A Book of Miracles by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel

Inspirational Book FULL of Uplifting Moments

A Book of Miracles

A Book of Miracles by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel

I was sent a copy of  A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love a while back to review on Self Help Daily. I receive a lot of books to review on my different blogs and websites, so it takes a pretty unique and special book to really stand out.

This one did.

Allow me to say that you may not agree with every single word from every single individual’s story. That’s okay! I, personally, give only One individual credit for miracle, and that’s God, Himself. In this book (as well as in daily life), you’ll find individuals who credit their “higher self.”

But here’s the thing, even though I automatically think, “God is higher than any of us could even pretend to be and He is the only One who is in the Miracle business,” I am still inspired by their stories. The difficulties they overcome and the “happy ending” they find themselves within is inspiring and uplifting.

That’s the point of the book and that’s the reason I recommend it.

From the Back Cover:

Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles when he was a practicing surgeon and founded Exceptional Cancer Patients, a groundbreaking synthesis of group, individual, dream, and art therapy that provided patients with a “carefrontation.” Compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching, the stories in these pages are riveting, warm, and belief expanding. Their subjects include a girl whose baby brother helped her overcome anorexia, a woman whose cancer helped her heal by teaching her to stand up for herself, and a family that was saved from a burning house by bats. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crisis into blessing by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.

A Book of Miracles is a very entertaining, uplifting, and inspiring book.


Book Review: The Complete Thyroid Health & Diet Guide

Understanding and Managing Thyroid Disease

The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide
I have had Thyroid Disease for more years than I was Thyroid Disease free. My Grave’s Disease flat out refused to let any medication control it, so they had to destroy it with radiation.

Since then, I’ve had to take thyroid medicine every morning.

Like allergies, asthma, diabetes, hypertension or a host of other diseases – thyroid disease will sometimes award its owner with good days and will other times make leaving the house seem like a chore.

Also like other diseases, a lot… make that A LOT.. of these days can be controlled with our own actions and diet as much as it can with a pill.

The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide
For a lot of years, I craved more information about what things I SHOULD be eating and what things I SHOULD NOT be eating. I wanted an expert in the field to tell me what I could do to control my own health and prevent thyroid disease from causing any more harm than it already has AND to help heal the damage it may have done.

I wanted an all-in-one guide to lay it all out for me… “This is what you should be eating more of… this is what you should be eating less of… and here’s why.”  Unfortunately a guide never existed.

Now it does.

When I was contacted a while back about reviewing The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide: Understanding and Managing Thyroid Disease, the first thing I thought was, “Could this be what I’ve been looking for for SO many years?” I said it would be my pleasure to both read and use the guide as well as tell others all about it.

I only hoped that it would live up to what I wanted and needed it to live up to.

It actually exceeded everything I could have ever hoped for. The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide is easy to read, easy to follow, easy to comprehend, and easy to implement into your daily life.  I lost track of the number of times I thought, “I didn’t know that!” as I read along.

It wasn’t long before I grabbed a highlighter to highlight the information and a pen and notebook to record the knowledge.

About the Author

Dr. Nikolas R. Hedberg, DC, DABCI, DACBN, BCNP, is a board-certified naturopathic physician and a chiropractic physician. In addition, he is board-certifed in nutrition by the American Clinical Board of Nutrition. He is the founder of the Immune Restoration Center, located in Asheville, North Carolina.

Danielle Cook, MS, RD, CDE, has a master’s degree in nutrition and food science. She has worked as an inpatient clinical dietitian a nutrition support specialist and a diabetes/educator/dietitian in an outpatient setting.

{Review Continued Below…}

The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide

The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide looks at each system in the body and how they are affected by thyroid disease. The disease reaches further than most people realize. That’s why it “feels” like it touches us head to toe… because it DOES touch us head to toe!

As someone who recently had to stop eating gluten and wheat, I was especially fascinated by the connection between gluten and thyroid disease. I also thoroughly enjoy the recipes and excellent nutritional advice.

A Few Nutritional Tips from this Guide:

  • Increase your fiber intake. Add 1 to 3 tbsp of ground flax seeds or chia seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods.
  • Choose healthy fats. The best fats for thyroid disease include avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, macadamia nuts, macadamia nut butter, macadamia nut oil, organic butter, organic ghee (clarified butter), and olive oil.
  • Use unrefined Celtic sea salt. Processed table salt has many added chemicals and is deficient in nutrients. Unrefined Celtic sea salt contains over 50 different minerals that are important for health and thyroid function.
  • Asparagus is an excellent source of folate and a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, and vitamin B6. It is high in rutin (a flavanoid that helps lower inflammation, strengthen blood vessels, and protect cells from damage) and glutathione (a potent antioxidant, critical for detoxification).  It contains protodioscin which has been shown to reduce bone loss, improve libido, and help defend against cancer. (two recipes in the guide for asparagus: Roasted Asparagus and Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic)
  • Cilantro is a powerful antioxidant and a source of iron, magnesium, and manganese.  It helps remove heavy metals, such as mercury, from the body. Cilantro is also antibacterial and can aid in digestion by enhancing pancreatic enzyme activity and stimulating bile flow and secretions.

The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide is the type of all-in-one guide I’ve been looking for for years. If you have thyroid disease, I hope you’ll check this book out for yourself. It’s a winner!

~ Joi


People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (Review)

Get Your Hands, Eyes, and/or Ears On This Book

People Can't Drive You Crazy if You Don't Give them the Keys

Continuing the Focus of 2015: Building a Happier Family!

A while back,  I downloaded an interesting sounding e-book, People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (Kindle edition link) by Mike Bechtle.  I fell in love with the cover image Come on, who wouldn’t be? It’s a duck. In a snazzy jacket with a whackadoodle hat.

And can we talk about the fact that he has green hair?

The title is, to be honest, what initially caught my eye. Even before the duck. The title reminds me of a something I always said to my three daughters while they were growing up. I don’t know about where you live, but in Kentucky we have a popular saying, “He’s getting my goat…” or “That really gets my goat..”

