Healthy You

Find tips and professional advices to make your body and mind helthier! Latest information from HealthSurvey.org


Get on the Ball

Have you heard the term focus on the core? No, we’re not talking about the inside of a golf ball; we’re talking about the inner muscles that make up the abdominal region, hips, and lower back. Most people focus their attention on the muscles that are more visible and easy to train, such as biceps, pecs, and back. The most important muscles that act as our foundation, however, are often over looked. So what is core training, or better yet core stability, and how do you increase your core stability?

Core training is best done when the body is placed in an unstable environment. One way to accomplish an unstable environment is with the use of those big colorful balls, commonly known as Swiss balls, Resist-A-Balls, or stability balls. Once used as a tool for rehabilitation, they have now become a hot item for healthy individuals to use for core and stability training. Swiss balls can be used in a variety of settings; with bodyweight only, integrated with selectorized machines and free weights, or with free weight or tubing exercises.

We have all seen Swiss balls in fitness facilities, but the question many people ask is what makes Swiss ball training so great? How can sitting, rolling, moving, or performing an exercise on a ball be beneficial? Believe it or not, there are numerous benefits to Swiss ball training:

1 Improved Posture

It takes more energy to move your body when you have poor posture, not to mention an increase of stress to the joints and stabilizer muscles. An athlete is always searching for the edge over the competition and simply improving posture will help the body function more effectively and efficiently. Swiss ball training is an excellent form of posture training. Postural muscles have to work in the unstable environment, unlike supported exercises such as machine training.

2 Improved Balance and Stability

The human body moves in three planes or a combination of planes and for improved balance and stability, you need to perform exercises that allow you to train in these multiple planes. Traditional machine weight training takes the balance out of the picture and the machine actually becomes your stabilizer. Swiss ball training places you in an unstable environment, forcing you to utilize your neutralizer and stabilizer muscles to stay balanced in a given position or through a particular motion. The result is improved sports performance since you are able to apply more power and strength to any situation where you need to balance and stabilize your body on a hill or unstable position.

3 Improved Nervous System Activation

The benefit of improving your nervous system activation is that you are able to transform the strength you developed from your training program to real life situations, whether they are sport-related or everyday activities.

4 Strengthened Core and Extremities

Swiss ball exercises require constant activation of the core muscles, which translates to a more functional core as well as sculpted abdominal and back muscles. Using the Swiss ball with free weight exercises will help develop the extremities while training the core at the same time.

As you will quickly learn, you just don’t get on the Swiss ball and begin your exercises; there are several rules to follow in order to perform the exercises correctly and safely. Seeking the help of a qualified personal trainer experienced in stability training will be beneficial. For starters, using the Swiss balls is not just about getting on one and trying not to fall off—you must maintain proper positioning throughout the exercises. Tucking in the pelvis and pressing the belly button into the spine are some cues that you will need to focus on through the exercises.

In order to improve your athletic performance, balance, stability, and posture, you will need to train in an environment that places a demand on the core muscles. You will notice that after training on a Swiss ball, you will become more confident in your ability to move effectively and efficiently during both sports-related and everyday activities.

Swiss ball training is only one aspect of training in an unstable environment. The use of core boards, wobble boards, foam roller, and discs all play a vital role in improving your athletic performance and training in such a way that really translates to real life activities.

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, keeping a balance in your training program is important. Components of fitness that should always be included are: muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular, flexibility, stability and balance, and coordination. Athletes will need to incorporate speed and agility to the list. Looking at the all the components that you need to integrate, it seems as though there is not enough time in the day to complete it all in a training program. This is where the professional assistance of a personal trainer comes into play. A personal trainer will be able to set up your program customized to your needs, wants, and lifestyle so that you don’t spend hours in the gym. After all, we work out so that our life is more enjoyable. Once you start adding stability training into your program, you’ll quickly see how it will improve other activities in your life. No matter what your fitness level may be, anyone can utilize a Swiss ball due to the vast variety of exercises available, from beginner to advanced level.

