Category Archives: Health and Personal Development

All things related to health and personal development, including physical, mental and spiritual development, acquiring of knowledge and wisdom.

Clear your mind – with todoist

Todoist Logo
Welch Wellbeing Rating:
5/5

There’s no pleasure to be had in too much on your mind.  A busy mind is a great path to stress, anxiety and overwhelm.

This is where Todoist can be your friend and trusted companion!

Years ago, I discovered David Allen’s work on Getting Things Done (GTD).  The quote below had a lasting effect for me.

David Allen Quote

After years of trial and error, trying different methods and apps for capturing and processing tasks, I discovered Todoist.  I’ve been using it ever since.

What Is Todoist?

Todoist is a quick and easy way to list your tasks, your ideas, or any kind of list you can imagine.  It’s the perfect place to capture those important thoughts on the fly, so you they are off your mind until you need them again.

One of the handy things about Todoist is how available it is.  It works on almost any device.

Let’s say you’ve just agreed to phone a friend at 7 pm on Monday.  In Todoist, you simply type “Phone [friend’s name] 7 pm Monday”.  Todoist will then send you a reminder close to that time.  It can also be synchronised with your Google Calendar.

The Dark Side Of Lists

A tool is only as good as the way it is used.  Keeping a list of what you need to remember to do, or would like to do, is a great idea. 

But, what happens when you are confronted with a huge list of tasks?  

Part of the solution is mindset.  Remember where the list came from!  You made it up!  And there is no “right or wrong” about a list, only what serves you in any given moment.  So don’t treat your lists like a demanding tyrant.  Make sure you use the lists you create, not the other way around.

Todoist does provide many ways to help us combat a daunting list.

 

So, create that clear mind.  Capture all those important things in a reliable place and make your lists work for you!

Todoist is free to use.  The even better news is you can try Todoist with all the premium features, free for 2 months! Just click on the button below.

no new year resolutions this year. Do this instead!

Remember 2020? Who’s going to forget it!

Do you remember how 2020 started for you? Like every New Year, people made their plans for it; by finally kicking “that” filthy habits, or discovering the “new you”, or accomplishing those long-elusive goals. In 2020, 44% of UK respondents to a survey chose to eat healthy as their New Year’s resolution.

If you had any New Year resolutions, did they happen? If not, don’t be hard on yourself. Over half of us have given up on our resolution after 6 months.

Does this mean we shouldn’t bother though? 46% of people, after 6 months, had still stuck with it. By comparison, only 4% with a similar goal but not as a resolution, were successful. So whilst resolutions don’t have a high success rate, perhaps they can increase our chances at success.

I asked four fellow coaches for their views on resolutions. Did they believe in them. I received a unanimous no. So why’s that?

Like a pet isn’t just for Christmas, resolutions aren’t just for New Year. Unless we keep our attention on them, and be persistent, we’re not going to see change.

Having a resolution is great, but that’s step 1.  To have it realised, consider what action you will need to take.  For example, wishing to feel calmer in 2021?  What are the things that cause you stress?  What helps you to feel calmer?  Create lists of these things and turn them into repeatable tasks.

I confess I’m a list-making lover! I’ve been making lists for years,  And for good reasons!

Making lists is not a new idea. Many of us use them to a greater or lesser extent. Be it for shopping lists, household tasks or a reading list. List-making isn’t just for the super-organised! Anyone can benefit from them.

Reasons Why Lists Are Great!

 

In keeping with the theme, here’s a list of why lists are a great idea!

  • Alleviate anxiety
    List-making can be a positive psychological process. It’s good for reinforcing personal identity and can calm the sense of inner chaos by setting our thoughts in order. This way, it is also easier to prioritise.

    If you get stressed by day-to-day tasks, you can often get a lot out of writing them down in a contained way.

  • Improve your memory
    Our memory works by association. Ever heard a song and found yourself recalling a treasured memory? Or met a stranger with a distinctive feature, reminding you of someone else you know with the same distinctive features?

    Lists serve as triggers, similarly, helping you to remember items on the list and associations.

  • Celebrate Accomplishments
    Have you done something today you’re proud of? Or perhaps not so proud of? Creating lists of these things can be helpful to set habits and goals to shape your future.

