Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web

The following is so cool, and I definitely had to share this article.  Google+ rocks.  I had registered my interest.  I hope I get the invitation.  :D

6/28/2011 10:45:00 AM
UpdateFor our international readers, this post is also available in FrenchGermanItalian,JapanesePortugueseRussian and Spanish. - Ed.

Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.

Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.

In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project:

+Circles: share what matters, with the people who matter most
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers:
  • It’s sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time.
  • It’s scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright.
  • It’s insensitive. We all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, “What do people actually do?” And we didn’t have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time—with their circles.

From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day:

+Sparks: strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything
Healthy obsessions inspire sharing, and we’ve all got one (or two, or three...). Maybe it’s muscle cars, or comic books, or fashion, but the attraction is always the same: it comes up in conversation, we immediately jump in, and we share back and forth with other fans. Often for hours. The trick is getting things started, and getting over that initial hump. Fortunately, the web is the ultimate icebreaker.

The web, of course, is filled with great content—from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations. We noticed, however, that it’s still too hard to find and share the things we care about—not without lots of work, and lots of noise. So, we built an online sharing engine called Sparks.

Thanks to Google’s web expertise, Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you’ll always have something to watch, read and share—with just the right circle of friends:

+Hangouts: stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face
Whether it's inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It's how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.

Just think: when you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you're in fact signaling to everyone around, “Hey, I've got some time, so feel free to stop by." Further, it’s this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation. But today’s online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don’t understand this subtlety:
  • They’re annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
  • They’re also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face:

+Mobile: share what’s around, right now, without any hassle
These days a phone is the perfect sharing accessory: it's always with you, it's always online, and it's how we stay close with our closest friends. We didn’t want “just” a mobile experience, however, so with Google+ we focused on things (like GPS, cameras, and messaging) to make your pocket computer even more personal.

+Location, location, location
In life, the places we visit shape conversations in lots of meaningful ways. If we call John from the airport, he’ll likely ask about our trip. Or if Jane texts from a nearby restaurant, we might join her for dessert. With Google+ you can add your location to every post. (Or not. It’s always up to you.)

+Instant Upload
Getting photos off your phone is a huge pain, so most of us don't even bother. Of course pictures are meant to be shared, not stranded, so we created Instant Upload to help you never leave a photo behind. While you're snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they're always available across your devices—ready to share as you see fit.

Coordinating with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. After all, everyone's on different schedules, in different places, and plans can change at any moment. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they're not quite right for getting the gang together. So Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what's going on, right this second.

Starting today Google+ is available on Android Market and the mobile web, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.

+You: putting you first, all across Google
That’s the Google+ project so far: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts and mobile. We’re beginning in Field Trial, so you may find some rough edges, and the project is by invitation only. But online sharing needs a serious re-think, so it’s time we got started. There’s just one more thing—really the only thing: You.

You and over a billion others trust Google, and we don’t take this lightly. In fact we’ve focused on the user for over a decade: liberating data, working for an open Internet, and respecting people’s freedom to be who they want to be. We realize, however, that Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus—on you. That’s why we’re giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we’re doing. All across Google.

When your invite arrives we hope you’ll join the project. But it’s entirely up to +You.

Motorola Atrix on the way

I had purchased the Motorola Atrix, and it's on the way to be delivered.  So excited over it.  It's  $448, and with $30 promotion discount, and 5% from my credit card rebate, it's less than $400.  I guessed this would be much a value-for-money kind of buy for me.  Goodbye Samsung Galaxy S II.  :D

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Hack A Company With A Trojan Mouse

The information security world has long warned of Trojans, benign-looking but 
evil-intentioned programs that penetrate firewalls like a Trojan Horse rolling through the gates of a Turkish city-state. Adriel Desautels’ team of penetration testers has developed a trick that takes that mythological metaphor more literally: the Trojan Mouse.
In a detailed blog post on the website of his firm, Netragard, Desautels describes a recent assignment: to find security vulnerabilities on a network with few connections to the Internet, and with specific instructions not use social networks, email, or fraudulent phone calls. That kind of hard target required some innovation. So his team of whitehat hackers came up with a clever new technique: a tiny USB hub infected with malware, implanted in a normal looking mouse.