Get Stressless

We’ve all felt it at some time or other—that huge knot that builds at the back of your neck, sucks up your shoulders, and drives pain to your brain. Stress! It’s everywhere, and it’s difficult to deal with. Our technological world has made us instantly available to others, and whether it’s the Internet, cell phones, or our own personal life, stress can eat us alive if we let it.

If you’re feeling stressed, there are some simple steps to take and some activities to try that can ease the pain in a fun or relaxing way:

  • Juggle. That’s right, juggle. The rhythmic slapping of the balls, clubs, or rings on the palms of the juggler has a soothing effect. The arms are in constant motion, which can produce a good aerobic workout (especially under the leg and behind the back moves!).  Mentally, your focus is on the activity itself, so it can temporarily take your mind off other problems—and of course, you are never finished. There is always another trick, another prop, another challenge to work towards (if you want it).  Laurie Young at Laughways teaches a seminar in juggling for Alzheimer’s patients, because in her words, “the use of play in maintaining healthy older brains is just [now] being medically recognized.”
  • Joke. Tell jokes. Have some fun. Pull a prank. Have a pajama day at work. Laughter is therapeutic. If you don’t believe me, check out an in-depth study done by Christine Puder, a hospital-based child life specialist. In her report, she identifies ways in which laughter heals physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Laughter really is the best medicine!
  • Gyrate. Dance therapy is alive and well. According to a report by the American Cancer society, “clinical reports suggest that dance therapy helps in developing body image; improving self-concept and self-esteem, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, decreasing isolation, chronic pain, and body tension, and increasing communication skills and feelings of well being.
  • Genuflect. Many people have suspicions of the positive effects of meditation and prayer, but there are scientific studies that back it. If you’re curious, you can find summaries of eleven such studies at Scientific Studies Proving the Power of Meditation and Prayer. For another look at prayer, check out the article GET A Faith Lift!
  • Journal. Writing about those stress-building events of your life actually reduces stress, in a few different ways. First, it takes it from inside you and moves it outside, onto paper. There, you can look at it, examine it, and deal with it, WITHOUT reaching for an antacid tablet. For an in-depth look, check out The Center for Journal Therapy.

So juggle, joke, gyrate, genuflect, and journal your way to a new stress-free you! Not only will you find relaxation, you’ll enjoy the process too!

But don’t try to do them all at once. If you happen to see someone kneeling by the side of the road, swinging back and forth, juggling with one hand, journaling with the other, and laughing out loud, I don’t suggest you try to do the same . . . GET into a new habit! GET Stressless!

The Ayurveda Approach to Beauty and Skin Care

“Every person is born perfect. Inferiority is a mistake of the mind, a cloud covering the light. Dissolve the clouds by observing a balanced life with healthy habits. Nourish your mind and body. Connect with your own inner self. Celebrate your own magnificence and your beauty will always shine through.”

—Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, renowned Ayurvedic physician and dermatologist

The Three Pillars of Beauty

Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV), the modern, consciousness-based revival of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine tradition, considers true beauty to be supported by three pillars; Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty, and Lasting Beauty. Only by enhancing all three can we attain the balanced state of radiant health that makes each of us the most fulfilled and beautiful person we can be.

Outer Beauty: Roopam

The outer signs of beauty—your skin, hair and nails—are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism and proper tissue development. Outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood, than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.

General Recommendations for Outer Beauty

As we will discuss, the key to skin care is matching your diet and skin care routine to the specific skin type you have. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, hair and nails that will be helpful to everyone, regardless of skin type.

Without adequate nourishment, your collagen layer thins and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, your skin can shrivel up like a plant without water from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:

  • Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.

Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value and also they are often poorly digested which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.

  • Favor skin nourishing foods:
    • Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and are high in antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.
    • Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone
    • Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. Add amaranth, quinoa, couscous, millet and barley to the wheat and rice you already eat.
    • Favor light, easy to digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids) and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).
    • Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish and create lustre in the skin.
    • Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourish the skin and cleanse it of impurities.
    • Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables. They lose as much as 85% of their antioxidant content when cooked in this way. Steaming and sautéing are best.

