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10 Ways to Live an Eco-Conscious Life

Many people veer away from the idea of an eco-friendly lifestyle, fearing that this would require them to give up all of their creature comforts. 

However, this is not at all the case…

Take a look at these 10 small changes that you can make in your life to make your lifestyle more eco-conscious. 

Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption

The meat industry has been so devastating for the environment, and continues to cause so much damage. 

As you likely already know, humans could do with more space on the planet, yet 83% of the world’s agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production, even though this only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories. only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories.

Not only that, but the livestock industry produces large amounts of dangerous greenhouse gases, contributing to the planet’s pollution problem. 

Are you a big meat eater? 

If your answer is yes, then the idea of cutting back on your meat consumption is not likely to sound very appealing. 

But did you know that this could benefit your health too, in addition to helping the planet? 

All you need to do is start small, phasing out the meat portion in one or two meals a week. There are so many meat alternatives available now, as well as delicious vegetarian recipes, giving you plenty of other exciting options. 

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Everybody has a carbon footprint, and while this term has been thrown about quite a lot lately, do you know what it actually means? 

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment that you have contributed to. This carbon dioxide has such a detrimental effect on global warming, and if everybody sought to reduce their carbon footprint by just a small amount, this would make a huge difference to the environment. 

So, how do you go about reducing your carbon footprint? 

Here are a few easy steps that you can take: 

  • Buy local – from food to clothes, buying locally grown or made products whenever possible will cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide it takes to bring you your goods 
  • Make use of public transport – if more people used buses and trains, carbon dioxide emissions would be significantly reduced 
  • Cut back on flying – if you are a frequent flyer, try cutting back on this, saving your flights for when they are really necessary instead 

Go Organic

Let’s begin by making one thing clear…

If a food item is organic, this doesn’t mean that it is completely free from pesticides and other chemicals. Organic farmers are still allowed to use these, although to a much smaller extent. 

That being said, organic food is noticeably lower in harmful chemical residues. Not only is that beneficial to your health, but it also means that less of those chemicals have been released into the environment in order to grow the food that you eat.

Don’t like the high price tags that often accompany organic produce? 

Due to the fact that organic food is more labor-intensive to grow, and also sometimes produces smaller yields, prices are usually much higher than non-organic alternatives. 

While you may not want to completely overhaul every item you buy and swap these for their organic versions, there are certain foods out there that end up so much more contaminated than others, making it worthwhile to at least buy the organic versions of those. 

These are some of the items worth going organic for: 

  • Soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries and more have been tested, and over one-third of all samples contained at least 10 different pesticide residues, with one containing 22 
  • Spinach – this popular leafy green is almost guaranteed to contain pesticide residue, unless you go organic 
  • Applesaround 80% of tested apples contain traces of a pesticide that is banned in Europe
  • Tomatoes – these tend to be particularly prone to absorbing pesticides, with smaller tomatoes being more vulnerable 
  • Celery – this is quite a porous vegetable, meaning that it quickly absorbs chemicals. Samples have shown 13 different pesticides contained within these crunchy stems 
  • Potatoes – research shows that potatoes contain more pesticides by weight than any other food 
  • Milk – organic milk means that the cow hasn’t been fed any hormones, making the milk much healthier for you

When it comes to the other foods you eat, many of these, such as onions and garlic, will contain tougher external skin. This helps to protect them from absorbing so many pesticides. While they will still contain chemicals, the foods listed above are the ones to focus on if you are only planning on going partly organic. 

Switch to a Renewable Energy Supplier

There are now so many energy suppliers out there that offer 100% renewable energy sources for your home. 

Where does this renewable energy come from? 

The sources are varied, and include solar panels, wind turbines and hydro power.

Illustration of finite versus renewable sources of energy

Each one will have its pros and cons, and their viability will also depend on where you live, as well as how much energy you use. 

Not only is renewable energy so much better for the environment, but it could also save you some money. 

