10 Small but Effective Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself in 2017

 

With a new year comes the typical resolutions, like eat better, exercise more and so on and so on. However statistics show that 25% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after just one week. Here are some small and effective ways to make sure that in 2017 you are taking care of yourself.

  1. Put the Pen to Paper

Journal, write poetry, draw, let your creativity go!   If you are not feeling creative, write out a list of things you would like to do or accomplish, as this helps you stay organized and gives you a clear picture of what you need to do.

  1. Invest in ONE Fitness-Centered Activity

If you like to run outside, then splurge and get yourself new wireless headphones to make your run more enjoyable. Do you prefer the stretch of yoga? Sign up for classes with your favorite instructor. Whatever the activity is that you like, invest in it to help encourage yourself to keep it up throughout the year.

  1. Evaluate the Foods You Eat

Dieting can be hard, especially when you eliminate entire foods or food groups. These drastic changes can make maintaining that change that much harder. Try evaluating what you eat and reflect on how it makes you feel. Does it make you feel sluggish after eating, do you feel bloated, or does it give you energy? It doesn’t have to be negative; you may find that your favorite bowl of oatmeal gives you energy to power through the day.

Journaling your foods can help you understand what you eat and how it can affect you.

  1. Make Your Home Your SanctuaryPeaceful and warm image of a open book by fireplace.

It is easier to leave your stress at the door when you step into an environment that is built for relaxation. Make your home a relaxation zone by keeping clutter to a minimum. Have your favorite book and blanket ready or turn on your favorite music. There are many ways to set up your haven.

  1. Don’t Ditch All Your Bad Habits at Once

Giving up all your vices at once can be slightly unreasonable. Instead, consider starting with one smallish habit you’d like to break – ordering takeout several nights a week, or your nightly glass of wine. Not only is this a more accomplishable goal, but itcan also make it more sustainable.

  1. Make Time to Disconnect From Technology

Schedule some time during the week when you purposely disconnect from technology, where you turn off your phone and computers and reconnect with the world. Spend a few hours each week doing an activity that you enjoy that requires no technology, such as painting, writing, crafting, reading, etc.

  1. Get Outside DailyParents Giving Children Piggyback Ride On Walk By Lake

In the winter we tend to get stay inside and forget we can get outside and enjoy nature. Even if it is only for 10 minutes, a quick stroll during your lunch or soaking up the rare ray of sunshine during the gloomy winter months can do wonders for your mood and energy.

  1. Check Those Labels

Being conscious of the chemicals that are found in the products you purchase can be an eye-opening experience. Eliminating products that contain toxic chemicals in your daily life will lead to a healthier you. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s time to find an organic alternative.

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Businesswoman looking at computer while drinking waterDrinking more water is a great way to cut out extra sugary drinks and ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day. There are many benefits of being hydrated, such as an increase of energy, boost to your immune system, flush of toxins from your system, promotion of weight loss, and many more. Carrying a reusable water bottle with you can help encourage you to drink more water throughout the day as it is conveniently on hand.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Make it a point to go to bed at the same time every night. Establishing a routine is essential in ensuring you get enough hours of sleep. Catching the recommended amount of ZZZs can improve your memory, lower stress, reduce inflammation, and benefit your health in many other ways.

Don’t Light Those Scented Candles!

Still life with candle and a stick of cranberry

As the holiday season is in full swing, many people pull out their wonderful holiday decorations of candelabras, votives and candles in wreaths. But many of those candles are scented to smell like cinnamon spice, apple, or even pine tree or more. As tempting as burning those scented candles may be, they may be causing more harm than good.

Many candles are made from paraffin wax, and when this wax is heated, the toxic chemicals benzene and toluene are released – the same chemicals that can be found in diesel fumes! These toxins are also known as phthalates , which can cause major health effects if inhaled and have been linked to cancer, asthma and common allergies.

The wicks of the candles can also contain heavy metals, most commonly lead. Inhaling lead can cause hormone disruption and behavior problems.

Not all candles are harmful. Be sure to read all labels fully to see what materials are used in the creation of the candle.

There are many alternatives to achieving the beautiful aromas of the season without the use of candles, such as:

  • Soy-based candles with wooden wicks
  • Essential oils
  • Beeswax candles with wooden wicks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • A small live tree in a pot
  • Wreaths made from fresh branches

My favorite solution for a natural holiday scent is this Holiday Stove-top Potpourri:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange (sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Fill a saucepan with 2 to 3 cups of water and toss in all ingredients. Simmer on low. Add water as needed to freshen up.

8 Holiday Sleep Tips So You Don’t Become the Grinch!

 

The holidays can be full of magic, family fun, delicious foods and more but they can also be full of stress, guests and interruptions of your regular schedule. Here are some ways to ensure the holidays are enjoyable and you get all the zzz’s you need to bring joy this season!

  1. Get ahead of the holidays

This time of year is always hectic. There are many things that need doing, from decorating for the holidays to baking to shopping for presents, preparing for guests, and more. Many of us put these jobs off until the last minute, which makes for a stressful holiday. It is no fun to be running around on the eve of the holiday looking for the last-minute gifts you forgot to order or grocery shopping on the day of a big dinner.