Caring for Outer Beauty Through Knowledge of Skin Type

Besides these general recommendations the key to Outer Beauty is to understand the difference in skin types so you can gain the maximum benefit from your individualized skin care regimen. MAV identifies three different skin types based on which of the three main metabolic principles (doshas)—present in everyone, but to different degrees—is most dominant in your body.

Vata Skin

  • Description: Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. If you have a vata skin type, your skin will be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, it glows with a delicate lightness and refinement that is elegant and attractive. When vata skin is imbalanced, it will be prone to excessive dryness and may even be rough and flaky.
  • Potential problems: The greatest beauty challenge for vata skin is its predisposition to symptoms of early aging. Your skin may tend to develop wrinkles earlier than most due to its tendency to dryness and thinness. If your digestion is not in balance, your skin can begin to look dull and grayish, even in your 20’s and 30’s. In addition, your skin may have a tendency for disorders such as dry eczema and skin fungus. Mental stress, such as worry, fear and lack of sleep, has a powerful debilitating effect on vata skin leaving it looking tired and lifeless.
  • Recommendations for care: With a little knowledge, you can preserve and protect the delicate beauty of your vata type skin. Since your skin does not contain much moisture, preventing it from drying is the major consideration. Eat a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty and sweet tastes (naturally sweet like fruits, not refined sugar) as they balance vata. Avoid drying foods like crackers. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm (not cold for vata types!) water throughout the day and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Going to bed early (before 10 PM) is very soothing to vata and will have a tremendously positive influence on your skin. Avoid cleansing products that dry the skin (like alcohol-based cleansers) and perform Ayurvedic oil massage to your whole body (abhyanga) in the morning before you shower.

Pitta Skin

  • Description: Pitta dosha is composed of the elements of fire and water. If you have a pitta skin type your skin is fair, soft, warm and of medium thickness. When balanced, your skin has a beautiful, slightly rosy or golden glow, as if illuminated from within. Your hair typically is fine and straight, and is usually red, sandy or blonde in color. Your complexion tends toward the pink or reddish, and there is often a copious amount of freckles or moles.
  • Potential problems: Among the many beauty challenges of pitta skin types is your tendency to develop rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots or pigment disorders. Because of the large proportion of the fire element in your constitution, your skin does not tolerate heat or sun very well. Of all the three skin types, pitta skin has the least tolerance for the sun, is photosensitive, and most likely to accumulate sun damage over the years. Pitta skin is aggravated by emotional stress, especially suppressed anger, frustration, or resentment.
  • Recommendations for care: Avoid excessive sunlight, tanning treatments and highly heating therapies like facial or whole body steams. Avoid hot, spicy foods and favor astringent, bitter and sweet foods which balance pitta. (Again, naturally sweet, not chocolate and refined sugar!) Sweet juicy fruits (especially melons and pears), cooked greens and rose petal preserves are especially good. Drinking plenty of water helps wash impurities from sensitive pitta skin. Reduce external or internal contact with synthetic chemicals, to which your skin is especially prone to react, even in a delayed fashion after years of seemingly uneventful use. Avoid skin products that are abrasive, heating or contain artificial colors or preservatives. Most commercial make-up brands should be avoided in favor of strictly 100% natural ingredient cosmetics. And be sure to get your emotional stress under control through plenty of outdoor exercise, yoga and meditation.

Kapha Skin

  • Description: Kapha dosha is composed of the elements of earth and water. If you have a kapha skin type your skin is thick, oily, soft and cool to the touch. Your complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon, and hair characteristically thick, wavy, oily and dark. Kapha skin types, with their more generous collagen and connective tissue, are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life than vata or pitta types.
  • Potential problems: If your skin becomes imbalanced, it can show up as enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist types of eczema, blackheads, acne or pimples, and water retention. Kapha skin is also more prone to fungal infections.
  • Recommendations for care: Kapha skin is more prone to clogging and needs more cleansing than other skin types. Be careful to avoid greasy, clogging creams. Likewise, avoid heavy, hard to digest foods like fried foods, fatty meats, cheeses and rich desserts. Eat more light, easy to digest, astringent, bitter and pungent (well-spiced) foods as they balance kapha. Olive oil is the best cooking oil and a little ginger and lime juice can be taken before meals to increase your characteristically sluggish digestive fire. Take warm baths often and use gentle cleansers to open the skin pores. Avoid getting constipated and try to get some exercise every day to increase circulation and help purify the skin through the sweating process.