How? 

Well, firstly, renewable energy is cheaper. Secondly, many countries offer tax incentives for those who make use of renewable energy sources, giving you even more savings. 

If you are new to renewable energy, many companies offer free consultations where they will come to your house and give you advice on the best renewable sources for you, making this well worth enquiring about. 

Swap Instead of Shop

There are times when nothing can beat the satisfying feeling that comes from a day of retail therapy, but all of this consumerism is not doing the environment any favors. 

The clothes that you buy contribute to your carbon footprint, and the rise of cheaper clothing means that more and more items are now ending up in landfills, instead of being repurposed and reused. 

This is where clothing swaps come in…

They might not sound very glamorous, but they are a great way to get yourself some new clothes without having a negative environmental impact. 

Wondering where to find these clothing swaps? 

Many cities are now home to a swap shop, where you can bring in your unwanted items in exchange for tokens, which you can then use to purchase other items in the shop. There are many swap shops that are dedicated to other types of goods, excluding clothes, such as books, DVDs and more. 

Can’t find a swap shop near you? 

You can always gather together a group of people and arrange your own swaps. Simply have everyone bring in a certain number of items, and then let the swapping begin! Any leftover goods can be donated to charity shops, ensuring that there is no wastage. 

Start Composting

Home compost bins have been growing in popularity in recent years, and for good reason too. 

While some of the waste that you throw out, such as food waste, will break down in a landfill, the way in which it does so causes the release of harmful methane gases. 

A compost bin enables these natural items to break down safely, while cutting back on the amount of waste you send to a landfill. It also helps to make you more aware of how much plastic and other synthetic materials you are using, since you won’t be able to place these into your compost bin. 

An added benefit to home composting is the compost that you end up with once the process is done. This really is the very best stuff for your garden, and will be so much more superior to any compost you could buy in a bag. Even if you aren’t a keen gardener, you will likely have friends or neighbors that are, and who would be extremely appreciative for your homemade compost.

Reusables Instead of Disposables

Disposable products really have taken over recently, and there is no denying that they can definitely make life easier and more convenient. 

While this may be the case, have you ever thought of all the waste you are creating through the disposable products that you use? 

There are so many disposable products out there that could easily be replaced with reusable versions. 

Here are a few ideas of changes you could make around your home: 

  • Ink cartridges can be refilled 
  • Batteries can be recharged 
  • Reusable coffee filters 
  • Reusable razor blades 
  • Reusable food storage containers 

Yes, it may take more effort on your part to reuse products instead of simply reaching for a new one, but the environment will definitely thank you. 

Work From Home

While not everybody’s job enables them to work from home all the time, there are many jobs out there where this is possible at least once a week or so. 

How does this help the environment? 

Well, research shows that if one million people worked from home one day a week, this would cut back on three million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the environment each year. 

Not only that, but the lack of stress you will experience from not having to go through your daily commute will do your health plenty of good too. 

Not sure if your company allows employees to work from home? 

It’s always worth asking to find out, especially when you have such good eco-friendly reasons behind your request! 

Cut Back on Plastic

You likely use plastic in just about every part of your life, and all of this plastic soon ends up in landfills around the world.

Why is this bad?

Because plastic doesn’t break down properly, and also releases harmful chemicals into the ground, which then make their way into nearby water sources, contaminating surrounding ecosystems.

There are many other ways in which plastic is damaging to the environment, such as with all of the wildlife that ends up entangled in discarded plastic bags, or the animals that mistake the bags for food and eat them.

It does take quite a bit of dedication to really cut back on plastic usage…

Begin by looking at the food you buy. Many items are unnecessarily packaged in layers of plastic, but there are likely to be loose and unpackaged versions of these items available too.

Plastic bag usage is something that can be easily cut back on. Simply start using reusable bags instead, keeping these in your home, car, office and anywhere else that makes them easily accessible for when you need them.

