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Change Your Environment, Change Your Life

Woman seeking positive life change.

Your life deserves a perfectly, stunning change for the best.

Your environment has a tremendous impact on how you feel and what you are able to accomplish in your life. Your environment is an external reflection of your internal state. What does your environment say about you? Is your desk cluttered and disorganized? Is your house filled with projects left undone? These environmental cues suggest a difficulty with prioritization and focus. To achieve your goals, you must structure your environment to support your efforts.

Your current environment supports your current life. To create new possibilities for yourself, you must create a new environment. The good news is that you have the ability to recreate your environment. You can choose to create an environment that supports your life purpose and goals. Discover valuable tools to help your restructure your environment to support your goals.

Restructure Your Physical Environment to Support Your Life Goals

There is a strong connection between our external environment and our internal state. Here are some improvements you can make to your physical environment to improve your productivity.

1.     Broadcast your goals. Create a vision board.

Companies spend such much money on marketing and advertising because they know it works. We respond to subtle cues in our environment that bypass our conscious mind. Yet these sub-concious cues still influence our behavior.

You can use this information to your advantage by programming your subconscious mind through visual cues. These visual cues are a constant reminder to focus on your goals. They speak directly to your subconscious and motivate your behavior. Broadcasting intentional messages to yourself, engages your unconscious mind in producing your goals.

A vision board is a great way to communicate your life goals to your subconscious mind. When you have a clear picture of what you want in life, then you can start to attract it. A vision board is a collection of images, words and photos that represent the things you want to have, be, or do in life.

If you don’t already have a vision board, create one immediately. It’s quite simple. Grab a poster board, glue, pictures, old magazines, cut-out pictures, drawings, writing, and any arts & craft supplies you enjoy. Paste them to your board in any order that is appealing to you. It’s fun to do this activity with friends, so invite a few over and create your vision boards together.

Once you have your vision board, make sure to prominently display it where you will see it often. I display my vision board on my bedroom wall. It is the first thing that I see in the morning and the last thing that I see at night. When these images enter your mind regularly, you’ll be amazed how quickly they will become your reality. Our dreams and goals change often, so update your board often!

2.     Breathe life into your environment. Add plants.

Affirming our connection to nature is an easy way to improve our health, well-being, and productivity. As I “city girl” , I enjoy the fast-paced energy of densely packed streets with tall concrete buildings. Yet, I know that we all need some greenery to promote reconnection and restoration.

The physical and emotional benefits of spending time in nature are well documented. In my article on sensory walks, I review some of the cutting edge research on nature’s impact on our health. Spending time in nature increases our immune functioning, productivity, and creativity. You can bring these benefits into your home by adding potted plants to your home and office spaces.

Make life easier for yourself, add greenery to your work environment and watch your performance improve.

Besides providing us with clean, fresh air, potted plants also help us to be more motivated and productive. Research in the UK and Netherlands showed that adding potted plants to offices increased workers’ productivity by fifteen percent. Other research shows that working around potted plants helps to improve concentration and memory by twenty percent.  Thus, adding potted plants to your regular working locations improves the quantity and quality of your work. Also, consider working outside in nature as much as possible.

 

3.     Give your mind (and your eyes) a place to rest. Clean your desktop.

Can clearing off your desk, really clear your mind? Yes. My mind can not rest when I am bombarded with all the visual reminders of everything that need to be completed. Productivity author and coach, David Allen refers to these as “open loops” and suggests that they are major source of stress in our life.

An open loop is “anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is”. This could be an unfinished craft project covering the dining room table. It could be a pile of papers on the desk because they are important and you don’t want to forget. Stress comes from having too many of these open loops and not having an effective system to capture and manage them. Clutter is a crude way of reminding ourselves because we don’t have an effective system that we trust.

The secret to managing our energy and productivity is to eradicate the unfinished loops. We either commit to completing the task right then or we plan a time when we will complete the task. This allows us to put the visual reminder away and removes the stress and energy drain. If you need help creating an effective system of capturing and planning all the personal and work tasks you have, I recommend reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. It’s a comprehensive system that will allow your mind to rest because you now can manage all your necessary tasks. It will also help you make and keep your environment clutter free.

Change Your Human Environment

Environment is not limited to our physical environment. It also includes our human environment, the people we interact with on a regular basis as well. Your human environment plays a huge role in your behavior and expectations for yourself.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are a product of the five people we spend the most time with. Our weight is the average of these five close friends. Our level of happiness is the average o these five close friends. Daniel Goleman’s book Social Intelligence presents research documenting people’s influence on us. The people we are emotionally closest to and interact with on a regular basis have a tremendous impact on our neurological wiring and health.

Consider your current human environment and assess how well it supports your life purpose and goals?

Here are two simple steps you can take to improve your human environment.