With three little girls, I often heard, “She just gets my goat…” In one of our infamous, “table talks,” I told my girls, “People can only get your goat if you put it out in the open. If they know where your goat is, it’s easy pickings.”

The title of this book just kind of reminded me of homespun wisdom and it had me at “crazy.”

When doing book reviews, as I often point out, I want to give a great “feel” for the book without giving the entire premise away. If I were to lay out all the brilliance of a particular book right here, why would you need to read it for yourself?

Since I VERY much want everyone to read People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (paperback link) as soon as they humanly can, I’m going to tread lightly.  I hope you’ll stick with this book review, even if it gets lengthy – this book is extra special.

As we continue the focus of 2015 on Self Help Daily, Building a Happier Family, I have to strongly suggest everyone read this book. If you are a really, really busy individual, and simply don’t have time to devote 30 minutes to an hour reading each day, I have a few solutions…

A reaction is how we feel; a response is what we do. Reactions are automatic, but we choose our responses. – Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

Like most books, this particular WINNER is available in a variety of formats, so there’s simply no reason NOT to make this the next book you read… even if you read it with your ears.

The beauty of People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (as it relates to building a happier family) is that it gives you the motivation, information, and inspiration you need to do your part to make your family the happiest family in town.  This book is, also, ideal reading for anyone who’s looking to improve their relationships at work or school (or anywhere for that matter) – but since our focus is on families… we’ll just stay seated around the dining room table rather than a board room table.

The food’s better anyway.

As I said, I read People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys on my iPad – so I couldn’t highlight or underline extra-insightful and/or humorous quotes and paragraphs. I could, however, write them down – and I did just that. You never saw so many notes and notations!

…. Your emotions got the best of you, and your crazy person has you dangling in her grip like a bungee jump gone bad….  Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

True story: One night a History Channel show that my husband and I wouldn’t miss for a million dollars had just gone off.  I knew I had about 15 minutes to read a little something before bedtime, so I grabbed my iPad to read from one of my e-books. I flew past PCDYCIFDGTTK (looks like a cat just walked across the keyboard, doesn’t it?) and chose an Agatha Christie mystery I was in the middle of. Why? I didn’t have my pen and notebook with me and I knew that even just 15 minutes with PCDYCIFDGTTK would have produced more than a few note-worthy points.

It’s that good.

For one thing, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. The author is absolutely hilarious. I’ve read that he’s a popular speaker and I can absolutely see why. GREAT sense of humor.  The sense of humor and warm stories about his own family and friends (including precious granddaughters) make for a very, very special book.

A certain passage about the author’s oldest granddaughter reminded me so much of my oldest daughter (Emily) that it’s beyond uncanny.  I was delighted –  the world can never have too many colorful, detail-oriented, little girls who march to the beat of their own drum. They grow up to be colorful, detail-oriented young women who just keep on marching.

People Can’t.. is also a really “fast reading” book.  When you aren’t taking notes, that is.

A lot of self help or self improvement books are good, while you’re reading them, but fail to “stick.”  This is not one of those books. It’s fantastic while you’re in the middle of it, and it sticks like super glue.

History brings us to where we are right now, but it doesn’t have to dictate how we respond in the future. – Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

I will, in the foreseeable future often quote or refer back to this wonderful book. However, I have to give you one of the most profound messages or points from the author and his wonderful book.

Ever read a quote or a passage that is so profound and packs such a wallop that you go back and re-read it… allowing it to wallop you from the other side? Early in the book, Mike Bechtle hits the nail on the head when he says, “Never allow yourself to become a victim of anyone else’s shortcomings or weaknesses.

I read a lot.  A LOT. But it has been ages since a single cluster of words had such an impact on me. When we allow others to impact our peacefulness or happiness, we become their victim. This could be anyone..

  • rude servers
  • inefficient store clerks
  • family members
  • co-workers
  • friends
  • toxic people online…. I’m looking at you social media

…. anyone, anywhere, anytime. If we allow them to remove us from where we want to be —- content, peaceful, happy —- and place us anywhere else, we are at their mercy. Worse, we are their victim.

I guess I’d just never thought of it that way before. Since reading (and re-reading) the words, however, I’ve thought about it plenty!  There are a lot of jackals in this world, after all.  Not one has victimized me since.

Not even vile online toxicity rattles my cage anymore.  If I see someone being a complete jackal, I just thank God that it isn’t my jackal and go about my business.

Book Synopsis: Strange as it may seem, other people are not nearly as committed to our happiness as we are. In fact, sometimes they seem like they’re on a mission to make us miserable! There’s always that one person. The one who hijacks your emotions and makes you crazy. The one who seems to thrive on drama. If you could just FIX that person, everything would be better. But we can’t fix other people – we can only make choices about ourselves. In this cut-to-the-chase book, communication expert Mike Bechtle shows readers that they don’t have to be victims of other people’s craziness.

With commonsense wisdom and practical advice that can be implemented immediately, Bechtle gives readers a proven strategy to handle crazy people.

More than just offering a set of techniques, Bechtle offers a new perspective that will change readers’ lives as they deal with those difficult people who just won’t go away.

How Can People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys help You?

Let’s get right down to it, want to? Why should you get your hands, eyes, and possibly ears on this book as soon as possible?

Because you deserve to be happy. Simple as that.

Yes, reading this book can help you keep peace within your family. Yes, the author’s wonderful advice can help you get along with even the craziest of the crazies, at work or home.  Yes, if you read this book and allow it to sink in, you can have the kind of peaceful, happy family holidays you see in tv commercials.

But, just for a minute, don’t think about any of that. Just for a minute, put everyone and everything else out of your mind and only think about yourself. It isn’t easy to live in a world of crazies – they’re everywhere, after all.  They can, and will, leave their footprints on your psyche. You’ll find yourself coming unglued, sighing deeply, whining, crying, and arguing with people over the silliest things. If it continues, you may even find yourself unable to sleep or unwind as well as you once did and your health can (and will) pay for the turmoil.

A lack of harmony in your life and an inability to “deal” with the handiwork of a crazy person can affect every corner of your life.

This book will help you clean out those corners. You’ll be happier and, as a result, everyone around you will be happier.