  • Crossing-off lists feel great!
    Fact! Crossing off those items can make us feel great! Research has shown the brain’s dopamine levels increase when we tick things off those lists, regardless of whether they are big or small tasks.

Summary

  • Resolutions aren’t just for New Year – however, making them then can be helpful
  • Be SMART with your goals
  • Lists are powerful, for better or worse. Your attitude towards them will make all the difference
  • Keep your balance!

Empower yourself using tai chi and qigong

Science doesn’t know everything. But it is beginning to understand what ancient Chinese wisdom has understood a very long time. Tai chi and qigong are powerful. No matter who you are, they can empower you. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, healthy or frail. They can make a vast and surprising difference in your life.  

Too few people in our area understand this.  In my personal experience, there’s a big difference between a) the number of people practising tai chi and qigong, then b) the number of people who would benefit.  

Why? Is it because you don’t want a calm mind and boundless energy? Is it because you’re not interested in improved health and longevity? No, of course not. Understanding and accessibility to the right classes are essential.

These are a couple of reasons why I launched Tai Chi Globe. I make it easy to discover the benefits tai chi and qigong for you.

Why Tai Chi and Qigong?

What kind of benefits are there? Too many to mention here. Here are a few general ones to give you an idea:

  • Increased strength, both in the lower and upper body, including core muscles of the back and abdomen
  • More flexibility
  • Improved balance and reduced falls
  • Cope with the modern-day life! Robust development of concentration and relaxation
  • Psychological benefits, like better overall moodreduced anxiety and depression
  • A perfect form of exercise for the rest of your life
  • Does not require special equipment or much space to practice in
  • It’s a great way to meet friendly people
  • It’s fun!

Are you looking for a natural and proven approach to specific health conditions? Again, tai chi and qigong help in a wide variety of ways. Here are a few:

  • Reduced pain from Arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Eased fibromyalgia pain
  • Reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improved quality of life, mood and efficacy in people with chronic heart failureheart diseasecancermesothelioma and other chronic illnesses.
  • Reduction in depression symptoms
  • Improved blood glucose levels. Enhanced control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.

The list above is a thin slice of the benefits. With a growing body of evidence behind them.

What are Tai Chi and Qigong?

No brief explanation will do justice to the beauty and depth of these ancient arts.  In the coming months, I will explore them more deeply with my readers and students through various channels; articles, public speaking, private workshops, demonstrations and workshops.  For the benefit of this article, though, let’s make a start.

Tai Chi in Brief

Tai chi began in China as a martial art several hundred years ago.  Sometimes it’s been referred to as “moving meditation”.  Even a “moving medication”!  

Watching tai chi, it appears as slow, graceful and continuous movements.  Many may be surprised, therefore, how powerful it is as martial art!  It also became clear they became healthier.  Now, tai chi is often practised for their health benefits; although some still use it as a martial art.  While movements have a martial application behind them, some traditional forms have been adapted to work correctly to improve health.

In China alone, millions of people practise tai chi, with millions more worldwide.  Fortunately, this has lead to an increased scientific study to understanding its wide-ranging benefits.  It’s little wonder the NHS is beginning to pay closer attention to how it can benefit us in Britain. 

Qigong In Brief

Qigong is the “grammar” of tai chi but has been around much longer.  As with tai chi, there are many types of qigong used for different purposes.  Qigong means “energy cultivation.”  Everything is energy, including our body.  Qigong helps you to move energy within our your body and even increase it.  How is that useful?  The benefits listed above gives you a taste of the answer.  Low or reduced movement of “qi” (energy) within us leads to illness.  Qigong practitioners have understood this for thousands of years.  And through the study of nature, they discovered how to cultivate qi effectively.

Tai Chi Globe Works Hard To Deliver Tai Chi and Qigong Benefits To You

The list of benefits alone may explain why I’m passionate about sharing tai chi and qigong with you.  

I have practised these arts for over four years.  I care about sharing the benefits of tai chi and qigong with you.  I commit to this to the very best of my ability.  It’s why this year, I worked hard to become qualified as a British Health Qigong Instructor and a Dr Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health Instructor.  These are part of an ongoing commitment to my students to provide correct and well-researched instruction.  I add these to my years of practice with my friend, mentor and instructor, Sifu Keith Fensom; who has taught me a range of forms and continues to do so.

