14 Body-Mind Fast Fixes and Tricks to Make your Life Better

body-mind fast factsThere are so many body-mind fast facts, fixes and tricks that quickly and effectively decrease pain and enhance your life.

Your body can overcome the command of your mind in powerful yet simple ways. It’s exciting to share a few quick tricks with you!

Some of the following facts may seem like questionable, and they are much like magic tricks to fool your brain, but rest assured that they are all legitimate.

  1. Alleviate heartbreak – Heartbreak hurts. As much as it feels like it’s all emotional, heartbreak isn’t only an emotional experience, it’s physical! Taking aspirin helps to alleviate some of the intense physical and emotional pain of losing someone you love.
  2. Boost your Memory, Reasoning Skills, and Attention – Chew gum for 10 minutes to increase your cognitive skills. Pick your favorite flavor and get chomping (this also helps with stress reduction as well)! Oh, but keep in mind the effects only last for about 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce General Physical Pain – When you experiencing physical pain, your brain automatically intensifies the pain when you look at it. The fix? Either don’t look or reduce the pain by flipping over a pair of binoculars so that instead of magnifying the visual site of your pain, it minimizes the view.
  4. Halt Panic Attacks – Feeling that dreaded feeling of intense panic (increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, deep fear for no known reason)? Fill up a wide bowl with ice water, take a deep breath and then dunk your whole face in it for as long as your breath will allow. This slows your heart which reduces the experience of panic in your body. Note: if you have any pre-existing heart conditions, do not use this suggestion.
  5. Decrease Throat Tickles – Try scratching your ear! Yep, you can scratch the itch in your throat by scratching your ear which is said to cause a mini-spasm reflex in your throat which relieves the tickle.
  6. Cure the “Music Virus” – Have a song stuck in your head, playing on a loop? Try this. Think of the end of the song, maybe even singing the end of the song out loud. After doing this, the song should stop repeating in your head, due to something called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is the science behind your brain disliking unfinished things and once you complete it, the brain can let it go.
  7. Reduce Stress Levels – Take a bite of a mango, which has a compound called linalool that is said to help lower stress levels instantly.
  8. Overcome a Toothache – Instead of going to the source, rub ice on the back of your hand in the webbing between your thumb and your first finger. One study found that this technique reduced toothache pain up to 50% as compared to using no ice!
  9. Become Fearless – If you notice that you’re facing some fear, here’s a simple, fast biofeedback tool that great for grounding you. Stand tall, put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your heart. Breathe normally. Bring all of your awareness to to your breath. Notice what it feels like to breathe in your body. Next notice your heartbeat. Stay present to whatever you notice. Just 60 seconds or should do the trick.
  10. Get Happy – Write down one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours.  When you do this, your brain and body relive the experience and amplifies the effects of that positive experience, making you happier over all.
  11. Cool your Overheating Body – If you’re somewhere hot and it feels like your body is overheating, reduce your body’s temperature quickly by running cool water over your body’s “quick cooling spots,” which are also pulse points. Some of these pulse points include your wrist, the back of your knees, the inside of your elbow and/or the back of your neck.
  12. Postpone Peeing – Need to urinate and there’s no bathroom nearby? You’ve got a few interesting options here (aside from popping a squat somewhere in public and risking arrest). Either try scratching the back of your calf vigorously for a few moments, which is said to interrupt the message from your bladder to your brain, or think about sex (which also interrupts the “bladder full” message).
  13. Fix your Burn – If you get a light burn, instead of icing it – clean your hand and put light pressure on the burned area. It won’t cool the pain quite as quickly as ice, but this natural approach to healing the burn helps to avoid blistering because it brings your skin back to its normal temperature.
  14. Stop Feelings of Loneliness – Take a hot shower or hot bath. In a study of 51 people, immersion in hot water helped to replace the social warmth they felt they were lacking,  thus reducing their feelings of loneliness. Ok, so this may not stop the deeper reasons for your loneliness, but it can at least soften the immediate discomfort of feeling lonely.

Which of these will you try? 

Want to take a deeper dive and create long-lasting change? Work with me.



