One Resolution You Can Keep…

Breathe Better!

Parties, gifts, food, friends, relatives…sounds like a blast, right? Sometimes, however, the holidays are a bit too much of a good thing. That’s why so many of us experience an early-January crash. The gifts have long been purchased, given, taken back. Goodies eaten and regretted. New Year resolutions made and broken. When the crash comes, though, we have something new for you to consider: How about making a very simple post-holiday de-stressing commitment to yourself?
 
We’re not talking about a costly trip to a spa or calling in a masseur (though, yes, that does sound nice).  We’re talking about implementing a simple breathing technique that will give you maximum de-stressing at almost no cost.
 
Guy Gabriel, a yoga instructor based in Burbank, CA, says one of the simplest de-stressing techniques can be done by carving out just a few seconds. Several times a day, simply close your eyes and concentrate for a few moments on breathing in and out of your nose.
 
“When you concentrate on your breath, you intentionally tell your body to change from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system,” says Gabriel. Think about it this way: the parasympathetic system is the body’s relaxed, I-got-this mode. The sympathetic system kicks in when you’re frazzled, overwhelmed and stressed. While it’s worthwhile to be in sympathetic mode for short periods of time such as life-threatening emergencies, in general humans function better and are happier if they stay in the parasympathetic zone. Sadly, too many of us operate in the frazzled, sympathetic system mode most of the time.
 
If you like the feeling of your parasympathetic system kicking in, though, you can even take the practice up a notch by doing what Gabriel calls three-part breathing. Here’s how you do it: Lie down flat on your back, close your eyes and breathe into your belly, mid-chest, upper chest, hold your breath for a count and exhale through your nose. Repeat. Simple, right?
 
“If you do this practice a couple of times a day for 5 minutes even, it'll pay off in spades. You’ll get hooked on de-stressing and want to operate in this zone more and more,” says Gabriel. “Gradually, over time, you’ll train yourself to be able to connect to the parasympathetic system most of the time.” Sounds like a resolution worth keeping!
 

Weather the Winter Beautifully

5 Look Good, Feel Good Pick-Me-Ups

Style is more than the makeup and the clothes we wear.  It’s also about self-confidence, the way we carry ourselves, and the smile on our face.  And at times it has an awful lot to do with how well we’re dealing with the weather. For those long days when the winter’s been frightful, lift your style and spirits with this fresh batch of hot new ideas.
 
1. Add a shot of Rose Quartz and Serenity, Pantone Color Institute’s 2016 picks for Color of the Year to your cosmetic choices. Both the gentile rose and airy blue shades have already been previewed as eye liners and shadows on runways ‘round the world. Try a rosy toned lip color for a fresh modern attitude. And did we hear you ask… French manicure in Serenity and Rosy Quartz? Yes. Of course! It’s the perfect new combo.
 
2. Cold weather doesn’t have a monopoly on black or blue jeans. Wear your white denims this winter. The warmth and weight of the tops and accessories you pair with them is what makes them work this season. Shop your closet for sweaters in dark tones to wear with black booties or shoes for bold contrast.
 
3. When anything gets you down or stressed, take just two personal minutes to get into the power pose or the Wonder Woman stance that social psychologist Ann Cuddy has made an internet sensation. Stand tall, feet apart, wrists at your sides and chin up. Don’t you feel bigger, mightier, more assertive? Research studies agree that it creates a body/mind connection that’s powerful.
 
4. Try winding down with the latest craze in zen-like experiences by coloring in the intricate patterns and scenes that make up the pages of coloring books for grown-ups. Some call it art “therapy” because the simple fill-in-the-blanks exercise, using colored pencils or pens, is creative, relaxing and ultimately allows you to forget your worries on the pages.
 
5. Smile more. Science has proof that we feel better after we smile. Watch yourself smile in a mirror to experience the good change in mood even more deeply. We look better when we smile, so send out more smiling selfies. The fish face may be the selfie look of the moment, but research says a big beautiful smile will up your attractiveness rating any day!
 

