Tag Archives: Mental Health

That thing everyone talks about… but not all of us do

I have to admit that I didn’t really believe that it was good when I heard about it. And I heard about it very often and for a very long time. I always thought to myself, ‘what if…’, but I quickly found an excuse not to do it. It’s not that I had never done it before, it’s just that every time I had tried doing it, it didn’t feel good at all, on the contrary: it made me feel tired, sticky, grumpy and humiliated. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you’ve done it at least once or twice… Ok, get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about exercising!!

How hypocritical can one be? I should know, because I made it a habit of telling my students how much learning English resembled exercising. “Do you expect to go to the gym once and become Mister Universe? So, the same happens with English, you have to stick to it and practice to build your knowledge, just like you build your muscles by practicing weight training. They must have thought “Oh, yeah, what do you know about exercising? I’ve barely even seen you standing! You’re always behind that desk!” And they were right.

Recently I realized that if I wanted to be taken seriously by my students when I told them to do their homework, study, read, or whatever, I had to practice what I preached: I had to start exercising regularly. Oh, yes, because I had obviously exercised before. I even own a treadmill, for crying out loud! The difficult part for me had always been the ‘regularly’. You see, being a Gemini, I’ve always been interested in a gazillion things, all at the same time. Things have always come and gone quickly, and I’ve loved doing them for the whole 10 minutes they lasted, but it dawned on me that one thing has always been present through all my changing interests: ME. I’m always here, wherever I am. I’m always myself, whoever I am. So I should be taking better care of myself, because the only person I’m sure will be with me till the day I die is ME. And if I don’t want to be dealing with a stiff, limp, non-responsive body sooner rather than later, I’d better get off the couch and get a-movin’!

That did it for me: I decided to make time and room in my life, once and for all, for exercising. I picked running, because I had done it before and had kind of enjoyed it. Kind of. I’ve been practicing it now for a few months, and regularly too, at least every other day. And the truth is: it feels just great. What I’d been hearing all that time was true! I just hadn’t given it enough time! Now that I do it on a regular basis, I actually miss it when I’m not able to run! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t.

But don’t think it was easy. I had to give up a lot in order to fit running into my hectic schedule, like my beloved TV shows, my knitting, baking cookies, sometimes even being with my husband. But it’s all worth it. I’m running longer and farther than ever. And in February I’ll be participating in a race in São Paulo. True! Watch out! That thing that’s passed zooming by you in the street might just have been me! And I dare you to keep up!

Here are some links about the benefits of exercising regularly:

7 benefits of regular physical activity
Health benefits of physical fitness
Benefits of exercise

And here are some vocabulary exercises on Sports and Fitness.


Sticky – How you feel when you sweat
Grumpy – bad-tempered
Get your mind out of the gutter – Don’t imagine dirty things
Hypocritical – Someone who says something and does something different
Resemble – Be similar to
Practice what you preach – Do what you tell other to do
Treadmill – An exercise device consisting of a continuous moving belt on which a person can walk or jog while remaining in one place
For crying out loud – Used to express annoyance or astonishment
Gazillion – Very large number of something
It dawned on me – I suddenly realized
Stiff – Hard, not flexible
Limp – without strength or firmness
Hectic – Chaotic
Beloved – Dearly loved
Zooming – To move rapidly
Keep up – To match your competition


Need more help with this text? Why not book a class?



Filed under about the blog, learn, tips


After a long day, all you want to do is…

let your hair down
take a breather
let off some steam
chill out
cool off
hang loose
loosen up
take it easy
sit back
kick back

or just plain old…


All these words/ expressions have similar meanings…

Enjoy these tips:

Seven Secrets to Stress-Free Joy
Stress, tension, frustration…ever experience these?

Silly question, I know.

We all feel stressed from time to time; it’s part of being human. And we certainly feel frustrated. But as common as these feelings are, there are simple things we can do to ease them, even erase them in some cases. Seven such gems are below.

Create a CD of Your Favorite Songs
Listening to your favorite music not only takes your mind off of your worries but also reduces blood pressure and a rapid heart beat. Because music is so closely tied to memory, listening to music brings to mind happy memories, which in turn affects the part of the brain that regulates these and other automatic physical responses. So make a list of your 15 favorite songs, visit an online music store to download each one, and create your very own stress-busting CD.

Control Your Breathing
Stressful situations lead to short and shallow breathing, which in turn leads to an increased heart rate and creates feelings of tension and anxiety. To reverse these effects and reduce your stress, completely empty your lungs with a large sigh. Then, breathe in deeply from your belly on up, hold your breath, and exhale slowly. You may want to follow the 4-7-8 rule. (4-second inhale, 7-second hold, 8-second exhale.) This simple exercise sends better oxygen content to your cells, improving your health and ridding yourself of the tension and stress.

Studies by Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan have found that laughter ‘lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function.’ It also triggers the release of endorphins, which act as the body’s natural painkillers and produce a sense of well- being. The lesson? Laugh! Expose yourself to humor as often as possible through jokes, funny stories, comic strips taped up in your office, or anything else that makes you laugh.

Make Your List
Even though you may not realize it, there are most likely specific situations that cause stress time and again. By putting your finger on exactly what they are, you can begin to fix or avoid the things that constantly add stress and tension to your life. Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil. Begin by thinking back to stressful times and what specific things caused them. Then, keep the list handy for two weeks and record the cause of any stress you experience during that period. After two weeks, create a master list of stress causers and spend time thinking of specific remedies for each one. The solution may be as simple as taking a different route to work or getting up fifteen minutes earlier to handle tasks in the morning.

Focus on Now
Thinking about the next ten items on your list of things to do is enough to cause anyone stress. That’s why it’s vital that you focus on only one thing at a time.
Allowing only one task into your thoughts at a time – the one thing you are involved with right now – will improve your productivity, decrease mental mistakes, and relieve your mind of feeling overwhelmed as well as your body of feeling physically stressed out and drained.

Hold a Pencil between Your Teeth
A recent study at the University of California found most people have a set of ‘smile muscles’ which, when activated, send signals to your brain that you are happy. In turn, your brain releases the chemical that register happiness. In fact, you don’t even need to personally feel happy at the moment to create the internal response of happiness. Simply holding a pencil between your teeth can be enough to trick your brain into thinking you are happy and releasing the corresponding chemicals into your system.

Wake Up with the Sun
You’re sound asleep and dreaming peacefully. And then, out of nowhere, you’re shocked awake by the screeching of an buzzing alarm. It’s easy to see why such a routine can get things started off on the wrong foot. Instead of being startled every morning, try using natural light to wake you up. Studies have shown that the light of dawn alerts your body to wrap up your dreams, raises your body temperature, and begins releasing the hormones you need to function throughout the day. So leave the blinds open tonight and wake up with the sun. (Afraid of oversleeping? Keep an alarm nearby set to five minutes after your normal wake time. This way, if the sun doesn’t do its job on day, the alarm will.)

Founder, Motivation123
Author, Shifting the Balance

If you want to receive weekly relaxation and motivation tips by e-mail, just send a message to: jason@motivation123.com


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