Establish These Three Behaviors To Improve Your Life

The most important relationship we have is with ourselves. The way we think, eat, behave and use our resources define the quality of life we live. We all want to thrive and enjoy a healthy fulfilling life. Yet, in our over scheduled, frenzied personal environments and ever encroaching culture, the simple, basic, no-cost behaviors that will better our lives and foster an excellent relationship with ourselves are often overlooked.

Here is a list of 3 simple behaviors any of us can do immediately to improve and restore our well-being and enhance our health.

1. Buy with Cash

Over the last 5 years, most of us have had a reality check regarding the corrosive nature of debt. It can cause stress, anxiety and sleepless nights, robbing us of our well-being and causing us to lose control over our relationship with money. One of the fastest and easiest ways of “turning the ship around” when it comes to debt is to commit to using only cash for purchases and cutting up the credit cards.

While we can have an emergency card or line of credit squirreled away for a real emergency, by reining in our spending habits and eliminating debt, we can do more for our sense of well-being and health than following the latest health trends and starting an exercise program. Yes, it’s true – reducing and eliminating the crushing stress of debt accumulation is the number one act of self-care we all need to commit to. Studies show that chronic stress and worry will make us sicker and even cause life threatening events such as stroke and heart attack more so than any other lifestyle behavior.

Also, by paying in cash you are more aware of what you are actually spending and have the opportunity to ask yourself: “Do I really need to make this purchase?”

2. Clean out Your Closets

In our consumer-driven environment, we are invited daily to buy, buy, buy and can find ourselves living with closets, attics and basements overflowing with “stuff.” Much of this stuff we do not even use and may not even remember we have.

One of the most satisfying experiences is to clean out closets, drawers, basements, attics, garages, storage areas, and so forth. Thin out all the excess material possessions we have and do not need or use. Giving things away to the local “swap shop” or donating these unnecessary belongings to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will not only free up room and space in our homes, but will also provide a greater sense of control over your living space as well as provide a sense of orderliness and cleanliness – all good things for our health and happiness.

3. Post Your Life Goals and Affirmations

We all have goals and dreams we want to realize. One of the fastest, proven ways to achieve those goals and manifest our dreams is to write them down and post them throughout our whole working and living environments. Take the most urgent and important goal you have at this time and focus on it daily, using post-its or other reminders of what you want to manifest.

This no cost, proven method for creating the things we want in our lives can become an excellent life-long behavior. When one goal is realized or achieved, we can identify the next important goal and work on that specifically, using our desire and unconscious mind to manifest our dreams. After all, thoughts really are “things.” By repeatedly thinking on something, we can create it into reality.

Everything was a thought before it became a reality – the chair you are sitting on was a thought in someone’s mind before it was created. We can and do create our lives with our thoughts – so post away and realize your goals.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.ChangingBehavior.org

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Do Spiritual Communities Foster Improved Wellness For Baby Boomers?

Do Spiritual Communities Foster Improved Wellness For Baby Boomers?

Stuff happens — especially as we age. Our lives and health generally change. The usual causes include children leaving the nest, divorce, the loss of a spouse or partner, changing financial circumstances or any one of a dozen other events. Often the outcome of these changes can lead to sadness, loneliness, depression and decreased immune function, with the resultant lowered health indicators. Our immune system is an essential key to our longevity and as we age it becomes more important to preserve its function and integrity, especially for those of us over 55 years old. One common question I have encountered is whether spiritual communities foster improved wellness for the baby boomer generation.

Exploring The Existing Research

An interesting study at Duke University Medical Center found that older people who attended religious services at least once a week were about half as likely as those who do not attend services weekly to have elevated levels of an immune protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), which serves as an indicator of how well the immune system is functioning.

IL-6 indicates the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been implicated in most major chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. This decreased level of IL-6 translates into a healthier immune system enjoyed by those with regular attendance at their religious community.

The Duke researchers, Dr. Harold Koenig and Dr. Harvey Cohen, studied 1,718 older adults in North Carolina, factoring into the outcomes the health conditions experienced by the study subjects. These included depression, chronic illness, and negative life events — all of which the researchers identified as likely to affect immune status. Even with these conditions, the improvement to the immune system in those who attended weekly services was evidenced.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and first reported in the October 1997 issue of the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, updated in 2004. These findings identified and suggest that religion or participation in a spiritual life community may affect immune function through better coping skills, psychosocial factors and the mechanisms by which organized religion promotes positive thoughts and behaviors.