P.S. Don’t forget to enjoy your journey of being human. If you’d like to join others who are also on a mindful path in life, please meet us in the free, private MindBodyWise Living Room on Facebook.

6 Natural Ways to Calm your Anxious Heart

Natural ways to calm your anxious heart
photo credit: Yoann Boyer, Unsplash

There are natural ways to calm your anxious heart — no medication necessary!

There you are having normal day when suddenly you start to notice your body taking over. Your heartbeat begins to quicken. Your breathing gets short and tight. You feel a little tingly and fluttery inside, but not in a good way. Your thoughts are racing. And then you realize: “I’m anxious!”

At this point, you start going down a mental rabbit hole of inquiry, frustration and fear…

You want to know why you’re anxious. Nothing specific happened to trigger you and in reality, nothing is wrong. But your body is telling you a different story — a story you don’t want to feel into because it’s so darn uncomfortable!

By now, you’re deep in your head about it all, yet your body is continuing its alarm system.

An anxious heart equals an anxious mind.

In order to slow your heart and mind down, so you can function at your optimal level, you need to include both your mind and body in the process.

Of course, there are medicinal options that may help, but if want something that comes from the inside out (and is accessible all the time!) here you go:

  1. Re-label it: Labeling your anxiety as “anxiety” is honest and helpful initially. However, once you know what it is, consider calling your anxiety by another name that has less heaviness and upset to it. In essence, you’re changing how you relate to your anxiety by re-labeling it. For example, if you name your anxiety as “Sally” or “Old Friend” or even “Butterflies” it has more of a familiar, less intimidating connotation, thus easing its heavy grip on your heart and your whole body.
  2. Observe your experience: Without judging the feeling as “good” or “bad” or “I don’t like this” try practicing a non-judgmental, mindful observation of your experience. By moving from being “in it” to observing it, you switch on a different part of your brain and you shift the experience. Use your curiosity to guide you. For example, ask yourself  questions such as: what does the sensation feel like? where do I feel it? what color is it? what shape? texture? temperature? what does it remind me of? what is my body wanting me to know?
  3.  Let it be what it is: Instead of trying to change it, let your anxiety be. The act of trying to push against what is, is what leads to more of it, because what you resist persists. It’s hard not to fight against it, but if you can lean into the discomfort of the experience, it often releases its painful grip more readily.
  4.  Take long exhales: Longer exhales signal your body into a relaxation state (versus an activated state). Play with doubling the length of your exhale, so if you inhale for 4 counts try doing a slow exhale over 8 counts. Even if you don’t make it all the way to doubling, the slow exhales will slow your anxious heart and ultimately your anxiety. For an extra benefit, while practicing this breathing technique, try putting your hands on your belly or ribcage to tactically feel your breath. This helps bridge your mind and body, which helps with alleviating an anxious state of being.
  5. This too shall pass: Remind yourself that no matter how horrible you feel and no matter how fast your heart is pounding, nothing lasts for ever and this experience will pass. Often, it’s the fear that the anxiety will never go away that amplifies the experience.  Just like everything else in life, it’s not a permanent state. I suggest you say to yourself, “It will feel different later” or “This too shall pass.”
  6. Say “Thank You” to your body: Bring your hands to your heart and send your body a mental message of love and appreciation. Your body is trying to do its job in protecting you from perceived threats of discomfort, danger or pain. So, your body may be a quicker on the gas pedal than you’d like right now, but it’s actually looking out for you. Instead of alienating your body by sending it messages of anger, try thanking it instead. Befriending your body during anxiety may sound bizarre, but making it an enemy is sure to backfire.

It’s not your fault if you feel your anxious heart beating and your body going into warning mode — it’s actually an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and get present.

Embodied Mindfulness Therapy New York City

P.S. Seeking more MindBodyWise tips to alleviate your symptoms of anxiety? Check out: this post, this post, and this post. Or go here and use the search bar to explore topics of interest.

What to Do when Life Doesn’t Go as you Planned…

What happens when your life is beyond your control?

how to calm my anxiety

When life doesn’t go as planned?

When your reality falls short of your fantasy? 

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a perfect job where you get to travel the world, eat wonderful food, meet wonderful people and do work that you feel passionately about every day.

