It is 8:00 am, pre-coffee (if that’s your thing), and you’re getting ready to walk out the door after a night of staying up with your sick spouse, child, or roommate. You’re starting to feel super-human, juggling all your pre-work morning responsibilities with a heavy head and groggy eyes, when your spouse/child/roommate walks up to you and asks an innocent question: “I’m hungry. What are we having for breakfast?” You look at their cheerful face and take instant offense. You think, “What do you mean, what’s for breakfast? Can’t you see I’m simultaneously feeding the dog, prepping the beans for tonight’s slow-cooker dinner, and reading Junior’s school newsletter?” According to a new U.C. Berkeley study published in the Journal of Neuroscience earlier this week, there is a strong link between a lack of quality sleep and decreased ability to distinguish between positive and negative emotional facial expressions in others. Researchers viewed brain scans and monitored the heart rates of 18 adult participants while they randomly viewed 70 images of faces with random expressions: positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Each individual viewed the facial images twice, once when they were fully rested and once after they had been awake for 24 consecutive hours. The study noted a neural link between the quality and amount of sleep a person gets and his or her ability to correctly process others’ facial expressions. The results of the study inferred that there is “a role for REM sleep in affective brain recalibration” and “the next-day success of emotional discrimination…” All the more reason to get a good night’s sleep! For more information on the study, you can refer to the following articles: http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/07/14/brain-facialexpressions/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/15/sleep-brain-emotions_n_7801726.html
Released in 2007, The Story of Stuff takes a closer look at the linear pattern of our economy. From our constant reaping of the planet’s finite resources to the addition of toxic chemicals to our products and our overwhelming transition to identifying ourselves as consumers, this unsustainable system cannot and will not last forever.
This video illustrates the current flow of our economy and the role that government, corporations, and individual consumers play in the “big picture.” It points out the problems with our current linear model, and the possibility of change to a more cyclical model based on people coming together to make a difference.
To learn more about The Story of Stuff Project or see more videos, visit http://storyofstuff.org/
Everyone gets stressed out during the holidays. It could be from shopping, family gatherings, or planning too many events in a short time. Whatever the cause, you need a healthy way to relieve it. Here are 10 activities that will naturally relieve your stress.
- Take a Relaxing Bath
Take time to enjoy a relaxing bath after wrapping presents. Maybe even light some candles and add some essential oils. Make it a special occasion!
- Drink Organic Herbal Tea
Just the act of preparing and sipping tea will give you some personal time for relaxation. Research also shows that it can lower blood pressure.
- Listen to Music
Music has a special link to our emotions, so it can have an extremely relaxing effect on our bodies and minds. It also distracts us from our stress and helps prevent the mind from wandering.
- Write In a Journal
Whether it’s a journal or a daily planner, organize your life and your thoughts. Write down your plans for the day so that you don’t feel pressed for time. This will help you feel a sense of control and give you peace of mind during this busy season.
- Get Regular Exercise
Make an effort to do some kind of physical activity and get your heart rate up for at least half an hour a day. This will help you vent frustration and relieve tension. Try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation as well.
- Eat Healthfully
Eating foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids will naturally stress naturally. Examples are fish, nuts, avocado, strawberries, and leafy greens. These foods are great for your body for many reasons, and stress relief is a great added bonus! It also doesn’t hurt to eat healthfully to make up for all those holiday sweets.
When under stress, your body heightens its sense of smell, which is a survival instinct to identify threats in your environment. Aromatherapy addresses stress issues through the use of essential plant oils, giving your brain pleasant and healing aromas.
- Arts and Crafts
Find time to do some kind of creative activity, such as painting, ceramics, woodworking, or paper maché. Having an activity to focus on, with no pressure or time restraints, is a great way to relax your mind and body. You may also find that you’ve created a great present for someone!
- Get a Massage
Getting a massage is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It can enhance circulation, improve range of motion in your joints, and help relax tight muscles that hold your stress. If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how wonderful and light you feel afterwards.
Sleep is, above all else, the most important activity for reducing stress. Each person is different, so it is important for you to figure out how much sleep you need to feel alert and rested. You can improve your sleep schedule by getting into a routine or pattern that lets your mind and body know that it’s bedtime!