The raw materials of Netragard's hack. (Click to enlarge.)
Netragard carefully gutted a Logitech mouse and after a few hours of soldering work, implanted the hub such that it could run software on the user’s computer while still allowing the mouse to function normally. The hackers also used a vulnerability in the user’s antivirus software to code a new piece of software that would run automatically on the user’s machine without prompting him or her for a connection. Then they packaged it up in the marketing materials of one of Netragard’s friendly-looking partners, and mailed it to one of their target’s employees.
Three days later, it connected back to the hackers’ machine from inside their victims’ network. Their mark had fallen for the ruse and plugged it in.
Desautels points out that the trick could work with any variety of USB device, from a mouse to a USB missile turret toy–anything large enough to contain the infected USB hub. ”When they do plug it in, they will be infected by our custom malware and we will use that point of infection to compromise the rest of the network,” he writes.
The trick of mailing infected USB sticks to a target company or leaving them strewn in a parking lot for employees to pick up is hardly new. But as employees have become more aware of USB dangers and administrators more often disable the auto-run function on PCs, Desautels said Netragard was looking for new ground. “[The USB] trick worked great back in the day but not so much any more,” he writes. “We wanted something reliable.”
Read Desautels’ full description of the hack at his blog.

Kenko-Tokina launches Tokina SD 17-35mm F4 AT-X PRO FX

Newly merged Kenko-Tokina has quietly launched the Tokina SD 17-35mm F4 AT-X PRO FX, a semi-fast wideangle zoom for full frame cameras. The company says the F4 maximum aperture makes it easier to produce a smaller lens with fewer aberrations, to sit alongside its 16-28mm F2.8 PRO. The lens features 'SD' glass that the company says offers similar properties to fluorite elements as well as its 'silent drive module' AF motor and high-precision AF position sensor for fast, accurate focusing. No details of pricing or availability are yet available from the company's distributors outside Japan.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestive System's Health

Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestive System's Health: From a Conversation with Nancy Spahr, CBE & Colon Therapist

Posted April 29, 2007.
Your digestive health has adirect link to your body's health. In fact, the quality of food you eat affects your quality of life AND energy. Find out how to improve your digestive health.
Your digestive tract...that mysterious 30-foot tube holds more solutions for your health than most of us could ever imagine.
Unfortunately, most of us feed our taste buds before thinking about how it affects our digestive health.
It's true, isn't it? Most of us have received our nutritional education from the media, influencing us with delicious tastes designed to meet every craving and convenience. It's not surprising that we'd forget the correlation between the quality of our food and thequality of our digestive health.
While it seems like a simple formula on the surface, it's much deeper than you'd think. That 30-foot tube which makes up your digestive tract is responsible for delivering the components of what you eat into your body.
So this tube needs to be in good condition to deliver needed nutrients to their critical digestion and absorption points.
In order to understand digestive health better, we talked with Nancy Spahr, Certified Body Ecologist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Certified Natural Health Practitioner. She's studied AND seen it all from what goes in to what comes out at her healing center, Cleansing Waters.

Here are Nancy Spahr's 7 key steps for your digestive health:

  1. Choose high quality, fresh organic foods - Nancy has seen incredible changes when people go from boxed and canned foods to fresh, organic whole foods as part of the Body Ecology program.
    • Incorporate a healthy mix of raw and cooked foods - raw foods have their own enzymes which are especially important when your body is healing and may be low on enzymes in general.
    • Follow the 80/20 rule and have 80% of your plate full of healing vegetables.
  2. Chew thoroughly -Digestion of carbohydrates (starches, sugars) starts in your mouth with saliva and enzymes. The enzymes not only help break down your food, they also attack bacteria. Most people don't chew thoroughly, which makes digestion of food much harder when it reaches your stomach. Chewing is stage one of proper digestion.
  3. Understand the importance of stomach acid (HCl) - Stage two of good digestion happens in stomach and it is your stomach's job is to temporarily hold food and begin to break it down. Stomach acid is important for in this stage of digestion and while it does not actually digest the food, it triggers the enzyme pepsin to break down proteins. The stomach acid also destroys pathogenic bacteria and parasites, eggs and larvae.
    • Aging, poor diet and lifestyle habits can cause an acidic condition of the blood. If your blood is acidic, your stomach thinks it doesn't need to secrete stomach acid.
    • Not enough stomach acid means you cannot digest protein properly. The food stagnates and ferments (the wrong kind of fermentation), setting you up for illness.
    • Heartburn, gas and bloating result from too little HCl, not too much. If you have these symptoms, you could be missing HCl or digestive enzymes. Nancy recommends Assist Dairy and Protein, which has HCl and pepsin to help your stomach do its job of digesting proteins.
  4. Pay attention to digestive enzymes -your food moves from your stomach to your small intestine, where 90% of nutrients are absorbed.
    • Your pancrease produces digestive enzymes so that you can digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It relies on the gallbladder and liver for the bile necessary for the digestive process to take place. LivAmend can be useful at this stage of digestion also because it increases bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. Bile is necessary for healthy peristaltic movement and healthy elimination.
    • Taking digestive enzymes with each meal , like Assist SI and Assist Dairy and Protein can help your body digest foods. They improve your body's ability to extract nutrients from the foods you eat. The enzyme, pancreatin, available in our Assist SI, is an excellent enzyme for this stage of digestion. All these enzymes help you avoid the gas, bloating and other digestive discomforts that often result when your body lacks the digestive enzymes necessary to break down and assimilate your foods.
  5. Incorporate prebiotics and probiotics - Your intestines (small and large) are the home of your inner ecosystem, where the friendly microflora (bacteria and yeast) live. The microflora help you digest and assimilate foods and keep your immunity strong.
    • Most people's inner ecosystems are imbalanced, which can lead to leaky gut, an overabundance of pathogenic bacteria and yeast (like candida) and illness. Probiotic-rich fermented foods and drinks add healthy microflora to your intestines, bringing your inner ecosystem back into balance.
    • Including probiotic-rich fermented foods, like cultured vegetables and probiotic liquids has been key to transforming people's health, in Nancy's experience.
    • Nancy always recommends organic, unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar with "the mother." An excellent prebiotic, it feeds healthy microflora and aids your digestion. Try it in salad dressings in place of regular vinegar.
  6. Hydrate - Nancy has noticed that many people who first come into her healing center drink a lot of soda and coffee. Some even start their day with these acid-producing beverages and changing this habit can really bring about positive changes in your digestive health.
    • Soda and coffee dehydrate your body, which can also sap your energy. Drinking filtered water, organic herbal teas and probiotic liquids provide energy and hydration.
    • Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine both say that cold drinks slow your "digestive fire" or your "chi" (energy). Since life and healing require energy, focus on room temperature water and beverages or warm tea.
  7. Cleanse and Detoxify - The Body Ecology program goes a long way to helping your body cleanse and detoxify. At Cleansing Waters, Nancy and her team provide a variety of other detoxification services, an important one being colon hydrotherapy. Donna Gates is a huge proponent of colon hydrotherapy as a way to support your cleansing and detoxification.
    • Pay attention to your stool - bowel movements should occur at least once per day and ideally after each complete meal. If you are not eliminating frequently enough, toxins will be accumulating in your colon and also throughout your entire body...right down to each individual cell. Your entire body will look and feel toxic!
    • Cleanse your colon - everyone could use a colon cleanse. Colon hydrotherapy (colonics) is an ideal choice because 10 gallons of water are used to hydrate your colon, softening up hardened fecal matter and sweeping it gently out of your body. This actually allows your whole body to detoxify. Releasing toxins from your colon allows your liver to release more toxins, not to mention all of the cells in your body.
    • Nancy recomnends 2 colonics within the first 48 hours. This allows you to get comfortable with colon hydrotherapy and also allows the water from the first session to soften any old hardened fecal matter to be swept away during the second session. Thereafter, her clients have 2 colonics in the next week and one per week for 6 - 8 weeks. After this, the colon hydrotherapist and client decide upon a maintenance protocol tailored to the client's needs.
    • Enemas are excellent between colonic sessions or as part of your healthy cleansing program. If you are experiencing constipation, gas, bloating, skin erruptions and other symptoms of die-off, doing a home enema can clease toxins from your body right at home and have you feeling more energetic and happier soon. When your body is cleansing faster than it can eliminate the toxins, you will experience the Herxheimer's die-off effect. Stay ahead of your toxins by actively cleansing. Your goal is to smoothly eliminate them in a consistent, steady manner.
    • The Health and Yoga Home Enema Kit is perfect for doing home enemas because it includes a 2 quart stainless steel bucket and a 20-inch catheter that allows you to get water deep into your colon, where it can soften old hardened fecal matter.