Bottled water is another big problem, but, again, is easy to overcome. Simply stop buying bottled water!

Don’t like the taste of your tap water?

It may be worthwhile purchasing a water filter to filter out any chemicals that have been used in the water system.

Automatic Car Washes

Do you wash your car yourself, or do you take it through a car wash? 

People who wash their cars themselves likely think that this is much better for the environment, but this is actually the opposite from the truth…

When you wash your car yourself, you end up using 10 gallons of water every minute. On the other hand, if you put your car through an automatic car wash, this uses up around 15 to 30 gallons of water in total. 

This means that unless you are able to wash your car yourself in under three minutes, you would save a significant amount of water by taking your car through an automatic car wash instead. 

Each of these ten steps are quite easy to implement, and while they may not seem like huge changes, they definitely make your lifestyle so much more eco-friendly. From using renewable energy sources to cutting back on waste, following these steps will reduce the amount of damage that you are personally causing to the environment.  

Why You Should Kick The Multi-Tasking Habit

Do you often try to multitask? 

For most people, the answer will be yes, with many believing that they are actually quite good at performing more than one task simultaneously. 

However, did you know that multitasking is something that the brain can’t physically do? 

While you may think that you are being more productive, there is plenty of research out there that proves otherwise, while also pointing to the fact that multitasking can be harmful to a person’s health. 

Here are just a few of the reasons as to why you should kick the multitasking habit. 

The Brain Can’t Multi-Task 

The human brain only has a finite amount of attention to give at any one time, and was actually designed to focus on just one task at a time. 

Think that your brain is different, because multitasking is something that you do all the time? 

Well, you may think that your brain is multitasking, but, chances are, it isn’t…

When you think you are multitasking, your brain is actually rapidly switching from one task to another. 

Each of these switches requires two processes: 

It takes just a fraction of a second for your brain to carry out these processes, which is why you don’t really realize that they are going on. 

This doesn’t seem like much time, but, when your brain is constantly having to switch back and forth between tasks, all of those extra seconds begin to add up. 

This routine also encourages bad brain habits…

What does this mean? 

Well, each time you completely one of the tasks that you are doing, even if this is something as simple as replying to an email or posting on social media, a small amount of dopamine is released in the body. This is a chemical that makes you feel good and accomplished. 

The brain loves dopamine, and the fact that these small amounts keep being released encourage the brain to continue switching from task to task, even when you don’t want it to. It also makes you think that you are accomplishing a lot, when really there isn’t much being actually done. 

Productivity Drops When You Multi-Task 

Most people multitask because they want to be more productive, not realizing that the opposite of this is more likely to happen. 

While you may think that you are getting more done in your time, research shows that it actually takes longer to complete tasks when multitasking, especially when compared to carrying out each task on its own. 

In fact, many experts believe that multitasking leads to a 40% drop in productivity, along with a higher chance of you making more mistakes.

Multi-Tasking Raises Stress Levels

You may not feel stressed when multitasking, but your brain definitely does…

All of that switching back and forth between various tasks results in cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, being released into your body. 

Why is this bad? 

Well, when it happens in small amounts, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is this hormone that gave humans the fight or flight instinct, and enabled our species to evolve in the way that it has. 

 

Cortisol is also important for several other functions in the human body, from bone growth to your sleep cycle. 

However, when cortisol ends up running through the body for long periods of time, this is where the trouble begins…

Excess cortisol has a number of detrimental effects on human health, including: 

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Digestive issues 
  • Increased inflammation within the body 
  • Heart disease 
  • Headaches 
  • Weight gain 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Impaired memory and concentration 
  • Premature aging

As you can see, cortisol, along with stress, is something that you want to keep to a minimum. 

There are likely already plenty of other stressors in your life, so don’t add to this by multitasking. 

Multi-Tasking Lowers Your IQ

Your IQ refers to your ability to think, reason and carry out cognitive tasks.