Think about it – if you feel tension in your family or at work, everyone feels it.  A tense individual in a room is like a caged tiger. Everyone focuses on the show, holding their breath waiting for the roar.

If you aren’t handling your crazy person (or crazy people, if you’re an over-achiever) well, you’re making everyone around you tense, unhappy, and downright miserable. Whether you encounter your crazies at work or home, you will be happier when you know how to cope with them.

You know I always level with my readers – and I’m telling you right now, this is a book you have to read.  This one’s a life-changer. ~ Joi

 “Never allow yourself to become a victim of anyone else’s shortcomings or weaknesses.” – Mike Bechtle

Review: Clean Slate, A Cookbook and Guide from the Editors of Martha Stewart Living

Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best

Clean Slate Cookbook and Guide

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best

Almost everyone is TALKING these days about “clean eating,” cutting out empty calories, cutting back on red meat, and forgetting that fried food even exists. Yet hardly anyone is actually FOLLOWING through.

Why? It’s a whole lot easier to say you’re going to changer your way of eating than to actually do it.

The talk? Easy. The follow thorough? Not so much.

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best, from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, might just be the book to help you nail the “follow through” once and for all.

As the back cover states, Clean Slate is more than just a cookbook:

More than just a cookbook, CLEAN SLATE, from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, provides you with the nutritionally sound information you need to shop for and prepare food that nourishes body and mind. You’ll find guidelines for restocking your pantry with whole grains, beans and legumes, lean proteins, and healthy fats; glossaries of the best sources of detoxifiers, antioxidants, and other health-boosting nutrients; and menus for a simple 3-day cleanse and a 21-day whole-body detox, with easy to follow tips and strategies for staying on track.

If you’re at all familiar with computers, you now that sometimes your desktop computer needs to be “reset.”  Hitting reset gives your computer a chance to gather itself and clear its thoughts!

I had an old Gateway once that would (every so often) get “hung up.” It’d freeze, usually when I was right in the middle of something. It just really knew how to pick its moments. I’d hit “reset” and it’d come back as good as new.  Oddly enough, it’d actually perform 10 times better after I afforded it the opportunity to start fresh.

Clean Slate offers readers a chance to do just that – to reset their approach to food and get a whole new fresh start on the health of their body by being smarter about what they put into their mouth.

This beautiful book emphasizes eating clean, whole, unprocessed foods as part of a primarily plant-based diet. There are more than 160 great looking, “doable” recipes to help you along the way. Juices, smoothies, main dishes, snacks, and even desserts!

One of the things I love most about Clean Slate is the fact that each recipe clearly and plainly states whether it is vegan, dairy free, nut-free, and/or gluten free.

While I lvoe the recipes like any self-respecting foodie would, my favorite part of the book is the KNOW YOUR NUTRIENTS section. Within these pages are listed the superheroes of the food world – along with colorful photographs:

  • Super Detoxifiers: Foods that support the liver, the “Main Guy” in charge of detoxification. Avocado, citrus fruits, flaxseed….
  • Antioxidant Powerhouses: The vitamins in these foods help neutralize free radicals that contribute to the onset of aging and disease. Carrots, dark beans, cloves, plums….
  • Inflammation Fighters: The foods with Omega-3s, Vitamin E and other compounds that help prevent inflammations. This, in turn, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease while soothing the aches and pains from arthritis.  Walnuts, herbs, papaya…. 
  • Digestive Aids: Foods that are particularly loaded with beneficial bacteria and fiber. They keep the digestive system running smoothly. Honey, mint, turmeric, coconut, ginger…

While there were some foods listed within each of the above groups I expected, there were far more I didn’t expect. It makes smart meal planning easier when you know what each ingredient brings to the Clean Slate Party.

Other subjects covered in Clean Slate:

  • Golden Rules for Eating Clean
  • Restocking Your Pantry
  • Action Plans for Detoxing Your Mind and Body
  • MANY recipes along with gorgeous photographs.

Clean Slate is a beautiful guide/cookbook that’ll help you sort through the maze of healthy eating. You’ll come away from this book armed with all the information you need to begin a fresh new approach to food…. An approach that’ll lead you and your family down the path to better health.

Click through any of the links to take a closer look at Clean Slate on Amazon.

~ Joi

Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.

Review: Happywork by Chris Reimer

A Parable about Happiness and Purpose in the Workplace

Happywork by Chris Reimer

Below, within my review of Happywork, you’ll find three groups of people who you’ll hope read this book as soon as they can get their hands on it.

Quite a while back, I made two specific New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. I vowed to consume my life source, chocolate, daily.
  2. I vowed to read my favorite (non-family/non-Biblical) author, Agatha Christie, daily.

What do these resolutions tell you about me? Well, pretty much all you need to know. I like, very much, to set myself up for success. They also tell you another truth – I may, I just may, mind you, be nuttier than a Payday candy bar.

Dipped in chocolate, of course.

I would have also resolved to spoil my family and cats rotten, obsess over animals, and drink coffee like its my job – but, let’s be honest – I already have a gold medal in each of these sports and carry them out as often as I breathe.

I only mention these resolutions to get at this: I am obsessed with Agatha Christie mysteries and have read and re-read them for years. My favorites are the Hercule Poirot stories and often thank the literary Heavens that the great Christie wrote so many of them.

A recent non-Agatha Christie book I read – and enjoyed very much – made me think of my much loved Hercule Poirot mysteries.  You’ll see the tie-in soon enough.

(Review continued below Charlie’s great quote…)

 Happywork by Chris Reimer

Happywork, by Chris Reimer, is a highly unique book and, as you would imagine, I love anything that can be described as highly unique.

With Happywork, Chris Reimer has given us a highly entertaining parable – a fictitious story that holds wisdom and very sound teachings within the plot, characters, and dialogue.

A fictitious manufacturing company  (“Vunorri Inc”) is in deep, deep trouble.  The hero of the story, Sam Maslow (a “turnaround specialist“) is called in to save the day.  This is where yours truly, the Agatha Christie fan girl, drew an instant comparison to Hercule Poirot.  Sam is called in to get to the bottom of the problem, as Poirot would be called in to solve a mystery.