Inner Beauty: Gunam

Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Conversely we all experience the quick and deleterious effect on our skin from fatigue and stress.

Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony, not at odds with each other, causing emotional confusion, loss of confidence, stress and worry. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty.

Maintain your self-confidence and a warm, loving personality by paying attention to your lifestyle and daily routine and effective management of stress (I highly recommend the TM technique for its scientifically-verified benefits on mental and physical health and reduced aging.) You will also be healthier and feel better through the day if you eat your main meal at midday and make a habit of going to bed early (by 10 PM is ideal.)

Remember, kindness, friendliness and sincerity naturally attract people to you. On the other hand, being uptight or tense makes people want to walk the other way, regardless of your facial structure, body weight, or other outer signs we associate with attractiveness.

Lasting Beauty: Yayastyag

In order to slow the aging process and gain lasting beauty there are two additional key considerations beyond those already discussed:

  • Eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body.

The main deteriorating effects of aging come as toxins and impurities (called ama in Ayurveda) accumulate throughout the body. These toxins may begin as free radicals in the body, or over time may become oxidized into free radicals, all of which contribute to premature aging in the body. For lasting health and beauty it is essential to avoid and neutralize free radicals, to prevent impurities of all kinds from accumulating and to remove those that have already become lodged in the body.

The most powerful cleansing therapy in Maharishi Ayurveda is “panchakarma” therapy, a series of natural treatments ideally performed twice yearly, that involves 5-7 days in a row of massage, heat treatments and mild herbal enemas. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of undergoing this cleansing program once or twice a year to prevent impurities from accumulating, localizing and hardening in the tissues. Just as we change the oil in our cars regularly for optimal performance and lifespan, Ayurveda recommends that we cleanse the “sludge” from our tissues on a regular basis through panchakarma treatments.

Best of all, panchakarma treatments are luxurious, blissful, and make you feel (and look) completely rejuvenated in just a few days time. I have had many a patient who told me that friends asked them afterwards if they had gotten a facelift, they looked so fresh and youthful!

Other free radical busters include: reducing mental stress, eating antioxidant foods like leafy green vegetables, sweet, juicy fruits and cooking on a daily basis with antioxidant, detoxifying spices like turmeric and coriander.

  • Add rejuvenative techniques to daily living.

The daily activities of life in the modern world systematically wear us down and speed up the aging process. Ayurveda maintains it is crucial to practice daily rejuvenative regimens to counteract the stressful wear and tear of everyday life. According to Ayurveda the most important rejuvenative routines for your life are:

  • Going to bed by 10:00 PM. This simple habit is one of the most powerful techniques for health and longevity, according to MAV.
  • Meditate daily. Any meditation that does not involve concentration (which has been shown to increase anxiety) can be very helpful. I highly recommend the twice-daily deep rest and enlivenment of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, whose benefits have been verified by over 700 published research studies.
  • Eat organic, whole fresh food that is freshly prepared. There is an Ayurvedic saying: “Without proper diet. medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need.” Be sure to avoid those leftovers, processed and microwaved foods for better nutrition and vitality.
  • Perform Ayurvedic oil massage in the morning (abhyanga). Morning oil massage purifies the entire body, reduces anxiety and stress, helps prevent and heal injuries and supports circulation. It is especially helpful in creating a radiant complexion and keeping your skin youthful. Research shows it may also help prevent skin cancers.
  • Practice yoga asanas. Maintaining flexibility and circulation is key to health.
  • Practice pranayama (yoga breathing) techniques. Pranayama enlivens the mind and body. Ideally practice the following sequence twice a day. Asanas, pranayama and meditation.

