How to Clear Your Mind in Less than 5 Minutes

Our thoughts create our reality.

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychological Science found that physically writing out negative thoughts and throwing them away can help clear your mind. And a clear mind is a happy mind.

Here’s a simple writing exercise that will help you clear your mind in less than 5 minutes.

1. Find a piece of paper and a pen.

2. Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths through your nose.

3. Open your eyes, and write down the answers to the following questions:

  • What is on my mind right now?
  • How do I feel about it?
  • What do I want to let go of?

4. Tear up the piece of paper and throw it away

5. Get a new piece of paper and write down your intention for the day. For example, “My intention is to calm and productive.”

When you practice this exercise, you will clear your mind and be ready to move forward in your day. Try it and see.

4 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Skin

This post originally published on Beauty Heroes Blog.

Skin is a fantastic communicator that often reveals our unspoken emotions to the world.

Our faces turn pink with embarrassment or white with fear. Complexions can appear sallow, dry or as if aged overnight, especially during difficult times.

I used to suffer from adult acne. Incorporating a regular meditation practice was the key to clearing it up because it led me to address the underlying symptoms that caused my skin problems. Meditation helped me reduce stress, follow a mindful and healthy skincare regimen and eat whole organic foods. Together, my skin and overall health showed profound results.

Meditation addresses the underlying issues that create skin problems in the first place. An emerging field of research called psychodermatology studies the interaction between mind and skin, looking at the effects of emotions on the skin as well as disorders that have skin manifestations.

By bridging the gap between our emotional and mental states with our overall health, meditation has many benefits.

1. Meditation reduces negative emotions

The past 30 years have seen exponential growth in research examining mindfulness and meditation practices. It scientifically validates numerous health benefits including reduced stress, fear, worry and anxiety – conditions that are often the root causes of skin problems.

New research from the University of Sheffield that combines past studies found techniques like meditation, relaxation sessions and cognitive behavior therapy have real benefit for people suffering from skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, acne and vitiligo (a pigment disorder).

In one study, people who suffered from psoriasis listened to meditation tapes while they received ultraviolet light treatments. The result was they healed four times as fast as non-meditators. The study determined that meditation reduced the stress that caused psoriasis in the first place and triggered the body’s innate ability to repair itself.

Whether chronic or not, skin issues worsen with stress. Reduced stress equals better skin.

2. Meditation slows down the aging process.

Meditating for just a few minutes every day brings energy (also known as prana) into your body and creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. During meditation, prana helps repair your body’s the tissues and cells which give skin a fresh, youthful glow.

Also, mindful breathing while meditating adds oxygen to the skin, which is key in boosting cellular health. This increased oxygen rejuvenates your skin, balancing your body and your mind while transforming your body’s cells and tissues.

It brightens your complexion, reduces wrinkles and slows down the aging process from the inside out. Meditation also lowers blood pressure and tension-related pain such as headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle aches and joint problems, making you look and feel younger.

 3. Meditation improves self-confidence and mood

Your complexion is intimately connected to feelings of self-confidence. When your skin looks better, your sense of confidence increases, too. A regular meditation practice increases the brain’s ability to repair itself and grow new neural connections. Like a muscle, these neural pathways get stronger and more effective over time with practice.

As a result, people who meditate experience more happiness, inner peace and an overall sense of wellbeing. Meditation also increases your brain’s serotonin production, which makes you feel better and literally improves your mood.

Like a candle, meditation shines your light. And the more you meditate, the more you glow.

Indeed, happiness comes from the inside out.

4. Meditation helps you make healthier choices.

With a meditation practice comes more awareness of your breath, your body and your surroundings. This leads to increased ability to pause, be present and consider your lifestyle choices.

This can manifest in several ways, from communicating more effectively with your loved ones, or simply becoming more conscious of where and how your food, clothes or skin care products come from.

Meditation can also create a gentle space to slow down and enjoy the process of taking care of yourself, such as taking a few extra minutes to enjoy taking care of your skin.