However, there may be other factors at play as well. Feelings of belonging to a community, shared values, as well as the togetherness of a shared meaningful activity, such as worshiping with others, may be at the cause and effect of these findings.

Dr. Koenig, the lead author of the study, states:

 “Perhaps religious participation enhances immune functioning by yet unknown mechanisms, such as through feelings of belonging, togetherness, even perhaps the experience of worship and adoration… Such positive feelings may counteract stress and convey health effects that go far beyond simply the prevention of depression or other negative emotions.”

This study also raises the theory that there may be a factor in participating in such a weekly ritual that derails the experience of loneliness, experienced by older Americans to a larger extend than younger populations, and that this factor may be part of the healing effect of the weekly spiritual community attendance.

Establishing Validity In Subjective Study

While Koenig had found similar outcomes in a different study a year before this study, those outcomes were based on personal interviews as markers for wellbeing and health status. In the latest study, blood samples were measured for the body’s chemicals such as alpha, beta and gamma globulins, fibrin d-dimers, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, which regulate immune and inflammatory responses, providing a more accurate and scientific measurement to the findings and in calculating how healthy a person actually is.

“There is so much subjectivity when people say they feel better that you can’t rely on self reports alone to truly reflect health status,” said Dr. Harvey Cohen, professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke. “By measuring blood levels of IL- 6, we were trying to put rigorous scientific parameters on the positive health effects of religion,” he said.

Dr. Cohen explains that the team selected IL-6 as it has been identified as contributing to a wide spectrum of various age-related diseases. Cohen’s own research identified a relationship between high levels of IL-6 and a “poor functioning ability, which is a term that is used for tasks of daily living such as dressing, cooking, bathing and so forth.

Physical And Physchological Benefits

Other studies have also shown IL-6 levels are elevated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure in older adults. It seems that as we age our bodies decrease the ability to overcome the many challenges to our immune system and this leads to a decrease in its function and a greater vulnerability to all forms of illness.

The Women’s Health Initiative follow-up survey based on 92,529 post-menopausal women, at 50 years or older, identified that attending religious services increased life expectancy. This survey was taken with a diverse group of women who varied ethnically, religiously and socioeconomically. The study was funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute; National Institutes of Health; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report was published in the Journal of Religion and Health in November 2011. The report states that “those who attend services frequently were 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don’t — and were 27 percent less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance.”

Another study, published in the Winter 2001 Annals of Behavioral Medicine reported that “weekly religious attendants in 1965 were more likely to both improve poor health behaviors and maintain good ones by 1994 than were those whose attendance was less or none. Weekly attendance was also associated with improving and maintaining good mental health, increased social relationships, and marital stability.” So in that sense, yes, baby boomers who belong to a spiritual community may foster improved wellness.

While further studies to explore and more fully understand this data is warranted, for us longevity-focused boomers, a return to a spiritual or worship community could represent an opportunity for renewed connection with others in a shared environment, as well as potential discernment and insight into the importance of belonging.

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For a free chapter download on how to immediately improve your relationship communication skills, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt To Stress

Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt 

The ability for a human being to adapt to its environment and to deal with the many ongoing and changes it faces is the hallmark of a healthy body. That we can withstand day to day events that challenge our nervous system, and subsequently our immune system, is a reflection that our body is working very efficiently. This all comes back to your adrenal glands and their ability to adapt.

Understanding the connection between how events affect our stress adaptation system, primarily the adrenal glands, and how the adrenal's hyper-secretions under stress can create havoc with the digestive and immune systems is important. This allows us to make informed lifestyle choices that will preserve and respect our body and our long term health.

Variations In Stress

Most of us do not know what stressors are. We tend towards the idea that emotional upset is what constitutes stress. However, there are 12 major categories of stress that can impact our body and health. Unfortunately, we are subject to these stressors on a regular basis.

A stressor is any activity or event that requires the body to change or adapt in order to maintain its homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, it becomes essential to know the factors we must be mindful of in order to keep our stress levels in check.

