Posted by & filed under Christina Bird Acupuncture.

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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/justininsd/


Balboa Park is an unparalleled
San Diego resource with a special history. The origins of the park predate even California’s statehood when in 1835 a large tract of land was set aside for recreational use. Subsequently, in 1868 1,400 acres of the original parcel were designated as “City Park” northeast of what is now Downtown San Diego. Initially, City Park remained primarily open space with little landscaping or other improvements. Beginning in the late 1900s and continuing through the early 20th century, private groups maintained gardens; Kate Sessions set up her famed nursery, which was open to the public; and a few buildings were constructed, including a school.

 

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Photo Credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lollyknit/
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However, the park really gained its unique identity through the development of the acreage during the preparation for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition when a number of structures were built in the Spanish Colonial style. Today you’ll find restorations of the best examples lined up along
El Prado. The exposition attracted over 3.7 million visitors during its two year run which was quite an achievement for a seaside town with less than 40,000 residents. Today Balboa Park offers an abundance of opportunities for visitors to spend time reconnecting with the world in a variety of wonderful ways

 

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39086290@N06/

 

Favorite Balboa Park Places:

Just as acupuncture supports and improves health, so too can our daily experiences help and promote well-being. It is important to make time to nourish your health and prioritize experiences that strengthen your mind-body connection. The amenities offered by Balboa Park — many of them free of charge — provide a special place for you to connect with your natural ability to heal and an opportunity to balance your body’s energy.

 

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceybjenkins/

 

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
The garden is located off of Park Boulevard just east of the iconic Bea Evenson Fountain. Located within its 3 acres are over 1,500 roses that are in bloom from March through December. A visit to the rose garden in early Spring to take time to honor the changing seasons may provide just the sublime nourishment you need to support your body.

 

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robdeez/

 

California Tower
The tower was closed to the public for over seventy years, but recent renovations and improvements have it opened again. Take an hour or so to climb seven flights of stairs for an panoramic views of San Diego that will reveal the extent of the park as well as Downtown and San Diego Bay. However, take your time on the trek up as you don’t want to overtax your cardiovascular system.

 

Tea Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden
Located off Pan American Road, south of El Prado, the Tea Pavilion offers an earthy place where you can have a soothing cup of hot tea and replenish your body. Tea provides your body with important vitamins and minerals in addition to phytonutrients. It is a great alternative to coffee or soda and can be consumed throughout the day depending on your body’s needs.

 

Acupuncture is a modality centered around the individual. The goal is to find a way to support wellbeing, so that healthiness becomes the default rather than the exception. Every day we make choices and take actions that either help or hinder health. When we prioritize taking care of ourselves through our actions, we move in the direction of health. Those changes have a direct impact on our longevity and enjoyment of life. Even if you don’t live near Balboa Park, look around for special places that can provide the backdrop for a healthier lifestyle.

 

Posted by & filed under Christina Bird Acupuncture.

When you think of San Diego, some of the first things that come to mind are probably bright sunlight, palm trees, and beautiful beaches, but San Diego has much more to offer including the extensive and magnificent landscape of Balboa Park. Over 1,200 acres comprise Balboa Park’s geographic domain where you will find historic plazas, beautiful walking trails, museums, an artist-run shopping village, performing arts organizations, amazing gardens, recreation resources, and many other popular attractions including the San Diego Zoo.

 

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photos_by_clark/

 

Laurel Street via the Cabrillo Bridge serves as the most scenic entrance to Balboa Park and our office location at 305 Laurel Street in the Park West neighborhood of San Diego is only a short walk from all the splendor of one of San Diego’s most valued treasure. It’s a great place to take a brief stroll either before or after your acupuncture appointment where you can enjoy the breeze, take a gander at the foliage, or savor a cup of tea while you assimilate the healing effects of your treatment. Thanks to the efforts of pioneering horticulturist, Kate Sessions, Balboa Park has a diverse assortment of trees including more than 50 different types of palms in Palm Canyon.

Pro-tip: the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club has a magnificently manicured location just North of Laurel Street before you cross the bridge. During the week, it can be a quiet spot for contemplation.

