Stress and How to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

We all know the image of the zebra who is busy losing his stripes. His comment is, “I think it’s stress!” How many of us  have been in that situation where we feel as if we’re losing our  stripes?

A common wish for many of us would be to live a life free of stress. and yet that would not be good at all for our bodies or our minds.

Stress  can be totally normal, like before an exam  or an important production. Sometimes it motivates us to focus on work, yet at other times, it causes us to become overwhelmed so that we  can’t concentrate on anything.

So what’s the difference between good and bad stress? There are countless articles and books written on the topic, but let’s see if we can wrap it up in a short teaching and a video.

Good stress:

  • Activates the flight or fight response which may save your life.
  • Can help you meet daily challenges
  • Motivates you to reach your goals.
  • May help you accomplish tasks more efficiently.
  • Can even boost your memory.

Bad stress over a prolonged period:

  • Weakens the immune system
  • Causes high blood pressure
  • May bring about excessive fatigue, depression and anxiety
  • May be harmful to your heart.
  • Can harm your arteries and
  • Cause problems to how their cells regenerate.

So what to do about your own stress levels?

Dr Daniel Amen has produced this short 2 minute video clip where he covers the topic far better than I ever could. Do yourself a favor and listen carefully  to it.

Retirement and how to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind #atoz

R is for Retirement.

Dreams of an idyllic lifestyle of relaxation and happiness suddenly evaporate unless you take certain precautions.

For me, retirement was something old people did. So when the time arrived for my husband to retire from full-time ministry, it was a challenging time for me. Although I no longer nursed, I still wrote, and I didn’t feel ready to stop that. So I have never actually retired.

After my husband retired, we moved to a retirement village in Port Elizabeth, a beautiful seaside city on the coast of South Africa. I looked forward to the time with mixed feelings. Would we now get old, because we were no longer earning an income?  How would we cope doing nothing?

Well, of course, given our personalities, that didn’t happen. We are as busy as ever. The great thing about retirement is you can say no! You are no longer under obligation to meet the demands of a busy company or boss.

Beware of these temptations: 

However, I soon realized there were certain dangers to watch out for if we  wanted to stay well physically as well as mentally.

  • There was no sense of commitment to a bigger cause. We were no longer working long hours so could lie in and become lazy and inactive.
  • The risk of living in isolation. We had never lived in Port Elizabeth. Although we had family within a few years they had all passed on (despite two of them being younger than us). So the risk of being  cut off from social interaction was real.
  • The temptation to no longer learn new things. Apart from challenges like learning to live on a pension, what else was there to learn? I have seen countless retired people fall into this trap. They sit with their newspaper, perhaps at least doing the crossword, or they take up bridge. But what are they learning?

There are so many ways to help improve your life, improve your mind, during retirement. Read more here:#atoz Click To TweetTips for a beneficial retirement:

Here are nine ways to ensure your time in retirement is beneficial and your life and mind both stay active as long as possible. Many of them have already been discussed in this series.

  1. Build a social network of friends (offline) with whom you can enjoy fellowship.  

  2. Join a church or another organization you believe in and get involved.

  3. Nourish your body through eating well including antioxidant-rich foods.

  4. Avoid regular braaiss (barbecue) or charred meat.

  5. Boost your diet with a good multivitamin/mineral and if necessary additional vitamin D and omega 3.

  6. Exercise plenty and get sufficient sleep.

  7. Allow at least 12 hours between the last meal of the day and breakfast.

  8. Keep learning. Teach yourself a new musical instrument or a new language. Learn chess or take up model building. 

  9. Have an annual checkup and ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels.

Quiet can Improve your Life, Improve your Mind

If you were asked to come up with one word that summed up the world today, I am sure of one thing. You would not choose the word “Quiet.” Many people will read this blog today, folk from all different parts of the world, different cultures, beliefs and customs. Yet unless you are a monk, it is unlikely your life is quiet.

Are you still wanting to improve your life, improve your mind? Q is for Quiet!

Sometimes life gets so noisy it’s tough to know what we’re meant to be doing or to concentrate on the task in hand. Yet deep within, there is often a yearning for a place of calm, somewhere we can just “chill out” and not have to work or even think about working. Being quiet, really quiet, is an important and integral part of improving our lives and our minds.  read more

Persevere if you want to Improve your Health, Improve your Mind

The A to Z  challenge was a crazy month,

For the month of April we experienced a never-ending cycle of blogging, reading and commenting on other blogs, and researching for the next post.  I think we were all glad when the month drew to a close. 

