Tag Archives: emotional health

Total Body Bosu Ball Workout Series: Part 1

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

The Bosu ball is one of the most effective, diverse, functional and inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment on the market. It can be used and is beneficial for all fitness levels.

In this 5-part series, Neissa demonstrates five exercises (with modifications) that can be performed on the Bosu ball, with the goal that each exercise be performed for three sets, or a total of three rounds. Each week Neissa will provide five additional exercises progressions on the Bosu ball.

Finally, Neissa ends the video with encouragement on neighborly love and the importance of letting your light shine bright!

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Who are You Grateful for?

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."  -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
-John F. Kennedy

Point to Ponder:
Who are you grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Who are you grateful for? If you are like me, I would guess that this is a fairly simple question to answer and that you could create a long list of people, however, it’s likely that these people may not hear or see the words “I am grateful for you” as much as they’d like to and as often as you feel grateful for them.

It was at this exact same time last year that we launched our “I am grateful for you”, week-long letter writing campaign, and it was nothing short of beautiful! As a result of you, our members, writing gratitude letters during classes, we mailed over three hundred notes by the Thanksgiving holiday. That was approximately 2.5 gratitude notes per person, which translates to over 600 uplifted and happy hearts — with both the sender and receiver experiencing the proven benefits of gratitude. Therefore, we are absolutely committed to making this a pre-Thanksgiving tradition! My personal goal is to crush last year’s number and aim for at least three hand-written notes per person.

iGnite is emotionally invested in your well-being and we believe that the act of expressing gratitude verbally or in a handwritten note has the power to repair relationships and transform lives. And because having healthy relationships is paramount to living a low-stress and fulfilling life, we have ordered one thousand cards and we’d love to have ZERO left over when you’re done with them! The only action required is for you to attend classes throughout this week, have at least three people in mind that you are grateful for, then fill out the notes & envelopes during designated class time. The postage and trip to the post office is on us!

Finally, there is one more thing that I encourage you to pay close attention to during and after writing your gratitude notes, and that’s how you feel. Because you will have just finished exercising and/or practicing yoga, your endorphins will be flowing and you will already be feeling great, but all gratitude research proves that the result of expressing gratitude is an increase in life-satisfaction and well-being. In fact, one fascinating and very relative study by Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, found that “when a study participant wrote up to three gratitude notes about something that was important to them (not a generic “thank you” for you a gift, etc) the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. Even more fascinating is that by writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

Gratitude. We can question its power and significance, but it’s all backed up by research. The more we express it, live in it and share it, the happier, more fulfilled and healthier we are. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the cheapest and most effective fix on the market. Unlike everything else, there are no crazy side-effects — with the exception of extreme joy — and we can access it at our disposal. Now that’s what I call some serious good news!

Action Item:
Think about 3 people who you are grateful for and write them a personal “I am grateful for you” note this week!

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It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine!

iGnite - let your light shine

Point to Ponder:
Are you a light to those around you?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Excitingly, last Tuesday our kiddos (Durant, 4 & Malaine, 2) attended their first week of pre-school in San Diego. You. have. no. idea. how thrilled I was! Not just for me and my own sanity, but for theirs too. I was excited that we could begin establishing a routine, they could start making friends, their world was expanding beyond “mom,” and I could have a little freedom.

The pre-school they are attending is at the church we attend, The Rock, and it’s in an area near downtown called Point Loma. Like all of San Diego (including the neighborhood we live in), it’s full of a very diverse group of people. Ironically, moving to a more diverse neighborhood was actually something that my husband Russell and I considered while living in Austin before we knew we were moving to San Diego. Now, I realize that our interest was more than just coincidence — rather, it was God opening and preparing our hearts and minds for our future environment.