When we are more in touch with the present moment, we can fully exist and feel gratitude for every moment in our lives – the only moment we ever truly have.

Your Turn: Listen to a 3-Minute Guided Meditation for Your Skin

Imagine how beautiful your skin could be if you included a short daily meditation practice into your daily routine.

Here is a complimentary 3-minute guided meditation I created especially for you and your skin:

To experience the benefits of meditation, you only have to practice for a few minutes every day. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, and the practice becomes easier over time.

Meditation, combined with a superpower ingredient-packed skin care routine and healthy eating is the number one way to have vibrant, radiant and beautiful skin.

Celebrate Global Wellness Day on June 13, 2015

One day of wellness can change your life!

We are joining hundreds of companies in over 50 countries worldwide in “Saying Yes!” to Global Wellness Day, a one-day event celebrating health and wellbeing taking place onSaturday, June 13, 2015. The idea is to increase global consciousness of living a better life, even if for one day, by drawing a focus on healthier lifestyle choices.

As a U.S. Ambassador for Global Wellness Day, I encourage all wellness-minded leaders to participate in this special day, and to help spread the word of wellness around the globe.

The campaign challenges people to change one aspect of their lives for a day and outlines seven steps to better wellness: What will you say “yes” to today?

– Drink more water
– Walk for an hour
– Shop locally and eat organically
– Stop using plastic bottles
– Do a good deed
– Eat a family dinner
– Go to bed at 10pm

Here’s How to Join the Online Conversation:

Like on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on Instagram

Use the hashtags:

#ISayYes
#GWD2015
#GlobalWellnessDay

Sample Tweets (cut & paste)

– Save the date! Celebrate @wellness_day on Saturday, June 13, 2015. #GWD2015
– How can you live a healthier life? #GlobalWellnessDay #GWD2015
– Help us spread the word! Celebrate @wellness_day on Saturday, June 13, 2015 #GWD2015! (please RT)
– Eat organic. Drink more water. Celebrate @wellness_day on Saturday, June 13, 2015! #GWD2015
– Take a walk. Use less plastic. Celebrate @wellness_day on Saturday, June 13, 2015! #GWD2015
– Make smart choices about your health and the planet we all share. #GWD2015
– I say “YES” to Global Wellness Day! @wellness_day #GWD2015
– One day can change your life! Celebrate @wellness_day on June 13, 2015 #GWD2015
– #GlobalWellnessDay is the first step to ignite the flame of happiness. Celebrate on 6/13/15 #GWD2015

Share this image in social media:

The History of Global Wellness Day

The non-profit project created by Belgin Aksoy three years ago is being embraced by the spa and wellness world and has now also been accepted as a Global Wellness Instituteinitiative. Belgin, who came up with an idea to combat depression and unhappiness by promoting the importance of living well, says, “We’ve honored almost everything which is valuable to us with a special day, so why not have one that’s dedicated to the universally accepted importance of wellness?”

Please join us to stand united with hundreds of spas and wellness organizations in more than 50 countries to support proactive wellness!

Elements Massage in Greenbrae, California says “YES” to Global Wellness Day.

 

 

Christi Cano of Innovative Spa Productions and Stacy Conlon, The Zen Girl say “YES” to Global Wellness Day.

 

Stacy Conlon’s students at ESI Spa Show Toronto say “YES” to Global Wellness Day.

 

 

(Left to Right) Stacy Conlon, The Zen Girl, Michael Stusser, Osmosis Spa and Jeannie Jarnot, Spa Heroes say “YES” to Global Wellness Day.

5 Ways to Prevent Work Burnout

Are you feeling stressed or burnt out?

Burnout is an all too familiar phenomenon in all jobs at all levels.  It happens when we are stuck in jobs we do not like, in jobs that fail to satisfy our needs or in jobs that demand more time and energy than is physically and emotionally possible to maintain our happiness quotient. Even the word “work” soundsserious and difficult, and that’s often the crux of the problem.

