Art Therapy is the combination of art, counselling and psychology. Using art as a creative tool one is able to express what they feel easily, which speeds up the healing process. Creative Expression also utilizes art to heal, but a little different. The Health Education Authority’s description of mental health is , “Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive and sense of well being and an underlying belief in own and other’s dignity and worth” (Oliver, 2007). This definition exemplifies what creative expression offers to its participants. Creative expression is the art of creating what you feel and articulating your personal traumatic experiences when words cannot be verbally expressed.
Doctors of the modern age have coined a term that last century’s practitioners might have a difficult time understanding: ecotherapy. Partly a prescription to just go out and enjoy the sunshine, ecotherapy is the process of easing stress, anxiety, depression, and other typical psychological ailments through nature walks and time outdoors in the sun.
It’s a method of holistic medicine that focuses on treatments that are not necessarily based on chemical intrusions as a means of healing, but rather on attaining a healthy body through natural means, like water, massage, and vitamin supplements. Ecotherapy is too new to be backed by exhaustive scientific testing, but it has received great reviews from many patients.
Despite the lack of concrete scientific evidence, many medical professionals are hopeful that a walk through nature will soon become what the doctor orders. [Read more…] about How Your Garden Is Great for Your Health
Homeowners, when given the chance to remodel their homes should consider doing it in relation to green living. Remodeling entails cost but it would be worth it if the home can be improved in such a way that there is an expected return in investment in terms of comfort, future savings, and responsibility to the environment. Contrary to the common belief that it is hard to achieve a green home, there are actually very simple modifications that may be done in a home to achieve the purpose.
Having a green home is not merely going with a trend. It involves a comprehensive overhaul of homeowner’s views so that they can easily adapt and incorporate green living concepts in everyday living. It is about making a home a healthier place to live in, and making the home more comfortable and energy-efficient. Select home remodeling efforts can result to better indoor air quality, energy and resource conservation, less wastage of materials, and opting for products that are considered beneficial to people and the environment.
Based on the recommendations of green advocates, a green home is founded on choosing the green option in all aspects including the use of non-toxic paints and sealants, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient appliances, natural flooring, energy-efficient lighting, tank-less water heaters, local building materials, native plants for landscaping, and many other specific ways that may be applicable to a home.
Living in an ideal home is essentially about being free from the worries of exorbitant energy costs, harmful construction elements, and wastage of anything that can be put to better use. Not many homeowners are aware that those seemingly minor inconveniences spotted in a home can actually pose a threat to the health of the occupants and the integrity of the home structure, not to mention hard on the pockets.
Molds and other allergens may be conveniently living in homes due to water intrusion, excess moisture, or condensation. An HVAC system that is not efficiently functioning can result to annoying random spots in the house which can either be too hot or too cold. Proper and sufficient insulation is really a must if a homeowner is to achieve an energy-efficient home. PA Electricity Companies provide some tips in their website for the information of the public. However, according to the experts at DePalma Construction, “While replacing drafty windows and maintaining the heater are both good ways to reduce energy bills, a commonly forgotten space in the home is the roof.” Homeowners should consider utilizing the unused space on their roofs for either solar panels or rooftop gardens. PA Electricity Companies provide some tips in their website for the information of the public.
Any modification from the smallest to the biggest effort will contribute greatly to the attainment of a truly green home. Once the difference between houses which have not benefited from any green-living modification and those that have been remodeled to comply with green living is experienced, homeowners will never want to go back to non-green living.
About the Author
Shirley discovered that a green home is actually attainable after having some minor modifications done in her home.
I’ve been working to a pretty tight deadline this week, which has meant several long days at my desk. It’s been pretty tiring work and I must confess that I’ve been reaching for the coffee pot and the biscuit tin one too many times.
I’ve noticed that my intake of sugary, caffeine-filled foods and drinks has been making me feel jittery and on edge. I’m also pretty tired and struggling to focus. I’ve therefore decided to give my diet an overhaul and do a bit of research into foods which are said to help boost your mood naturally. I hope you and I will both benefit from what I’ve learned.
You spend close to 50% of your life in sleep. So why is it that we often fail to do it properly? We spend years going to university, school and work to perfect our waking selves, but we spend almost zero time learning how to sleep well. Fascinating. And perhaps a little stupid. And it seems as though the most problematic issue relating to sleep is that of getting to sleep. Many of us struggle with that seemingly simple task.
In this post I am going to give you some tips on how to get to sleep easier.
Why getting to sleep is important
Over the past few years here at The Daily Mind we have had some very popular posts on the topic of sleep. This one on waking up fresh has had more feedback than any other post. It was popular because many people struggle to wake up in the morning after a long night of deep slumber.
