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Are You Addicted to Food? (A Weighty Post)

Photo courtesy of Melissa Maples

The first step to recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is acceptance. We’ve all heard that saying before, and many of us probably know someone who’s dealt with a substance abuse problem. Once a drug or alcohol addict admits to having a problem, the solution is removal of the addictive substance and learning the self-awareness skills that will help them avoid temptation in the future.

Plenty of people use drugs and alcohol for a variety of acceptable social and medicinal reasons, but an addict has reached a sense of physically and psychologically craving their substance of choice. Did you know that a very similar addiction can also happen with food?

I started thinking about this topic when I read a few very disturbing news articles last week. One reported that 25% of women would rather be severely depressed than overweight. In fact, 15% would rather be blind. When I delved a little deeper into the topic, I realized that food addiction is a huge psychological issue for many people.

The culture that we live in glorifies emaciated and gaunt women (as well as thin, muscular, attractive men), and has created a sense of desperation in some people to live up to those glorified images. The problem? In order to do so they must kick their secret food habit, and that is much, much harder than it seems.

Food addicts need food to survive, so unlike alcohol or drugs, avoidance of the very thing that has become an addiction is nigh on impossible. Thus, these people slide into self-hatred at their inability to quit over-eating.

Guess what goes really well with self-loathing? You’ve got it – comfort food.

Thus begins a seemingly unbreakable cycle of self-starvation, hunger, binge-eating, and self-hatred. Pepper in a little depression, fatigue, and what you end up with is someone who sees food as an enemy and a best friend.

Breaking the cycle of turning to food for comfort is difficult because we’re surrounded by food every day. A food addict must continue to feed herself and her children in order to simply stay alive, whereas a drug addict can flush his pills down the toilet and begin “recovering.”

The secret to breaking the food-as-comfort cycle is self-acceptance. Come to terms with the fact that you may never be a size two. Love yourself anyway. Focus on all the things that you love about being you and get rid of negative influences. Even if you’re “overweight,” it’s ok. Stop the struggle. Just be you. Eat to nourish your body, not to comfort your emotions. Change starts on the inside, even when we’re talking about physical appearance.

By fully accepting yourself just as you are, and allowing for the fact that you may never be any thinner than you are right this very second, you release the pressure from yourself to be something that you’re not. Stop dieting and start living. Many food addicts can only lose excess weight once they enter into a healthier relationship with themselves. But even if you’re never as thin as you want to be, it’s ok. You’re beautiful how you are, here, now, today.

 

 

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9 Tricks That Lead to Life-Long Fitness

Photo courtesy of Francois de Halleux

Currently, everyone I know falls neatly into two categories: those who kept up with their New Year’s resolutions and those who didn’t. Regardless of category, nearly all of my closest friends and family members want to get in better shape this year. Don’t we all? Every year?

If you find yourself struggling to get and stay fit, you’re not alone. According to Reuters, 36% of adult Americans are substantially overweight, and 17% of American children are, too. These figures mean that we need to make changes as a nation in order to get and stay healthy. Luckily, the changes can be subtle and still make a huge difference.

Perhaps you’ve merely put on an extra 10 pounds because you’ve reached that stage of your romantic relationship where everything becomes more relaxed – including your formerly strict diet and gym schedule. On the other hand, you may be looking to get fit for the first time in your life.

No matter what the reason, if fitness is your goal, you’ve got to have a doable plan that you feel good about. Otherwise you run the risk of burning out, getting bored, or never getting started in the first place. The following tricks have been recommended by some of the nation’s fittest, like Martin Rooney, an internationally recognized pioneer of strength:

  1. Treat exercising like brushing your teeth. It’s unavoidable, and if you don’t do it regularly, things are going to get bad in a hurry. If you make exercising into a (good) habit, chances are really high that you’ll stay fit for life.
  2. Take it to the playground. Let’s face it – no one’s overly motivated to do something they hate. Make your workouts fun again! Playing on playground equipment, joining a recreational sports team, riding your bike around the ‘hood, jumping rope with your kids – these are all great calorie busters while being fun at the same time.
  3. Make it a two-fer. If you’re more of a straight-laced guy or gal and prefer walking or running to the monkey bars – at least take your workout outside. Time flies by when the scenery is constantly changing, and you’ll burn more calories than on any treadmill. The varied terrain of the outdoors coupled with variable temperatures and wind conditions mean that your body will have to work harder, burning up to 7% more calories, according to Women’s Health magazine. Oh, and the two-fer? Vitamin D, of course!
  4. Mix it up. The saying “Variety is the spice of life” applies to exercising, too. Routines are beneficial (See #1) but as soon as your workout routine becomes overly strict, you’ll get bored. Experiment with different activities, even some that you’ve never tried before.
  5. Chat it up. By finding someone to work out with, you’ll not only avoid workout boredom with conversation, but you’ll also have instant accountability.
  6. Make a workout playlist. As humans, we naturally want to move to a tempo. As far back as 300 B.C., the rowers on the Roman Galleys were led and coordinated by a man banging on a drum. Something in the way our brains work makes us naturally want to walk, run or pedal a bike in synchronization with the music we’re listening to. Somehow, music reduces the perception of effort and can also increase our endurance by up to 15%, according to Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., from London’s Brunel University.
  7. Break it up. So many of us are bogged down by the notion that we have to spend a continuous amount of time exercising (and only exercising.) For people with a busy schedule, that can get stressful. It’s perfectly ok to work out in small bursts throughout the day, even combining exercises with other daily activities. Try doing crunches while you watch TV at night, or use your break at work to run up and down the stairs several times.
  8. Set goals. While it may not be essential for everybody, most people will benefit from a goal and reward system. This gives you a sense of accomplishment and will encourage you to stay motivated.
  9. Take a stand. Your friends may give you a hard time about your dedication to working out while on vacation, or eating healthy at a sporting event. Staying fit for life requires the courage to stand up for what it takes to get and stay there, even when faced with opposition.

There’s no doubt about it, getting in shape is something that requires commitment and effort on your part. Small changes add up to big consequences, though, so what starts out as baby steps today can easily turn into a life-long love affair with fitness.

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7 Surprising Habits of Unhappy People

Photo courtesy of Melissa Maples

Here at TinyShift, we’re constantly looking for ways to make life better. In the Mindful Mondays series we ran last year, we discovered that one really effective way to increase your overall productivity is by creating effectual habits. It turns out that you need significantly less brain power to perform activities that are habitual as opposed to things that require decision-making.

Because of this, forming as many good habits as possible will help you free up mental energy to focus on important things, whether professionally, personally, or a little bit of both. As there are more than enough people telling you to eat healthier or to exercise more, I decided to take a look at it from the other end.  Here’s a list of common behaviors that you’d be better off avoiding. If you’ve already developed a proclivity for one or more of these, well, it’s in your best interest to quit while you’re still ahead.

  1. Living in fool’s paradise - Spending a little time daydreaming is ok, but if you don’t keep at least one foot on the ground, you could end up missing out on the best parts of your life.
  2. Over-moderating yourself – I know, I know. You’ve finally managed to get yourself under control, and now we’re telling you to let loose? Not exactly. Being able to effectively self-moderate is an important life skill - just don’t limit your creative potential at the same time.
  3. Burning the midnight oil – Everyone pulls a late (or all) nighter once in awhile, but if you turn it into a habit, you could actually end up with a circadian rhythm disorder, which is far more unpleasant than it sounds.
  4. Self-slandering - Rest assured; there will always be someone who’ll try to bring you down in life. It’s your job to be your own biggest fan and loudest cheerleader.
  5. Betting your bottom dollar – Whether you get the Annie reference or not, constantly hanging all your hopes on a brighter tomorrow won’t get you very far. For habitual procrastinators, the perfect tomorrow they’re hoping for never actually comes, leading to a whole lot of nothing. Make things happen today instead.
  6. Mindlessly clicking on the “boob tube” – Research shows that adults who were raised with the tv on all of the time are much more likely to suffer from obesity and insomnia.  They’re also usually inclined to continue the excessive screen time ritual with their own children.
  7. Seeing stars – Starbucks, that is. Caffeine addiction is at an all-time high right now. What may seem like a simple energy boost can actually lead to high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, cardiac problems, stomach ulcers and even death. It’s also a habit with a hefty price tag, so quitting will give you the additional benefit of a fatter wallet.

None of us is perfect – I myself struggle with a thinly veiled Starbucks iced latte obsession which causes me to burn the midnight oil when I allow myself to indulge. The important thing is that I’m able to check myself.  If you have a behavior that could become a bad habit if left unchecked, repeat after me: everything in moderation. Even moderation.