We use work to give structure to our time and meaning to our lives, to earn a living, to express our talents, our dreams, our creativity and even perhaps to change ourselves and the world at large. As such it is both a necessary and desirable way to spend our time. But when it becomes hard and serious to the point of causing excessive stress or a sense of personal frustration or worthlessness, it undermines both our health and our happiness and leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled.

It sucks, but it’s true.

Of course, you could make a drastic change and quit today, fly to a tropical beach somewhere and do nothing but sip a cocktail with a cute little umbrella in it.  But perhaps that’s not possible at the moment.  So in the meantime, it’s important to realize that you are the person who is responsible for your happiness and well being despite your feeling of burnout.  You can do something about it.

According to the Wellness Inventory, a holistic assessment and life-balance program, there are five ways to prevent burnout.

1. Be Aware.

Know that you are feeling burnt out. Simply acknowledge and accept that this is your reality.

2. Self-care.

Get plenty of good nutrition, exercise and create a supportive environment around you.

3. Relax.

Take time for regular deep relaxation and frequent mini-relaxations throughout the day. Mentally go to that tropical beach, meditate or listen to a piece of music to quiet your mind.

4. Ask for What You Want.

You may not know what you want, but perhaps you know what you don’t want.  Whatever the case, take a little time to drill down to what it is you really want and find ways to make it happen.  If you haven’t heard of the Japanese Kaizen Model for Continuous Improvement, consider its effectiveness.  In short, it means taking small steps in order to create big changes in your life.

5. Take Time for Creativity.

Being creative is a wonderful way to relax and reduce stress.  Pull out the art supplies and draw with your kids, build a sandcastle on the beach or simply belt out your favorite song in the shower. Whatever it is that resonates for you, engage in an activity that allows your left brain to let go and your right brain to play.

[Press Release] Wellness Expert Stacy Conlon Expands Brand with a Website Delivering Corporate Wellness Mindfulness Solutions

WELLNESS EXPERT STACY CONLON EXPANDS BRAND WITH A WEBSITE DELIVERING CORPORATE MINDFULNESS SOLUTIONS AIMED TO BOOST EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS AND PRODUCTIVITY

May 20, 2015 ­ LARKSPUR, Calif. ­ Fifteen years of experience in sales and marketing for the spa, wellness and hospitality industries positioned Stacy Conlon to know the ins and outs of the growing market of corporate wellness. With recent clients including Cisco and Samsung, Conlon steps up her offerings with the launch of www.thezengirl.com.

This website contains powerful stress ­reduction solutions for both startups and established companies. The website further engages corporate leaders in utilizing meditation and mindfulness tools to foster employee happiness, creativity, focus and retention. Forbes.com shows 87% of employees surveyed consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer*.

“There is clearly a demand for mindfulness and meditation in corporate settings, so I launched this website in response to this growing need,” says Conlon, who is an established mindfulness trainer and certified wellness coach who successfully ran The Zen Media Group, LLC. “My vision is to help establish a culture of mindfulness in workplaces around the world, boosting productivity and ultimately creating a happier and more mindful planet.”

Citing a company culture of mindfulness as being able to increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, reduce costs & turnover and generate more revenu, Conlon works directly with brands to bring customized mindfulness and meditation programs into their workplace. Having led keynote presentations for notable groups including The Lean Startup, Conlon strategically leads The Zen Girl’s services by implementing programs over time so they can be fully absorbed into the client’s culture.

The program includes three core offerings:

  • MINDFULNESS SESSIONS ­ resented in the style of a TED Talk, these sessions are a good fit for leaders who want to kick off wellness programming or need a fundamental framework for mindfulness in their company.
  • GUIDED MEDITATIONS ­ elivered either live or recorded, Conlon leads guided meditations that are customized to a company’s unique goals and specific scenarios. “Hundreds of successful people from Oprah to Steve Jobs have reported having a meditation practice. And since many people find it hard to meditate on their own, guided meditation is a great solution because it offers structure and allows people to meditate more easily,” adds Conlon.
  • WELLNESS COACHING ­ usting the myth that coaching takes a lot of time, participants in Conlon’s 20­minute “express” sessions walk away with at least one specific, tangible wellness strategy uniquely suited to the individual that can be implemented immediately.