But in actual fact, the way you get to sleep can have a big impact on how well you sleep during the night and how easily you can get out of bed in the morning. A solid routine at bedtime can completely alter the way you sleep. Furthermore, if you get to sleep quickly and sleep solidly throughout the night you will find you feel much better during the day. For this reason the act of getting to sleep becomes very important.
NOTE – This post is about getting to sleep easily, not about staying asleep or waking up early. If you want advice on those latter two issues see the links above.
How to get to sleep easier
At first I thought about creating a “guide” to getting to sleep but changed my mind because I realized that people might not be prepared to completely change their sleeping habits. Instead I am going to give you a series of tips that you can implement all at once or one at a time as you feel comfortable. As always, please leave a comment if you have anything to add.
1. Realize that “eight hours of sleep” is a harmful rumor
The first and most important thing that you need to do is realize that the idea of getting eight hours of sleep per night is a harmful rumor. You don’t necessarily need eight hours sleep. Everyone is different. Thinking that you need a solid eight hours is just a cause for anxiety and concern. Forget it.
For example, I need around six and a half hours of sleep per night. If I have over seven hours I struggle to stay in bed, get very agitated and need to get up. Mrs. Daily Minder, on the other hand, cannot do without at least ten. If she gets less than nine hours she just cannot function. We are completely different.
When you go to bed at night remind yourself that you don’t necessarily need eight hours of sleep. It will vary depending on how tired you are and how busy you have been. Just relax thinking that whatever sleep you get is going to be enough.
2. Understand that “only deep sleep counts” is rubbish
I recently heard a sleep expert from Germany talking about how the idea that “only deep sleep counts” needs to be completely wiped from your mind. It is rubbish. You do not need deep sleep to refresh and process the day. And you certainly don’t need a super deep sleep to refresh.
The evidence for this is napping. Many countries have a siesta period where the shops close for an hour and everyone has a nap. This is a wonderful thing because it charges their batteries and allows them to sleep less the next night. They simply don’t need as much and can get up early to work or go to school.
Deep sleep is not necessary all the time. Sure it is nice. Sure it is beneficial. But don’t get caught up on it. If you wake up during the night to go to the toilet or yell at some noisy cats don’t get back into bed in a huff and force yourself to sleep. Just relax. Whatever you can get is good.
3. Stop the train of thoughts at dinner time
Dinner, for me, is the time when I actively decide to cut the train of thoughts about the day and switch off for the night. Whatever worries I have about work or the next day I let go of and think “I’ll worry about it later”. Dinner time becomes my cue to switch off for the day.
A lot of people blame their busy mind when they talk about not getting to sleep easily. I used to be like that; laying there unable to turn off the constant stream of mental chatter. I would fight it and force it until I become so worked up there was just no way I was getting any sleep. Until I decided to make a regular switch off time.
Make a habit of joining an event in your evening with “switching off”. It might be dinner or desert or an evening shower. Try to make it about an hour before your bedtime. Every night for the rest of your life I want you to actively say “I’ll worry about it tomorrow” when it gets to that time of the day. Let the thoughts go.
4. Don’t be your own sleep enemy
Relating to the last point, don’t become your own sleep enemy. If you have been unsuccessful in turning the thoughts off for the night it is important to just chill out and not work yourself into a state. I used to toss and groan and kick the covers when I couldn’t sleep – do you think that was helping things? Not at all.
If you can’t switch off and your mind is too active the worst thing you can do is get worked up. Yes you have to go to work tomorrow. Yes you need your sleep. No thinking about that is not going to help. Just relax.
If you find yourself in bed with the thoughts running you can try a simple breathing meditation. This is where you shift your focus from your thoughts to the feeling of the breath entering and leaving your nose. It is very effective and if it doesn’t cut the train of thoughts, it will at least relax your body.
5. Avoid coffee, wine and chocolate at least two hours before bed
What! Coffee, wine and chocolate? Are you serious? Yes. Very. These three things are said to be the worst thing you can have before bed because they are stomach irritants which cause sleep harming gases to be released. Coffee will also stimulate your mind and body and making it harder to slow down.
How annoying that these three substances are the very thing our culture has taught us to eat and drink in the evening! It will take some time to break these habits but it is very important. No coffee after dinner. No chocolate for desert. And no wine two hours before bed. Can you do it?
Try it for a week and see if you find it easier to get to sleep. If it doesn’t make a difference then you can go back. I’m betting, however, it makes all the difference in the world.
6. Make the bedroom totally black
Our eyes are very sensitive, and like the point above, the brain starts to associate light with day time. And what do we do at daytime? We don’t sleep. We wake. A crucial part of getting to sleep easily is making sure the room is pitch black.