So, Tuesday was their first day of school and it was an exceptional day for all of us. Absolutely, my heart was a bit unsettled and nervous, but I knew it was necessary for feeling grounded, creating relationships and for our overall growth and development. Then on Thursday, after dropping them off and while filling out paperwork in the school, a heavy dose of loneliness blindsided me out of nowhere. As I I looked around, everything felt unfamiliar. I’m just gonna be honest and say it — no one looked like me (how about that “don’t judge a book by its cover” fail!?). Unlike at the Mother’s Day Out my children attended in Austin, I do not have a relationship with the director, the teachers or any of the moms here. Seriously, I was on the verge of tearing up when out of the blue a random woman walked up, noticed my Stronger TogetHER tank [that I was of course proudly wearing 🙂 ] and said, “I really like your shirt! What’s that about?” I perked up and gave her the 15 second description of iGnite, ending with “we are community-based and believe that in all aspects of life, we are stronger togerHER.” She then enthusiastically invited me to join the women’s Bible study called SHINE. Shine – wow!  What an encouraging, happy and powerful word!

That word shine made an impression on me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. By definition, the word shine means to give out a bright light. As I looked more into ‘shining,’ I was reminded of a sermon I heard by preacher Francis Chan about how a silversmith gets his best, shiniest silver through a process called “testing.” The testing process starts with raw silver in a pot and a fire that is heated to the highest possible temperature. As the silver melts, the impurities rise to the top, at which the silversmith scrapes off the impurities and continues the same process of extreme heat and scraping the impurities off until he or she has the shiniest possible piece of metal — so shiny that they can see their own reflection in it.

What I find remarkable is how this process relates to life and the hardships, stresses, losses, disappointments and discomforts that we all must experience in order to shine. That with the right attitude and perspective, those scary and seemingly ‘unfair’ experiences actually produce maturity, perseverance, faith and wisdom in us so we can shine for others. That’s the part that I was forgetting about on Thursday in my moment of self-pity. I was so consumed by my own discomfort that I was forgetting about my responsibility to shine for others. I had to step outside of myself and my self-pity in order to see the big picture.

Author Marianne Williamson says is perfectly below, suggesting that when we shine, we give others permission to shine:

“Our deepest fear isn’t that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that are more powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, how are you not to be? You are here for a reason! Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson

Action Item:
If you are currently experiencing hard or stressful times, just remember, you are going through the testing process so you can shine even brighter on the other side. If you don’t have the energy or even the hope to shine, find someone that is shining and allow their shine to brighten yours.
Or, if life is feeling great and you have plenty of shine to give, in all of your interactions, conversations and even casual passings-by, make it a priority to shine. It’s our responsibility to and for others who are not shining to gain strength from our glow. So let’s shine as brightly as we can so others can be inspired and encouraged to shine as well!

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Hard Lessons Learned from the Big Move

iGnite - make sense of change

Photo above taken during a Susan B. Komen rafting trip during the iGnite Escape to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Point to Ponder:
What changes are you currently experiencing?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I suppose I can officially claim California as my new home state. While I’m a Texan and Austinite at heart, I’ve lived in San Diego for a grand total of sixteen days, and I am pleased to share that with each passing day I am feeling more confident, comfortable and accomplished, as I have achieved the following three goals:
I found a babysitter (actually, Durant, our four year old spotted her out at the hotel pool and the rest was history).
I can get myself to the Pacific Coast Highway and all beaches with no GPS (thanks to the wonderful iGnite member Jill Imhoff who lives part-time in San Diego and has taken me under her warm wing.) #StrongerTogetHER!
I can get to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for an awesome hike, and I actually know where the heck I am going
While I am thankful and proud of these emotionally grounding steps and stabilizing pillars, this whole moving picture was and has been nothing short of frantic, sad and angry, as sixteen days ago I was a wreck and the canvas was an ugly mess!

The week leading up to our departure to the west coast was bittersweet. The ‘sweet’ being spending time with dear friends and family members, and the ‘bitter’ being seeing our home that we brought both of my children Durant and Malaine home from the hospital to and was also filled with amazing memories, become an empty house. That just plain stunk. The absolute worst of the worst was saying goodbye, which if I never had to say another goodbye as long as I lived, I’d be okay with it!! I know that’s not realistic, but it’s my truth.