Can this be really happening?

Eguchi Aimi is a computer generated human with AKB48 members facial features.

Motorola Atrix vs HTC Sensation - Dialaphone

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC Sensation

Post image for Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC Sensation
by CHRIS on APRIL 13, 2011
Here we have what people consider the two best smartphones coming to the Android market: the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation. We’ll run through the specs and see who’s the winner of these two powerhouse.

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC Sensation

Starting off with the processors, both the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation carries a more than capable CPU. Both running at 1.2GHz and the main advantages the HTC Sensation has is dual LED flash and higher resolution (540×960) while the Samsung Galaxy S2 has only one LED and at 480×800 resolution. The Samsung Galaxy S2 comes out on top for benchmark score against the HTC Sensation by quite a bit as revealed by the video review below.
HTC Sensation is a close competitor, but when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S2 spec for spec, the Galaxy S2 still slightly on top but not much. Briefly running through the specs, the Samsung Galaxy S2 packs 1GB RAM while the Sensation only has 768MB RAM. On to storage, Galaxy s2 has options for 16GB and 32GB internal storage and the Sensation with only 1GB.
Further more, a Super AMOLED display and 2MP front camera for the Samsung versus a S-LCD Display and 1.2MP front camera for HTC (both androids have 8MP rear camera). Moving on, battery being a concern for many users, the Samsung Galaxy S2 has a bigger battery at 1650 mAh vs HTC Sensation’s 1520 mAh, not only that the Galaxy S2 is lighter at 4.1 ounces vs 5.2 ounces, and finally to top it off the Samsung Galaxy S2 supports NFC.
Both smartphones come installed with Android 2.3 Gingerbread (HTC Sense for the Sensation and TouchWiz for the Galaxy S2). The Samsung Galaxy S2 is expected to release May 1st for UK and over the span of the next few months for the rest of the countries as they slowly roll them out. The HTC Sensation 4G is expected to be released on June 15 exclusively to T-Mobile.
All in all, both androids are great choices, most of the features and such comes down to personal preferences. You can’t go wrong with either choices as they are both superior smartphones in the market today and definitely the best money can buy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Successful People Leave Work Early

Try this for a day: don't answer every phone call. Stop checking your email every two minutes. And leave work early. You'll be astounded at how much more you'll get done.

According to a study published in the Psychological Review conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericcson, the key to great success is working harder in short bursts of time. Then give yourself a break before getting back to work.
The trick is staying focused. Ericsson and his team evaluated a group of musicians to find out what the "excellent" players were doing differently. They found that violinists who practiced more deliberately, say for 4 hours, accomplished more than others who slaved away for 7 hours. The best performers set goals for their practice sessions and required themselves to take breaks.
Looking at the chart, you can see that the best violin students practiced with greater intensity just before the lunch hour and then took a break before starting up again at 4 p.m. -- whereas the other students practiced more steadily throughout the entire day.
The researchers found that successful people in other professions had similar habits:
"While completing a novel, famous authors tend to write only for 4 hours during the morning, leaving the rest of the day for rest and recuperation. Hence successful authors, who can control their work habits and are motivated to optimize their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete."
Timothy Ferriss gives similar advice in his New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. He stresses the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 law, which is that 80 percent of outputs come from 20 percent of inputs. So stay focused, and you'll do more in less time.

Read more:

7 life lessons from the very wealthy

Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries
of a large research staff to study the problem.
Bill Vaughan