Or maybe you’ve dreamed of the most wonderful partner to share your life with…one who loves you so deeply that he or she would take a bullet for you, or more simply have breakfast brought to you in bed. Maybe you’ve envisioned their fantastic sense of humor, their charm, their intelligence, their dashingly good looks, their professional success and their easy-to-get-along with nature that makes conflict almost impossible.

Then… reality happens. 

You find a great job, but it’s not quite as you imagined. You get to travel, but maybe not to exotic places and it only allows you a small budget for meals. Maybe it’s work that you like, some of the time, but find boring or unfulfilling other parts of the time.

Maybe you find a wonderful partner, but you don’t walk off into the sunset with them happily ever after. Maybe they lovingly support you most of the time, they show they care about you very deeply, but in some way they don’t match up identically to the fantasy that you’ve created in your mind over the course of your life.

And now here you are in a job you like (but don’t love) and in a relationship that works well, but isn’t matching with the dream of near-perfection that you always had.

What do you do with this?

Most people feel a sense of frustration, loss, grief, or even shame and embarrassment about the gap between the fantasy they created and the reality that they have chosen. Remember that worrying will not change the outcome. They may not even realize that they are dissatisfied because their fantasy and their reality are disparate.

A fantasy is just that: a fantasy. Nothing matches up to a dream identically.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing is pure.

Wonderful jobs always have some drudge work or a boss you don’t like or an environment that isn’t like ideal. Great relationships have hiccups and bumps and sometimes mountains to climb. It’s these imperfections and challenges that help us to grow, even though they often aren’t pleasant.  Learn to let things you cannot control go.

It’s important to remember that crafting fantasies are a normal part of being human and serve us well in many ways. It’s fun to use the creativity of your mind to experience something beyond your current scope of reality. If you’ve ever enjoyed a movie, then you know how much fun it can be to lose yourself in a world that is made up.

However, sometimes the gap between fantasy and reality in our own lives causes painful feelings to emerge.

Here are some tools for moving through this gap with grace (and sometimes stumbling, less than gracefully). It helps to use each tool in the order listed below.

  1. Name the fantasy a fantasy – Before all else, you need to know that you’re comparing your reality to a dream you’ve conjured up. Once you name your fantasy a fantasy, it helps to address your feelings of disconnect between what’s actually happening and what you had imagined.
  2. Lean into vulnerability – We all create imaginary circumstances (have you ever imagined winning the lottery? Of course you have!). There’s no shame in this. However, it can feel vulnerable, uncomfortable or scary to recognize that you’ve been comparing your reality to a dream. If you try to push these feelings away, the pain just remains underneath and it eventually surfaces. How can you honor what you’re feeling without judgment and criticism?
  3. Grieve the loss of the dream – Now that you’ve named it a fantasy and experienced the vulnerability of having feelings about the differences of your fantasy and your real life, it’s time to grieve the loss of the fantasy. The reality that doesn’t match up with your imagined dream is a loss. It’s the end of an adventure that you’ve been on in your mind for some time. Your fantasy deserves respect for having comforted you when you didn’t know what your real circumstances would turn out to be. It filled in the gap of uncertainty and gave you a beautiful goal for which to strive. And now, here you are. There may be some sadness, wistfulness, nostalgia or other feelings that arise as you grieve this ending. It’s important to allow yourself to fully these feelings.
  4. Appreciate what you do have (instead of focusing on what you don’t) – This is the fun part. Sometimes we get so focused on the trees, we can’t see the beauty of the whole forest. Focus on what you can control.  Stop worrying about the little things. The spontaneity of life has created something different from your fantasy and maybe something quite wonderful in its own right. After grieving the loss of what isn’t, you get to celebrate the gains of something that you never could’ve conjured up in your imagination. You get to focus on some of the good stuff that has come along on your journey: the unpredictable learning and the gifts. What can you be grateful for on this path, even when it’s not how you expected it to be?

It may seem that I’m saying “you can’t have it all!” But, I’m actually saying – you can have it all and appreciate your life so much more. “All” may need to be redefined as a chance to be all that you are in imperfect circumstances (because this is reality!).