In the moving ‘blender’ were absolute physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, the emotions that come with a husband who has been gone for two months due to his new job and now being physically back in our lives, along with real sadness and anger. I had been faithful, strong and positive throughout the entire job loss, job change, putting the house on the market and the sale of the house. Then, when the reality of leaving everyone and everything I loved set in and we set off to San Diego, the blender produced an ugly mess of emotions.

When we landed in San Diego, it was of course sunny and there was a cool breeze blowing, but really I couldn’t have cared less. I was legitmately sad, mad and a house overlooking the beach in La Jolla would not have satisfied me. As we drove to see our new house (which I had not seen in person yet), everything was unfamiliar, and directionally nothing made sense. I couldn’t tell which way was North, South, East or West. When we got to our empty house, the rooms seemed small and the house felt cold, and even though the neighborhood was highly recommended and described as the perfect place for families, it felt unfriendly. Ultimately, it wasn’t Austin, “my people” were missing, and my in-control, comfortable and happy world had just been rocked and turned upside down.

Looking back, of course these were normal emotions which I should’ve anticipated (especially because I have never moved like this before), but I’m a’ glass half full’-type and a faithful person. I knew I couldn’t change the situation, and we had moved to a pretty spectacular place, so complaining or feeling sorry for myself was just not an option. However, this was still a big change and even the most optimistic attitude couldn’t combat my sadness.

I’m not writing this journal to give you the play-by-play on our move, rather, in the past two weeks I’ve learned a lot that I want to share. As summer has officially ended and the fall season and school year has begun, there is a lot of change that is and will be occurring in not just mine, but many of our lives right about now. And if you aren’t experiencing change now, there will be a day when you will, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned thus far:

1. Being sad and mad are normal and healthy emotions, but they must get out. I was being totally passive aggressive and ugly to my husband Russell, which was terrible for him and created a ton of tension between us. It wasn’t until I told him exactly why I was mad and sad and that I would get over it, but that I needed him to let me be mad and sad and not try to fix it that things started to get better. It was like having the flu, and the emotions needed time to run their course. Thankfully they did, and things became better quickly.

2. Manage your expectations, take baby steps and accept feeling out of control. I wanted to have San Diego ‘figured out’ the day we landed. I wanted all boxes unpacked and the house looking great and feeling like our old house within days of arriving. I was craving organization and control! Of course all of this was absolutely not possible, and thanks to the advice from iGnite Leader and dear friend Kathleen Parker, I needed to “relax, breathe and focus on having fun with my family. There were no deadlines.” Then, my sweet cousin Craig reminded me to “not lose any sleep over unpacked boxes.” What profound wisdom! And so, I’ve doing what I can when I can and am making great strides to chill and realize this whole process is a journey.

3. Don’t compare your new life to your old life. As soon as we got in our rental car and left the airport to begin our new life, seriously, my brain immediately started trying to fit my Austin life into my San Diego life. It was the strangest thing, as I could physically feel my brain trying to make it happen. I was in complete compare mode. Though San Diego and Austin have similar cultures, San Diego is it’s own place — as all places are– and while I can and will certainly partake in similar activities and develop endearing and meaningful relationships like I have in Austin, they are different. It’s a new time and place and things are automatically going to look and feel different. I will of course hold onto all friendships and memories in Austin, but in order to fully experience and make the best out of our time in San Diego, I need to fully embrace it.