Get Serious About Happiness

Applying the ‘Science of Happiness’ in the New Year

Many people dismiss happiness as a flaky, illusive concept. But not Dacher Keltner, Phd, a University of California Berkeley professor who has spent a career researching happiness. For the past decade he’s even taught an undergraduate course titled “the science of happiness.” His message: everyone can cultivate more happiness in their lives and whatever effort it takes is absolutely worth it.
 
“When you take happiness seriously and do the deep inquiry, think hard about what gives you meaning and cultivate that in your life and relationships, it’s beneficial in every way imaginable,” he explains. For example, research suggests that happier people are healthier, more content, more effective parents and better at their jobs. Simply put, there’s no downside to cultivating a happier life.
 
Alas, though, a happy life means many different things to different people, depending on culture, class, religion and even genetic makeup. “Most people find that maybe four or five different strategies really work to cultivate more happiness in their lives,” says Dr. Keltner. “It’s a very individual process.” For Dr. Keltner, spending time outdoors, hugging and touching his family and pets and playing with his kids give him more happiness. Despite a hectic schedule, he makes time for those activities each day. “For others, it might be singing music, going to church, meditating or whatever.”
 
Ready to find out what makes you happy and put more of that in your life? Here are a few places to start your journey:
 
*Explore cutting edge happiness research and practical tips on how to lead a happier life at The Greater Good Science Center’s website.
 
*Check out these Ted Talks about happiness and fulfilment.
 
*Get reading. Great books about happiness, forgiveness and fulfilment include: The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter, and Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
 
*Sign up here for the free online version of the Science of Happiness course offered to the public by Dr. Keltner and colleague Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Phd. This is a self-paced course exploring the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Open to anyone around the world!
 

Make 2016 the Year of YOU!

Realistic Resolutions for Busy Moms

The New Year is upon us and that means resolutions and the pledge to make changes in our lives. For busy working moms, the top of the list usually includes organizing the household or other family-focused goals and taking care of mom falls to the bottom. Here are 5 resolutions for working moms to make themselves a priority this year:
 
Make one makeup change
Whether you try a new type of foundation, start finally using a primer or just try a new lipstick color, this is the year to make at least one change to your makeup routine.  If you usually wear lipstick, try switching to a lip gloss and vice versa or if your eye shadow is always in the neutral family, try wearing blue, green or purple. The look will be fresh and fun for the New Year!
 
Update your skincare
The New Year is the right time to seriously look at your skin care routine. During the year ignoring skin care concerns is easy to do, so now is the time to really pay attention.  Take an in-depth look at your skin care needs; do you see new wrinkles that need to be treated? Is your skin looking dull and dry? As women age and have more life demands (work stress, caring for elderly parents, taking care of their families), the stressors can take a toll on the skin. If your skin is dull, add in exfoliating products.  If you notice new wrinkles, look for products that have peptides to help reduce their appearance. Whatever your concern might be, vow to use at least one new product to help your skin.
 
Try a new fragrance
It is a known fact that fragrance is closely tied to memories. Make this the best year yet by finding a new fragrance that you love. A new scent can change your mood and outlook on life and there is no easier way to make an impact on your well-being! You might even find a scent that motivates you at work, another that calms you down at home, or the best yet, one that makes you feel sexy for date night!
 
Pamper yourself daily
Going to the spa might be something that you fantasize about, but why not indulge a little every single day? Try adding an aromatic body scrub to your daily shower routine followed by a luxurious body oil for silky, soft skin. These options take virtually no extra time but will leave you feeling relaxed and beautiful.
 
Explore your dreams
Having both a family and career can be incredibly demanding and rewarding, especially if you love what you do. Obviously, you will love your family, but do you love your job? Does your job allow you to grow, meet new colleagues or reward your hard work? Do you love your industry?  If the answer is no, this might be the year to explore opportunities to help fulfill your dreams. 
 
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