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Can the Truth Really Set You Free?

Photo courtesy of Tiago Pinheiro

Do you feel like you’re on a search for truth as you make your way through the world, dodging hyperbole as you go?  For a long time it was the opposite for me. I felt like I was blatantly avoiding some hard truths in my own life. I buried my head in the sand, thinking that avoidance would keep me safe and help me hide from the truth.

Looking back, I thought I knew my own truth for a very long time, but only on a subconscious level. Knowing your truth and acting on it are two very different concepts, because when you finally begin to share your truth with others, they will react accordingly. Those who have different truths and beliefs will potentially be hurt or offended.

Staying silent when you know your own truth is perhaps one of the most detrimental forms of dishonesty. It has been called the ‘Disease to Please’ and curing yourself can be quite difficult. If you question your own truth, you may end up trying to please others forever.

But here’s some food for thought – some people who are convinced that they know their own truths may actually be wrong.

Is it possible to be wrong about your own truth?

People in the public eye are the most notorious of all for not living truthfully – we see examples of this in the news, in Hollywood, in politics and in professional sports. Our society seems to be riddled with untruths everywhere we turn. If everybody’s doing it, then why can’t we?

Should we give up on honesty and truth?

We should not give up on truth! It is empowering and liberating, even while it may be complicated. Living untruthfully can ruin just about anything - including your health, according to recent research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

In order for you to live a truly authentic and (mostly) truthful life, you’ve got to really get in touch with yourself. Having the confidence to live a truthful life is never easy, because it means taking responsibility for all of your actions and decisions. Be able to answer for yourself with self-assurance. What you know to be true for you may not sit well with others, but what matters is that it works for you, and that you feel good about your decisions.

As important as it is to live your truth, remember that others around you are attempting the same thing, and their truth may not look like truth at all to you. Only when you can learn to accept other people as they present you with their truths is when the truth really will set you free.

I’d like to leave you with an open-ended, thought provoking concept today.

Does absolute truth exist?

If everyone’s versions of the truth are ’right’, even if only for them (I imagine Hitler thought his truth was ‘absolute truth’), what then?

My truth, your truth, we all fall down?

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8 Ways to Get Rich Quick

Photo courtesy of Mark Becher

Now that all of the gifts have been opened and all of the gluttony is out of the way, we can begin to recover a semblance of normalcy and get back to our regularly scheduled lives. Last week, as I sat looking at the piles of opened gifts strewn all over my living room, I started making a mental tally of how much money I spent this year and why. It can be frighteningly easy to get a little bit too into the gift-giving spirit, and before we know it, we’ve got a room full of wrapping paper and empty boxes. At this time of year, the only thing emptier than those boxes is bound to be our wallets.

Unfortunately, some people are left with a certain sense of emptiness that stretches even beyond their purse strings after the holidays. This common occurrence is attributed to a phenomenon called the Post-Christmas Blues. Naturally, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but most Americans do celebrate at least one December holiday that gets hyped up all year long.  For those who are susceptible to emotional ups and downs, it’s easy to be left feeling blue after the holiday passes.

While your plan to right your finances may take six months or more, you can address the emptiness you’re feeling inside immediately by following most or all of the suggestions below. Luckily, it’s a lot easier to become an emotional millionaire than a real one. Bid a fond farewell to last year and begin looking toward a fresh start in areas of your life that could use a boost.

  1. Love and be loved. Spend time with those who love you back, and express your love. Tell them how important they are to you. Often.
  2. Accept life’s gifts. Devote more time to focusing on what you do have than what you wish you had. Many times, what we have right now is pretty darn great.
  3. Be the best person you can be and strive to live your best life. Be good to others - even those you don’t know.  Smile at strangers and watch as they smile back. Do your part to make the world a better place. It happens one person at a time.
  4. Laugh at yourself every day. I’ve always said that it’s extremely important to be able to laugh at yourself. Taking yourself too seriously gets old fast, and not only to you.
  5. The Beatles said, “Let it Be,” because you should. Let any past regrets or anger slip away. Dedicating time and energy to such negative emotions takes away from your ability to move forward and make progress.
  6. Know your worth. Be your biggest supporter and your loudest cheerleader. Don’t allow people to treat you like a doormat. People will see how much you respect yourself and follow suit.
  7. Goof off. In my family, we thrive on silliness. Singing made up songs in weird voices, doing funky hand jives, and creating homemade games are all a huge factor in how absurdly happy we all are.
  8. Indulge. – Let’s face it – none of us is perfect, and it’s high time we start admitting it. Indulge in your greatest pleasures from time to time, even if they’re not exceedingly good for you.