Sam Maslow runs into mysteries of his own. He only has a certain amount of time to BOTH find the problem and eliminate the problem. And without Poirot’s sidekick Captain Hastings!

Along the way, author Chris Reimer gives the reader a lot of opportunities to reflect over our own approach to work – to be more specific, our attitudes toward work and the way we treat others. We see both sides of the story as they relate to the workplace, the employers and the employees. More importantly, we see how each of these two equally important and necessary groups must have respect for one another.

They have to realize that they’re all working to keep the same ship afloat because, make no mistake about it, if it goes down, they’re all going down with it.

 Three Groups of People Who Will Want to Read Happywork:

  1. Men and Women in Managerial Positions. The mysteries unraveled by Sam aren’t entirely fictitious. These mysteries – or crimes against management, if you will – happen every single day. If not these exact occurrences, then certainly similar ones. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, once identified, these problems can be remedied.  However, make no mistake about it – identity must come first.  I think Happywork has the power to open a lot of eyes. When eyes remain closed, the company soon follows suit. And, let’s face it, closed companies are bad business.
  2. Men and Women in the Workplace… any workplace. If you have co-workers, whether it’s one or one hundred, Happywork can help you with your attitude – toward work as well as your attitude toward your co-workers and “bosses.”  We all look at life, whether it’s our home life or work life through our own personal window. Father Time, discouragements, disappointments, stress, and disagreements can leave streaks and smears across our “work window.”  After awhile, we find ourselves looking through a window PAIN as opposed to a PANE.  Happywork could be just the thing you need to clean that glass.  If you stop to think about the number of hours a week… month… and year you spend at work, you’ll soon realize that the window through which you look at this particular scenery of your life is of the utmost importance. How we see our world determines, to a very large extent, our world.  Oftentimes a simple change of attitude can bring greater contentment, peace,  purpose, and something you may not associate with work… happiness.
  3. People who Enjoy a Great Story! I work entirely from home with my web publishing business. My co-workers? My cats. My bosses? My cats. Can you say, “Zero drama.”? However, even I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Obviously, I enjoy a good mystery. Watching Sam get to the bottom of problems (sometimes in spite of himself) was greatly entertaining and – without giving anything away – I will say that, like Agatha Christie, he provided a couple of plot twists and shockers along the way.

About the Author Chris Reimer:

Chris Reimer is an award-winning communications strategist, a humanist, and a student of human interaction. He founded Rizzo Tees, a t-shirt company headquartered in his basement. Using the skills gained from marketing his t-shirt business, he went on to become possibly the only human alive who went from being a CPA and CFO to a marketing and communications strategist.

Chris is currently Marketing Director at both Kaldi’s Coffee and Honolulu Coffee, is a guest lecturer at Washington University, and resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and two daughters. He is passionate about improving the way humans treat each other, and that especially includes adding more NICE to the workplace. He drinks coffee in the morning and red wine at night, and loves everything Italian.

Join him on HappyworkBook.com, or say hi on Twitter at @ChrisReimer (99% he’ll say hi back). – From “Happywork”

Happywork: A Business Parable About the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose is now available on Amazon!


Happywork by Chris Reimer

Review: Bend Your Brain (From the Minds Behind “Marbles” The Brain Store)

151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (And Grow) Your Mind

Bend Your Brain
Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind has a few questions for you: Want to get your frontal lobe breaking a sweat? Make your blood pump to your cerebellum? Stretch your occipital lobe to its limits?

If you’re as interested in mental fitness and brain health as I am, you’ll answer this question with a question of your own: How soon can we begin?!

Fortunately, you can begin the second you get your hands on this outstanding book. Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is actually more than a book, if we’re being honest here. It’s more of a workout program for the part of our body that is probably taken more for granted than any other part.  Which is perfectly ridiculous when you consider that it runs the whole shebang.

Bend Your Brain
From the Back Cover:

Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they’ve sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they’ve learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they’ve designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):

·  Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
·  Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
·  Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
·  Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
·  Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.

Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin! –  Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind

Bend Your Brain
I have to say, I love everything about “Bend Your Brain.”  I know the STELLAR reputation Marbles: The Brain Store has in the mental fitness world.  When it comes to brain fitness, Marbles is “all in.”  They invest their hearts, bodies, and souls into discovering how the brain works, what it needs to keep working at an optimum level, where problems can arise, and what steps can be taken to avoid these problems.  I’d have as much confidence in their teachings on brain health as I would Rachael Ray’s teachings on cooking, Jillian Michael’s teachings on physical fitness, Albert Pujols’ teachings on swinging a baseball bat…

Well, you get the idea. We’re talking about experts in their chosen field.

MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They’ve been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living.  Like I said… experts.

While the book is flexible, the cover is made of a very sturdy material – it isn’t the type of “romance novel” paper covers that dog-ear or tear. It’s ideal for curling up in a comfy chair with a pencil and a hot Chai Tea Latte as you treat your mind to a FUN and STIMULATING workout.  I’m, perhaps, more familiar with brain games and brain puzzles than the average person. Another one of my blogs (“Out of Bounds“) involves mental fitness and brain health.  While doing research for the articles on “Out of Bounds,” I’ve bought and used countless books with “brain stimulating” puzzles.

Frankly, there are quite a few on the market that are outstanding. However, the puzzles throughout Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind are different from other puzzles I’ve seen in other books. Bend Your Brain does a much better job of letting you know WHY you need each type of puzzle.  I also love the fact that the puzzles address the five key brain categories (visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory).

What good would it be to focus on just one or two?!?!

If I were to recommend one book for the individual who is interested in protecting and strengthening their mind, this would be the book.  The puzzles are a PERFECT blend of challenging, very challenging, and OMG challenging.  What’s more, they’re a lot of fun!

If you’re looking to strengthen your mind and memory, increase self-confidence, and even improve your problem-solving skills, Bend Your Brain shouldn’t just be the next book you buy… it has to be the next book you buy.

Click through and learn more about Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind. Trust me, this is one you and your brain are going to love.

Never stop learning!
~ Joi

Bend Your Brain Book Review
Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.

