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.

No Plans for New Year’s Eve?

New Year 2017

Whether you are with your family, with a loved one, or on your own, here are some simple ideas to ring in the new year.

Keeping it simple is always a favorite when you have a larger family. Host a dinner for friends with young ones so the adults can enjoy some adult time while the kids watch movies. Make it a pajama night so if the kids fall asleep, it’s easier to transport them home and put them to bed when the night is through.

Silvester Feuerwerk

Most towns offer some kind of outdoor party to ring in the new year. From live music to fireworks at midnight, it can be fun for the whole family or just you and your significant other.

If you’re kidless, make it a pot luck so everyone can enjoy a little bit of something while playing cards or games or watching TV for the ball to drop. A nice dinner out with your significant other followed by a walk in the park can be romantic.

Ski, snow, sun and winter fun - happy family ski team

Enjoy a family activity like bowling, skiing, going to the movies, or going for a midnight (late-night) hike. There is nothing like being outdoors enjoying the air to start a new year. Not a nighthawk? Then get up early to see the sunrise in the new year.

Regardless of how you spend your New Year’s Eve, we wish you a safe and happy new beginning to 2017.

Back-to-school sleep tips

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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.

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  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

Don’t Let Jet Lag Tag Along: 6 Tips to Leave It Behind

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With the holidays right around the corner, many people are starting to make travel plans. They are booking flights and hotels and getting ready to fly and drive to see loved ones. Visiting family and taking part in fun holiday traditions is something we all look forward to, but the required traveling isn’t always easy, especially when you are traveling to a different time zone. So how can we prevent jet lag from ruining holiday travel?

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According to the American Sleep Association, “Jet lag is a physiological condition caused by disturbance to the body’s natural circadian rhythm, or internal clock.” It most likely affects those who travel by air across more than two time zones. However, it can also affect those who travel for longer than 12 hours at a time. Some symptoms of jet lag include insomnia, disturbed sleep, fatigue, digestive problems, dehydration, difficulty concentrating, nausea, irritability, headache, dizziness, coordination problems, and sometimes memory loss. We’d all prefer to arrive at grandma’s house without all this excess “baggage,” so here are a few tips to prevent and alleviate jet lag.

Sleep With Your Destination

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If you plan to sleep while traveling, schedule your zzz’s as if you had already arrived. Set your watch to the local time of your destination, and sleep only if it is nighttime there. If it is daytime when you arrive, try to stay awake until your normal bedtime. If you absolutely need to nap, do so for less than two hours to ease your transition to the new time zone.

Be Mindful of Your Seat Selection

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The location of your seat on a plane can greatly affect your quality of sleep and your likelihood of preventing jet lag. If you are planning to sleep on a flight, choose a window seat that is far from heavy traffic areas of the plane. A first-class or business-class seat is always preferable for better sleep, since they are wider and provide more leg room. If that is not a viable option, choosing a window seat will still prevent you from being disturbed if other passengers get up during the flight. It also allows you to control whether or not the window shade is up or down, and consequently controls the amount of outside light streaming in through the window during the day. You can also easily position a pillow or neck rest against the window. Choosing a seat away from high-traffic areas like bathrooms and flight-attendant seating will reduce disturbances from people moving around.  Additionally, sitting in the middle or front of the plane is preferable, because the back of the plane is bumpier during take-off and turbulence.

No Tech Before Sleep

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As noted in one of my previous blog posts, the blue light emitted from phone, computer, and tablet screens delays the body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you feel sleepy. If you are trying to sleep, stop using electronics an hour before you’d like to fall asleep.

To Drink or Not to Drink

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Many people believe alcoholic beverages will help them sleep. Initially, they can make you feel tired, but they can also dehydrate you, especially at high altitudes. While alcohol can help you fall asleep, you are likely to wake easier and more often and wake up feeling groggy. Whether you are trying to sleep or to stay awake, it is best to avoid alcoholic beverages while traveling to prevent jet lag. Instead, bring a water bottle, and ask the flight attendant to refill it throughout your flight.

Need Coffee, Will Travel

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Though caffeine can help you stay awake, it can cause dehydration. It is important to stay hydrated when traveling, especially when trying to prevent symptoms of jet lag. The high altitude and dry air in a jet plane can hasten the onset of jet lag. If you are like me and are intent on having your pre-flight cup o’ joe, follow it with at least 8 ounces of water to keep you hydrated.

Get Comfortable

Comfort is the key to feeling rested or preparing for a good sleep when you arrive at your destination. You can be completely prepared, well-rested, hydrated, and on-schedule, but when traveling on commercial flights, you can’t control things like room temperature, the volume of the pilot/driver’s announcements, or how many times the flight attendants push the beverage cart up and down the aisles. Prepare for comfort by dressing in layers and packing a blanket, neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and/or noise-canceling headphones. You’ll be thankful to have your personal comfort kit in case of the unexpected screaming child or chilly cabin temperature.