My theme for the challenge was “Improve your life, Improve your mind.” And I truly believe the topics need to be put out there one more time. Nowhere is this topic more relevant than when you’re facing a huge challenge in your life like retirement, marital problems, health problems in your family, and especially cancer!

For that reason, it’s my intention to revisit each of the posts and invite folk who didn’t read them at the time to visit them now. And if you did read them before, if you were reading at the speed I did during the month, chances are you will find new thoughts to encourage you.

Please comment and share on social media.

Although the key purpose of Rise and Soar  is to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley, whether as patients, survivors, caregivers, family or friends, this series applies to everyone. If you are interested in making the most out of your bodies and protecting your minds from the potential harm of aging, you need what they have to offer. So read on!

My life is full of unfinished projects.

How about you? Getting started is the fun bit.

I love to get started. But then I get distracted onto another equally fun challenge, and I forget about the previous one. More commonly, I don’t forget. I always plan to get back to it, but there just isn’t time to keep juggling all the balls I have in the air!

Yet, if we’re going to improve our lives and our health, we need to persevere! And that’s where we need to persevere. Persevere in eating well. Persevere with exercise. Persevere with positive attitudes. And persevere with thinking right! read more

Opportunities! Use them to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind. #atoz

opportunitiesWe’ve reached O in the A – Z Blogging Challenge.

Today we’re looking at O for Opportunities. There are so many ways we can improve our lives and our brains by looking for new opportunities!

A few days ago, someone commented to me about a man in his early 60s who has developed a tremor, “We don’t worry about that symptom! We know it’s just age.”

That’s such a short-sighted attitude, folk. If it was “just age” then every person in their sixties would have a tremor! Yet, I know many ninety year olds who have no shakes whatsoever.

Yes, it could be as a result of nerve degeneration as the person grows older, but it could also be caused by so many other things: a hormone deficiency; a nutritional imbalance; an over-abundance of stimulation of a part of the brain, such as too many violent video games; a lack of exercise; or many of the other things we’ve looked at over the past two weeks.

The moral of this story is never to just accept the first reason that comes to mind, unless it’s obviously correct (such as sunburn after a day in the sun!) Don’t attribute any symptoms to “just age!” Be certain you take every opportunity to find out the cause of any unpleasant symptom. And look at every opportunity to improve your life, improve your mind. Others have done it. So can you! 

Meet Rose!

Rose has a special message for us all, no matter our age. She urges us never to miss out on opportunities!

Listen to this fun video. It’s only three-and-a-half minutes long but you’ll enjoy it. You’ll find it really thought-provoking!

Don't miss this fun yet challenging video. See how opportunities can help improve your life and your mind! #atoz Click To Tweet

Enjoy your Opportunities!

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Nourish your Life, Nourish your Mind #atoz

Hi all you lovely people!

Today we’re looking at N for Nourish your Body and your Brain.

When we think of foods that are good for us or bad for us, we tend to think of the physical “us” don’t we? Will it make us fat? Will it cause cancer? If I take too much of this will I go out of control (drugs, alcohol) etc. But what about our brains? Once again, we don’t seem to give that much thought. Today, I hope to open your eyes to a couple of things we need to beware of.

read more

Music: How does it improve your life and your mind?

 Today we look at M for Music.

Does it do any good for us, apart from blocking off outside noise, or giving us something to cheer us up?
I’m a musician, yet I was amazed when I discovered some of the attributes we gain through listening to music.


Music improves our minds when it

  • improves our moods
  • reduces our anxiety
  • creates feelings of joy and happiness and helps brain-injured people recall memories

read more

Learn Something New to Improve your Life, Improve your Mind. #atoz

I always thought to improve my life and improve my mind sounded like a lot of work, and not at all fun! Then I started following this theme, and I got more and more enthusiastic. It can be a lot of fun!

By nature, I love to learn. Understand, this was not a trait when it came to school books and homework! This is a much more recent trait. But I love to face a challenge and master it. read more

Journal to Improve your Life, your Mind. #atoz

Lots has been written on the health benefits of regular journaling, so I don’t propose to go over them all again today. I thought it would be good to take a quick look at the specific ways we can use journaling to improve our lives and our minds.

So here we go with J is for Journaling – and how it can improve our lives and our minds. read more

Inflammation, Immunity and Infection and how they affect your life and your mind. #atoz


This post was originally written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge (April 10 2018). 

I plan to post one “letter” a week only, and will commence with those who saw the least amount of attention during April. For this week, I invite you to explore with me the topic, Immunity, Infection and Inflammation.


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