No matter how high your IQ may be, multitasking is something that will lower this back down.

In fact, multitasking lowers your IQ to the same level it would have been if you had stayed up all night.

Studies carried out on this subject have witnessed such significant IQ drops in men that it brings their IQ level down to that of an eight year old child.

Even just the thought of multitasking, such as knowing that you have an unread email in your inbox, can lower your IQ by 10 points.

It Could Contribute to Brain Damage

Research on this topic is still relatively new, but, so far, it shows that multitasking can actually lead to brain damage, with this damage being permanent in many cases.

How does multitasking result in brain damage?

Well, there have been MRI brain scans carried out on two groups of people – one group of frequent multitaskers and one group of people who don’t multitask much.

The results were surprising…

The scans showed that the group of people who multitasked more frequently actually had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for controlling your emotions.

A person’s memory can also be permanently affected by multitasking. Since the brain isn’t properly paying attention to a task, it will be much harder for your brain to then recollect information relating to the task in the future, not only damaging your short term memory, but also your long term.

It Also Prevents Learning

In order for your brain to properly learn, it needs to have enough attention to give to the topic. 

By multitasking, you are reducing the amount of attention your brain gives to each task, which will then prevent you from learning along the way. 

This is especially the case for younger minds, with research suggesting that multitasking can have a seriously detrimental effect on learning and grades while at school. 

It Could Lead to Over-Eating During Mealtimes

Multitasking isn’t just problematic when it comes to work and productivity…

It can also cause issues during mealtimes too.

So many people end up watching TV, going online or checking their phones while eating a meal. 

However, this lack of concentration on the food that you are consuming prevents your brain from properly processing all that you have eaten. This then means that it doesn’t send a signal to your body to tell it to stop eating because it is full. 

This results in you not feeling as full as you otherwise would have after a meal, either leading you to eat more, or to eat again after a short period of time. 

It Inhibits Creativity

If you are working on a project that requires you to be creative, then multitasking is something that you should definitely avoid. 

Why? 

Because creativity requires so much focus and concentration from the brain, especially if you are trying to use creativity to solve a problem. 

If you want nurture your creativity, then you will need to bring all of your attention to the creative task at hand, rather than letting your brain wander off onto other tasks. 

And Prevents Mindfulness 

Many would say that mindfulness is the most advanced form of attentiveness.

What is mindfulness?

It refers to being completely present in the moment, with many considering it to be a form of meditation.

Mindfulness brings with it several benefits, such as:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased attention, focus and awareness
  • Calmness

As you can see, mindfulness brings nothing but positives, and is something that could benefit just about everyone.

Unfortunately, multitasking is something that really detracts from this, preventing a person from experiencing mindfulness.

How to Kick the Multi-Tasking Habit

Hopefully, by now, you will be in full agreement that multitasking is a habit you need to beat. 

But how exactly do you go about doing this? 

Well, although research shows that the brain can just about handle two tasks, but no more, at once, your best bet in kicking the multitasking habit would be to give single-tasking a try. 

Never heard of that phrase before? 

It is exactly what it sounds like – concentrating on a single task, rather than multiple tasks. 

This may sound simple, but, for many, it is actually quite difficult…

The key here is to force yourself to focus on the most important task at hand, giving yourself the time you need to complete this. Keep all other distractions well away, so that your brain is less tempted to switch over to another task. If you are at work, a clean and clear desk can really help with this, as simply glancing over at something else you need to do can limit how your brain functions. 

Is your schedule too full to focus on just one task at a time? 

If so, this doesn’t mean that you should multitask. Instead, it means that you need to cut back on some of the commitments you have made in your schedule. 

Try to prioritize everything that you need to do, dropping any tasks that are not actually important. 

For those with a packed schedule, you likely also need to learn how to say no to other people, as well as other tasks. Taking on more than you and your brain can actually handle will only be detrimental in the long run, so make sure that you don’t say yes to extra projects that you don’t actually have time for. 

