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Start your year fresh with a gift to yourself - forgiveness. Forgiveness, whether it be given to yourself or others, is one of the greatest gifts of all time. In order to forgive others, however, you must first forgive yourself. Many times, we harbor feelings of guilt over actions we’ve taken in our past. Forgiveness, in any form, leads to freedom for yourself. On our path to freedom, we must release ourselves from these chains of guilt and be gentle with ourselves in order to move forward.

Take the time to truly think about personal things that bother you about yourself and release them forgiving yourself first. There may also be others who you need to forgive. At first, it may seem like you are giving in to others when offering the gift of forgiveness; but in forgiving them, the gift will ultimately be for you as well releasing all tension and clearing your heart for a fresh start.

Whether you’re forgiving a friend, family member, co-worker, spouse or yourself, there’s a sense of freedom that comes with the offering. It is important to acknowledge this feeling and be comfortable and confident in the newfound freedom.

Steps to Take Toward Freedom

  1. Make a list of people you may need to forgive (include yourself if applicable).
  2. Act out of humility, courage and grace knowing this forgiveness will help you in your process.
  3. Write out what you are forgiving them for and why – you don’t necessarily need to say or give it to them, but you must believe it yourself to move forward.
  4. Create a list of things you are grateful for because of this forgiveness. This may develop over time; but there are always things to be thankful for once your heart is clear.

Upon receiving and giving the gift of forgiveness, a general sense of gratefulness will take over making it hard to understand why you didn’t do this earlier. Start fresh, start new, start free today.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 14:31

Five Benefits of Getting Fresh Air

In this day and age, more and more people are spending less time outside and more time indoors doing stationary activities. After all, with the world wide web at your fingertips, you can do everything online, from shopping to meeting up with friends on social media. Recent years have also seen a rise in physical and mental health disorders. Could the two things be related? Could the fact that we're not getting outside into the fresh air be hurting our overall health?

There is a reason so many people put up landscapes and pictures of the outdoors in their homes. Even looking at an image of nature gives you a sense of calm and helps you feel more at peace. However, actually going out and getting into the fresh air is an activity that offers incredible health benefits. It doesn't matter what you are doing — strolling to the park, hiking in the mountains, wading at the beach — fresh air is a crucial part of living a fuller, healthier life. Even getting outside in the crisp, cold air of winter helps you in innumerable ways.

If you are wondering if you should leave the house more often, the answer is yes. Here are five benefits you receive by getting out and getting fresh air.

1. Fresh Air Can Improve Your Digestion, Blood Pressure and Immunity

When you get outside and breathe deeply, you're actually increasing the amount of oxygen your body takes in. If you live in a polluted area, like a populated city, be sure to take the time to get away to places where the air is cleaner. Fresh, clean air and more oxygen provide tons of overall health benefits, including:

  • Helping your body digest food more effectively
  • Improving your blood pressure
  • Maintaining white blood cell function

2. Fresh Air Can Sharpen Your Mind

If you have a desk job or work in an office building, you have probably noticed that stepping outside is a great way to clear your head. You may have thought that it was just stepping away from your desk, but when you go outside and breathe deeply, you get more oxygen which improves brain function. So basically, getting fresh air increases your ability to concentrate.

3. Fresh Air Can Clear Your Lungs

When you are indoors all the time, you are breathing stale, recirculated air which makes your lungs work harder to get the oxygen you need. In addition, most cities struggle with air pollution which can lead to an increased risk of lung diseases like asthma.

Getting out and breathing fresh air in a clean environment helps clear your lungs out. They dilate more when taking in fresh air, so you're able to take deeper longer breaths. You also release airborne toxins from your body when you exhale from your lungs.

4. Fresh Air Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Breathing in fresh air in the great outdoors, either by camping, hiking or getting out into a natural environment in some other way is associated with reduced stress and anxiety. Those who spend time in these environments tend to be more relaxed and have lower blood pressure and low amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.

Some believe this is due to phytoncides that linger in the fresh forest air. These are airborne chemicals released by plants and trees to protect against insects and rot and also may be linked to stress reduction.

5. Fresh Air Can Make You Happier and Help with Depression

Another positive outcome from breathing fresh air and getting more oxygen is that it allows your body to increase the amount of serotonin it produces. Serotonin is also called the happy hormone because it is vital to maintaining a healthy emotional state and feelings of well-being. Decreased serotonin has been associated with depression.