 

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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vadoo/


The Park West neighborhood, where the Christina Bird Acupuncture practice is located, is a burgeoning district where many new high-density residential projects have expanded neighborhood numbers, yet because of the proximity of public transit, there’s still plenty of street parking — both metered and unmetered. While this area was once known as
Banker’s Hill and is one of San Diego’s oldest established neighborhoods with homes and buildings dating from the 19th century, you’ll find a good mix of beautifully restored historic structures, along with eclectic construction from the 20th century, and 21st century infill projects. The clinic’s Uptown location at the intersection of Laurel Street and Third Avenue places the office conveniently near three major freeways, including Interstate 5, California State Route 163, and Interstate 8.

Pro-tip: you can get delicious, fresh juices and smoothies at Juice Alchemy on Fifth Avenue and Spruce Street.

 

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 Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/susan_w/


The walkable vibe of this Uptown enclave means that you’ll find a variety of post-appointment destinations within close distance. Primarily clustered along the 5th Avenue corridor are restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, and other retailers.
Parking is plentiful, but unmetered parking fills fast. The good news is that the meters do take credit cards and you’ll only pay about $1.25 per hour. In the event that you prefer to pay with change and find yourself out of coins, Christina Bird does keep quarters on hand, so you won’t have to spend your appointment time worried about getting a ticket.

Pro-tip: there’s almost always metered parking available in front of the clinic building!

 

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 Corner in front of the clinic


The Park West neighborhood offers so many conveniences like easy freeway access, an assortment of local businesses, walkability, proximity to a great urban park, adjacent to public transport, and a great mix of retail and residential that it was a perfect location for our business. It is Christina Bird’s hope that our patients explore the surrounding area and find it convenient and pleasing as well.

 

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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vadoo/

Posted by & filed under Heat Exhaustion.

 

 

Fruits are excellent companions to outdoor activities in warm weather!

Whether you are lounging at the beach or hiking up a mountain, if you are going to be spending time in the sun, you need to be replenishing your fluids and electrolytes. Many health professionals recommend drinking a beverage containing electrolytes while in the midst of any potentially dehydrating activity to avoid heat exhaustion. It is also beneficial to include foods with a high water content such as watermelon or other melons, grapes, apples, pears, oranges, pineapple, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Bananas are high in potassium, an electrolyte, and is an excellent addition to the bunch. Try to avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine (such as coffee, sodas, and chocolate), as caffeine is a natural diuretic, and may increase the possibility of dehydration; the same is true for alcohol. Remember to drink at least one extra glass of water for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume, especially on hot summer days. If you or your loved ones experience heat exhaustion, try these tips for a healthy recovery.

Posted by & filed under Heat Exhaustion, Lifestyle Tips.

When suffering from Heat Exhaustion, if a person is not fully conscious and coherent, they need immediate medical attention. Do not try to get them to eat or drink. If you are at the beach, talk to a life guard. If there are no medical professionals present, take them to the nearest medical facility.

If they are conscious and able to verbalize how and what they are feeling, take the following steps to cool and rejuvenate their body:

1. Seat them in a cool place, out of the sun, not over asphalt, and preferably in an air­-conditioned environment or in an area with a light breeze.
2. Remove any unnecessary clothing. The more skin that is exposed, the more opportunity their body has for evaporation and cooling.
3. Encourage them to sip cool (not ice­ cold) beverages such as water, juice, coconut water, or electrolyte­-containing drink. No caffeine. No alcohol.
4. If they feel good enough to eat, encourage slow consumption of fresh fruits.
5. Wipe the length of back of their neck with a damp cloth. The evaporation of sweat off of our bodies is an important factor in thermoregulation. If they are suffering from heat exhaustion, they are probably not sweating. Wiping the back of their neck with a damp cloth will cool them as the water evaporates, and the coolness of the cloth will be refreshing.

Posted by & filed under Heat Exhaustion.

The Mayo Clinic defines Heat Exhaustion as “a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.”

As a redhead with pale skin and blue eyes, I certainly fall into the category of someone who is predisposed to Heat Exhaustion. Having experienced it many times in my life, from childhood and into adulthood, I have spent time learning about Heat Exhaustion, how to avoid it, and how to treat it.

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you are taking in, causing your body to have less water and fluids than it needs. There are different levels of dehydration; mild, moderate, and severe; and may require hospitalization and IV hydration in severe cases. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, dry/sticky mouth, thirst, fatigue, dry skin, decrease in sweat/urine, and constipation.