Below is a list of the stressors to be aware of in your day to day life:

  • Weather (exposure to hot or cold)
  • Sleep and Rest (specifically, not getting enough)
  • Infection or Silent Inflammation  
  • Allergies (all types)
  • Dental or Medical Procedures and Surgeries
  • Reproduction  (for women: menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause)
  • Sexual Activity
  • Nutrition  (too many calories or non-nutritious food) 
  • Exertion and Exercise (too much or not enough)
  • Trauma (any form)
  • Fear, Anxiety, Worry  (ongoing)
  • Loss or grief

By keeping your stress level low, you will reduce wear and tear on your body parts that, in the long term, can lead to chronic illness and disease. It is not the stress itself that makes you sick, but the ongoing wear on the body that causes dysfunction and dis-ease.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Life

There are many ways to reduce stress and maintain a balanced nervous system. While the list is endless here are some of the most popular ways to do so: (1) Exercise regularly. (2) Listen to soothing music. (3) Practice Yoga. (4) Participate in sports. (5) Tend a garden.

Each person finds their best way to relax and de-stress. It is something we all need to do on a regular basis to balance or nervous systems and stay healthy!

 

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Social Behavior And An Unhealthy Work Environment

social media at work

When most of us think of an unhealthy work environment we think "sick building syndrome," difficult co-workers or the classic "boss from hell."

After attending a conference that was populated by a number of staffing agency directors, I received insight into the latest unhealthy work issue that is gaining the attention of a lot of organizations. OFBTM – Obsessive Facebook and Text Messaging while on the clock. It is becoming such a concern to some employees that more and more companies are having their computer networks re-tooled to block Facebook from being accessible from the office computers.

Unbecoming Habits

How much of a problem is it that a significant number of those raised on electronic communication and networking cannot stop checking their Facebook and Text Messaging while they are being paid to do the job tasks required of them? That employers are noticing and concerned about this trend affecting their productivity and even their bottom line, says something important about immediate communication impulse and what is being called "the narcissistic tendency" we are developing as a culture.

The focus and integrity to attend to the job we are expected to perform as well as the ability or willingness not to pay attention to ourselves when we are getting paid to be working, seems to be lacking today more than ever before. Cell phones, e-mails, text messages, social networking, Facebook and other electronic forms of communication have begun to hold our attention prisoner, even when we are on the job. Not only is this unfair to the individual or organization paying our salary, but it also sends up a red flag about how we are growing more and more self-absorbed as a culture.

Social Media And Health 

Can someone be healthy when they are overly concerned about the moment to moment activities of their lives? There are (most commonly in humor columns) reported Facebook posts by individuals who literally record every minor thought and event of their day, posting them publically for all their friends and fans to read. Is it true that we are becoming a narcissistic society unable to pull ourselves away from the details of our lives? Is the problem so invasive that we no longer put in "an honest day's work"?

Health is made up of many things. Being productive, making a contribution, working hard and enjoying what you do are all pieces of a healthy lifestyle. If social networking and electronic communication is pulling you further away from a balanced and healthy work life, it may be time to unplug and unlink.

Present, Productive, and Fulfilled

Finding fulfillment and feeling commitment about what we do in our work, as well as how we do the work, is an important part of being a productive, contributory, healthy, happy individual. 

Excessive electronic communication can not only be self-centering but can also distract us from other essential aspects that are part of a balances life. It’s something to consider.

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Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Muscular And Skeletal Systems Help Us Move

Our Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Skeletal And Muscular Systems Help Us Move

In the past we have explored the nervous system, brain function, cranial nerves, digestive function, adrenal function, and the immune system. Now let's take a look at the most glamorized, yet under-appreciated, part of our body—our mighty muscles and bones. So, how do the muscular and skeletal systems help us move?

Muscular Attraction

The muscles get a lot of attention with regard to how they can make us look attractive and sexy to others. Our muscle tone communicates how healthy our body is. The strength of the muscles, the lack of water retention or fat in the muscles, and how flexible we are, all indicate that we may be a good reproductive partner and produce strong, healthy offspring. This is one of the functions we all can relate to, but it is certainly not the most important function of our muscles.

Try to imagine what your life would be like if your muscle tissue could not form the shape of your body. What if it didn't allow you to physically move around your environment? Without locomotion, thru muscle strength and movement, we would be a lump of humanity, never moving from the spot we found ourselves in.

Mighty Bones

Our bones are so amazing too. Apart from their distinctive and critical role as part of the immune system carrying precious bone marrow, they are the armature upon which our muscles are draped. Bones allow cooperation between the muscles, to physically move, play, exercise, work, eat, sleep and achieve all of the mobility we experience throughout our day.