To avoid stress and sleep deprivation, get a jump start on your holiday planning. Make a list of things that need to be done and begin to make a timeline for when the tasks need to be done. If after writing your to-do list you still feel overwhelmed, ask for help!

  1. Don’t overload yourself

The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. What better way to make your holiday less stressful than to recruit your family to help you prepare for the holidays? Plan a shopping trip or a baking day to help bring fun to tasks that can feel overwhelming. If you are hosting a dinner, ask family members to bring a dish to help minimize the amount you need to prepare.

  1. Don’t stop exercising

Active retired couple playing in the snow

Routine exercise is one of the greatest promoters of good, quality sleep. While it is tempting to take some time off during the holidays, don’t do it! It’s not only good for the body, it is great for the mind as well. Exercise is a great tool to help eliminate stress. You can always adapt your exercise routine around the holidays. If you have company staying, try picking activities that they can be included in, such as walks or outings. If you have young children, get outside and enjoy the outdoors, build a snowman, go snowshoeing or skiing, etc.

  1. Don’t overdo the snacking, especially at night.

All the yummy foods and desserts make an appearance this time of year, and the temptation to indulge can be a constant battle. It is ok to have some treats here and there, but stuffing yourself right before bed can cause your body to have to work harder to break down all that food while you are asleep. When your body has to focus more energy on processing those gingerbread cookies, it takes away from repairing and refreshing itself during sleep. Also late-night snacking can increase acid reflux, which can make falling asleep and staying asleep that much more difficult.

So what foods are best for nighttime snacking? Shredded wheat cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese, make great snacks. Complex carbs, milk and cheese are great at promoting sleep.

  1. Don’t drink too much

Drunken Gingerbread cookie man in a Christmas cocktail

Be aware of those tempting eggnog and peppermint specialty drinks this holiday.

While alcohol can induce drowsiness and help you fall asleep more quickly it can also disturb your rest and lessen the quality of your sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs and learning and when memories are stored.

  1. Keep your regular sleep schedule

It is easy to stay up later than normal, catching up with old friends, attending Christmas parties, wrapping presents, etc. but those late nights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It is important to keep your regular sleep schedule, but if disruptions are unavoidable, try to limit them to no more than an hour off your regular schedule. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood and behavior changes, so if you don’t want to become Scrooge, make sure that sleep is a priority.

If you are traveling across time zones, it can be harder to keep your regular schedule. Try to maintain as close to a regular sleep schedule as possible, especially on “mini vacations,” so it won’t affect you in the long run.

  1. Turn off that technology

Mom with child reading book and relaxing by the fire place some cold evening, winter weekends, cozy scene

To promote restful sleep, it is best to have a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off tablets, phones, computers, etc. at least an hour before bed to allow your brain to “power down.”

Electronic devices emit a light similar to that of daylight. Our brains get tricked by this light, as it associates it with daylight, which can delay the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Be sure to not let the holidays rob you of that sweet, deep slumber you not only crave, but need to make it through to the new year.

Don’t Fall Back Into Bed For Daylight Saving: Tips to Help Adjust to the Time Change

Weekends are made for sleeping in. You wake up when the mood strikes and you enjoy a slow-paced relaxing morning, maybe reading the paper, drinking coffee, lounging in bed. Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, which means that we will need to set our clocks back at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. Many people set their clocks back Saturday night before bed so they are able to get an “extra” hour of sleep. But is this the best method to adjust to the time change?

Our bodies have a natural clock that is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain. It generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours. According to Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland, “Our body needs a signal every day to reset it. The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours,” said Lewy. With the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles not lining up due to the time change, it can cause you to feel out-of-sync, tired and grumpy.

Here are 4 ways to help you adjust to the time change:

  1. Wake Up at a Normal Time on Sunday Morning

Many people see this time change as an excuse to stay up late on Saturday or sleep in an extra hour longer on Sunday. But sleeping in beyond your normal wake-up time can cause your body confusion and lead to you feeling out of sorts.

Try to get up at your regular time and use the extra hour for some fun family time.

  1. Eat Well and Exercise

An active lifestyle and a healthy diet can work wonders for your sleeping. Plan to use that extra hour to the fullest by taking a walk and then cook up a hearty and nutritious breakfast.

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Sunday Night

Make sure your room is ready for an earlier bedtime on Sunday by making it a sleep zone. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, and leave your gadgets outside the bedroom to give you minimal distractions, ensuring you have the perfect sleeping environment.

  1. Be Patient

Know that your body will adjust naturally with time. It may take a few days to feel back to normal, but your body will adjust to the new light-dark cycle.

Remember that with the time change we will get to wake an hour earlier to the sunshine, which can be much more enjoyable in the long run.

Social Media Can Be Damaging Your Sleep

Every night our routine is the same. We put on our cozy pajamas, wash our face, brush our teeth, and then climb into bed. But rather than close our eyes and think of all the wonderful things that happened in the day and then drift off to sleep, we grab for our smartphones or tablets and begin the scrolling marathon.   We check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SnapChat, Reddit, Pinterest…. the list goes on and on. Before you know it, you just spent 30 minutes in Internet land when you could have been blissfully asleep.