You may not feel thirsty, even when dehydrated, so don’t count of thirst as an indicator of adequate fluid levels.

Heat exhaustion generally occurs after exposure to high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity (makes it difficult to sweat) and strenuous physical activity (causes excessive sweating). Heavy sweating and a rapid pulse are signs of your body overheating. As heat exhaustion progresses, you may see sweating decrease or diminish altogether, and the pulse may become faint or weak. Other symptoms may include faintness, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, red and flushed or pale skin, and low blood pressure. Heat exhaustion may be due to two separate factors, water depletion or salt depletion, or a combination thereof. When we sweat, we lose both water and salt, so it is important to replenish both on hot days, especially if you or your family are participating in physical activities.

Hot, humid weather increases the incidence of heat exhaustion, as does strenuous physical activity. More susceptible than the average person are infants and children, as their smaller bodies have a higher turnover of fluids and electrolytes; older adults, as their body’s ability to retain fluids is reduced, and they tend to eat and drink less than younger populations; as well as pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses (ex: diabetes and kidney disease), and those with lighter skin and eyes.

Check out these tips and foods for addressing the symptoms associated with heat exhaustion.

Posted by & filed under Studies.

 

An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system, and can be in response to environmental or dietary allergens.

Symptoms can include sinus congestion; runny nose; coughing; sneezing; headache; red, itchy, or tearing of the eyes; skin reactions such as itchiness, eczema, or hives; or an asthma attack. These symptoms can subsequently lead to fatigue, poor sleep, and dark bags under the eyes. An allergen is a normally harmless substance in the environment that causes a reaction in those who are allergic to said allergen. The reaction causes an inflammatory response in the body that can range from uncomfortable (ex: typical “hay fever” symptoms) to dangerous (ex: anaphylactic shock in people with peanut allergies). There are over-the-counter and prescription medications for allergies, and different people will experience varying degrees of alleviation of their symptoms.

Studies (see here, here, here, here, and here) have shown that acupuncture is effective in treating the symptoms associated with allergies, including the severity of the symptoms, as well as the number of days per month that patients experience their allergy-related symptoms. After an initial round of treatments, most patients will come in for monthly, preventative treatments, or will schedule treatments based on the seasons and weather patterns that affect them, personally. For example, a patient with an allergy to cat dander may come in monthly, whereas a person with traditional seasonal allergies will come in in early spring/autumn, or just before a round of Santa Ana winds come into town.

As always, each patient’s treatment routine and protocol is individually-created and based on their particular needs. Curious if acupuncture is right for you? Contact us today or check out our FAQs.

Posted by & filed under Home Remedies, Relationship.

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Forget the “Hallmark” aspect of Valentine’s Day, and simply allow yourself to experience and share in the smiles, hearts, and love-i-ness of the day.

The way I see it, Valentine’s Day is a day in which we can join millions of other people and simply celebrate Love. Every day can, and dare I say should, be about Love, but Valentine’s Day is the time of year that we are repeatedly reminded about love. February 14th does not have to include chocolates and flowers and dinners out; there are many lovely things that we can do to express our love and adoration without having an additional expense on Valentine’s Day:

 

Cook a special dinner for your partner: Do they have a favorite meal? A particular diet? Or is home-cooking itself a novelty in your relationship? Regardless of your answers, having a home-cooked meal prepared just for you will make anyone feel appreciated.

Make their life easier: Is there some mundane task or domestic chore that they need help with? Surprise them with a freshly-cleaned bathroom or mopped kitchen floor. Fold and put away their laundry, or pick up the items on their grocery list. Sometimes, little actions can make a big difference in someone’s day.

Leave them notes: Take a pad of post-its and put sweet notes around the house. Put an “I love you!” on their bathroom mirror, an “XOXO” on their refrigerator, and a big heart on their closet door. For extra fun, hide a few notes in drawers and cabinets and see how long it takes for your partner to discover them.

Skip the cards: Hand-write a letter: If you’re not sure how to start, begin by typing out your letter and then rewriting it on a piece of stationary, card stock, or even a blank sheet of paper. Take some time to express yourself fully:
– Tell them all the things you like and love about them.
– Thank them for their role in your life and all the things they do for you.
– Express the ways they make you feel good about yourself and your relationship with them.
– Maybe include a romantic quote about love (see below for my favorite love quote).