I have found that learning from the challenge is an “all” worth working for!

rachel shanken mindbodywise anxiety therapy






P.S. Interested in gaining more tools to enhance your self-awareness? Try this free guided meditation or go deeper and use this self-care, self-guided retreat to reduce stress and gain awareness.

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Take a moment to honestly answer the 4 simple questions below. Do you enjoy on meaningful conversation? Do you thrive on personal growth? Do you value the mind-body / body-mind connection as means toward living more fully, freely, and joyfully? Are you someone who feels most alive when you’re connected with like-souled, like-minded, like-spirited people? […]

MindBodyWise Living Room: Connect with others just like you…

Navigating life’s challenges is hard. It can feel lonely, scary, stressful, overwhelming and downright depressing. Sometimes, it probably feels like you are doing it alone and you wonder if there are others out there having similar struggles. And if they are out there, WHERE ARE THEY? You no longer have to go it alone or […]

How to support people in emotional pain

How to support people in emotional pain. You want to be a good friend or partner, but it’s easy to feel helpless when you see someone that you love feeling badly. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say. It’s really important, though, to find ways to verbally acknowledge someone’s experience, instead of minimizing it.  Here […]

Love-Loading vs. Carb-Loading

Whether you celebrate V-Day or it’s not your thing, let it be an opportunity to give love to the most important person in your life – YOU! Love-Loading vs. Carb Loading – An anecdote When my beloved grandfather, affectionately known as Pop-Pop, passed away, our family was distraught with grief.  He was full of love […]

Something you can’t live without…

“What’s something you didn’t know existed before that now you can’t imagine living without?” asked my brilliant, lovely, talented friend Marsha (of Yes Yes Marsha) on Facebook. Most people, including me, posted a lot of technology-related stuff (Netflix, Internet, Fitbits etc.). However, later in the day, while doing a brief self body scan (as I […]

Be better at balancing it all…

Be better at balancing it all.  So here I am at about 7 years old… posing happily on a floor balance beam.  Only one month before, I had been selected as the newest member of the gymnastics team. In this picture, I see a little girl beaming with pride and joy. I absolutely and completely […]

10 Gifts of Inspiration for You…

10 Gifts of Inspiration for you. In 2015, I posted over 140 times to Instagram. Most of what I post includes a quote or insight of some kind, that many have said is inspiring. So, I’ve collected the posts that got the majority of “likes” (and ones that I like the best) to share with you […]

Stop Self-Criticizing, Start Meditating

Are you seeking a path back to self-acceptance and self-worth? Have you considered meditation? Maybe it’s time you do! To get started on your path, read this informative article, written by Crystal Fenton of Rewire Me with commentary from yours truly! Enjoy… Admit it, you’ve been there: acting as your own worst critic by doubting yourself. As a […]

Healing the Post-Holiday Hangover Blues

Do you ever experience a post-holiday depression or emotional hangover? This year, maybe the holidays met your expectations, exceeded them or depleted you. Whether you’re a lover of the holiday season or you thrash through it painfully, you may experience a dark-mood day or dark-mood week that follows the end of the season. This is […]

1 simple way to free yourself, once and for all

The joy that comes with being free from attachment is a “felt” sense that cloaks all of who you are, inside and out. If you choose to look at yourself from the inside, you can gain perspective and agency over how you move through your life. The practice of freeing yourself begins with bringing awareness […]

How to make 2016 your best year yet…

A brief note: You live and you learn. With reflection and introspection, you can make adjustments and pivots to enhance your life as you purposefully step forward into it. In this very spirit of reviewing, learning and redesigning, I am sharing the year-in-review exercise I sent out last year, but I’ve made changes to enhance it […]

5 Ways to Feel Good Every Day…

Can you feel good every day? The awesome news is — it’s totally possible! It will require some work, on your part…but…the coolest thing is that as you do this very personal and self-focused work, the benefits expand into all areas of your life. The more you do to actively care for yourself – the […]

Setting a Resolution that Lasts…

 It’s your life. Choose your path and fully embody your whole self. It is with this intention that a beautiful journey will unfold within and before you. Make 2016 YOUR Year ~ Free Your Body, Free Your Mind Every new year, you make resolutions that don’t stick. Maybe you sign up for denial-driven programs that […]

Don’t miss it…!