But thanks to a study published by the journal Preventive Medicine, we now have a compelling reason to put the phone down – and not just at bedtime.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine released findings showing that young adults who spend many hours on social media during the day or who check in frequently are more likely to experience sleep problems. The study analyzed questionnaires of 1,788 U.S. adults ages 19-32 regarding the top 11 social media platforms:

“On average, study participants spent a total of 61 minutes per day on social media and accessed their various social media accounts 30 times per week.

“Nearly 30 percent of participants reported high levels of sleep disturbance. Perhaps even more telling? The young adults who reported the highest levels of social media use on a daily basis were twice as likely to experience sleep problems and those who spent the most time on social media throughout the week were three times more likely to have problems sleeping.

‘This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep,’ lead author Jessica C. Levenson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, said in a statement. ‘[The findings] may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media.’”

For the full article, click HERE.

So put down those phones, log off the Internet, and enjoy the day. Keeping your phone out of your bedroom will help set up a more restful environment. For more tips on how to set up a sleep-friendly bedroom, visit our blog Tips for Creating The Perfect Sleep Environment.

Tips To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly This Fall

house window overgrown with wild grapes with red autumn. Beautiful bright autumn leaves. Natuarlny autumn background.The days are getting shorter, leaves are beginning to fall and summer is officially over. Before settling in for the season, there are many ways we can look around our homes and ensure that everything is ready for the colder months ahead.

Here are some great eco-friendly tips for Fall:

  • Have your furnace inspected and cleaned.
  • Replace air filters
  • Clean your fireplace, to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Ensure that all vents, baseboard heaters, and registers are free of obstructions so the air moves freely.
  • Open the blinds during the day to attract warmth. Close them at night to retain the warmth.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. The fan should run clockwise so that is pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls to gently recirculate the warm air.
  • Check windows for air leaks and replace the caulking, if needed.
  • Ensure weather stripping around doors is in good condition and replace, as needed.
  • Don’t overfill your refrigerator as the cool air can circulate more easily with fewer obstacles.
  • Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer
  • Bring out your blankets, sweaters, and socks so you can snuggle up rather than raise your thermostat.
  • Add a blanket to your bedding to keep you warm during the cooler nights.
  • Clean your roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house.
  • Reduce your house temperature one degree at a time to help lower the energy used in heating your home.
  • Insulate your water heater and pipes. Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees.
  • Shorten your shower times and install a low-flow showerhead to lessen water used and the energy to heat the water.

Now that your home is ready for the fall you can cuddle up, relax and enjoy the beauty of the season!

Perfect End-of-Summer Recipes

It is the last weekend of summer and time for one last BBQ before we put the grills back into storage. If summer has to end we might as well make good food to send it off right. Here are some great recipes to help make the perfect Summer’s end feast!

Watermelon “CAPRESE” with Balsamic Glaze

Photo Courtesy: www.skinnytaste.com
Photo Credit: http://www.skinnytaste.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 red seedless watermelon, sliced 1/2 inch thick (calculated with 16 oz)
  • 8 – 1 oz thin slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 loose cup baby arugula
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp balsamic glaze

DIRECTIONS

Use a 4-inch star-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape) and cut 16 stars out of the watermelon (about 1 oz each). Save the excess watermelon for another use.

Arrange the watermelon on a platter, then layer with cheese, arugula, 1/4 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt on each. Top with a final star, drizzle each with balsamic glaze and serve.

For the full recipe click HERE.

Turkey Burgers with Orange Mustard Glaze

Photo Credit: www.foodnetwork.com
Photo Credit: http://www.foodnetwork.com

INGREDIENTS

Burgers:

  • 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 3 lbs ground turkey (white and dark meat)

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapeno peppers, with seeds
  • 1 9 oz jar orange marmalade (with peel)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder

DIRECTIONS

Prep the burgers: Combine the salt, paprika, pepper and granulated garlic in a small bowl. Form 6 turkey patties and sprinkle on both sides with the seasoning mixture.

Make the glaze: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeños and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the marmalade, mustard, black pepper and chili powder and cook about 2 minutes, until fully combined. Reserve until ready to use.

Preheat a grill to high. Grill the patties until nice markings are shown, about 5 minutes per side, then reduce the flame to medium and cook until well done, 12 more minutes, flipping after 5 minutes. At the same time, toast the buns on the grill.

Serve the burgers on the buns; top with the glaze, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Serve with pickles.

For the full recipe click HERE.

Banana Split Kebobs

Photo Credit: www.delish.com
Photo Credit: http://www.delish.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 24 1″ pieces pineapple
  • 12 large strawberries, rinsed, dried, and halved
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Assemble the kebobs: thread two pieces of banana, pineapple, and strawberry onto skewer. Repeat process to assemble 23 more skewers. Place all on parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate in microwave using 30-second intervals and stirring in between until completely smooth.

Drizzle chocolate over fruit kebobs and top with chopped peanuts.

Freeze until ready to serve.

For the full recipe click HERE.