When we look at people stooped over with distorted posture and their musculature not functioning properly, we immediately associate this with either being ill or not vital. Our posture is the number one thing people notice, followed by how we are dressed. Our body language is expressed thru our bone/muscle function. In essence, our personality and how we view the world are all communicated in how we move through the space we inhabit.

Working Together

Our muscles and bones not only share the work load in glucose and immune regulation, body heat production, fat metabolism, mineral storage, and the ability for “fight or flight”—self-preservation. They also communicate to the world what we think about ourselves, others, and the world through the expression of body movement and non-verbal communication. This can be one of the most attractive or frightening aspects about us – depending on how we express our movement and actions.

Keeping your muscles and bones strong thru exercise and a healthy diet is a wise move. Without them, we are literally “going nowhere.”

 

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Our Pets Improve Our Health

While it may be difficult to get Americans to collectively agree on the many issues, it seems that when it comes to pets and the value we place on them, there is little disagreement. The 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey reported that an astounding 65% of all American households have a pet. An identified 79.7 households have dogs–over 100 million of them in all. Cat owner households total 42.9 million. Fresh water fish, birds, reptiles and horses, along with small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and others make up another 25-27 million pets.  

Americans, it seems, have also come to view and treat their pets in human terms. No longer satisfied with relegating the family pet to its own domain, today’s pet lovers are demanding the highest quality products and services for those they love. The idea of buying a simple dog chew or catnip toy now takes a back seat to designer sweaters and jewelry for our beloved companions. The current trend of dog hotels instead of kennels, indoor animal toilets, perfume, a hugely popular service “doggie dates” and exotic animal sitting services have found their way into today’s pet economy.

For the most passionate pet lover, faux mink coats, lumberjack vests, designer jackets, matching jeweled leather collar and leash sets, Halloween costumes, and holiday outfits are becoming part of the new “pet fashion.” Safety seats for transporting pets in vehicles are also becoming popular. One of the larger pet expenditures is pet food. These days the pet food aisle looks strikingly similar to the rest of the “human food” aisles in chain grocery stores. Specialized, balanced gourmet meals are readily available in the refrigerator section as well as a plethora of animal treats, vitamins, and supplements. Special diet foods for the senior pet population offer life extension and prolonged health.

The country's household expenditures on pets for 2015-16 was in excess of 62.75 billion dollars. It is easy to imagine that this number must be a mistake as this is more money being spent on pets in the United State than the gross national product numbers for all but 64 countries around the world. This 62.75 billion dollar figure also represents almost double the approximately $35 billion dollars Americans spend on going to movies, playing video games, or for listening to recorded music.

The approximate 20% of non-pet households are for the most part made up of individuals with allergies, or who live in apartments or other environments that do not welcome pets, and those who have no time left in their over-scheduled lives to care for a pet. It seems people of all ages, ranging from infants to very elderly, enjoy and welcome the company of pets. The presence of pets is so popular today that some nursing facilities now have therapy pets at the facility on a regular basis. The one down side to this practice is that sometimes the residents start arguing and competing over who gets to keep the cat, dog, or bird with them for the day.

What fuels our passion for pets? It is really quite simple. Our pets love us unconditionally. They listen to us when we speak, provide companionship without politics or the agenda of most relationships. They accept our love and affection the way we chose to give it, without complaint, and they provide us in return with affection and loyalty. They are the ultimate loving family member, and we are now treating them as such. Can anyone blame us?

Social networking has become the way we communicate and “do” relationships. These days it is often over e-mail and texting messages that we are starting relationships or ending them, sharing major life events–even proposing marriage. The intimate contact of human connections we had even 15 years ago before the dominance of the internet and cell phones is now being replaced by our pets.

Pets are not only beloved companions, but they are also taking on the role of healers. Dogs have been long known for their service as seeing eye dogs, but the use of dogs and other pets in many areas of healing and health monitoring are becoming more widespread. Dogs who alert their companions for seizures or “sniff out” cancer or horses that assist with helping autistic children to interact with others are easily found on the news or internet.

A recent study by researcher Dr. Karen Allen at the State University of New York at Buffalo identified that individuals suffering from hypertension when adopting a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than their counterparts who did not have a pet companion. The National Institute of Technology Assessment Workshop, Health Benefits of Pets, identified that pets provide greater psychological stability, which us protects not only from heart disease and other stress related conditions but also reduces depression. In the same study, pets have been shown to lower the cost of health care as individuals with pets make fewer doctor visits, especially “for non-serious medical conditions.”