“It’s a one-shot deal…” How many times have you heard this and it’s rarely (if ever) true…?  This time it IS true!   Recently I have been exposed to several untimely deaths, others who are struggling to stay alive and others who have recently been diagnosed with life-altering diseases. Although we all know that death is part of […]

Wondering where to find the wonder?

With summer ending and a new season beginning, it gives us an opportunity to become present in our lives in a new way. But how do we get present and find the wonder? A reflection…a suggestion…and an opportunity… I’m just returning from 2 weeks of being away from my everyday life. My first week away […]

6 Seconds to Stress Relief…really!

6 seconds to stress relief. Did you know that hugs are a natural stress reliever? How cool is that?! Hugging for only 6 seconds releases dopamine — the feel-good hormone — in both the hugger and the “huggie” (is that even a word?). A few more words about hugs and your health… Hugs reduce cortisol […]

Are you having fun yet?

It’s never too late to have fun in life.  It was recess and the game was Capture the Flag. My big brother was in the sixth grade, and I was a few years behind in second grade. Usually, only the older kids played, but this time my big brother invited me to join his team. […]

Inspiration & Empathy ~ A Human Experience

Have you noticed that stories of triumph often support you in feeling most alive, inspire you to overcome your own challenges and sometimes even bring you to tears? Me too! Did you know there’s a neuroscience and mind-body supported reason why these beautiful, life-affirming stories move us so deeply? I might be a bit of […]

7 Mind-Body Creativity Hacks

Do you want to become a better problem-solver, innovator and to access more of the creativity within you? Of course you do…who doesn’t! The most effective way to enhance your creativity is to get your whole body into the process. Here are 7 scientifically supported and totally awesome mind-body creativity hacks that involve all parts of you. Some […]

Stand Up for Yourself

Stand Up for Yourself. By this subject line, you may assume that I’m suggesting that you hold your ground, or speak up for yourself, or stop being a people pleaser. However…I’m actually talking about… Standing up for yourself and for your health! STAND UP! Get out of your seat! Yep, it may seem like a […]

Love More, Live Longer

Live more, live longer. This one’s a short and oh so sweet one…! Create relationships. Connect. Give and receive support. Love. Be loved. Continue surrounding yourself with good people and meaningful relationships. Fill up your “connection containers” and live a longer, healthier life. This isn’t just touchy-feely stuff. This is back by facts! There are […]

Transform your Perspective

We all know that our mood can affect your perspective. Knowing this fact and knowing what to do about it is a whole different story. I love this 3.5 minute video, based on the Growth Model from Carol Dweck. The video simply explains why it’s sometimes hard for us to shift our perspective.  The video also confirms that it takes […]

What Invigorates You?

When’s the last time that you felt full of life? How many days, weeks, months have passed since you last felt invigorated? You don’t have to wait or hope or wish that you could recreate that feeling of excitement about getting up every morning and starting your day. It doesn’t have to be difficult or […]

Authentic to the Core

How do you know when you are being your authentic self? What does it mean to be authentic?   When I am being my true self, I know it because I feel ease in my mind and freedom in my body. I am neither anticipating what’s next or belaboring what came before. I am present. […]

Are you living a “Good Life”?

How do you define living a good life? Are you living it? If not, what steps are you taking to create it? What does it feel like to think about these questions? It’s not uncommon to hear people say “I want a good life” but not really know what that actually means…and it’s so unique […]

Simple Shifts, Lasting Changes

Do you know there’s more to life than this but you’re finding it challenging to create change? Do you feel a bit alone in your quest for health and happiness? Do you feel a little stuck about what to do next? Do you make promises to yourself, but find it difficult to keep them? Often […]

Spring Cleaning for your Soul

Are you leaving space in your life for new challenges and new opportunities? Are you creating space in your body, lengthening and stretching and reaching, to create the life you want for yourself? For transformation and personal evolution to occur…to fully squeeze the juice out of life…both your mind and body have to be a part […]

Peace in Motion

Do you want to meditate, but think that you aren’t or wouldn’t be “good at it”…? Walking meditation might be your solution! First of all, just so you know, there is no such thing as not being good at meditation. All of us struggle with wandering minds – that’s our brain’s job (and we can […]

Are you Crazy-Busy?