This might seem simple but light comes from lots of places. It might be a hallway light you leave on for the kids, or something as simple as the bright moon shining through some thin curtains. Either way, you need to find a means of blocking it out. Heavy blinds, a doorstop or an eye mask. Block out that light. Your brain associates darkness with sleeping. So make it as dark as possible.
7. Go to bed at the same time every single night
If you struggle to get to sleep you need to make some big changes. One of those big changes is the bedtime – it needs to be at the same time every night until you are back into your rhythm.
As we have seen in some of the points above, the body and the brain learns from habit. We are habit forming creatures. If you can go to bed at the same time each night you are basically setting yourself up for success because your brain is going to soon associate that time of day with sleep and rest.
If you can’t go to bed at the same time each night you should at least try to wake up at the same time each morning. This will help you find a natural rhythm with your sleep so hopefully you are tired enough at night to just drift off.
Getting to sleep easily is, like most things, a matter of training. If you can train your body and mind to switch off you will not struggle at all. The tips above will help with this. Above all else, relax when you go to sleep. Don’t stress about not being able to sleep. And if all of this fails to work, go see your doctor. They will be able to help.
Is there anything in particular that helps you get to sleep at night? Do you have a routine? Leave a comment and let us know.
To me there is nothing more relaxing than a nice pond with trickling water and fish swimming about. Ever since I was very little I have found great pleasure in sitting by a lake or river for a few minutes of relaxing meditation. Recently I also discovered that a fish pond is great for Feng Shui. The Chinese even believe a pond by your front door can bring great wealth and success to the household.
A few weeks ago I set up my own very cheap fish pond complete with a solar powered water fountain. It is really quite sharp! In this post I will show you how to make a beautiful fish pond for around $100. It will take about an hour to set up but you will be extremely glad you took the time to do it.
What is Feng Shui?
I am not normally into Feng Shui but lately I have become a little more interested in it. As you know I have started my own business and when you are out on your own trying to earn money you will take any help you can get. And when I heard that certain Feng Shui activities could help to improve my financial situation I thought I would give it a whirl.
Now Feng Shui is an art that originated in China and is all about using positive energies in your home or office to bring about certain outcomes. Many people think the whole thing is baloney but the more I look at it the more I can see there is some wisdom behind its practices.
For example, Feng Shui tells us that you should have pictures of running water, good crops and symbols of money on your work desk. This makes sense because they all act as mental ques for you and help to get you in the “money making zone”. You wouldn’t really want pictures of death and destruction in your workplace would you?
There are Feng Shui tips for money, health, a good sex life, love, spirituality, etc. Depending on your level of interest you can rework your whole house to be Feng Shui ready or just change a few positive items in a room. The hard thing about Feng Shui is that it is different for the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and there are different lines of thinking. For example, some schools work around magnetic North while other school believe North indicates the main entrance of your home (even if it faces another direction). So if a Feng Shui website tells you that the wealth section of your home is in the East you better make sure you know which way East really is!
Feng Shui, millionaires and fish ponds
I recently read an article about a whole pile of Asian millionaires who believed that a beautiful flowing water fish pond at the front of their businesses and homes was a big factor in their level of success. There was even a story about a Malaysian hotel (maybe the Hilton?) which was about to go bankrupt and in a last ditch effort to save the joint the owner built an elaborate fish pond at the entrance.
They are now the most popular hotel in the region.
If you think this is all hocus pocus I don’t blame you. It does sound very new-age. But, as I said earlier, when you start your own business you want all the help you can get. And seeing as we are in a big financial crisis right now maybe we all need a little more positive Feng Shui in our lives!
Fish ponds and relaxing meditation
Let’s put all this Feng Shui stuff aside for a moment and talk about creating a relaxing outdoor area for your meditation practice. A fish pond with trickling water is one of the best ways to turn a boring area into a place that is alive, inspiring and extremely relaxing.
Everyone these days is struggling with stress. We go to work and then come home tight bundles of anxiety. But a flowing fish pond can really help this. It has helped me. Every time I feel an attack of the stresses coming on I make myself a cup of tea and head out to sit by the fish pond. The sound of the flowing water alone is enough to calm me down and leave me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
The fish pond I built cost around $250 but you could do it for much less. It is a small price to pay in order to have an area in your house that can act as a mini retreat center – peaceful, calm and beautiful – especially if you live in the middle of a busy city.
How to make a cheap fish pond for meditation and wealth
In order to maximize the Feng Shui related benefits of a fish pond it should be placed directly in front of the main entrance of your house. Now, your main entrance is the one you use the most often, not necessarily the front door. So, if you park the car out the front and then walk around the side gate entrance to come inside then that is your main entrance and that is where the pond should be placed.