Why The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman Should be the Next Book You Buy (Review)

Ten Reasons Why You're Going to Love this Book

The VB6 Cookbook Collage

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore

If you’re looking for fun, simple ways to eat healthier, here’s a book that’ll prove to be a dream come true for you. The VB6 Cookbook: More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night doesn’t just provide you with delicious, easy to make recipes that won’t break the bank, it makes eating healthier fun and.. yes… tastier.

Okay. Before you accuse me of getting my Self Help Blog mixed up with my Food Blog (Get Cooking) let me assure you I’m posting a cookbook review on Self Help Daily for an excellent reason. You see, this isn’t just a cookbook. This book is actually part of a life improving program, The VB6 plan by Mark Bittman.  Anything that can improve someone’s health and life is a perfect fit for a self help and self improvement blog.

Have you ever heard the term “flexitarian?” Flexitarian refers to a relationship with food that isn’t 100 percent strictly vegan.  It’s a way of eating that is flexible, meaning more people will actually STICK with it. Mark Bittman’s VB6 program is simplistically beautiful: You simply eat vegan before 6:00 pm.  The program has helped a great number of people improve their health, lose weight, and feel better than they’d felt in years.

See? I told you this book was a perfect fit for a Self Improvement blog!

Below are the Top 10 Reasons you shouldn’t wait another day before you buy The VB6 Cookbook:

  1. Gorgeous Book. Whenever I review a book on Self Help Daily or Get Cooking, I always pay close attention to my first impression of the book. Is it well-made (meaning it’ll stand up to years of use and enjoyment)? Is it attractive? Does it look like the publishers were serious about impressing the readers or was their heart only halfway into it? The VB6 Cookbook is a real looker. The beautiful, hardback, 250+ page book is everything, visually, I’d want a book to be.
  2. Mark Bittman. Period. To say I cook a lot is a ridiculous understatement. I’m in my kitchen more often than a Priest is in church.  I’m seldom happier than I am when I’m cooking meals for my family and I LOVE trying out new recipes as much as I LOVE using and re-using favorite recipes.  Mark Bittman is the author of many of my favorite recipes. When I want to try out a new recipe for something in particular, I’ll turn to Mark Bittman’s recipes before I turn to a lot of household name celebrity chefs.  His recipes never fail, it’s as simple as that.
  3. Healthy Eating = Healthy Living. Not long ago, I spent a few days in the waiting room of a cardiology surgical center.  I was with a family member who was WAY too young to find themselves in a hospital gown in such a place. Sad thing was, as I looked around, I saw A LOT of people who were WAY too young to be where they were. Heart disease isn’t just frightening, it’s striking more and more people and it’s striking them at younger ages.  Plain and simple, it’s the American diet and something has got to be done about it.  We’re creating our own plague of Biblical proportions and if people don’t wake up and start eating healthier, they’ll find themselves in hospitals, cardiology departments, and worse.
  4. KISS.  No, not the rock group.  KISS as in Keep It Simple, Stupid.  This book – or more to the point, this program – makes it painless and incredibly simple to start eating healthier. If you don’t know why that’s important, you must have skipped number 3.
  5. Delicious Food! Even if, somehow, you didn’t associate these recipes with healthier eating, you’d still love the delicious flavors.
  6. Fun Food.  Whether you’re one of those people who live to cook (like me) or you’d rather do just about anything BUT cook, you’ll love The VB6 Cookbook.  The recipes are fun, creative, and mix things up a bit in the kitchen.  You’ll find recipes you’ll be so excited about you’ll want to try them the very day you get the book.  I actually made my first recipe (Chipotle “Mayo”) from The VB6 Cookbook within 2 hours of getting the book in the mail. That’s a new record, even for me.
  7. Your Family. While this one may somewhat tie in with number 3, it’s important enough to get it’s very own number.  The more healthy meals you’re able to feed your family, the better their health will be. Not only are you giving them wholesome, healthy food at one particular meal, you’re introducing them to a whole new relationship with food. They’ll soon realize that healthier eating is actually more flavorful than unhealthy eating.  When you get right down to it, most unhealthy food tastes pretty much the same.  Fried. Fatty. Salty.  The VB6 way of eating will introduce your loved ones to a world of wonderful flavors that’ll make them fall in love with healthier eating.  Here’s a little secret about eating healthy – you can keep this between you and me, the kids and spouses don’t have to know: Healthy eating becomes addictive.  When you get rid of the bad stuff, you’ll find yourself craving the good stuff.  Where you once said, “I need a big fat cheeseburger with a farmer’s wealth of bacon,” you’ll find yourself thinking, “I have to have a Cherry Vanilla Smoothie and Vegetable Pot Pie or maybe Schezuan Beef and Celery..” (3 of the recipes in the book).  I don’t know why – but it’s my experience that the healthier you eat, the healthier you want to eat. Sadly the same is true about unhealthy eating.
  8. Motivation and Inspiration.  The first pages of the book include Mark Bittman’s “My Story.”  The motivational intro makes you even more committed to eating right. Basically, you jump right in the boat with the author and agree to go on a healthier journey with him.  He’s one of those authors who write in a manner that makes you feel like he’s talking to you, personally.  Reading his books (and even his recipes) feels like you’re having a nice little visit with him.  This type of writing cannot be taught, it’s a gift and when he was gifted, he was gifted generously.
  9. Information and Advice Beyond the Recipes.   After the wonderful Introduction, pages 12 through 45 lay out the VB6 plan beautifully. There are charts, information, meal plans, ideas, suggestions, and more.   There are also personalized tips and ideas with each recipe in the book – including “variations” and “more ideas.”
  10. You’re the Boss of You.  While The VB6 program is best (as in you’ll see the most results) if you follow it as designed, when all’s said and done, You’re the boss of you!  If you want to approach the program strictly and eat Vegan before 6:00 on most, if not all, days – go for it!  If you want to simply add MORE vegetarian meals to your diet, then approach the cookbook in that way.  If you’re simply looking for fresh new healthy recipes to serve your family… the cookbook is still a must have.