A Perdue University study demonstrated that when seniors face traumas or other forms of adversity, the affection received by their pets and the bond between them helps prevent depress and loneliness. As a means of enhancing our psychological and physical well-being, pets have the power to love us, heal us, and help us to live longer. If only we could get other humans to do so with the same honesty and loyalty that our pet companions provide us.

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Is Instant Energy Bad For Your Health?

Available everywhere and promising instant energy, energy drinks have grown in popularity over the last decade. They allow us to get more done faster, but at what costs? The largest population they are pitched to is the "under 30" group. This includes high school and college students as well as athletes, both school age and professional.

Our over-worked culture is moving beyond coffee for its morning wake up and afternoon pick-me-up to the energy drink solution. This product comes with it's own health concerns. Energy drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine and sugar and can include other stimulants such as ephedrine, guarana, and ginseng, which have all been shown to have potential health concerns. Here are some points of consideration you may want to be aware of before gulping down a can or two of the elixir.

Things To Consider:

  • Energy drinks contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Consumed quickly, the caffeine and sugar provide a jolt of energy by stimulating your stress system. This can also raise your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, causing your heart to beat faster and work harder.
  • The contents of these energy drinks can produce symptoms that may include anxiety, insomnia, irritability and nausea that can be severe enough to require medical attention or hospitalization.
  • Energy drinks, if taken during exercise, can dehydrate the body and deplete much needed calcium and potassium.
  • Because of the energy provided by the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, they have become popular as mixers with alcohol. This can lead to an individual not being aware of the level of intoxication, which might allow them to drive under the influence.
  • Bad reactions to energy drinks have been reported to U.S. poison control centers published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
  • In a report of nine cases of adverse reactions to the energy drink Redline, patients reported nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, dizziness and numbness.

There is the impression that because these drinks are available over the counter and can be bought in any retail store, they are not a "substance" that we should use carefully. This couldn't be further from the truth.

While energy drinks can be part of a balanced lifestyle when consumed sensibly, as with all things related to health and lifestyle, we need to exercise moderation and good judgement to avoid the problems that can arise from inappropriate or excessive use.

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A Different Approach To Spring Allergies

One of the most important aspects of addressing any health issue is to understand the cause and effect of how and why you are experiencing your symptoms and what they represent. Seasonal allergies are, for many, the down side to the beauty of spring and summer. Itchy, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and even wheezing can dictate an individual’s activity choices, where they can go, and even what they can eat.

None of this is desirable, and much of it has been shown to be preventable. To understand how you can take control of your seasonal allergies, let’s explore where they come from. Foreign proteins are found in many airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, and ragweed. When mucous membranes that come in contact with these foreign proteins are not immunologically competent enough to break down the proteins, the membraneS secrete mucous, fluids, and histamine. This causes the itching, swelling, irritation, and watery excretions that make seasonal allergies so challenging.

To improve allergy symptoms, steroid or steroid-like medications are often prescribed. These are anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce the allergic immune reaction to the foreign proteins.

By building up our immune and adrenal system, we can enable our bodies to be better able to handle these allergens, which cause the allergy reactions. Our adrenals are located either on top of or within the kidneys and produce cortico-steroids and other natural anti-inflammatory as part of our “national guard” system. Hans Selye, MD, PhD, who spent over 50 years researching the adrenals and immune system, discovered the important nutrition and lifestyle components to keeping this important body system working well: 

  • A diet rich in B, C, E, and A vitamins (or supplementation)
  • Unsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oils
  • Adequate protein intake
  • Minerals to aid the production of natural allergy fighting anti-inflammatories 
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Elimination of infections
  • Reduction of emotional stress
  • Moderate exercise
  • Avoidance of over exertion
  • Avoidance of traumas as well as dental and medical surgery
  • Elimination of extreme temperatures indoors and out

Seyle’s research demonstrated that by taking good care of our adrenal and immune system, allergies may be greatly reduced and, in some cases, eliminated. Applying some of these principles may allow you to enjoy this spring more while experiencing fewer symptoms.