1. Having money is better than not having money.
Sure, this may be obvious, but let’s get it out of the way upfront. Money may not buy you happiness, but it buys many other important things. Like financial security, excellent health care, education, travel and a comfortable retirement. In a word: freedom.
2. Don’t become “cash rich” and “time poor.”
Devoting all of your waking hours to making money is a problem, especially in professions with a partnership fast track. Lawyers, doctors, bankers and accountants can get so caught up in the competitive nature of their jobs that they lose touch with their family. Any semblance of a normal personal life disappears, and a very unhealthy balance between work and home can develop.
Work is the process of exchanging your time for money. Remember: What you do with your time is far more meaningful than the goods you accumulate with your money. If you are working so much to become rich but you ignore your spouse and miss seeing your kids grow up, you are actually poorer than you realize.
3. Memories are better than material objects.
You may be surprised to learn that among the monied set, expensive cars, yachts, houses, jewelry and watches come at the end of the list.
Their priorities? Memories and accomplishments. This was especially true when it came to family. Toys matter less than good times.
The rule of diminishing returns is a harsh mistress with luxury goods. Do you really think $100,000 audio speakers sound 20 times better than a pair of $5,000 speakers? (They don’t). Is a $250,000 sports car five times faster than a $50,000? (It is not). These days, you can buy quite a lovely home for $1,000,000 (and much less in the country’s interior). Those $10,000,000 manses are not 10 times roomier. Anyone who has owned a $10,000 Rolex will tell you that a $39 Casio keeps better time.
When discussing the benefits of wealth, I have heard again and again about amazing experiences, family get-togethers, vacations, shows, sporting events, weddings and other events as these people’s most important life experiences. While these things cost money, nearly every family can afford reasonable versions of them.
4. Watch your “lifestyle leverage,” especially early in your career.

Those partnership-track careers? The dirty little secret: Those firms love to get their young employees leveraged up. They will even help you get that way, co-signing mortgages for big houses or even directly lending you the cash on favorable terms.
They encourage up-and-comers to spend extravagantly; they extend lines of credit to their rising stars. You need a big house with a jumbo mortgage; you cannot pull up to a business meeting in anything less than the best luxury car. It is part of their corporate culture.
Isn’t that nice of them?
Not really. The big banks, investment shops, law firms and accountants have learned how profitable it is to have “golden handcuffs” on their best employees. These highly-leveraged, debt-laden wage slaves will work harder, put in longer hours and stay with the firm longer than those debt-free workers.
Besides, overleveraged employees do not leave to work at a new start-up or a smaller, more family friendly competitor.
You recent graduates: Remember this when you are offered credit on generous terms. Your leverage is your detriment.
5. Having goals is incredibly important.
I have a friend who is a serial entrepreneur. He was a board member in a household-name dot-com from the 1990s. He sold his stock — too early, I warned at the time — for $30 million. (It would have been worth $90 million a few months later.)
But that didn’t matter to him — he planned to use that money for his next company, which he promptly built and sold for $250 million. He rolled that l into his third venture, which he cashed out of for a cool $1 billion. His long-term goal, and the ability to execute that vision, are what led him to incredible success.
He once said something that has stayed with me: “I am always surprised at how many people have no goals. They simply let life’s river flow them downstream.”
There is a Latin phrase associated with military actions: “Amat victoria curam.“ It translates as “Victory loves careful preparation.” You would be amazed at what you can accomplish with planning.
6. You must live in the here and now.
Goals are important, but don’t miss out on what is happening today.
This is especially true among entrepreneurs, corporate execs and Type A personalities. Do not let dreams of that mansion on a hill prevent you from enjoying the home you live in.
This is an area that can easily veer into cliche. Rather than risk that, I’ll simply remind you of what John Lennon sang in “Beautiful Boy”: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
7. It helps to be incredibly lucky.
I am struck by how many very wealthy people I know — especially tech entrepreneurs – have expressed being grateful for their good luck. Again and again, I have heard the phrase: “Being smart is good, but being lucky is better.”
Rather than leave you with the impression that success is simply a roll of the dice, I am compelled to remind you what the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger was reputed to have said: “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
I don’t know whether it’s better to be smart or lucky, but I would suggest that making the most of the opportunities takes more than just dumb luck.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

World's fastest supercomputers

K Computer (Japan)K Computer (Japan)

There's a new No. 1 on the semi annual-list of the world's top supercomputers: Japan's K Computer is so far advanced, it's three times faster than the second fastest supercomputer and more powerful than the next five supercomputers on the list combined.
The so-called Top 500 list is revised each June and November by researchers at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the University of Mannheim in Germany. Supercomputers and their massive processing power are used for an array of tasks such as weather forecasting, high-speed stock trading, and simulating weapons tests.
The K Computer, built by Fujitsu, has 68,544 central processing units, each with eight cores. That's twice as many as any other supercomputer on the Top 500.
The letter "K" is short for the Japanese word "kei," which symbolizes ten quadrillions. The K Computer is capable of performing more than 8 quadrillion calculations per second.
The massive supercomputer (it comprises of more than 800 computer racks) is used at the Riken Institute for Physical and Chemical Research in Kobe, Japan. This is the first time since 2004 that Japan had held the top supercomputer on the list. (Japan also has the fifth most powerful supercomputer on the list.)
The project won't be completely finished until next year, at which point the Riken Institute plans to share its computing power for researchers' projects around the world.