Another technique that can help is to perform tasks in batches, which is also known as chunking. 

This basically means that you set aside chunks of time each day to perform certain tasks. For example, check your emails and messages all at once, once a day, rather than doing this constantly throughout the day. 

This enables your brain to fully focus on what you are doing, rather than having to switch back and forth. 

Not got enough self control to resist checking your phone and messages throughout the day? 

There are a few apps available that can help you with this…

These enable you to set a length of time during which the app will block you from checking your email, social media, or any other websites that tend to distract you. 

Still finding it difficult to kick the multitasking habit? 

Keeping a journal can really help. 

How? 

Because this will enable you to track how you work, along with how much you get done, while also keeping a record of any distractions you have faced. Being able to see all of this right in front of you can then help you to plan how to overcome your multitasking habit. 

Could Multi-Tasking Ever Be Beneficial? 

Although multitasking is never really beneficial, there are certain tasks that aren’t negatively impacted if you choose to do something else at the same time. 

The perfect example of this would be listening to music, or to an audiobook, while you are working out. 

Since the main task you are focussing on is physical, your body is able to do this on auto-pilot, as the task doesn’t require much brain attention. This then enables your brain to focus more on the second task that you are doing. 

Watching television while folding laundry is another example, as the folding is something that does not require much brain power. 

Multitasking is something that just about everyone does, although the majority of these people do not realize just how detrimental it can be. From reducing productivity to increasing stress, multitasking is a habit that you should try to tackle as soon as possible. Trust us, it won’t be long before you see all of the benefits that single-tasking can bring to your life! 

15 Fun Ways To Move More

Keeping fit is very important.

Why?

For a number of reasons, such as:

  • It helps to keep your weight under control
  • It prevents certain health conditions, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, different types of cancer and more
  • It boosts your mood, thanks to the way in which it triggers your brain to release feel-good chemicals
  • It increases your energy levels
  • It boosts brain function
  • It improves digestion and gut health
  • It promotes better sleep

Don’t enjoy exercising?

This is actually quite common, but it only means that you haven’t yet found the right physical activity for you.

If you need some inspiration, here are 15 fun ways to get moving more:

Cook Yourself a Meal

Did you know that you can combine the time you spend cooking yourself a meal in your kitchen with a workout?

You are probably wondering how…

Well, there are a few ways in which you can go about doing this:

  • Enthusiastically wiping down your counters will burn 200 calories an hour
  • Putting away any gadgets, and doing things like mashing potatoes or kneading dough by hand, will really use some muscles
  • Use your counter-tops to do a few push-ups
  • Perform a squat each time you load something in the dishwasher
  • Wash your dishes by hand

Not only will all of this give your body some exercise, but you’ll also end up with a tasty meal at the end of it. Just make sure that it is something healthy, so that you don’t undo all of the hard work you have just done! 

Doga

Never quite taken to the idea of yoga?

You might change your mind if you can bring your pooch with you…

Doga, which refers to doing yoga with a dog, is becoming increasingly popular, because not only is this a great way for people to keep fit, but their dogs benefit too.

Having your dog with you also makes the whole experience so much more fun, as well as social, since pooches are such a great ice breaker when it comes to meeting new people.

There are doga classes held all over the world, but if you would like to give doga a try from the comfort of your own home first, you will find several tutorials online that will help the two of you to get started. 

Geocaching

If you used to love treasure hunts as a child, then geocaching may be right up your street.

Never heard of it before?

All you need to do is download a geocaching app on your smartphone, and then pick a set of GPS coordinates in your area. Follow these coordinates to find the geocache, which is a hidden marker or container at that location, but can be just about any shape or size.

What do you do once you find the geocache?

Open it up and sign the logbook. Some geocaches also have small gifts within them. However, the rule of the game is that if you take something, you need to replace this with a small item or gift of your own

Once you are done, put the geocache back in the same place that you found it. You can then share your experience via the app if you desire.