Can Pain Be Your Friend? The Link Between Emotions and Physical Health

Have you ever bumped your knee, dropped something and nicked your finger all in one day, only to discover that you are moving way too fast?  Or, have you ever had a sore throat, only to realize that it was because you weren’t expressing something verbally that you needed to say?

As I’ve become more aware of my mind/body connection over the years, I truly believe that when I get sick or hurt it does not happen by chance.  Usually, it is due to not expressing my feelings or overexerting myself in some way.

It’s almost as if I have an internal scale and it becomes off-balance when I do not listen to what my body is telling me.  For example, when I suddenly get hit with a stomachache or headache, it is an important signal to let me know I am out of balance and not paying attention to an important emotion.

The link between emotions and physical pain is very real.  So, what can you do about it?  Can pain be your friend?

When this happens, I stop what I am doing and become present to the moment.  I close my eyes and tune into my body.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking a break from the computer when I get a headache.

In other instances it’s more complicated and can run much deeper, sourcing from emotional pain from the past.  A headache may develop in response to an emotion triggered hours before. Arthritis pain may stem from an emotional reaction that began decades ago. It is easy to see how the cause of a pain can be overlooked.

So, how can you figure out what’s behind your pain?

Perhaps the best road map to the emotional roots of physical pain and illness is a book by Louise Hay entitled You Can Heal Your Life.  I’ve used this book as a tool to solve various what-does-pain-have-to-do-with-it emotional puzzles.

Louise Hay looks at all the body parts and a variety of major diseases, and gives us the emotional counterpart for each. Her insights may not cover every situation, but I’ve consistently found them to be in the ballpark.

According to Hay, the most common physical problems linked to emotional well-being are stomachache and headache, and can be caused by any kind of strain. Back pain has been attributed to a feeling of not being emotionally supported, or to feeling that you’ve lost your path or aren’t fulfilling your purpose.

Knee problems can be due to fear of “stepping forward” in your life. Asthma, especially in childhood, has been linked to a feeling of smothering or too much control. Cancer is related to self-hatred, and fibromyalgia and other degenerative diseases to a deep feeling of unworthiness and abnegation of self.  Thyroid has to do with the voice, expressing yourself and feeling that you are heard.

In another more scientific example, the article,  “Does Your Heart Sense Your Emotional State?” on MSN Today Health by HeartMath explores the relationship between heart health and emotions.

Research explains how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions and why certain emotions stress the body and drain our energy. As we experience feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity, our heart rhythm patterns become more erratic. These erratic patterns are sent to the emotional centers in the brain, which it recognizes as negative or stressful feelings.

These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and the body and can block our ability to think clearly.  If we consistently experience these emotions, it can put a strain on the heart and other organs, and eventually lead to serious health problems.

So, can pain be your friend?

In a word, yes.  It’s proven that our bodies manifest health with positive thoughts and feelings and illness with negative thoughts and feelings. Pain can truly be one of our greatest teachers about what is going on inside our hearts and minds and an important signal how to heal ourselves.

Our job is to pay attention to our body and its messages.  Tune in.  Check it out.  Explore.  Because there is a reason you are feeling the way you do and a way to feel better.

How to Reduce Stress in Your Workplace

This article originally published in Spa Professional Mexico Magazine, Spring 2015 Issue.

Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease, according to the American Institute of Stress. Seventy-seven percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress and 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.

As leaders in an industry where you offer your customers an experience of wellness, it’s especially important to be aware of your own and your employee’s level of stress. Left unchecked, it can cause low productivity, high turnover, poor communication, general unhappiness and may eventually lead to burnout. This can negatively impact you, your employees and ultimately your customers/guests.