Learn how to work yourself out of the blues

By , Guide

Life is full of surprises...not all of them good. Life's little events can often cause stress, anxiety and a bad case of the blues. Some of these we expect--the change from Fall to Winter is often a rough transition for many of us and bad weather can make you feel tired and cranky. The holidays are often a rollercoaster of emotions, bringing out our best and, sometimes, our worst. Then there are the unexpected surprises--losing a job, moving to a new city, contracting an illness, fender benders and other events, big and small that test our mental strength.

Unfortunately, we can't predict the future, but we can find ways to relieve stress in healthy ways. One of the best ways to work out the stress and pull yourself out of the dumps is to move your body.

Soothe Yourself with Exercise

When we feel down or depressed, we look for things that make us feel good. Often, we reach for the wrong things--food, alcohol, sleep or drugs...most of which make us feel worse instead of better. It's important to take care of yourself when your feeling blue and there's nothing wrong with a little long as it's healthy and something that will genuinely make you feel better.

Rather than reach for the chocolate when you're stressed, think of something you enjoy doing...something that feels good to you. It might be working in the garden, taking a slow bike ride or taking a walk with a friend. Think of activities you like but rarely allow yourself time to do then commit to doing them as often as you can. Rhythmic activities like walking, raking leaves or even cleaning can be healing exercises--as your body gets into it's own rhythms, you can let your mind go and work out problems, find solutions or just daydream for awhile.

Try these ideas for a little stress relief:
  • Take baby steps. Thinking about 30 minutes of an activity may feel overwhelming when your energy is low. Decide you'll just do a few minutes of something. Chances are, you'll start to feel more energetic and will keep going.
  • Keep it simple. Sometimes the thought of changing into workout clothes can seem like climbing a mountain. Choose activities that require very little preparation like walking, gardening, cleaning the house or some gentle stretching.
  • Ask for support. It helps to have a workout buddy to keep you honest. Try to get a friend or family member to meet you once a week for a walk in the park or a local fitness class. Knowing someone's waiting for you makes it easier to get going.
  • Make the transition easier. If you tend to stay more sedentary when you feel blue, going from sitting to something active can seem like a big jump. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to get your body moving a bit before exercise. Do a little cleaning or take out the trash. Take some time to stretch or simply walk around the house a bit.
  • Give yourself extra time to warm up. If you're doing a high intensity activity (like running or aerobics), give yourself more warm up time than usual. If you usually start out jogging, start with a slow walk. Allow your body all the time it needs to get warm and allow your heart rate to climb gently.
  • Give yourself extra time to cool down. It's always a good idea to end your workout feeling good. Give yourself a good ten minutes to wind down and then spend a few minutes stretching.
Soothe Your Mind

Getting some strength training and cardio into your day can help perk you up, but you're not finished yet. There are other ways to soothe yourself and give your mind time to relax and slow down a bit.
  • Yoga. This is a great way to quiet your mind and relax your body. There are different ways to practice yoga--some vigorous and others relaxing. Try this Gentle Stretch workout for maximum relaxation.
  • Pilates. While more vigorous than some types of Yoga, Pilates forces you to concentrate on what your body is doing while helping you work on core strength, stability and flexibility. ThisYoga/Pilates Workout combines moves from both disciplines.
  • Meditation. Finding the time and patience to relax can be tough. But meditation doesn't have to be complicated--simply stopping to breathe for a few minutes can be your own meditation. Or try Guided Meditation if you're like me and need some direction.
  • Laugh. Experts have long known the benefits of laughing--it helps your body in a multitude of ways but, mostly, it just feels good. Spend some time with our Humor Guide, which should get you going.
  • Massage. Schedule a massage in the near future so you have something to look forward to. If that isn't an option, indulge at home with a hot bath or lounging around and reading your favorite book or magazine.
When you get down in the dumps, you may be tempted to reach for things that offer instant gratification but long-term guilt. Learning healthy ways to increase your energy and lift your mood can open your eyes to a new ideas for taking care of yourself.