So don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. Try out some of these activities and have a relaxed and happy holiday season!
There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
1. Cheese and Crackers
Cheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!
These delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Bananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.
5. Cereal and Milk
Milk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.
7. Decaffeinated Green Tea
Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!
9. Pumpkin Seeds
10. Lemon Balm Tea
So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!
Meet Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist who studies sleep patterns in the brain. In the following video, he speaks about a range of topics relating to the importance of sleep.
He first describes three theories on the main function of sleep, as well as which theory he subscribes to. He then discusses what happens to a person (and the person’s brain) when sleep is lacking, as well as ideas about how to improve sleep quality and duration. Foster debunks some common myths and misconceptions about sleep, then speaks about the correlation between mental health and sleep disruption. He urges people to take sleep more seriously and realize the huge role that it plays in making us happy and healthy.
Watch to learn more:
The hot summer weather is here and it is creating a drought, making water conservation a must. This year California businesses and residents were asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 percent to help save water. There are hundreds of things that you can do to help conserve water. Here are a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life.
- Minimize the number of dishes used throughout the day by designating a drinking glass for yourself. This eliminates the need to wash multiple cups.
- When serving dinner, serve right out of the pots and pans, as this will eliminate additional dishes.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of using running water from the tap.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.
- Dishwashers can use less water than hand washing, especially new energy-efficient models.
- Collect water used for cleaning fruits and vegetables, drained from pasta, etc. to water your plants.
- When doing laundry, wash in cold water, as it saves water and energy while helping clothes keep their color.
- Also, when doing laundry be sure to match the water level with the size of the load.
- Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons per month. If your whole family did this, imagine how much water your house could save!
- Aim for 5-minute showers and you can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year.
- Skip the baths, as a full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
- Turn off the water as you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
- Be sure to check all faucets for leaks, as one drip every second can add up to 5 gallons per day! Also check all pipes, hoses, toilets, and faucets inside and out for leaks.
- Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. This can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
- In your yard, be sure to plant species that are native to your area, as they require less maintenance to flourish.
- Start a compost pile or bin. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
- Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and save water every time!
- When washing your car, use commercial car washes that recycle water. When washing your car at home, be sure to turn the water on only when rinsing.
Try to incorporate as many of these as you can, and see what a difference a few little changes can make to reduce the amount of water you use.
It’s summertime, which means that there is an abundance of outdoor activities to fill your day. Some people are so excited that they forget to take proper precautions against the heat when enjoying the weather. This can result in serious illness, severe sunburns, cramps and muscle spasms, heat stroke, and in extreme circumstances, even death. It is important to be aware of the risks and prevent them as well as you can. Here are some important actions to take against excessive summer heat:
First of all, you want your house to be a sanctuary where you can get out of the heat. Make sure your air conditioner is installed correctly and running well before the heat of summer hits. Install weather-stripping on doors and windowsills to keep the cool air in and, more importantly, keep the warm air out!
If you don’t have an air conditioner, it’s best to open your windows during the coolest part of the day, have fans circulating the air through your house, and then close them up to keep the heat out. Use drapes or blinds to block direct sunlight from shining in and warming the interior.
Limit outdoor activities to times of day that are cooler, such as morning and evening. Spend the warmest part of the day inside your home or in public, air-conditioned buildings such as libraries, malls, or movie theatres.
While spending time in the sun, protect your head and face with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day, especially when swimming or sweating excessively. Wear light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight, rather than absorbing it with dark clothing.
Limit the amount of exercise you engage in. If you must exercise in the heat, drink twice as much water as you usually would. You can replenish salts and minerals that you sweat out by drinking sports drinks.
Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks. This is probably the most important tip, and it is often overlooked. DRINK WATER!
Make sure to protect your pets by keeping them indoors or in the shade and by giving them a constant supply of water.
It shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but never leave children or pets in the car! There are too many reports of children and pets dying because of neglect in the heat.
Be aware of the temperature, because the hotter it gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Be aware of who is at the greatest risk of experiencing heat-related problems, such as the very young and the elderly.