Summary

Everyone’s unique beauty shines forth when they have radiant health and personal happiness. Beauty is a side effect of a balanced, fulfilled life. Supreme personal beauty is accessible to everyone who is willing to take more control of their health in their day-to-day life through time-tested principles of natural living.

For most of us, beauty is not a gift but a choice. Every woman can be radiantly beautiful simply by beginning to lead a healthier life. You will be rewarded by the glowing effects you will see in your mirror each day and the powerful, bliss-producing effect your special beauty has on everyone in your life.

Nancy Lonsdorf M.D. received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins and did her postgraduate training at Stanford. She has studied Ayurveda with some of the world’s most renowned Ayurvedic physicians in India, Europe, and the U.S. Dr. Lonsdorf has 17 years of clinical experience with Ayurveda and is currently the Medical Director of The Raj Ayurveda Health Center in Vedic City, Iowa. She has authored two books on Ayurveda and women’s health:  A Woman’s Best Medicine and A Woman’s Best Medicine for Menopause. You can reach Dr. Lonsdorf at  her website: www.ayurveda-ayurvedic.com

Get Fit and Do Good: Part I

Preparing for a Marathon

This two-part series will take you from the beginning of your training right to the finish line, and you will not need to become a full time runner/triathlete. Let’s start with the marathon. Contrary to what many people believe, it really is not that difficult.

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you start your training sixteen weeks prior to the date of competition. Does that mean that you can’t do the marathon if the race is 3 months away? No. It’s just that you will be better prepared for the race the longer you train for it.

The Long Run

The three biggest and most important parts of your training will be your long run, walking breaks, and consistency. Let’s first cover the long run. This is by far the most important training part to any marathon training plan. This will determine whether or not you finish the race or “bonk” out at the 20 mile mark. This is the one day of the week that will get progressively longer and more difficult as the weeks go on. Typically you should do this run on the same day each week that the marathon will be on. This means that if your marathon is on a Sunday, do your long run every Sunday. This just gets you in the habit and routine of running long on that day. The goal with the long run is to progressively reach a point where you are doing twenty miles continuously. Try shooting for two to three twenty mile runs prior to the marathon. “But how do I run for twenty miles continuously if I’ve never run more than three or four in my life?” you might ask. Remember, that’s why it’s ideal to train for sixteen weeks. You need to crawl before you can walk, right?

Walking Breaks

This is also where the walking breaks come into play. Let’s say your first week of training your long run is two miles. Your walking break will occur at the first mile mark and will last for one minute. So you will have one walking break for one minute. After a couple of weeks of training let’s say your long run is up to four miles. You will now have three walking breaks (one after each mile, without counting the last one since you will be done with the run) that last for one minute each for a total of three minutes walking. You might say to yourself, “Well that means that I will be walking for a total of 19 minutes during my long runs of twenty miles, won’t the race take me forever to finish this way”? Quite the opposite. Since you are “walking”, which by the way is a fast walk, you are actually resting your body and gearing it up for the times in between your “walks” that you will be running the race. Your body will thank you towards the end of the race for taking all of those walking breaks.

Short Runs

The rest of the week will consist of much shorter runs that will keep you moving at a faster pace than your long run. For example, you could go out for three runs in addition to your long run. This would consist of two shorter runs and one medium run. During your runs, focus on time and not mileage. You get to the point where you know what your pace is (eight-minute mile, nine-minute mile, etc.) and instead of shooting for a specific amount of mileage, you go for a specific amount of time.

So for example, during the first month of training, a typical week might look like this:

  • Monday—rest
  • Tuesday—run for 30 minutes
  • Wednesday—rest
  • Thursday—run for 35 minutes
  • Friday—run for 45 minutes
  • Saturday—rest
  • Sunday—run for 50 minutes

During all of your runs outside of your long run, it is up to you whether or not you take walking breaks. You might want to get your body used to that as much as possible, in which case you will take the walking breaks. There are some people who only do that for the long runs. Let’s say for example that your pace is about an 8:00 minute mile, you would take your walking breaks after every eighth minute. Now, these are your numbers. Someone else who is a beginner might not be as fast. That person might do 12:00 minute miles, so their walking breaks are after every twelfth minute. It’s all relative to the person. The beauty is that this type of training can be applied to everyone though, regardless of how fast or slow you are. You have to know what you’re capable of doing personally.