Wash and massage their feet: We spend an enormous amount of time on our feet, and few of us take diligent care of our body’s foundation. You can give them a five-minute foot massage during a movie, or take the time to prepare a warm foot bath, complete with a scrub and massage. Not sure what to do? I’ve given you step-by-step instructions.

Create intimacy: By asking each other these 36 questions.
More than anything, you simply want to convey your love to your partner on this day (and every day!). Greet them with hugs and kisses when you see them after work. Even if you have a fight that morning, let that go for a night and just take this day to be with your love. And if you happen to be single and reading this, keep these pointers in mind for next year, or pick a good friend to be your Valentine. Everyone loves being loved!

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Posted by & filed under Home Remedies, Relationship, Stress.

The washing of feet can be seen as an act
of hospitality, humility, or piety,
but also an act of love and respect.

It is a rite commonly practiced by many cultures and religions. There are references to historic religious figures reverently washing their disciples feet, and the current Pope Francis has frequently been seen washing the feet of his followers. In addition to being our point of contact with the earth, our feet are home to many acupuncture channels and their associated points. By massaging the feet, we interact with six of the twelve main acupuncture channels, and can create a smooth and healthy flow of blood and lymph throughout our bodies.

 

Supplies:
a basin large enough to fit both of your partner’s feet
two towels
lotion or oil to massage
access to warm water

Optional supplies:
bath salts
essential oils
pumice stone

 

How to make it happen:

1. Take the basin and fill it with warm water (test with the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot). Place it on top of a towel, in front of a comfortable seating area. Feel free to add bath salts or a few drops of essential oils to the water to create that soothing spa experience. My favorite choices are lavender or jasmine, but a tour of the essential oils in the health/body care section at your local grocery store will give you more options.

2. Place your partner’s feet in the water and allow them to soak for several minutes. While their feet are soaking, lightly massage their lower legs, working down towards their feet. Then, with one hand on each foot, use your thumbs to massage along the bone on the inner border of each foot, starting at the big toes and working back toward the heel. Next, rub your fingertips into the outer border of their feet, working back toward their heels, and softly rub around the base of the heel. Using a slow, circular motion, allow your thumb and fingertips to lightly press into the nooks of their ankle joints; then use the same circular motion with your thumb, moving back towards their toes along their inner arch. If your partner is ticklish, use more pressure – it is generally the light touch that creates a ticklish sensation.

3. Lift one foot mostly out of the water, and use the base of your palm to stroke the bottom their foot. Using your fingers, be sure to work the heel and in-between the toes. Spend as much time as you would like on this step, but do at least a few minutes per foot. You can also occasionally scoop more warm water out of the basin and run it down their ankle and over their foot. Adding a pumice stone to smooth out their calluses is another add-on option. Repeat with the other foot.

4. Lift their feet out of the basin and onto the towel below. Remove the basin. Use the second towel to dry off both of their feet.

5. Pour some lotion or oil onto your hands. (If using oil, confirm that they are not allergic to any of the ingredients. You can simply ask if they are “allergic to any nuts or oils,” as many body oils contain peanut or almond.) Rub your hands together to warm the lotion/oil, and lift one foot at a time to massage. See below for massage pointers. Repeat with the other foot.

* Keep in mind that you don’t have to have any massage training to give a good foot massage. Remember that your partner will love that you are giving them this experience; they will not expect you to give the world’s best foot massage.


Suggestions to consider
:

Ask: Ask if there is an area of their foot that they would like you to focus on. If not, then try to hit the areas I have listed below.

Heel and ball of the foot: We put a lot of pressure on the bones in our heels and the balls of our feet. These areas respond well to pressure points or slow circular motions.

Arches: Our arches have muscles and tendons that can often get tight or knotted, especially in runners or people who wear heels. This area responds well to a stroking motion. Use both of your thumbs (with your fingers holding the top of the foot) and stroke from the heel up to the ball of the foot. The soft area in the middle of the foot, just behind the ball of the foot, is a key point in Chinese Medicine for grounding and relaxation. Focusing on this area can help your partner relax and get “out of their head”. Try to spend a little extra time and love here.