 Some of the recipes you’ll love:

  • Chipotle “Mayo” (the first recipe I made from the book – delicious! This “mayo” is a great dip for vegetables and is excellent as a condiment for burgers or protein patties)
  • Scrambled Sweet and Hot Peppers
  • Pico De Gallo
  • Nut Butters
  • Everyday Salad Bowl
  • Blueberry Spoon Bread
  • Schezuan Beef and Celery
  • Cherry Vanilla Smoothie
  • Avocado Banana Smoothie
  • Morning Milkshake
  • Pork Chop Pan Roast
  • Raspberry Sorbet on a Stick
  • Green Toast
  • Fruit Candy
  • Frozen Tropical Truffles
  • Red Paella with Scallops
  • Beans, Shrimp, and Fennel
  • Southwestern Bean Dip with Peppers (black beans, cloves,cilantro…)
  • Red Soup
  • Creamy Tomato Soup
  • Big Batch Cooked Beans
  • Rice Pudding with Slow-Roasted Fruit
  • MANY MANY MANY more.

From the Back Cover:

Mark Bittman’s breakthrough diet plan, first introduced in the #1 New York Times bestselling VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good (click through for the hard back version of this bestseller  – a Kindle edition is also available), has been hailed as “compelling” (Publisher’s Weekly), “commonsense” (Washington Post), “sustainable” (TheKitchn.com), and a “small painless change” that can have a “huge impact” (Salon.com). Now he expands on his appealing, simple, reasonable approach to flexitarian cooking with a companion cookbook, featuring hundreds of delicious new ways to make VB6 your permanent style of eating. It’s never been easier to eat vegan before 6:00 – and deliciously all of the time.

I hope you’ll click through and take a closer look at The VB6 Cookbook: More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night – I’m really excited about this particular approach to eating and I’m having a ball with the wonderful recipes.

I know you’ll love The VB6 Cookbook just as much as I do.

~ Joi

Note: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are entirely my own.

The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman

The 2 Day Diet? Now You’re Talking!

Diet Two Days a Week, Eat the Mediterranean Way for Five

The 2 Day Diet

I love it when I’m able to write a book review about a book that I actually got a lot out of.  Today I have the opportunity to do just that.

I was sent a copy of The 2-Day Diet: Diet two days a week. Eat the Mediterranean way for five to review and the benefits are twofold:

  • I get to tell you beautiful people all about a book that I know you’ll love.
  • I learned a lot about nutrition, calories, and eating healthy from reading the book myself!

I regularly read a great deal about health and nutrition (as in daily… 24/7).  Before reading The 2-Day Diet, I actually felt like I was sitting on an impressive amount of information when it came to the whole game of calories in/calories out.  However, after reading the book cover to cover, I now have a much better understanding of a body’s needs and a better handle on how the body uses food as fuel.

From the Back Cover:

Lose weight fast with the international diet sensation. Diet two days a week. Eat the Mediterranean way for five.

The 2-Day Diet is easy to follow, easy to stick to, and clinically tested. Simply eat a low carb, high protein diet two days a week, and follow the classic Mediterranean Diet (now recognized as the gold standard in warding off heart disease) for the other five.

The 2-Day Diet is designed to  maximize weight loss, minimize muscle loss and keep you feeling full. It  can have dramatic anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. With this diet you can finally be slim, fit and healthy. With meal plans and 100 delicious and filling recipes.

“A far more effective way to lose weight.” –Daily Mail

“Put an end to 24/7 calorie counting.” – The Sun

“Revolutionary and clinically proven.” –Good Housekeeping


The Value of Updated, Clinically Proven Information

A lot of people cling to out-dated fitness and weight-loss information that really amount to little more than old wives tales. So much clinical research has been done over the years and it’s kind of nuts not to take advantage of the information this research has uncovered.

Researchers, doctors, and nutritionists are sitting on more information today than they were 20 or even 5 years ago.  In spite of this fact, most people still struggle with their weight and if most of us actually went for yearly checkups, we’d probably find several numbers that didn’t mesh with the numbers on our doctor’s chart.

I guess part of the problem is the fact that, sure, there’s a wealth of nutritional information available – but there’s even more junk food and empty calories available.  Pile that fact on top of the fact that we’re basically a non-active society and it’s a wonder the problem isn’t worse than it is!

The 2-Day Diet: Diet two days a week. Eat the Mediterranean way for five presents a clear plan for taking control of your diet and your health.  In addition to naturally solving weight issues, following this plan will also help you age better and will provide you with anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and anti-heart disease benefits.  If you aren’t at your optimum weight – this program will help you find your way and if you ARE at your ideal weight, it’ll help you stay there.

Some of the information covered in The 2 Day Diet Includes:

  • the combination of exercises you need to be doing
  • eight steps to weight loss
  • the foods you should eat on the five days you aren’t on a “diet”
  • WHY this program works
  • meal planners
  • how to become more active
  • recipes for each of the 7 days
  • and more…

(review continued below)

The 2 Day Diet

From the Introduction:

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this that we are getting fatter. Rates of obesity have reached epidemic proportions, and worldwide there are now more overweight people than those who are a healthy weight.  Despite massive government investment in healthy eating campaigns and any number of different diets promising effective weight loss, the number of us who are overweight just keeps rising…..

…. With so many different diets available, can The 2-Day Diet really make a difference? We believe that it can. The 2-Day Diet is designed to help you make the right choices, lose weight, change your habits, and actively improve your health without leaving you feeling deprived. Our work with serial dieters has shown that this unique approach offers a real alternative for anyone who struggles to stick to a conventional diet. We were so impressed by the positive results of The 2-Day Diet that we wanted to make it available to everyone who is struggling – or who has struggled – to lose weight.  The 2-Day Diet has paved the way to a slimmer, healthier future for many of our dieters…. – From The 2-Day Diet: Diet two days a week. Eat the Mediterranean way for five by Dr. Michelle Harvie & Professor Tony Howell

Click through any of the links above to learn more about this revolutionary (and common sense) approach to weight loss and management.