Perfect for All Ages and Abilities

There is no hurry in tai chi.  Every class, I teach something new, then break it down into small parts to make it easier to understand.  I plan each class carefully.  However, I listen to the needs and goals of my students.  Plans are adapted if need be.  You’ll not be picked out from the group or asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.  Everything is done entirely within your comfort range.  We say if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!  

I teach Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Programs. By practising the Program regularly, many have found significant pain relief and an improved sense of wellbeing within a short time. Reports of benefits include:

  • pain relief and less stiffness
  • improved balance and fewer falls
  • the uplifting of the spirit and greater relaxation
  • improved ability to do daily tasks
  • improved muscle strength and joint flexibility
  • enjoyment of tai chi practice.

I also teach Health Qigong and the 12-step Daoyin Health Preservation Exercises. The steps apply principles of health preservation in line with mental cultivation. Each step has its list of psychological and physical benefits.

These are on the “main menu.” but are by no means an exhaustive list of what’s already on offer to learn.  I intend to be adding more to the syllabus on an ongoing basis.

Click here now to join our 7-day free trial!

Discover relief for arthritis with tai chi

What is Arthritis?

It’s incredible.  There are over 100 types of arthritis[3] and related musculoskeletal conditions.  These fall into three major categories: osteoarthritis from wear and tear of the joints, inflammatory arthritis, and problems around the joint. 

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type.  It’s where there’s progressive damage to the joint cartilage which cushions the ends of the bones.  It commonly affects the knees, hips, fingers, neck and lower back.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition which can cause hot, red, painful and swollen joints. 
  • Fibromyalgia is a significant example of a condition outside the joint that causes pain and stiffness.  Common signs and symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances[4], muscle aches and pain and tenderness in specific body locations.

No matter what specific type they may have, fatigue is common in people with arthritis.

Pretty awful, isn’t it.  But there’s good news ahead.

How Tai Chi Works For Arthritis

Effective Exercise Helps Arthritis

You and I understand exercise is beneficial for most aspects of health.  Exercise is good for arthritis too.  But pain and stiffness, understandably, discourage those with arthritis from exercising.  That’s bad news.  For without exercise, joints become even stiffer and muscles weaker.  Exercise keeps bones, muscles, and joints healthy, improving flexibility and muscular strength.

Not all exercise is equal.  The medical experts agree that effective exercise should fulfil three objectives:

  1. Increase flexibility
  2. Strengthen muscles
  3. Improve cardiorespiratory fitness. 

Here’s the good news.  Tai Chi for Arthritis fulfils these objectives and more.  It doesn’t cost money to practice, once you’ve taken a few classes to learn it.  You won’t need specialised equipment, and you don’t even need much space.  What’s more, you can practice it either standing or sitting.  It is accessible to all ages and abilities.

Power of Qigong

Qigong has been a fundamental belief in most eastern cultures for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine base their central theory on this concept.  The word, “Gong” means exercise that required a great deal of practice to become proficient.  Qigong is the practice of cultivating Qi.  It is essentially breathing exercises sometimes aided by certain body movements and meditation at the same time.  Tai Chi incorporates Qigong as an integral component.  Tai Chi’s gentle and slow movements open up one’s energy channels and keep them strong and supple.  The rhythmic movements of the muscle, spine and joints pump energy through the whole body.  Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for Qi cultivation.

When Qi flows through the body smoothly and powerfully, it enhances and affects healing.  According to Chinese medicine, arthritis is caused by weak and sluggish flow of Qi.  This why, for centuries, Chinese doctors have recommended Tai Chi for people with arthritis.  Tai Chi for Arthritis is based on Sun-style which has unique and powerful Qigong throughout all the movements.

Increased Flexibility

You can improve your flexibility.  This reduces stiffness and helps keep joints mobile.  Stiffness causes pain, and increasing flexibility relieves it. 

Tai Chi for Arthritis gently moves all joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body.  Tai Chi significantly increases flexibility, and this has been demonstrated in many scientific studies. [5] [6] [7]

The Atlanta FICSIT Group conducted a prospective, randomised, controlled clinical trial.  This study divided 200 participants into three groups:  Tai Chi, computerised balance training and control.  The results indicated that Tai Chi significantly improves flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance, as well as decreases the occurrence of falls by a massive 47.5%.[8]

In two studies Tai Chi for Arthritis was used, and the results showed it was effective in improving balance and reduce the risk of falling.[9] [10]

Increased Muscle Strength

Increased muscle strength helps keep joints stable, thereby protecting the joints.  This minimizes future injury and reduces pain.  Increased muscle strength enables increased activity, which in turn improves blood and body fluid circulation. Muscular strength is required to perform any task.