Toes: Don’t forget the toes! Now, not everyone likes their toes touched, so you may want to check in with your partner about this one. If they are okay with it, try lightly tugging on each of their toes individually, by starting at the base and pulling toward the tip, letting your fingertips slide along the length of each toe. Then work your thumb or forefinger between each toe, massaging the webbing. You can softly pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger (one on top, one below), to stimulate blood flow to the area. Slide your finger/thumb up their foot, in between the bones of the toes.

The whole foot: Finish with moving both of your hands along their foot, remembering to use your fingers, thumb, and palm of your hand to massage their entire foot.

Worried you won’t remember all of that? Print this post out and leave it next to the basin, or make yourself a cheat-sheet with the highlighted points. Your partner will appreciate your commitment to doing a good job! This activity has been my practice for each Valentine’s Days I have shared with my husband, and they have been the best Valentine’s Days that I have ever experienced. I hope you are able to have as much loving success with this practice as I have!

Looking for more simple and romantic ideas? Check out my suggestions for a heart-felt Valentine’s Day.

 

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips, Stress.

To need something is to go beyond a simple wish or desire; to need is to require something because it is essential or very important.

“Me Time” is a need, a requirement for peace of mind, health of body, and resilience of spirit. If we don’t consciously make time for ourselves, we end up trapped in the flurry of daily to-do’s and approaching deadlines. Me time is about taking intentional moments for yourself; a mental, physical, and emotional intermission from the stressors that wear us down and burn us out.

In the 21st century, we are a go-getting, over-achieving, do-all-the-things type people. In this age of everything, we never lack sources of stimulation. There is no vacuity of things to do/see/read/learn/try and do again. If we are taking good care of ourselves – mind, body, and spirit – then we improve our chances of staying healthy and happy. Our bodies can endure only so much stress before they hit the proverbial wall. How many times have you said the words, “I don’t have time for ____.”? Life isn’t going to offer you up extra time on a silver platter, you have to make time for yourself. The key is making small changes in our daily routines, and you can start with the following tips:


Get an Acupuncture Treatment:

There is a growing body of research that shows that acupuncture treats pain and inflammation, reduces stress, improves blood flow and sleep quality, and even prevents and alleviates menstrual symptoms. Taking care of our bodies should be our number one priority, but are you able to place self-care in the top ten items on your to-do list? If not acupuncture, commit to having some sort of bodywork done on at least a monthly basis. This is the only body you get, so take care of it!

Have a Morning Routine:
Perhaps I should say, “Have a morning routine that isn’t completely rushed.” Give yourself enough time in the morning to do everything you have to do, and a few things you’d like to do. Every morning, I get up, drink a large glass of water, and then prepare loose leaf tea for myself. While the water is coming to a boil, I squat down (to help with elimination regularity), and peel and eat several cutie oranges. Giving myself this time in the morning helps support my digestive health, as well as my mental-emotional health, since I’m not jumping out of bed and rushing out the door. I also love starting my day with positive mantras or affirmations.
Taking this time for yourself in the morning sets the tone for your day.

Keep a Schedule:
Do you often feel as if you’ve been working hard all day long, only to realize that you didn’t actually get much done? When we half-commit and half-finish projects all day long, we are left tired, but without the gratification of a day of accomplishments. Keeping a schedule will keep you on track and can help avoid forgotten items.

Use Your Phone’s Calendar to Schedule in Exercise and Breaks:
Nowadays, most people have a smart phone that is equipped with an equally-smart calendar, which usually will link to your online calendar (i.e. Google Calendar). Set aside time in your schedule for exercise, with a reminder that will give you enough time to get to a class, or that will remind you to eat a snack an hour ahead of time. Committing to a weekly exercise program is made easier by creating a recurring event in your calendar, eliminating forgetfulness as an excuse. You may also find it helpful to schedule in five or ten-minute breaks to get up out of your desk, stretch, and move around. This will break up the monotony of your day, and remind you to take care of your body in bite-sized periods of time. Going on a 15 to 20-minute walk after a meal can also help aid digestion and regulate blood sugar levels for those with type-2 diabetes.

Rediscover Play:
What makes you feel like a kid again? Is it swinging on the swings at the park? Playing with your pet? Dancing like no one is watching? Find the activities that make you smile and giggle and laugh out loud. It is imperative that we participate in these activities on a daily basis. Being an adult has its amazing perks, but sometimes we can learn something from the happy wisdom of children at play.