 ~ Joi


How to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs

Review for Janet Bond Brill's Latest Book "Blood Pressure Down"

Blood Pressure Down: The 10 Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks without Prescription Drugs

When I was offered an opportunity to review Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs on Self Help Daily, I jumped at the chance. I was already familiar with the author, Janet Bond Brill, PH.D., R.D., L.D.N., and had even previously written a review of another of her books: Prevent a Second Heart Attack (click the link for the review).  Truth be told, after reading Prevent a Second Heart Attack, I was already looking forward to the author’s next book!

Like most people, I’m completely and utterly drawn to the idea of handling as many health problems (and potential health issues) as “naturally” as possible. Obviously this isn’t always possible – after all, many medications are life savers.  I like the thought of a patient proactively working with their doctor – doing their part to bring about healing and better health.

From the Back Cover

For the 75 million Americans with hypertension, a safe, effective lifestyle plan—incorporating the DASH diet principles and much more—for lowering blood pressure naturally.

If you have high blood pressure, you’re not alone: nearly a third of adult Americans have been diagnosed with hypertension, and another quarter are well on their way. Yet a whopping 56 percent of diagnosed patients do not have it under control. The good news? Hypertension is easily treatable (and preventable), and you can take action today to bring your blood pressure down in just four weeks—without the potential dangers and side effects of prescription medications.

     In Blood Pressure Down, Janet Bond Brill distills what she’s learned over decades of helping her patients lower their blood pressure into a ten-step lifestyle plan that’s manageable for anyone. You’ll:

   • harness the power of blood pressure power foods like bananas, spinach, and yogurt
   • start a simple regimen of exercise and stress reduction
   • stay on track with checklists, meal plans, and more than fifty simple recipes

Easy, effective, safe—and delicious—Blood Pressure Down is the encouraging resource that empowers you, or your loved ones, to lower your blood pressure and live a longer, heart-healthy life.

75 million Americans, alone, have high blood pressure – the number just blows my mind.  One of my daughters recently commented (kind of matter-of-fact) that just about everyone she works with has high blood pressure. The disease is almost as rampant as it is dangerous. Needless to say, if you have high blood pressure, please make sure that you’re under a doctor’s care.  Read Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs, taking notes throughout the book, then take the book and your notes to your doctor.  Tell him/her that you want to treat your blood pressure as naturally as possible!

Below are just a few of the things I love most about this wonderful book and just a few of the reasons I’d love to see everyone add this book to their library as soon as possible.

  1. I’m not the least bit “medically inclined.” My knowledge of medicines and diseases couldn’t even fill a notebook.  Let’s not let this get out, but I”m not entirely certain I could fill 2 notebook pages! Yet, Janet Bond Brill makes everything beautifully clear.  When I read her books, I always find myself wishing she’d taught my biology classes. She puts everything “within reach” of her readers, which is wonderful of her considering this is life and death information.
  2. This book presents a DOABLE action plan. You’re given 10 clear steps that you can begin implementing the very day you open the book.  In reverence to the authors and publishers I work with, I never want to “give away” too much information. For one thing, it’s simply not fair to them!  For another thing, however, it’s not fair to my readers because I’d never want you to miss out on a wonderfully important book because you think you’ve “gotten” all the information you need.  This is why I don’t want to lay out the ten steps for you here, however, I will tell you one because it makes me smile (as in ear to ear): Eat Dark Chocolate.   Each “Step” has an entire chapter devoted to it.  Eat Dark Chocolate has 16 pages, itself, detailing how dark chocolate has strong beautiful roots as an ancient medicine.  You learn how and why dark chocolate is so healthy and then you’re given the magic words: Eat 2 Tablespoons of Natural, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder or One or Two Squares of Dark Chocolate Every Day.  Yes, Ma’am!
  3. Exercise – as in what qualifies and what doesn’t – is covered in great, clear detail.
  4. You learn the effects sleep and relaxation have on blood pressure.
  5. Recipes! There are quite a few delicious and healthy recipes included.  Sometimes it’s hard to know which foods are healthiest – after reading Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs, you won’t have any more excuses. You’ll know for certain which foods you should throw on the table and which foods you should throw in the trash.
  6. You’re also given tips for slashing salt at home as well as in restaurants.  Salt is very problematic for hypertension, but getting rid of it’s a lot easier than you’d think.  You’ll also see where salt is showing up in foods you never would have expected.
  7. Label Lingo – you’ll learn what to look for on labels at the store. There is a list on pages 88-89 that I’ve written on an index card. I’ve become quite a label reader, so arming myself with healthy information makes good sense.  As the author says, you’ll learn where the salt’s “hiding!”
  8. You’ll learn the importance of magnesium as you’re given 10 easy tips for adding magnesium to your day.
  9. The author takes a very confusing subject (supplements) and lays it all out in plain language.  At the end of the chapter, you know exactly which supplements you should be taking.
  10. Last, but certainly not least (in fact, it’s my favorite thing about the book!): Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs is for ANYONE, whether you have high blood pressure now, have a family history of high blood pressure, love someone who has high blood pressure, or simply want to eat healthy as a preventive step.  I, personally, do not have high blood pressure.  I have, however, read this book cover to cover, memorizing the information as I went along. I feel like I am armed with information that’ll help prevent me from ever being one of the 75 million Americans with hypertension. Equally important, I have information to share with my family to keep them from developing problems with their blood pressure.

This author is all about preventing diseases, not just treating them, and I hope you will follow her advice as well.  I “whole-heartedly” recommend this fantastic, potentially life-saving book.

~ Joi

[notification type=”standard”] About the Author: Janet Bond Brill, PH.D., R.D., L.D.N. is a nationally recognized expert in cardiovascular disease prevention and the author of Cholesterol Down and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. She has been a nutritionist in private practice for many years. Visit her website at www.drjanet.com. [/notification]


Bouncing Back from Life’s Challenges and Disappointments

An Inspirational Article by Author Linda Graham: Hiccups and Hurricanes

Bouncing Back by Linda Graham
When you read (or hear) the words “bouncing back,” what do you think of? I suppose it’s because I’ve had three daughters, but when I see/hear the words, I initially think of “bouncing back” from a 9 month pregnancy, labor, and recovery.  I imagine the time and effort it takes to “feel whole” again.

This imagery can actually accompany anything that we need to “bounce back” from.