Paying off your financial debts is a necessary process that can lower your credit score if left unattended. Emotional debts, on the other hand, will slowly deplete your satisfaction with life, and repaying them becomes more complex the longer they’re left neglected. Sustaining financial stability is a prerequisite for adulthood, but when The Beatles crooned that being wealthy just wasn’t all that important, it seems to me, well… that they were right on the money.

 

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The #1 Reason to Get in Shape Will Surprise You

Photo courtesy of Ms. PhoenixEvery year around this time it’s very common to hear people getting down on themselves about not being in better shape. In fact, New Year’s resolutions have already begun in earnest, or at least the planning of them, giving everyone a chance to promise to do better in January. “Just two more over-indulgent weeks!”

Unfortunately, along with healthy eating habits, exercise routines often slow down or even come to an abrupt halt around the holidays. Once the diet goes out the window, the motivation to stay fit goes right along with it. As with many things in life these days, the common approach to living a “healthy lifestyle” means restrictive dieting that is impossible to maintain. Several small slip ups can lead to a feeling of failure, and with a shrug of the shoulders, pure gluttony ensues.

In order to keep your diet and exercise routine from slipping away from you, make it part of your ever-increasing healthy lifestyle. As Savor author Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”

Every moment presents us with the opportunity to make a good decision or one that might lead us away from the life we want to live. The foundations of living mindfully include paying attention to ourselves and living consciously in order to improve our satisfaction with life. If we are living by the ideals of mindfulness, we should try to be present and aware of our food and fitness choices and how they will help us or harm us.

By choosing to be mindfully aware of your body, you become more in tune with yourself. You’ll find that you crave foods that nourish your body and that physical exercise feels good.  It feels good to be so connected to yourself! Not only will you be more self-aware and balanced, but your physical being will display the results of your mindful approach to eating and moving.  You’ll look healthier. Excess weight will come off. Skin conditions often disappear. Insomnia usually improves dramatically.

I’ve adopted a mindful approach to life. In fact, you might say I’ve embraced it with a zealous fervor. I was highly motivated to change my lifestyle because I was not physically healthy. My decision to switch to eating mindfully and following a regular exercise regime has vastly improved my body’s ability to keep excess weight off. I also sleep better and feel less pain than I have in over twenty years.

However, the most surprising benefit of becoming more aware of what the body needs actually has nothing to do with the physical being at all! Adopting a mindful fitness plan has been proven to make impressive physical changes…to the brain. The brains of people practicing regular, mindful fitness plans (and eating healthy foods) have higher levels of tryptophan hydroxylase, which is the rate-limiting enzyme of serotonin biosynthesis. Essentially, that’s our brain’s self-made anti-depressant.

In short: if weight gain, and more importantly your overall physical health are bringing you down this year (or at any time, for that matter) – put the concept of mindfulness to the test. Tune in to your body and learn what it needs. It’s highly likely that you’ll watch the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller, while your grin grows exponentially.

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10 Things to be Thankful for Before it’s Too Late

Photo courtesy of Cornelia Kopp

Although Thanksgiving day isn’t here yet, there are many things that we should be thankful for every day of our lives. Sometimes we forget to appreciate what we consider to be the ‘little things’, and by the time we realize their importance, it’s far too late. Take the time now to get into the habit of being cognizant of everything and everyone that makes your life worth living.

Part of being thankful is being aware, and the most effective way to be aware of everything around you is to live mindfully. Mindful living ensures that you don’t miss all of the wonderful things in your life that are happening to you every day. You know the saying, “stop and smell the roses?” Well as it turns out, you really should.

Here are 10 other things that many of us forget to appreciate.   See if you can expand this list each day by mindfully noticing all of the good things that surround you.