 

Expand your circle. Invite a new person to lunch

One easy way to improve your life, is to become closer to people who reflect the kind of life you want to live. If you value travel and see yourself traveling all over the world, you need friends with an active passport as well. They will reinforce and support your goal of international travel.

As you mature, you will develop new goals and dreams for yourself. You may notice that some of those values and habits are not in your current circle of friends. By being open to making new friends, you increase your stream of new information and habits.

Of course, you need to be selective of who you invite into your friendship circle. Make sure they are congruent with your life purpose and core values. But, they do not need to be like your current group of friends. In fact, they may be quite different. This is great because interacting with them will allow you to develop new parts of yourself and see yourself in new ways.

Upgrade your conversations. Ask new questions.

Improving your human environment does not mean totally replacing the current people you spend time with. You can improve the quality of your current relationships by upgrading the quality of your conversations.

What do you and your friends spend most of your time talking about? Your problems? Other people? Celebrities? It’s fine to spend some time discussing these topics, but they shouldn’t be the mainstay of your conversations. Remember, what you focus on gets magnified.

Reshape your human environment to better support your dreams, by changing your conversations with close friends and family. Use these times to talk about your life purpose and how you are putting that into action in your daily life. Ask them about their goals and how they are fulfilling their life purpose. Ask how you might be able to support them in the process.

The quality of your conversations determines the quality of your relationships. By upgrading your conversations with your close friends and family, it’s easier for you (and them) to take action on your life goals.

How are you going to restructure your environment to support your dreams? Share your thoughts below as well as other strategies that have worked for you. Support yourself and your dreams today!

 

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3 Simple Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

natural way to boost your immune system

We can improve the functioning of our immune system by cultivating these three emotional states.

We often look for ways to improve their immune systems; protecting ourselves from being bed-ridden during flu season or or catching every bug that travels through our workplace.. Health food stores sell millions of dollars’ worth of supplements of Vitamin C and other vitamins known to improve your immune functioning. Yet, there’s an overlooked way to strengthen your immune system that is research proven to be effective and it’s FREE.

 

Emotions play a critical role in the functioning of our immune system in both positive and negative ways. Emotions has a significant impact on both our production of antibodies and our natural killer blood cells (NK cells) that serve as our first line of immune strength. Antibodies help to identify and attack foreign germs in our bodies. NK cells work to destroy tumor cells, disease tissue, bacteria as well as to help antibodies fight against infections in their early stages. In this article, I identify emotions that are known to impact our body’s production and operation of antibodies and/or NK cells. We can clearly see the dangerous emotions that weaken the immune system as well as 3 emotions we can practice as a daily boost to our immune system, naturally.

 

Emotions that Destroy the Immune System

Anger

Anger raises our blood pressure, increases our heart beat, gives us headaches and compromises our cognitive function. But did you know that anger can also make it easier for you to get the flu? In a study published by the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, researchers asked people to recall either an angry situation or a loving situation. The participants who recalled an angry situation experienced significantly lower immune antibodies. Moreover, the decrease in antibodies cause by anger lasted for six hours. Anger suppresses the immune functioning long beyond the situation that made us angry has passed.

 

Loneliness

Social isolation and the feelings of loneliness that it produces also works to weaken the functioning of our immune systems. A research study found that infant monkeys caged alone and separate from their mothers generate fewer antibodies in response to viruses. The act of physical and social separate suppresses the power of the immune system, making us vulnerable to a host of minor and major diseases.

 

Fear/Anxiety

Anxiety also known as stress is a primary driver of many health problems, often operating by weakening the immune system. While a short dose of fear can produce a healthy, enhanced physical performance, sustained states of fear for one’s safety a security dramatically reduce the health of the immune system. In fact, the negative impact of social fear is even greater than the impact of physical deprivation on our immune system.

 

In a study reviewed by the Harvard School of Medicine, mice were put into a cage with a highly aggressive mouse two hours a day for six days and repeatedly threatened (but not injured) were twice as likely to die as other mice that were kept in tiny cages without food and water for long periods. The social stressor of fear is a even more powerful impact on immune functioning that the stressor of physical deprivation.

 

Emotions that Naturally Boost Your Immune System

Emotions are produced by thoughts, but they are not isolated in your mind. Your emotional state triggers a cascade of physical reactions in your body. Every time you operate from feelings of anger, loneliness, and fear you are pouring waves of toxicity through your body, damaging your immune system and compromising your overall health. The good news is that the impact of our emotional state on the functioning of body goes in both the positive and negative direction.

 

We have the power to choose our emotional state. Much of our emotional state is a product not of what happens to us, but rather how we think about what happens to us. In a previous article, I review how we can replace the negative thinking that produces unhealthy responses with more positive thoughts that promote our physical and psychological well-being.  As we practice creating positive, healthy emotional states for ourselves, we remove and repair the damage created by anxiety, loneliness, and fear. We can literally make ourselves healthier by intentionally cultivating the following emotional states in our daily lives.