I remember when my husband’s mother passed away.  When we went to a ballgame soon after and my husband was taking business calls as he ate popcorn and got ready to throw out the first pitch, I thought “he’s returning to a type of normalcy.”  Put another way, he was “bouncing back.”  All of us who have lost loved ones know that, at some point, you have to get up and carry on. You have to find a way to smile again and look at the future with hope as you make peace with the past and present.

Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a health set-back, financial thunderstorm, or relationship disaster – we either bounce back or we stay down.

Staying down just isn’t an option, right?

A very talented author, Linda Graham, MFT, has written a fascinating and thought-provoking, book wonderfully titled Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being.

From the Back Cover of Bouncing Back:

Resilience is the ability to face and handle life’s challenges, whether everyday disappointments or extraordinary disasters. While resilience is innate in the brain, over time we learn unhelpful patterns, which then become fixed in our neural circuitry. But science is now revealing that what previously seemed hardwired can be rewired, and Bouncing Back shows us how. With powerful, time-tested exercises, Linda Graham guides us in rebuilding our core well-being and disaster-proofing our brains.

Below is an article that was written by Linda Graham. It sort of “sets the stage” for the book. ~ Joi

Hiccups and Hurricanes: Bouncing Back from Life’s Challenges

By Linda Graham

We are all called upon to cope with hiccups and hurricanes in our lives — losing our wallet and car keys, discovering mold in the bathroom, missing three days at the office to care for a sick child — and we do. We are resilient heroes in our own lives every day as we skillfully navigate the disruptive, unwanted changes of the washing machine going on the fritz or the car needing a new transmission.

Occasionally we have to respond with grace under pressure to greater troubles and tragedies: infertility or infidelity, a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, losing a job, a son wounded in combat overseas.

The way we can bounce back from such everyday disappointments and extraordinary disasters is through resilience – capacities innate in the brain to respond to the inevitable twists and turns in life flexibly and adaptively.

Modern neuroscience is revealing how we can harness the brain’s capacities of neuroplasticity to rewire our habitual patterns of response to strengthen what I call the 5 C’s of coping:

  1. Calm: You can stay calm in a crisis.
  2. Clarity: You can see clearly what’s happening as well as your internal response to what’s happening; you can see what needs to happen next; and you can see possibilities from different perspectives that will enhance your ability to respond flexibly.
  3. Connection: You can reach out for help as needed; you can learn from others how to be resilient; and you can connect to resources that greatly expand your options.
  4. Competence: You can call on skills and competencies that you have learned through previous experience to act quickly and effectively.
  5. Courage: You can strengthen your faith to persevere in your actions until you come to resolution or acceptance of the difficulty.

More than 80 exercises in Bouncing Back allow you to do this rewiring safely, efficiently, effectively.  The tools and techniques drawn from mindfulness practices and relational psychology create and accelerate brain change and strengthen the parts of the brain we need to cope.  You recover a deep resilience and well-being that will last a lifetime.

An example: Keep CALM and Carry On

The fastest way to regulate the body’s stress response and return to a sense of calm is to activate the release of oxytocin in the brain.  Oxytocin is the neurostransmitter of safety and trust and is the brain’s direct and immediate antidote to the stress hormone cortisol.  Oxytocin can be thought of as the neurochemical foundation of resilience.

The fastest way to release oxytocin and mitigate stress is through safe touch in a soothing relationship.  Fortunately, neuroscientists have demonstrated many times that even remembering or imaging someone we love and by whom we feel loved is enough to release small but regular doses of oxytocin.

Exercise: Hand on the Heart

We come into steady calm by experiencing moments of feeling safe, loved, and cherished and letting those moments register in our body and encode new circuitry in our brain. This exercise offers a way to evoke those feelings.

1. Begin by placing your hand on your heart, feeling the warmth of your own touch. Breathe gently and deeply into your heart center, taking in a sense of calm, peace, goodness, safety, trust, acceptance, and ease.

2. Once that’s steady, call to mind a moment of being with someone who loves you unconditionally, someone you feel completely safe with. This may, of course, be a partner, child, or parent; but if the dynamics of those relationships are complicated and the emotions mixed, you may choose any true other to your true self: a dear friend, a trusted teacher, a close colleague or neighbor, a therapist, your grandmother, a spiritual figure like Jesus or the Dalai Lama, or your wiser self. Pets are also great for this exercise.

3. As you remember feeling safe and loved with this person or pet, see if you can sense in your body the positive feelings and sensations associated with that memory. Really savor a feeling of warmth, safety, trust, and love in your body.

4. When that feeling is steady, let go of the image and simply bathe in the feeling itself for thirty seconds. Savor the rich nurturing of this feeling; let it really soak in.

The Neuroscience:

Breathing deeply, gently, and fully activates the calming branch of our autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic branch. The parasympathetic modulates the body-brain’s fight-flight-freeze response when we feel threatened or agitated. Breathing, or pranayama, has been a core practice in yoga and meditation to relax the body and steady the mind for over 3,500 years.

Breathing positive emotions into the heart center steadies the heart rate, restoring the equilibrium of the body so that we can remain present and engaged. In evoking a memory or image of feeling loved and cherished, we evoke a sense of safe connection with others; the oxytocin immediately
reduces our stress.  That evocation also activates the prefrontal cortex, which triggers the hippo-campus to search for explicit memories of moments when we have been held, soothed, protected, encouraged, believed in, times when we have reached out for help and received comfort and support

Through safety and trust in connection, we come back into our baseline equilibrium. From there, with our higher, thinking brain calm and alert, we can mobilize quickly, act skillfully, and take care of business.

Based on the book Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. Copyright © 2013 by Linda Graham. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.NewWorldLibrary.com.

*    *    *    *    *
Linda Graham, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist and meditation teacher in full-time practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She integrates her passion for neuroscience, mindfulness, and relational psychology through trainings, consultations, workshops, and conferences nationally. She publishes a monthly e-newsletter, Healing and Awakening into Aliveness and Wholeness, and weekly e-quotes on resources for recovering resilience, archived at www.lindagraham-mft.net.

Find Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being on Amazon!