’s possible. This is something you must feel that you deserve. It’s a gift to yourself. To get your creative happiness boosting juices flowing, here are some favorites you may enjoy.
Play and Have Fun: Act like a kid again! Adults need to put some fun and play into their lives. For children it just comes naturally. We smile at them frolicking while we do nothing to have our own fun. Team games and sports are a lot of fun. So also are clubs of all sorts where you can share and laugh out loud at life’s often entertaining twists and turns. Dancing is a terrific way to just let it all hang out while enjoying music and the company of others. Don’t be afraid to look and act silly. Like I said, act like a kid! They fall, laugh, pick themselves up and have more fun. Now it’s your turn!
Smile: Are you aware of the scowl or depressed or anxious appearances so many people exhibit to the world? Are you one of them? Try this little experiment. For one whole day, just go out of your way to smile, whether it’s at co-workers, neighbors, another person walking their dog, or a perfect stranger like a grocery clerk or flight attendant. Just smile. Here’s what’ll happen. You may have just made someone’s day by that little show of welcome. You just never know. You may be gifted with a smile right back at ya which feels so good. Or, that person may not be receptive and blow you off. So what? Never take it personally. Chuck it up to that person just not being in a place where they can connect with a smile. You don’t know their history. So just move on and keep smiling, because the majority of people will indeed smile right back at you. Plus, it keeps you more mindful of ramping up your smiles all day.
Laugh: Stanford researchers found that on average, children laugh about 300 times per day. Adults? Well, about 10-12 times per day. Oh my, what happened here? Lack of fun, taking life too seriously, no play time, and perhaps taking things too personally all drag us down leaving no reason to kick back and let loose with a good belly laugh. When we laugh, we feel no toxic stress. That’s very good for your health, as chronically elevated levels of stress hormone are dangerous to your health in the long term. Optimize your wellness by laughing more throughout the day. I like to hang around people who know how to reframe life in a way that gently lets us laugh at ourselves and our antics. I’m naturally one of those people thank heavens. It doesn’t take much to loosen up, smile, play and laugh more. Heck, watch Comedy Central or whatever it takes to brighten up your day!
Enjoy a Cup of Tea: Taking the time to enjoy that tea or coffee is really a metaphor for enjoying either alone time for self-reflection, or perhaps to share a moment with a special person. You can write in your journal, or just thoroughly savor the moment. It’s like hitting the “pause” button during your busy day and stopping to rest, rejuvenate and regroup. And, coffee and tea gift you with wellness benefits including anti-oxidants that are heart healthy, along with delicious hydration.
Perform a Random Act of Kindness: Each day is chock full of countless opportunities to do something kind for someone, whether you know them or not. If someone’s having a tough time, by simply doing a little something special it could mean the world to that person. How about paying forward for a stranger who looks as though they could appreciate that act of kindness? I do it for military members and families in airports as I’m all about supporting those who serve and protect our wonderful country. There’s nothing in the world that feels better than reaching out to help someone. Aim to do this as often as you can.
Keep a Gratitude Journal: When you wake up in the morning, before you hop out of bed and plunge into the day’s activities, take 1-2 minutes and recite a list of your gratitudes. Why is this so important? It helps to reframe your entire life perspective, as well as the current day’s personal and professional work. Just when you think things are hopeless and you’re feeling helpless and defeated, once you recite your gratitudes, you’ll realize that within the context of the priceless and truly wonderful people and things in your life, you’re actually doing just fine and, with patience and perseverance, you will indeed navigate life’s tough times. If you cannot remember your gratitudes, just sit down and write them down into a journal for easy reference. As life progresses, you’ll be gifted with even more reasons to be grateful for every breath you take and every moment shared with a loved one.