Be Consistent

Another component to all of your marathon preparation is consistency, especially with your long runs. In order to finish the race it is crucial that you do all of your long runs and to make the most progress, be sure to increase your long runs each week. In order to avoid overuse or injury, limit the amount of your increase to 10 percent of the total amount you are running for that week. So whether you are tracking your progress by mileage or minutes, never make too big of a jump in your training time/distance. This is another reason why sixteen weeks of training is a good idea. It is a gradual progression that will not burn you out yet still have you physically and mentally ready for the big day!!

So remember: long runs, walking breaks, and consistency. If you follow all of these and drink lots of water during your training and during the race, you will finish with a big smile on your face. Knowing that you are helping others will make it even sweeter!!

What Clutter Clearing Can Do For You

You can get a pretty good idea of the benefits of clutter clearing simply by imagining your life free of all the negative effects of clutter: lack of focus and clarity; feelings of being professionally, creatively, spiritually, and/or romantically stuck; insufficient time and attention for self and family; increased stress, irritability and depression. Wouldn’t it be great to be free of all these?

No matter what other factors may be dragging you down, I guarantee you that clearing your clutter will dramatically improve your mood and energy. And then any other problems you are confronting won’t seem quite so bad.

When you first start clutter clearing you may be surprised at the emotions triggered by the simple act of dealing with your stuff. You think you’re just cleaning out your home, but what you’re really doing is rooting around in dusty corners of your psyche and coming eyeball-to-eyeball with unresolved business from the past. The personal relics that lurk within your clutter—college papers, family memorabilia, detritus from a long-dead marriage—can be easier to ignore than to carry to the dump, which is why they’ve been haunting the back of your closet for so many years.

As you persevere with clutter clearing a moment will come when you realize how much lighter and happier you feel. In the process of coping with your clutter, you’ve reconnected with your inner self, with dreams and wishes long ignored. Those you’ve outgrown can be released with a fond smile. Those that make your heart leap with recognition and longing… well, now you have the space, time, and energy to pursue them.

Clutter clearing gets you out of your rut. It shakes loose frozen aspects of your soul and allows them to journey into your heart where they belong and where you can listen to and act upon them.

Eventually, you will find yourself turning to clutter clearing instead of aspirin or caffeine when you notice that you’re not as clear-headed, focused or insightful as you’d like to be. If you’re feeling lethargic and don’t want to exercise, you’ll know to examine whether you’ve allowed a zone of stagnation to creep in around the couch (where you are most likely to be having lazy thoughts in the first place). If you can’t seem to decide on priorities for your business, you’ll realize it’s time to clear off the desk and catch up on paperwork. And if you’re not eating as well as you should, you’ll remember that clearing off the kitchen counter and cleaning out the fridge will help get your eating habits back on track.

What this all boils down to is that managing your clutter helps you feel like less of a victim and puts you back in control of your moods and your life. You have greater confidence in your abilities and decisions, so you feel more hopeful and optimistic about the future. You respect yourself more, and will probably find that other people treat you better as well. You feel less stressed, and have more courage to try and do new things. You stop turning to material objects to make you happy, because you are content with less.

Clearing out your clutter creates space for possibility. You may find yourself deciding to go back to school, change your career, start your own business, go out on a date, take up painting or singing or ballroom dancing, try out for a part in a play, or… what’s your dream? (No wonder clutter clearing can be a little scary! Suddenly there are no more excuses for why you can’t pursue that dream.)

Your friends will say you look terrific. They’ll wonder where that sparkle in your eye came from, and how you manage to look both energized and serene at the same time. It’s because you have released from your life everything that is no longer useful to you. You have let go of the past and are no longer hoarding for the future. You have made space for living freely in the present, where peace resides.