 

Humor

Humor can be a great way to combat the damage created by created by anger and other negative emotions. Humor dramatically improves not only our psychological sense of well-being but our immune system as well. Humor curbs stress hormones and boost our NK cell production.

 

Injecting humor into our lives significantly improves the functioning of our immune system hours after the humorous event and days leading up to a humorous event.  In a research study where men were told three days in advance that they were going to watch a funny video, they experienced a significantly lower drop in stress hormones (as compared to those men who were not anticipating the funny video). Moreover, 12 hours after watching a funny video, the research participants still had higher biological indicators of immunity than those who did not watch the video. Laughter is truly (long-acting) medicine.

 

You can significantly improve your immune system functioning and your overall physical health by injecting more humor into your day. Allow yourself “indulgences” of humor, like a funny 5min youtube clip or a funny movie. Too often when we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we remove these activities out of our lives because we “don’t have time” for such frivolous play. But there is nothing frivolous about humor. It is an essential part of a healthy life and will provide you with immediate and long-term benefits to your productivity and physical health. So go ahead and tell a funny joke. Improve your and someone else’s immune system today.

 

Connection

Humans are social creatures and have an inherent need for connection to maintain health and overall well-being. This positive impact of connection includes three dimensions: connection to self, connection to others, and connection to nature. While these three dimensions of connection are distinctive they are interrelated and connection in one area enhances and expands the capacity for connection in the others. Promoting our connectedness strengthens the functioning of our immune system.

 

Research shows a positive correlation between social connectedness and immune functioning. Individuals who have a network of social support produce more disease fighting NK cells than those who don’t. Scholars conclude that increasing social support might provide a “high natural immunity” to disease and infection.  So take the time to connect with your family and friends and visit loved ones who are sick. These emotional bonds strengthen both your and their immune systems.

 

A number of other research studies have shown connecting with nature also enhances your immune functioning. A study that compared men taking 2 hour walks in parks or forest to men walking for the same amount of time in the city found that that visiting parks and forests raised the production of NK cells by 50%.  Another study focused on women found the same effect and noted that the increase in NK cells lasted a week for those women who walked in nature.  Practicing sensory walks in nature is a great way to boost our immune system and become more aware of our connections to the larger world.

 

Happiness

Steven Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine and a member of the UCLA Cousins Center, and his colleagues have spent years studying the impact of happiness and other emotions on gene expression and physical health. They distinguish between two types of happiness: happiness resulting from a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life and happiness focused only on pleasure seeking and self-gratification.  In their report to the National Academy of Sciences, they found that happiness resulting from a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life promotes the gene expression of antiviral and antibody genes. Happiness focused only on self-gratification had the opposite effect, suppressing the health of the immune system.

 

Happy people are healthier and live longer. Yet this relationship between happiness and positive health only exists for those individuals who cultivate happiness from a deep sense of meaning and purpose in life. These are people who are clear on their unique contribution to this world and have developed a life that reflects their personal truth.

 

Thankfully, we all can cultivate this kind of happiness. I’ve provided some free resources on my website (www.yourlifeinfocuscoach.com) to help you in cultivating a life of happiness that reflects and affirms your core values and life purpose. If you’d like more clarity on discovering your life purpose, sign up to receive my free Life Goals Planning Toolkit.

 

Wishing you a life filled with joy, connection, purpose, and health!

References:

Berk LS, Felten DL, Tan SA, Bittman BB, Westengard J, 2001. “Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter.” Alternative Therapeutic Health Medicine 7(2).

Christie W. & C. Moore. 2005. “The impact of humor on patients with cancer.” Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 9:211.

LiQ MK, Kobayashi M., Inagaki H., Katsumata M., Hirata Y., Shimizu T., Li YJ, Wakayama Y., Kawada T., Ohira T., Takayama N., Kagawa T., Mijazaki Y. 2008. “A forest bathing trip increase human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins in female subjects.” Journal of Biological Regulation Homeost Agents 22(1):44-55.

LiQ MK, Nakadai A., Inagaki H., Katsumata M., Shimiza T., Hirata Y., Hirata K., Miyazaki Y., Kagawa T., Koyama Y., Ohira T., Takayama N., Krensky AM, Kawada T. 2007. “Forest bathing enhances natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins.” International Journal of Pharmacology. 20(2):3-8.

Miyazaki T., Ishikawa T, Hirofumi I, Miki A, Wenner M, Fukunishi I, Kawamura N. 2003. “Relationship between perceived social support and immune function.” Stress and Health. 19(1):3-7.

Rein G., Atkinson M, and McCraty R. 1995. “The physiological effects of compassion and anger” Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 8(2).

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