  1.  You are the thing that you should be most thankful for.  Be mindful of yourself first, and all other relationships become instantly that much better.
  2.  Appreciate all of the difficult things you’ve made it through. Because of those hurdles, you’re that much stronger, smarter and more capable.
  3.  Enjoy your children every single day.  The more you enjoy them, the more they will enjoy you – guaranteed. When your children become adults, the bonds you create with them now will turn into lifelong friendships. This can be applied to nieces and nephews, too!
  4. Love the shape of your body. Many people spend such a wasted amount of time dieting and cursing the image they see in the mirror. The better choice is embracing the body you’ve  been given and appreciating all of the good things about it. Every body is different and there is beauty to be found in each one.  You just have to be looking for the beauty instead of the flaws.
  5. Be thankful for your enemies.  They teach you valuable lessons – what not to do, how not to act, and why your friends are so amazing (and that you should be extra thankful for them!)
  6.  Look around and be grateful for this earth that we live on.  It is filled with beauty, life, and vivid colors in more areas than not.  Take time to travel to some of the most breathtaking places on earth. And don’t forget to appreciate the nature that is in your own backyard, which sometimes goes blindly unnoticed.
  7.  Remember to appreciate your ability to eat food and all that it brings to your life – from the delicious experience of eating it to the strength and nutrition it delivers to your body.
  8.  Make sure that you are not only thankful for your soulmate, but that you show him or her how much they mean to you.  If you haven’t found your soulmate yet, be thankful for your friends for being your constant companions.
  9. Be grateful for your health as you journey through this life. If you do live with pain or disease, be thankful that you live in a time of advanced medicine so that you can exist in a much higher degree of comfort than many people in the past.
  10. When is the last time you were thankful for your senses? Without them, you couldn’t experience the beauty and the brilliance of everything else on this list.

Make every day a day of thanks. Appreciating the good things in your life means that you’re really noticing them, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

 

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This is Your Brain on Hugs

**Due to Hurricane Sandy, DailyPath Trailguide’s name change has been postponed until November 8. We hope you are all faring well after the storm.**

Photo courtesy of Ganesha Isis

Hurricane Sandy has disrupted the lives of many people hailing from Jamaica all the way up to Canada. I’m lucky enough to live just far enough off the coast of New Jersey, and although my family and I were mighty scared during the high winds and rain, we’re very thankful that we didn’t suffer any structural damage to our home, or, more importantly, to any of us.

In today’s post, I wanted to take the opportunity to give all of our readers a virtual hug in case any of you were deeply affected by the storm. I know, I know.  “A hug?  Is that all she’s got to offer?” – is what you’re probably saying. It’s true; I admit that those people directly in the path of something as intense and destructive as a hurricane will ultimately need much more than hugs to get back on their feet.

However, hugs can do quite a lot more than we give them credit for.  In fact, although most couples might claim to prefer passionate kisses, regular hugging has been shown to create a deeper bond, as it increases the amount of three neurotransmitters being released in the brain.

It doesn’t even seem to matter who we are hugging - our significant other, our friends, our children, our parents, or a person who needs our help (such as someone in the aftermath of a natural disaster). Just the simple act of hugging causes dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin to be released. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for motivation!  Serotonin puts us in a better mood and quells our fears and feelings of loneliness. Oxytocin is responsible for building bonds and trust with the person we are hugging.

Even more interesting is that children who are hugged often end up growing a 10% larger hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and responding to stress. People with a larger hippocampal volume have been shown to have a better capacity for learning and a much lower chance of developing an anxiety or depression problem during their lifetime.

As soon as I learned just how effective hugs can be, I wanted to run out and hug everyone I could find! But…then I realized that might be creepy.  It’s pretty important that both people involved in the hug feel good about it, and I’m fairly certain that being hugged by a creep doesn’t feel good. Knowing that being hugged regularly can actually make substantial changes to the brain, and can create smarter, happier, more motivated individuals is pretty powerful information. I say: let’s see what kind of a difference we can make on our friends and loved ones, and those in need around us by hugging it out, just a little more often.  It’s worth a shot, no?

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Sing Goodbye to the Blues: Why Music is Great for Your Mental State

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock

A great appreciation for music is something that many of my family members share – ranging from musical inclinations to having a general love of music. Throughout my life, I’ve often used specific songs to put me into the right frame of mind for certain situations, and I have a sibling who is veritably obsessed with the entire concept of music.

Of course, music has been used for thousands of years to enhance a variety of situations, so I realize that it’s not just my little family that has discovered the amazing benefits of song. Marching bands get fans into the spirit of football games, lullabies tend to soothe and calm fussy babies, and teachers use catchy tunes to help students learn. What I wanted to know was: why?