Being Active Is Good for Your Mental Health

In 1859, Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen coined the word friluftsliv, which loosely means "free air life." The word encompasses the idea of enjoying nature and staying active outdoors. Scandanavians understood even then that nature had a powerful effect on one's physical and mental health.

Although fresh air and outdoor activities are just a few steps outside our front door, few take advantage of them as much as they should. If you're struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental health issue, take the time to get outside every day. Fresh air and staying active may help you as part of your journey towards a healthier outlook.

Published in Brookhaven Blog

The desire to connect with other people is a universal need. Relationships, whether they're with a significant other, a family member or a friend, enhance your happiness and give you a sense of belonging. Even though social relationships are an essential part of a fulfilling life, it takes good communication to foster and grow that bond. Sadly, people don't always know how to express themselves constructively, which can lead to poor communication in the relationship.

When we don't know how to properly tell another person what we're thinking or feeling it can make them feel defensive, leads to fights and ultimately worsen the relationship. The good news is you can learn good communication techniques with a little bit of practice.

The first step is recognizing some of the common communication mistakes that crop up in relationships. Once you understand these, you can avoid them and practice positive ways to speak to those you care for.

Common Communication Mistakes in Relationships and How to Fix Them

Poor communication is one of the top reasons couples, friends and family members experience problems in their relationships. It can create distance between family members, break up friendships and is one of the leading causes of divorce. Recognizing communication issues and taking steps toward change can help heal your relationships.

Here are four common communication mistakes that can hurt your relationships as well as the keys to fixing them:

1. "You" Language

Blame is an easy trap to fall into when you're trying to communicate how you feel. You get frustrated at your partner or friend, and your language becomes judgemental. When trying to communicate your feelings, "you" language only comes across as an accusation:

  • You don't do enough around the house.
  • You need to spend more time with me.
  • You don't listen to me.

These statements put all the blame on the other person and make them totally at fault without taking any responsibility yourself.

Instead of using "you" language, try to communicate how you feel without casting blame. If you can get the other person to understand what you're thinking or feeling without throwing judgment, then they won't feel the need to defend themselves from you.

2. Universal Statements

When we feel that another person is not pulling their weight in the relationship, we tend to jump to universal statements about them:

  • You always go out without me.
  • You never help with the kids.
  • You forget to put the toilet set down every time.

These absolute statements focus on what the other person is doing wrong and how you feel they should be better. Funnily enough, speaking like this to people you care about discourages change.

Instead of speaking in absolutes, examine your relationship and find things you appreciate about the other person. When your loved one feels valued, they're more open to your needs. Then you may be able to point out areas of improvement without it coming across as an accusation.

3. Confrontational Tone

Even if what you're saying isn't negative, the way you speak to your loved one can cause problems. The tone of voice goes a long way toward how something is received. If you sound negative, the other person automatically becomes defensive.

Before speaking to your partner or friend, check yourself and where the statement is coming from. Tone often sounds negative if what you are saying comes from a confrontational place. If you have a harsh tone, chances are they'll feel attacked.

Instead, try to be understanding about where the other person is coming from. Curiosity is different than confrontation. You can ask the same question, but if your tone is curious, the other person will be less likely to feel you are blaming them for something.

4. Avoiding a Conversation

It should go without saying, but speaking and listening to your loved one is essential to good communication. However, if you are tired or distracted, you may fall into a pattern of avoiding conversations. This can cause your loved one to make up stories about you in their head because they don't know what's actually going on — and the stories they make up are usually negative.

In the same respect, when they do all the talking, and you don't really listen to what they're saying, the other person doesn't feel seen or heard.

For effective communication, you need to open up and explore deeper feelings. You should also practice active listening, where you engage with your loved one and seek to understand where they're coming from. Talking and listening don't come naturally to everyone. However, practice makes perfect, and anyone can change.

The most important thing to remember about poor communication is that, with a little effort, things can improve. Even if you are the only one willing to fix communication mistakes, it leads to a dramatic improvement in your relationship. Hopefully, as the other person sees you making an effort, they will strive to improve their communication habits as well.

Published in Brookhaven Blog