Do you reply I am crazy busy when people ask, “How are you?” Over the past few years, many articles have emerged about the function of our being so “busy” and how this “busy-ness” serves to distance us from our unique purpose, from connecting with others and from connecting to our authentic selves. If we […]

It’s All Connected!

What is the mind-body connection? How does it work? How do you access it? Why would you want to? Only a few words this time…and instead some awesome mixed media to help you understand, appreciate, and gain some tips on how to access your mind-body connection! I could list endless references, movies, and more here, […]

How to Love your Life

How to Love Your Life. “Death is very likely the single best invention of life.” – Steve Jobs We all know that we have limited time here, in this precious life. Yet, we don’t always live like each moment is our last, nor would it be healthy to do so! However, it’s valuable on occasion […]

Making Peace with Pain

You know it and I know it: PAIN IS NO FUN! If given the choice, it would be very difficult to turn down a life of a pain-free existence, right?! However, there is no magic healing wand – sorry! And, this may sound nuts, but our pain can offer us powerful and often profound life […]

6 Life Lessons from a Balinese Offering

6 Life Lessons from a Balinese Offering. I just returned from a yoga vacation in Bali. It was an amazing, magical and beautiful trip on so many levels. One of the most striking aspects of Bali is its people… They are kind and they smile often. They are generous and warm. They take time and […]

5 Ways to be More Courageous

Being more courageous means.. Do you fear … Speaking your truth? Trying new things? Being your authentic self? Exploring the unknown? Going for your dreams with all you’ve got? “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have […]

Releasing Regret and Finding Freedom

Do you have regrets? Most of us do.  What function does regret serve? How can we live more freely and release the pain of the missed opportunities of the past? When I was growing up, the quote “I woulda, coulda, shoulda, but I didn’t” was on my family’s bathroom wall (and is still posted there […]

Coming from Love

What’s your Heart Saying? If we approached all of life and every human interaction from a place of love, what would life be like? If we all lived from the voices of our hearts, what would our world be like? What might be different? Who might we be? We are often so go-go-go that we […]

How to Feel your Feelings…

You may be wondering, why would I want to feel my feelings ?! Because…it’s life-changing in many great ways… If you missed last week’s discussion about the importance and value of feeling your feelings, you can read about it HERE. As promised last week, here are some ways to connect and begin the practice of […]

5 Life-Changing Reasons…to Feel Your Feelings!

Do you avoid allowing yourself to feel what you are really feeling? As human beings, we crave safety. We crave comfort. Often, our same-old same-old routine becomes our safety and comfort. Sometimes, it may seem easier to go on autopilot, without any consciousness about our internal experience. It’s natural and adaptive to want to avoid […]

Moving through the Blues

Moving through the blues. Are these cold, short days getting into your body and making you feel a little slower than usual, a little more down than usual, or a little less motivated? Weather and sunlight can have a profound impact on your physical body as well as your mind. So, what can we do […]

Happiness Jar

Capturing Happiness As I’m sure you know, the more we allow in and connect with the happy moments in our day (even the very ordinary happy moments), the happier we are…duh…! I know, this idea isn’t groundbreaking, but sometimes putting this happiness thing into practice isn’t quite as simple – especially on those not-so-great days […]

How to Live with Intention

How to live with intention. A new beginning is a marker that gives each of us an opportunity to get conscious about what we are creating inside ourselves and in the world. It’s a chance to start fresh, (re)design our lives, build new relationships, deepen existing relationships, and connect to our purpose. You get to create […]

Revisiting your Year

Reflecting Back… Looking Ahead… Living in the Present… As 2014 comes to a close, we are given a great opportunity to reflect, rewind, recall, revisit, relive, and then ultimately reinvent. This process can be exciting, sad, joyful, frustrating, scary and more. As human beings, we often experience many conflicting feelings all at one time, which […]

3 Ways to Lean into Joy

Do you lean into joy? Or do you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? Are you often looking over your shoulder in expectation of the happiness you feel to disappear at any moment? If we don’t learn to be grateful or be vulnerable and present to what is in the moment, we […]