4. We are StrongerTogetHER. It was intentional for our summer shirts to read StrongerTogetHER. We believe that living, sharing and experiencing life together and in community is the best and only way. Plus, we believe we are created for community. But what I didn’t expect was how badly I was going to need it and appreciate it once I got to San Diego. As I mentioned earlier, sweet iGnite member and friend Jill Imhoff lives part-time in Austin and part-time in San Diego, and the day we landed she reached out to me and validated all of my mad and sad feelings. Then, within three days she was offering to help me unpack. Letting others help me is not something I accept well, but I was drowning in chaos and confusion and I knew letting her help me would be the best thing. Then, three days later, she drove me around to help me get the lay of the land and most importantly, get to the beaches. She also took me to Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, where we hiked. What I’ve learned is how important it is to be vulnerable, raw and let others be your neighbor. We can’t and aren’t created to do anything alone, and change is much easier to accept and move through when we allow others to help us. Reach out to others and allow them to give you the gift guiding you down a path that they’ve already walked down and are better equipped to show you through.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself: what change(s) am I experiencing right now? Do you have a new job, are you new to iGnite or Austin, or have you recently moved? Is your first or last child entering Kindergarden or are you an empty nester? Are you expecting a child or are you a new parent? Are you newly married or recently divorced? Are you in a new relationship or have you recently lost someone you love?

Change is everywhere and all around us. The key to managing it and getting through it without losing your mind is letting go and sharing it with others. And so, here’s to a fall season of new beginnings togetHER!

Action Item:
Stop trying to control your changing circumstances, whatever they are.
Instead, let go and allow yourself to share it with others.

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Enjoy the Great Outdoors

iGnite - Enjoy the Outdoors

 

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

I encourage you to watch this short video summarizing new research on the positive effects of outdoor exercise on emotional state and mental health. What I find especially interesting is the finding that not all outdoor exercise is equal in its effects on our mental/emotional health…. Supporting what most outdoor exercise enthusiasts and iGniters already know, the research indicates that exercise in natural outdoor environments has a greater effect on mood and mental-emotional health than exercise in man-made outdoor environments. Although similar in some short-term affects on physical health, exercise in nature compared to indoor or even other outdoor “city-dweller” environments, is vastly more effective in improving mental and emotional state, and therefore important for overall health in the long-term.

Living in Austin, we have so many great opportunities to workout in nature.
Here are some suggestions:

Running/Hiking:
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Bull Creek Trail
Brushy Creek Trails
River Place Preserve Trails
Walnut Creek Trails
McKinney Falls Trails
Hamilton Pool Nature Trail

Swimming or Water-Running/Treading:
Barton Springs Pool
Twin Falls on Barton Creek
Bull Creek
Hippy Hollow
Hamilton Pool

I do hope you’ll get out and enjoy the great outdoors right here in Austin! Add hiking and/or swimming in nature to your summer bucket list…It’s cheaper and more effective than therapy and medicine!

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What If vs. What Is?

A Father’s Day Tribute

iGnite - have funPoint to Ponder:

How can you change your thoughts regarding a “What if?” that has been on your mind recently?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

With Father’s Day upon us, I would be remiss not to share some of the best pieces of wisdom my father, Don Brown, has passed along to me, which is:  Put a smile on my face, don’t worry and have fun. 

There was once a time in my life when I worried about everything and with that came a ridiculous amount of “What-if’s.”  It’s funny because now I can’t even specifically remember what all I worried about or what-if’d about, but it happened regularly enough for my Dad to impress upon me that worry and what-if’s would not only ruin my day, but were a complete waste of my time and energy.

Even though I knew my Dad was right, applying the “don’t worry, smile and have fun” philosophy was much easier said than done.  Then, before having children I vividly remember ‘what if’-ing and literally freaking out about my future–wondering how balancing a family and career was or wasn’t going to work out.  My mind meandered down a million unnecessary paths. Amongst all of the worry, of course everything worked out great.  In fact, it worked out much better than I could’ve ever planned or imagined. Not only was my Dad right, but the majority of the time the things I worry about and what-if over never become a reality.  I also realized that I could never get back all of the time I’ve wasted on worry.

Along the same lines, but spun slightly differently, my husband Russell recently shared this wisdom he learned from the University of San Diego head baseball coach: “If you are going to spend time on the “What’s,” spend time on what is vs. what if.”  I love that!  What if we replaced the imaginary “what if’s” with the facts of what actually is?  To me, this changes the whole situation, because when we stick with the facts only, we can apply logic and reason.  We’d save ourselves a ton of mental, emotional and even physical anguish and stress, and a ton of time — something I am certain all of us can use more of.