After doing a little research, I discovered that there appears to be a very real connection in the brain between music and mood. Congratulations to us for being onto something all of these years!

Recent research shows that even the anticipation of your favorite song will give you a rush, but for the full benefits, you’ll have to keep listening until you reach your peak emotional arousal. Sounds worth looking (or listening) into, no?

Dopamine, a neuro-transmitter, is released by nerve cells in response to the feeling of pleasure that we get from external (and usually tangible) rewards like food, money, drugs, sex, and some activities that may signal that one of these rewards is imminent, like falling in love.

However, since listening to music isn’t really thought of as a tangible reward, the brain’s dopamine response to music had not been studied until recently.

The results are impressive.

The levels of dopamine in the brain increased by up to 9% in people who were observed while listening to some of their favorite music.  This is exciting news, because it verifies that “we can release dopamine in anticipation of something abstract, complex and not concrete, such as an aesthetic stimulus,” according to Valorie Salimpoor, co-author of the study.

The study also cemeted the fact that the chills you get during your favorite part of a song are due to the levels of dopamine spiking in your brain.  This moment is also called a musical ‘frisson.’

This tells me that Gloria Estefan was right – eventually, the rhythm is gonna get you – to smile! People have been telling us for years to listen to more music when we’re feeling down. With scientific proof that it works, what’s stopping you?

 

 

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Tired of Being Tired? Overcome Disordered Sleep Today!

Photo courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller

As someone who’s been an insomniac for many years, I understand just how important sleep is to all of our body’s functions. My mother tells me that I never slept easily, and, in fact, that I didn’t even sleep through the night until I was four years old. I remember her sitting at my bedside until I fell asleep well into my older childhood years, and I awoke frequently at night, requiring her help to feel tired enough to sleep again. When I did sleep, I was (and still am, periodically) plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams.

When I began to experience some significant health disturbances as an adult, I started looking deeper into my lifelong struggle with sleep and how it was possibly causing some real, serious problems. Not only does disordered sleep exacerbate chronic physical medical conditions, but it can also unleash the dreadful duo of depression and anxiety.

Have you struggled with a mood disorder on your road to happiness?  If so, take a look at your sleep patterns.

For years, psychologists have debated the insomnia/depression connection.  No one argued that they were related, but, much like the chicken or the egg, they couldn’t agree on which came first. Recent research points to the conclusion that disordered sleep eventually damages the nervous system, leading to a mix of behaviors and body chemistry that causes depression.

In a bizarre twist, insomnia is thought to be the body’s last ditch attempt at staving off an attack of depression that you aren’t even aware is approaching. Staying awake too long overstimulates the brain and releases a rush of serotonin and dopamine.  Eventually, however, the brain reaches its capacity for self-stimulation, and this is when we crash and burn.

Being overly tired will suck the happiness right out of anyone and can cause problems with memory, thought processing, negotiating, and making good decisions. These are all skills that are crucial for our overall success and happiness in life!

If you have a messed up sleep clock like I do, it’s not something that you can magically cure, but since your happiness is your responsibility, take charge of your disordered sleep as much as you can. I now make a valiant effort to go to bed at the same time every night, even if I don’t want to, and I don’t allow myself to sleep in (too often) on the weekends. This helps keep my circadian rhythm more balanced.

At night, turn the temperature in your bedroom down further than you normally do, because an overheated body will wake up. Many sleep experts will tell you not to eat anything too close to bedtime, but I find that being hungry keeps me awake too. A healthy dinner and a small snack a few hours before bed usually works well.

If you haven’t already begun practicing mindfulness, now is the time. Progressive relaxation, a component of mindfulness, is a fantastic way to drift into sleep. In fact, being mindful in all areas of your life will lead to more restful sleep because you won’t be plagued by the worries you used to have.

Some other things that have helped me sleep better are: white noise, investing in a high quality mattress and pillow, room darkening shades, aromatherapy, wearing unrestrictive clothing, regular exercise, and reading.

If all else fails, remember that you have every right to see a doctor. As we’ve learned, insomnia is a serious matter if left unattended, and if professional help is what you need to get back on track, don’t hesitate to get it. Remember that taking charge of your journey to happiness sometimes means asking for help along the way.

Until next time - happy dreams, everyone.

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