The water also needs to be flowing. A Feng Shui teacher once told me that stagnant water is a very bad thing to have for creating wealth so make sure your pond is moving. As I said, I have a neat little solar powered water fountain in mine. Costs me $0 to run and works a treat.
Here is how I built my cheap fish pond. If anyone knows a better way feel free to leave a comment and let us know.
1. Get a cheap wine barrel or water tight pot
My fish tank from IKEA
The cheapest way to make a fish pond is to use an item like a wine barrel or a giant pot. I found a fantastic iron plant pot at IKEA which is about a four feet high and cost me $40. It is completely water tight and looks pretty nice.
You can go the whole nine yards and dig up an area, cover it in black plastic and then put rocks all around the outside but I didn’t have the time or the room. I needed something simple and portable and the IKEA pot worked perfectly.
A special note here – make sure the pot is fish-friendly. Many people use bathtubs (which look great) but for some reason the fish always die. They also don’t like zinc, lead or some plastics so make sure you read up on the material before you buy it. My tank is made of iron and the fish have been happy in there for about a month so far.
2. Fill up the pot with water and leave it to de-chlorinate
The next step is to clean out the pot and fill it up with water. You need to leave the water in the pot for about a week before you add any fish. The reason for this is that our tap water has a lot of chlorine in it and you need to let that evaporate out before adding your scaly friends. If you rush this part of the process your fish will die within a few hours.
There are also some products that you can buy at a pet shop to make this process a little quicker. One is a water ager that helps make the water the right environment for the fish and one is a bacteria mix which puts a good level of healthy bacteria in the water so the fish feel like they are in their natural environment. I bought both of these for around $15 but I am not sure how essential they are.
3. Add some plants
You need to have plants in the fish tank as they take out carbon dioxide and help to oxygenate the water. The fish also eat some of the algae that grows on the plant and they often use the plants to hide from birds and other animals that might pluck them out and eat them.
I bought a simple long leafed water plant (you can see some of it above) and put it in an empty ice cream container filled with rocks and gravel. I then sank it down to the bottom of the tank and it has flourished – its now about four times as big as when I first got it. Simple, cheap and effective.
4. Select the right fish
If your tank is going to be outdoors and unheated you really only have a few options. You can’t have beautiful tropical fish like Angels and Discus, you can only have goldfish. And as far as outdoor goldfish go the best breed is called a Comet. They are very hardy, tough and can survive some pretty cold temperature.
Now here is the weird part. Feng Shui teachers assert that you have to have eight golfish – seven orange ones and one black one. Eight is a very auspicious number in China (the Olympics even started on the 8th of the 8th, 2008!) and having eight fish is seen as essential. The one black fish is supposed to act as the fall guy – Feng Shui states that he absorbs all the bad energy.
In my opinion it is cruel to have eight fish if you don’t have a big enough tank. If you are buying a massive wine barrel then eight should fit no problems, but any smaller and you might be cutting it a bit thin. Ask your pet shop owner about how much room they need in order to be happy and healthy.
5. Introduce the fish to the water
Now that you have your fish you can introduce them to the water. The best way to do this is to leave them inside the plastic bag and plop them in the fish tank. Don’t take them out of the plastic bag for about 20 minutes as this lets them acclimatize to the water slowly. If you just pour them straight out of the bag and into the water they often die due to shock from the change in temperature.
6. Set up your solar powered water fountain
I was lucky enough to get given a solar water fountain for Christmas so I saved about $150. I am pleased to report that the technology is excellent and as long as the solar panel (pictured above) is in full sun the water fountain works a treat. However, it is fine to use a normal electricity powered water fountain as long as you are prepared to pay a bit extra on your power bill. I highly recommend the solar version as it will save you lots of money over the long run.
It is pretty simple technology. The solar panel sends power down a long chord which spins a little propeller inside the fountain itself. The whole thing is waterproof which means you can have chords going under water as you can see in some of the photos above.
Ideally you would mount the solar panel on your roof but I am unable to as the possums in my area seem to really like electricity chords! At the moment it is just on the ground but I will think of a better solution soon.
The best way to set up the water fountain itself is to jam it in between some nice rocks in the water. I used some broken bricks that were lying around my backyard and it works (and looks) fine. Just make sure you clean the rocks before you put them in and be careful to leave your fish enough swimming room.
7. Feed your fish
The only other thing you need to do is feed your fish occasionally. They do not need to be fed very often as they get a lot of bugs and algae from the pond already. There is a great saying, “a hungry fish is a happy fish” and I think it is quite true. Make sure your only feed your fish a tiny pinch every day or even every second day. That is all they need.
That’s it! Now you have your very own fish pond meditation sanctuary. If anyone gets around to doing this I would love to see some photos of what you create. And, if you make a lot of money maybe you could send me some! 🙂