There are geocaches hidden in 190 countries around the world, with millions to be found, so you will never be short of new adventures to have.

Pole Dancing

Pole dancing as a workout has become so popular, with these moves offering up a fun way to stay active.

The best way to begin is by signing yourself up for a pole dancing class, as these will take you through the basic moves that you need to know.

Wondering how pole dancing benefits your body?

In a number of ways, such as:

Thanks to how popular pole dancing classes have become, these are now available in so many different countries, with competitive rates.

Horseback Riding

For those who love animals, especially horses, horseback riding seems like a no-brainer when it comes to keeping fit.

Even if you have never ridden before, this is such an easy hobby to pick up.

Just be warned…

Horse riding can become extremely addictive!

Want to know how to get started?

Look for a riding center or stables near you, and then see what sort of lessons they offer. You will usually be able to choose between private lessons or group sessions. Both of these have their advantages, so opting for a mix of both would probably be best.

Circus Workouts

The circus is always so exciting and awe-inspiring.

If you love the circus, why not bring some of that energy and excitement into your own life?

You are probably wondering how to do this…

Many gyms around the world now offer circus-inspired workouts.

What do these involve?

A wide mix of activities, from juggling and trapeze work to tumbling and jumps.

Just one thing to keep in mind…

Make sure that the gym you choose uses equipment that has been modified for beginners.

Community Trash Pick-Ups

Passionate about environmental causes?

That same drive can also help you to get moving more.

How?

You have likely heard of, or even participated in, community trash pick-ups. These are basically when people from the community get together to clear up trash from a certain area, whether this may be a park, a beach, a forest, or any other natural setting.

Not only will you be doing good for your local environment, but joining in on one of these sessions will also get you moving quite a bit, and will work out a number of different muscle groups in your body.

Trampolines

Many people equate trampolines with children, but more and more adults are turning to trampolines as a way to stay fit.

How does all of that jumping help your body?

Well, not only does it tighten and tone your core, but it also helps with calorie loss, and gives you a cardio workout that is just as effective as going for a run, but without stressing your joints in the way that running does. 

There are so many different moves that you can do on a trampoline, and plenty of classes that you can join to teach you how to do these.

One thing to remember…

While you may be tempted to get bouncing straight away, make sure that you warm up for a few minutes first, as this will prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Cooling off for a few minutes once you are done is also just as important.

Exergaming  

If you love video games, then exergaming could be the perfect workout for you.

What is exergaming?

It refers to playing video games that encourage you to be physically active.

Research shows that many exergames can offer up the same health benefits as traditional exercise, and there are an increasing number of studies that continue to back up the many benefits that exergaming has. These include:

One big benefit to exergaming is that not only does it keep you moving, but it is also a form of entertainment, and is one that will likely easily keep you fully engaged.

There are exergames available on all video gaming platforms, from the Xbox to the Wii, and even on mobile devices, making this an easy hobby to pick up.

Play a Musical Instrument

You are probably wondering why playing a musical instrument is on a list of ways to move more…

This is because playing a musical instrument actually results in an increase in physical activity.

How?

Well, no matter what instrument you choose to play, you likely make full use of your arm and back muscles, not only while you are playing but also to hold your instrument up.

Certain instruments, such as the drums, will even give you a cardio workout!

Karaoke Workouts

Do you love to sing?

If so, you definitely need to give a karaoke workout a try.

These are usually found at cycling or spinning classes, with a television screen, complete with karaoke words and instructions, attached to each bike.

If you are quite picky about the type of music you enjoy, it would be worth checking out the song list before signing up to the class. Some instructors, in order to prevent students from getting too carried away, will only open up certain songs during each class.

If you have a friend with a karaoke system at home, that’s even better! This means that you can get a group of friends together to belt out your vocals.

High Heel Workouts

Yes, a high heel workout is exactly what it sounds like – working out in your high heels.