One of the simplest and most effective antidotes to stress is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgmentally and with full acceptance.

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, daily mindfulness sessions entered the agenda for the first time. According to Susie Ellis, several CEOs there acknowledged that mindfulness has an impact on the workplace: it reduces stress, improves the sentiment of wellness and promotes calmness, clarity and creativity. Mindfulness training programs are now in large companies around the world from Google to Goldman Sachs.

Recent scientific evidence reports that practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, literally changes neural pathways in the brain. It’s now proven to reduce anxiety, fear and stress and increase the ability to learn, retain information, be resilient and regulate emotions. In general, practicing meditation creates an overall sense of happiness and personal wellbeing.

So, how do you create a culture of mindfulness? It all begins with you. The better you are at managing your own stress and remain calm in stressful situations, the easier it will be for your employees to remain calm. And if your employees are calmer, imagine the positive effect it will have on your customers. This is what I like to call the Triple Wellness Win.

Here are five quick, practical and simple techniques you and your employees can to use increase mindfulness and reduce stress in the workplace.

Tip #1: Stop and Take 3 Mindful Breaths

When you begin to feel that familiar feeling of stress entering your mind and body, the most important thing you can do is to simply notice and accept it. Next, take a moment to pause from your current activity, close your eyes and take three mindful breaths. A mindful breath is a slow, deep breath during which you focus your mind simply on the sensation of breathing. Then, open your eyes and notice how you feel.

Tip #2: Take a Mindful Walk

Mindful walking is a form of mindfulness meditation that you can do without making time for it during the course of your day. Next time you walk, instead of allowing yourself to get lost in thoughts of the past or future, pay attention the present moment. Focus on the sensation of walking, and become aware of your feet making contact with the ground. If you need more to fully engage your attention, count your steps from one to five, then go back to one again. If possible, keep a slow pace so as to slow your mind. You can do this any time, while walking from one part of your workplace (be it spa, resort, hotel, office etc.) to another, or for a few minutes during a break.

Tip #3: Listen Intently

Mindfulness is also about being fully present for others. When you are engaged and truly listening to someone, you feel a greater connection. If someone feels like you appreciate what they have to say, then they feel like a more valued individual and they are going to want to connect with you. On the other hand, if they feel like you aren’t really listening, they won’t feel important and they may not feel like being around you. Either way, it has a ripple effect.

Tip #4: Pause and Use Mindful Words

The other side of listening intently is being mindful about how you express your thoughts. Your words, tone of voice and body language have a huge impact on how other people will interpret you. So, the next time you are having a conversation, practice by pausing 2-3 seconds before you speak. This will allow you to become present in the moment and respond more clearly. This slowing down allows you to become calmer, and therefore the other person feels more at ease and a sense of peace has the opportunity to enter the conversation.

Tip #5: Set An Intention

In our busy lives, we can be so focused on “doing” that we forget that we are human “beings.” One of the most powerful techniques can be to set an intention, and this can be done in two ways. The first way is to privately write down an intention of who you want to be at the beginning of your day. For example, My intention for today is to be focused, calm, kind and productive. The second way you can use this tool is to publicly set an intention at the beginning of a meeting. For example, The intention for this meeting is to find a win-win solution for the main item on the agenda. These words imprint themselves into our subconscious minds so that literally by the end of the day or the end of a meeting you will find yourself behaving differently and coming to solutions without any conscious effort. This practice has the ability to changes attitudes and perspectives for ourselves and others.

Using these quick and simple mindfulness tools can help drastically reduce stress in the workplace. With a calmer state of mind, you can concentrate more easily, make better decisions, become more creative, gain a greater ability to see the big picture – and overall become a happier, healthier person.

Wellness comes from the top down. If you can see the far-reaching consequences of your daily actions, and those of your organization, you become more than just a leader – you become a visionary.