Remember Your Hobbies:
Were you once an avid reader, painter, dancer, or seamstress? Do you have activities that once gave you joy, but now have fallen by the wayside? Set aside one Saturday or Sunday a month to rediscover these activities. Perhaps you and your partner can make a whole weekend of it! Have kids? Then take turns taking time for yourselves and supporting each other’s activities.

Take a Music Break:
Even if you don’t plan on dancing around while listening, have a few songs that help you relax and make you “just feel good”. Some of the songs may be your favorite pop or rock song, but have at least one without lyrics. No songs coming to mind? Three of my favorite non-lyrics pieces are Autumn by Ryan Stewart, Patrick O’Hearn’s So Flows The Current, and A Fuoco by Ludovico Einaudi.

Meditate and Breathe:
An old Zen proverbs states, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” It’s a comical reminder that the less free time we seem to have, the more we should be intentionally taking time for ourselves. At the top of every hour, take a minute or two to take ten deep breaths, inhaling into your abdomen and exhaling completely. Not only can these breaths combat stress and anxiety by giving your body a boost of oxygen, but the act of breathing deep into your abdomen will help expand and relax your diaphragm, making it easier to keep your breathing deep, rhythmic, and healthful throughout your day.

Take Yourself Out to Eat:
In a culture whose meals are dominated by meetings, television, and catch-up activities, taking yourself out to a long, leisurely lunch can be the nourishing, peaceful space that slows down the pace of your week or month. I take myself out to eat every now and again, but I have a standing lunch date with myself every year on my birthday to relax and reflect back on my previous solar revolution. Each year, I look forward to this solo-time and the opportunity for self-reflection that it gives me.

Put Down Your Cell Phone:
With our modern technology, the world wide web literally at your fingertips. As fantastic as this convenience is, it makes it much easier to wrap up every moment in some thing. The next time you arrive early for an appointment or are waiting for a friend, don’t immediately pop on your phone to check your e-mail or social media. Look around you and appreciate this moment of electronic-free entertainment.

Have a Decompression Routine:
Having a specific routine when you get home from work allows your to shift out of the day’s frenetic energy and into the relaxation of the evening. Discuss your plans with your partner, so they know to give you space for five to ten minutes after you get home, and encourage them to develop their own decompression routine. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes, and then wash and massage my feet. It is a process that allows me to figuratively wash away the stress of my day, and show myself a little self-love. While preparing dinner, I will also prepare an herbal tea and then store it in a thermos container for after dinner.

As with any lifestyle adjustment, it will begin with you setting your intention for change. Make yourself a priority and commit to making time for yourself in the midst of your busy schedule. Taking time for YOU can help reduce stress and boost confidence. A small step of five to ten minutes a day can be one giant leap towards your own personal health and happiness!

Posted by & filed under Home Remedies, Lifestyle Tips, Studies.

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Psychologist Arthur Aron did a study to see if two strangers could build intimacy by asking each other a series of 36 questions. He and the other researchers believed that,

“The best way to get close to your partner is to share with them, and have them share with you.”

 
According the the study, “subject pairs carry out self-disclosure and relationship-building tasks that gradually escalate in intensity.” By starting with simple, fun questions that slowly become more personal, participants are able to progressively let down their emotional barriers and experience vulnerability and authenticity. At the end of the series of questions, the duo participates in 4 minutes of sustained eye contact.

This is an activity that can foster connection in any relationship: between friends, family, or romantic partners. The study parameters give 45-minutes for the activity, but give yourself as much time as you want. Looking to build greater intimacy in your relationships? What a wonderful opportunity! This is the perfect conversation piece to help you grow closer to your partner, or even to dive straight into emotional intimacy on a first date!

One partner reads the question aloud (in alternating order), and both partners answer the question. The questions are divided into three sets (as per the original study), but should be completed in numerical order. If you need to take a quick break, do so in between the sets:

 

The Questions:

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set III

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.


Eye Contact:

After you have completed all 36 questions, set a timer for four minutes, take a deep breath, and maintain eye contact with your partner until the timer goes off. You may feel weird or nervous or self-conscious, and that’s okay! Any time you want to look away, just take another deep breath and allow yourself to settle into the experience.

Emotional intimacy is a powerfully vital part of our lives. We need it to feel connected to others, to develop empathy, and to allow for emotional processing. It takes time and effort to develop, but if you seek emotional intimacy, you shall find it. And these 36 questions are here to help!