So now that you have a few good travel tips, you can be sure to arrive at your holiday destination without allowing jet lag to tag along.

 

Make Time for Tea Time To Benefit Your Mind & Body

‘Tis the season for tea! Shorter days and cooler temperatures get me thinking of ways to stay warm and healthy. Getting cozy with a cup of tea has many potential health benefits, including better sleep and decreased risk for illness, and some types have even been shown to aid in weight loss.

So which types of tea pack the most punch when it comes to health benefits? How do you get the most from your tea?

Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea has been touted as having the most health benefits of all the tea varieties. The extended fermentation process for green tea boosts the levels of polyphenols, which are the beneficial antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood-sugar levels in the body. Green tea has also been shown to lower risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Black Tea

Black Tea

Black tea is the most commonly used tea in the world. It also has the most caffeine. This tea has high concentrations of theaflavins and thearubigins, two amazing antioxidants that have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has a delicious, rich flavor that is attributed to its shorter fermentation period. Oolong activates an enzyme that dissolves triglycerides, a form of dietary fat stored in fat cells, which may aid in weight loss.

White Tea

White tea is harvested when it is young, which provides a milder taste and less caffeine. According to an article on organicfacts.net, white tea has many benefits, including antibacterial properties, which can boost your immune system and maintain good oral health. It has also been shown to decrease the risk for cancer and heart disease, decrease the symptomatic effects of diabetes, and aid in weight loss.

Herbal Tea

Blooming Tea
Blooming Tea

Herbal tea is technically not tea, but a blend of dried herbs, fruit, and flowers. This tea is usually caffeine-free or only has trace amounts of caffeine. These teas have varying benefits depending on the blend. Lavender, bergamot, and chamomile teas can aid in falling and staying asleep. Hibiscus tea has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus Tea

Follow these helpful tips to get the most out of your tea:

  1. Use fresh, loose-leaf tea and a tea ball to brew. The fresher the tea, the better the flavor. The tea leaves also need space to bloom in order to maximize the release of antioxidants. If you prefer to use tea bags, use a pyramid-shaped bag. That shape provides more space than traditional tea bags.
  1. Use spring or filtered water. The chlorine, metals, and minerals in regular tap water can affect the taste of the tea and decrease its health benefits.
  1. Do not add milk. Milk decreases polyphenol levels in tea because the polyphenols will bind with the milk proteins.
  1. Do not buy bottled teas. They lose 20% of the catechins (antioxidants) during the bottling process.
  1. Add citrus to your tea instead of sugar. Doing so will flavor your tea and give it a boost of antioxidants. Adding refined sugar will cancel out the benefits of drinking the tea.
  1. Drink at least 4 cups per day to maximize the benefits.

Now go enjoy a healthy and cozy fall and winter with a nice, warm cup of tea!

Check out the following articles for further information about all the great benefits of adding tea to your daily diet!

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthy-eating/types-of-tea

http://www.greatist.com/health/tea-benefits-tips

 

Nature’s Sleep Aids

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? One of the easiest ways to combat insomnia and sleeplessness is to utilize the benefits of natural essential oils. Whether you apply the oils topically, add them to a warm bath, diffuse them, or spritz* them onto your pillowcase or eyemask, certain essential oils provide relief for insomnia and aid in falling and staying asleep.

Lavender

lavender By now, many people know that lavender helps to soothe and relax tired minds and muscles. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.” It is also beneficial as a bug repellent and antibiotic, for all you avid campers.

 Ylang Ylang

imagesThis essential oil is one of my favorites for relaxation, probably because of its fragrant floral notes. It reduces stress and relaxes the nerves. I like to mix a couple drops of this with lavender or chamomile for added benefits.

 Roman Chamomile

chamomile-401490_640Roman Chamomile has a sweet, fruity aroma. It has a calming effect, and is great to diffuse for a soothing and peaceful environment, i.e., one that promotes and supports sleep.

 Bergamot

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Bergamot is a good choice for someone who loves citrus scents, but it is much more calming than the more stimulating oils of grapefruit or tangerine. It is great for “clearing your head” in preparation for a peaceful night’s rest.

Vetiver

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This essential oil is extracted from the root of the vetiver plant. It has a warm, earthy scent, and promotes sleep while also relieving stress and muscle tension.

* I recommend adding a couple drops of essential oil to a water-based spritzer so the oil does not stain your bed linens.

Surprise! Sleep Deprivation Affects Emotional Intelligence

Excitement

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…” Sleeping_angel 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