Many top-level athletes and sportsmen have suffered from osteoarthritis as a result of injuries, yet they are able to perform at peak levels because their strong muscles protect their joints.  Frequently, after retirement from active sports, their activity level diminishes, and their muscles become weaker.  This usually causes arthritis to flare up.

Studies have shown Tai Chi to be effective in strengthening muscles by 15 to 20%.[11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] The Song study (footnote nine) showed Tai Chi for Arthritis improved physical function and balance by 30%.

Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Improving cardiorespiratory fitness helps strengthen the heart and lungs and increases stamina.  Arthritic joints and tissues need a good supply of blood and oxygen for healing.  Better circulation of blood, fluid and oxygen also helps keep joints flexible and muscles strong.

Tai Chi is a particularly useful fitness exercise.  Many studies mentioned above have found significant improvement in the participants’ fitness level.  One study has shown that tai chi has the same metabolic equivalency as a brisk walk.

Mind Power

A positive mind aids healing.  Many studies demonstrate the powerful effect of the mind over the body.  Tai Chi integrates body and mind.  When practising tai chi, one focuses on clarity of the mind, the movements and the coordination of the body.  This training improves relaxation and uplifts mood.  A review of complementary and alternative treatments by doctors from Standford University[17] concludes that mind-body techniques are efficacious primarily as a complementary treatment, but sometimes as a stand-alone, alternative treatment.

Being positive and relaxed, you are more likely to improve your perception of pain.  Clearly, the incredible power of the mind has not been adequately estimated.  This program is one of the most effective mind-body exercises.  It teaches the student to harness the natural energy from which they can attain greater self-control and empowerment.

Conclusion

Dr Lam and a panel of medical and Tai Chi experts designed the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to be safe and effective, especially for people with arthritis. The program improves flexibility, muscular strength and fitness. It relieves pain and improves physical function, as proven within studies. What is more, it improves balance and reduces the risk of falling.

There are other studies which show other benefits of this program, including the prevention of chronic conditions and benefits to people with mental conditions. More than a million people around the world have benefited from this program.

References

[1] https://anydayguide.com/calendar/3361 [2] https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/national-arthritis-week-2019/ [3] https://creakyjoints.org/education/all-arthritis-types/ [4] Fibromyalgia – Medcine Shoppe in Norton. http://medicineshoppenorton.us/fibromyalgia/ [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8831482 [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9526879 [7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20841054 [8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14687360 [9] Song, Lee E, Lam P, Bae S.  Effects of Tai Chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial.  Jornal of Rheumatology.  30:9 page 2039-2044, Sept.2003. [10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17661956 [11] Wolfson-L; Whipple-R; Derby-C; Judge-J; King-M; Amerman-P; Schmidt-J; Smyers-D: Balance and strength training in older adults: intervention gains and Tai Chi maintenance. J-Am-Geriatr-Soc. 44(5):498-506, May 1996.[12] La-Forge-R: Mind-body fitness: encouraging prospects for primary and secondary prevention. J-Cardiovasc-Nurs. 11(3): 53-65, April 1997. [13] Jacobson-BH; Chen-HC; Cashel-C; Guerrero-L: The effect of Tai Chi Chuan training on balance, kinesthetic sense, and strength. Percept-Mot-Skills. 84(1): 27-33, Feb 1997.   [14] Judge-JO; Lindsey-C; Underwood-M; Winsemius-D: Balance improvements in older women: effects of exercise training. Phys-Ther. 73(4).• 254-62; discussion 263-5, April 1993.   [15] Wolfson-L; Whipple-R; Judge-J; Amerman-P; Derby-C; King-M: Training balance and strength in the elderly to improve function. J-Am-Geriatr-Soc. 41 (3): 341-3, Mar 1993.    [16] How Does Tai Chi for Arthritis Work? | Tai Chi for Health …. https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org/how-does-tai-chi-for-arthritis-work/ [17] Luskin-FM; Newell-KA; Griffith-M; Jolmes-M; Telles-S; Marvasti-FF; Pelletier-KR; Haskell-WL: A review of mind-body therapies in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Park 1: Implications for the elderly. Altern-Ther- Health-Med, 4(3):46-61, May 1998.