I am thankful to admit that the amount I worry and what-if over the years has significantly decreased, but when they do start to creep back into my head and get me emotionally charged, irrational and threaten to sabotage my day, I recall my Dad’s wisdom and strive to not worry, smile and have fun.  So, please join me in making it a goal to ditch the worry and what-if’s and focus on enjoying life and having fun!

Action Item:

Focus on the what-is rather than the what-if and enjoy the difference it makes in your daily living.

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Happiness through Neighboring

iGnite - The purpose of lifePoint to Ponder:
What aspect of your life brings you the most happiness?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Currently I am reading a very interesting book called The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. It’s an easy read and pretty common sense, but I’m completely hooked and fascinated. Based on the title you’ve probably figured out that the book is about how to be a good neighbor, but more important is the why — why it is critical to our society that we be good neighbors.

In the first chapter, a group of ministers in the Denver, Colorado area met with their city mayor to learn how they could help serve the city. The mayor responded: “The majority of the issues our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” He then added, “Government programs aren’t always the most effective way to address social issues. Relationships are more important than programs because they are organic and ongoing. The idea is that when neighbors are in relationship with one another, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and so on.”

Honestly, I haven’t made it past the first chapter because I am continuing to contemplate just that paragraph. Of course the mayor is right. In theory it sounds so simple, but it appears that societally we are way off.

Ironically, while reading The Art of Neighboring, I came upon an interesting article in SUCCESS Magazine by Patty Onderko called Oh, Happy Day. The article states that research has found that happy people are healthier, live longer, give back more to their communities, cultivate stronger family and social ties and even make more money. The article also lists these ten evidence-based ways to be happy (by actionforhappiness.org):

  1. Giving: Do things for others
  2. Relating: Connecting with people
  3. Exercising: Take care of your body
  4. Appreciating: Notice the world around you
  5. Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  6. Direction: Have a goal to look forward to
  7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotion: Take a positive approach
  9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger

After reading this article I began thinking about the time in my life when food and exercise consumed all of my thoughts. I was constantly calculating fat and calories, thinking about my next meal and never allowed myself the pleasure of a splurge — at least without a five to ten mile run to follow. I was obsessed with the scale and a one to three pound weight increase would sabotage my day. It was also during a time when I was younger, worked in a gym and was surrounded by mirrors. It’s interesting because looking back I can see that the harder I worked out and the more restrictive my diet was, the more my body literally fought back. I was out of balance, my priorities were out of line, my focus was too inward and therefore my body (and I) was not happy. It wasn’t until I had a literal mental and spiritual shift, got outside of myself, and realized that life was much bigger and more meaningful than a number on a scale or the size of my clothes, that my whole body became happy. Ironically, I stopped exercising as much, I didn’t eat “perfectly,” and I rested more, yet my body felt better and performed better — all the while the size of my clothes stayed the same. I’ve since ditched the scale.

You may be wondering, “Neissa, what in the world do neighboring, being happy, and diet and exercise have to do with one another?” The answer is everything. Happiness cannot be achieved from being primarily inward-focused. For sure it’s easier and feels safer to be focused on ourselves, our families and our homogeneous circles, but true happiness comes from living for and in the things that are bigger than ourselves. Could it be possible that there’s a real connection between our society being the most wealthy it’s ever been, while simultaneously unhappiness and neighborly love are on the decline?

For me, there was a time when my idol was my body. Other idols that can prevent us from living outwardly and being neighborly are our children, family, work, social circles, wealth, television, social media — anything that causes us to live inward and be “me-focused.” As the wonderful quote above suggests, the ultimate goal is to be useful, honorable and compassionate, a.k.a. being a good neighbor, which in my opinion produces ultimate happiness!

Action Item:
Do something for a neighbor who you have never met or interacted with before. This could be baking cookies, writing a note, knocking on their door to say hello — anything!

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