Meditate and/or Pray: Long gone are the days when meditation was the purview of a few more monastic folks out there. Instead, with exciting new science, people are discovering that to take a little time to hop off the gerbil wheel of life and simply go-inward and reflect is very health-promoting. Studies have shown that people who regularly meditate or pray (which is a form of meditation) can alter gene expression throughout their bodies resulting in lower levels of inflammation, significantly decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If you think stepping out of life’s craziness for a minute is hard, then reframe it by saying “This is personal time to check in with myself”. You know how to check in with other people in your life. Now, it’s your turn. There are plenty of resources to learn how to meditate. Check out my book THE HUNGER FIX for a comprehensive listing. As well, when you and I work together, I’ll customize a meditative process that can address your unique needs.
Listen to Music: Plugging your headphones on and ripping through a workout to rock and roll or hip hop is one way to put music to beneficial work for you. But you can also have it playing in the background, helping to calm you as you wrestle with that project summary you’re hammering out. Or, it’s a fun and joyous experience as you crank up with volume and get down and pound the ground to the beat of rhythm and blues, salsa to Zumba, or just sway to the melodies. The key is to integrate music into your life whenever you can.
Take a Nap: Never hesitate to take a rest for up to 30 minutes during the day. It’s a great way to refresh and rejuvenate. And it’s a much better alternative than reaching for an uber-caffeinated (and often calorie-loaded and sugary) beverage or food which you erroneously think will energize you. It won’t. A brief nap can help you regroup and complete the rest of the day without interfering with your night time zzz’s. Give yourself permission to nap when you need to.
Get intimate: Connecting with someone on an intimate basis raises levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin as well as increasing levels of the pleasure chemical dopamine. All of this relaxes you and provides you with an opportunity to connect with someone at a deep level. If this is your partner, then regular intimacy at some level is an integral part of maintaining a strong and long lasting connection. Make time for intimacy, even if just holding hands while gazing at an extraordinary sunset.
Walk in the Park: Connecting with nature is what walking in the park is all about. Eco-psychologists have noted that stress hormone levels decrease and remain that way for hours after time in nature. Nature is about getting up close with our primal roots. In nature, we’re just pure and transparent. You don’t have to get dressed up. Just get out and enjoy the fresh air, the beautiful surroundings, other people and pets. It’s all good. And, you’re getting a physical challenge as you walk and hike, or bike and row. Walking or running or whatever activity you love in the park, makes your physical activity so much more enjoyable. It’s a royal win win for the mind and body.
Get more physically intense: Throughout life, and especially over the age of 40, it’s really important to add intervals of intensity to your physical activity. The body craves new experiences and challenges. Too often, we get stuck in a rut of doing precisely the same physical activity every day. To support optimal aging and wellness, you need to incorporate more intensity as well as creative cross training so that you can increase the happiness and joy associated with your routine activities. On your next walk, find hills and attack them with gusto. Or just walk much faster for 1-2 minutes then reduce your pace back to a moderate level, and keep repeating this sequence for 20-30 minutes. This works for any kind of cardio activity you’re doing. Keep changing up your routines to incorporate different activities to keep your body challenged. This is essential to maintaining the strength, endurance, balance and flexibility required for optimal aging.
Volunteer: If you want to live long and well, then volunteer. Science shows that people who do, are healthier and happier. Of course you’re going to feel great when you pitch in and help build a house for a charity, work in a food bank, teach children or mentor an up-and-coming young professional. You’re giving of yourself, which is a priceless gift that boosts happiness exponentially.
Take a Retreat: Whether a day, weekend, week or more, it’s very important to just get away from it all for rest, rejuvenation, rejoicing and regrouping. We all need to go some place we feel is conducive to supporting our mind and body as we seek to step back and reframe our lives. Do the homework to find destinations that may provide educational, experiential, as well as restful retreats where you may want to explore new mind and body experiences, workshops, and physical challenges. I have conducted my Peeke Week Retreats in destination resorts and parks, where hiking and inward reflection are hallmarks of a wonderful mental and physical transformation experienced by the participants. Watch for more upcoming opportunities.