Mindful of Mental Wealth

“Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide”

World Health Organisation

You can’t help notice global concern for the state of our mental health. On 10 October every year, it’s World Mental Health Day. An initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health since 1992. Countries around the world support this important day of awareness. 2019 saw a focus upon suicide prevention.

There’s a good reason for the concern. Within the UK alone, around 3 million people have depression. More than half of all individuals committing suicide suffer from depression. About 50% of those who engage in self-mutilation begins around age 14 and carry on into their 20s.1  These troubling statistics barely scratch the surface of the depth of the issue.

My battles with mental health now feel like a different lifetime. I am happy, have a positive outlook and embrace the adventures life takes me on. Some days are great, some are challenging, but underneath every day is a quiet sense of peace and a sense that, whatever happens, everything will be alright. Knowing first hand what mental suffering felt like, I would gladly bottle what I’ve found and pass it onto others. It’s why I teach tai chi, and soon be coaching to help do that.

Over twenty-five years ago, it was different. I wanted to kill myself.

One night, I’d taken myself off into the middle of a field, fell to my knees, and screamed into the darkness with utter despair. I didn’t want anyone to hear or see the self-loathing rage that devoured me inside. I rocked as I wept. I must have cried until the tears ran out. I’d had a massive argument with my family, my then-fiance and, being religious at the time, God too. I didn’t feel like I could speak to anyone and didn’t believe anything could be done to take the adverse feelings away. I was too scared to live and too afraid to die. Empty and broken, I crawled back into my “miserable existence”, seeing no way out from hell. For surely, I reasoned, hell was where I was. The wrong “opportunity” to see my dark thoughts through would have meant a tragic outcome.

Family and friends helped me through over a decade of depression, anxiety and panic attacks before several defining moments turned everything around for me. I’m one of the fortunate few. 

You might expect me to tell you Tai Chi changed it all for me. I’ve little doubt that’s true for many practitioners (and NHS agree Tai Chi Can Improve Mental Health). However, before I discovered Tai Chi, I had an insight. It’s possible to point to the insight, but you have to experience it for yourself to appreciate. The world changed for me after that. But I felt compelled to find physical expression of what I’d discovered. It was then I met and fell in love with tai chi.

Practitioners of tai chi recognise the powerful effect on relaxation and concentration. Tai Chi offers a tool to cope with busy modern-day life. It helps you to appreciate the tranquillity and nature around you.  

Practitioners of tai chi recognise the powerful effect on relaxation and concentration. Tai Chi offers a tool to cope with busy modern-day life. It helps you to appreciate the tranquillity and nature around you.  

Everything in tai chi is done slowly, smoothly and is continuous. It helps us to get back in touch with our body and, in so doing, back in touch with nature. When we do this, we recognise the wisdom of our body often goes ignored. By listening to the body, we become present and enter coherence — that special place between duality, the middle path. Our mind and body connection unlock our innate healing capabilities, both of body and mind.  

Imagine the effect that can have for those in suffering. That is to say, most of us. And then the impact that may have on our world.

Listening with compassion can also make the difference between life and death. When I suffered from panic attacks, sometimes I’d been too terrified to even go into work in case the panic grabbed me, and I’d find myself fighting for breath. I had a Manager who understood them. His sister had experienced them before.  Through sitting quietly with me, speaking slowly and calmly, the panic attacks gradually subsided.

Suffering from mental illnesses are nothing to be ashamed of. I learnt that eventually but was nevertheless ashamed of it for years. Over time, I discovered speaking about it with the right people did help tremendously. So, if you’re worried about something, speak up. Don’t try to conquer the worry alone.  

And if someone tries to speak to you about their worries, there’s no more fabulous gift than listening. It does not mean taking on their problems. Nor does it mean providing all the solutions. Being present will be a gift to them. Taking in what they have to say. Understand their point of view while suspending your judgements and opinions. Showing you care.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, I am happy to help. I offer a free coaching session and/or 7-day free trial to Tai Chi Globe.

  1. The Ultimate List of Mental Health Statistics
    https://www.uksmobility.co.uk/blog/2019/03/mental-health-statistics/