10 Tips For Sustainable Love

It is not a coincidence that happy couples share many of the same behavioral patterns. Often, we think that being happy means we have fun sharing the same hobbies or doing everything as a couple. While sharing activities enhances relationships, the most important components to successful relationships are found in how individuals within a relationship treat each other. In large part, it relies on communication and behavior.

Some of the most important aspects of having a successful relationship with your significant other include:

Friendship: Being friends and genuinely liking your partner is one of the most important components of a happy and successful relationship. If you don’t like the other person, how can you truly love them?

Enjoying your partner’s company: Laughter is not only good medicine, but it is also the glue that binds relationships and creates memories. Laughing together and even crying together are meaningful in good relationships.

Being spontaneous: All of us have preferences, likes and dislikes. When you’re spontaneous about trying new food, travel plans, places to visit and other novel experiences, you expand your personal horizons and show respect for your partner’s preferences as well. Life is more interesting if we can be spontaneous together.

Having your own life: Developing a healthy relationship is about two independent and emotionally mature individuals joining company to share their lives together. Sometimes our needs can become interjected into our relationship in a way that creates a co-dependent dynamic. This can derail happiness in an intimate relationship.

Being fully, purely present to your partner: It has been said that there is no greater gift than our full, complete presence to another. Being authentically interested and attentive to the other person is a hallmark of a healthy, happy relationship.

Showing and expressing affection: Physical touch is an important part of happiness and fulfillment in relationships. Couples can often express that just by holding hands or sharing affection with their partner. This is a very important part of feeling loved and cared for.

Being caring and kind: Kindness is one of the most attractive things about another person. When we are kind, not only do we feel good about our behavior, but our significant other feels good about our behavior as well.

Being honest: If we give our partners a sense that we are devoted and loyal to them and they provide that for us, we create the foundation of a truly lasting and loving relationship. Marriages or relationships often break up because of trust issues. Trust is the foundation of all good interactions.

Being committed: When we are committed to someone, it means that we are there for them and can be counted on to support them in times of need. This is what we all want from our relationships. In order to depend on this benefit, we need to provide it as well.

Communicating: By actively communicating with your partner on an ongoing basis, you can avoid many of the problems that arise in relationships before they even get started. Being proactive and checking in with each other on a regular basis to see how things are for the other person goes a long way in preventing difficulties with conflicts and unmet needs.

Sustaining A Relationship

Creating and sustaining a loving, trusting and lasting relationship is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can long for and look forward to. While this is not a complicated process, it does require awareness and cultivation similar to what you need in raising a child or growing a garden.

If you keep disruptive weeds from infiltrating the flower beds of your relationships, you can enjoy the uninterrupted beauty of longed-for interactions and reduce the work, wear and tear that neglect can produce. Relationships take time, caring and commitment, but they are truly worth it.

For a free download on communication skills for enhanced relationships, visit http://www.changingbehavior.org/

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5 Ways To Protect Your Health And Save The Environment

We can all make small behavioral changes that can lead to a big difference to our personal health and the health of our planet. There are many easy and convenient ways to "go green." Several of these suggestions can even save us money and time. Here is a brief list of ways you can immediately start to protect your health and help keep the planet healthier at the same time:

> Taking shorter showers will not only help to keep your skin better hydrated by not having all the natural oils removed from your skin, but each individual who limits their shower to five (5) minutes can save almost 4,000 gallons of water per year.

> Avoid the dry cleaner and you avoid exposing your skin to perchloroethylene. Also known as perc, this toxic solvent is used to dry clean clothing. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and skin irritation have all been linked to this solvent. It may also deplete the ozone layer in addition to contributing toxic and carcinogenic by-products as it breaks down.

> Stop using air freshners to avoid phthalates, chemicals linked to hormone abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. In addition, they may also contain other harmful, cancer-causing volatile organic compounds that are not good for you or the earth. You can use mixtures like orange peel or sage in pretty containers or small bowls to freshen the rooms of your home or office.

> Buy organic coffee that is grown without pesticides that can harm the soil and seep into the water supply. This makes a better "brew" for you as it does not contain synthetic chemicals, and it decreases damage to the earth.

> Avoid using flea collars on your pets as the chemicals in the flea collars contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate water supplies. The pesticides used in the flea collars work by harming the nervous system of the insect. The same pesticides can harm your pet and yourself as they are absorbed through the skin.

These are a few simple and convenient ways you can immediately start to make yourself and the planet healthier!

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