Wondering why you would want to do this?

Well, these workouts not only give you some exercise, but also teach you how to wear high heels safely.

When you are wearing a pair of heels, your center of gravity shifts to the front. These classes will teach you how to adjust your posture when this happens, so that you don’t cause any damage to your lower back or feet.

This will also help you to strengthen your lower leg and foot muscles, both of which will make a long day on your feet seem much less tiring.

Hula Hooping

Hula hooping has become quite trendy recently, with everyone from Kelly Osbourne to Michelle Obama giving it a go.

Hula hooping is a great way to give your body a workout, because not only does it strengthen your core, but it exercises other muscle groups too.

When it comes to weight loss…

You lose about seven calories a minute while hula hooping.

Think this doesn’t sound like much?

It’s actually more than what you would lose per minute when doing everything from walking briskly to aerobics to Pilates.

Never quite got the hang of hula hooping?

Here are a few tips:

  • Go for a heavier, rather than a lighter, hoop, as this makes it easier to build momentum
  • A bigger hoop will be easier, as this gives you more time to react to the movements necessary 

Cleaning Your House

Don’t have time to work out?

Try combining a workout with a house cleaning session instead.

While housework may be boring, giving your body a workout at the same time makes the task seem all the more valuable.

Wondering how to do this?

Here are some ideas:

  • Do squats or forward bends when putting items away 
  • Walk briskly up the stairs
  • Wash dishes to tone your arm muscles, making sure to do 20 repetitions per arm
  • Perform lunges while using your vacuum cleaner
  • Stretch your body and muscles while dusting
  • Iron for an hour, with a good posture, to burn around 150 calories
  • Blast some music and dance around the house while cleaning

Not only will you end up with well-worked muscles, but you will also be able to enjoy a clean house at the end of it all.

An Urban Workout

Do you live in an urban area?

There is no reason why you can’t use the urban environment around you to put together a fun workout.

How?

Begin by heading on over to your local playground…

The equipment that you will find here is ideal for pull-ups, while a picnic table is great for doing some tricep dips.

Found some spare tires?

These can be used for shoulder presses, while a park bench is perfect for push-ups.

Exercising definitely does not need to be boring. There are so many unique and fun ways out there to get your body moving more, so try being more creative when it comes to finding ways to stay physically fit.

Tired woman at her work desk

What’s Causing Your Daytime Fatigue?

Do you often find it difficult to stay awake and concentrate during the day?

If so, you could be suffering from daytime fatigue, which is often linked to another medical problem.

Here are nine different causes of daytime fatigue, as well as tips on what you can do about them.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is a condition that refers to either:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • An excessive amount of time spent sleeping

If you have hypersomnia, you will likely find yourself falling asleep at random points during the day, even while you are talking or driving.

Hypersomnia is extremely common, affecting around 40% of people at some point in their lives. 

What causes hypersomnia?

Here are a few of the most common causes of the condition: 

  • Sleep disorders, which will be explained in more detail below
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A head injury
  • Being overweight
  • Genetics
  • Depression and anxiety

So, if you have hypersomnia, what can you do about it?

You should first have this confirmed by your doctor, who will also be able to prescribe different drugs to help treat the condition.

You can also try to identify the cause of your hypersomnia, and then work to reverse this. For example, if it is caused by being overweight, losing weight can help, while changing your sleeping habits so that you get more sleep will prevent sleep deprivation from causing your hypersomnia.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is extremely common, and simply refers to a person not getting enough sleep

How much sleep is enough?

Experts recommend between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, although this does vary between individuals, and also changes with age.

While missing out on a couple of hours once in a while will not cause any harm, experiencing frequent bouts of sleep deprivation can definitely lead to daytime fatigue.

How can you overcome this?

The obvious answer would be…

Get more sleep!

Here are a few tips to help you to get more quality sleep:

  • Set a regular schedule – a regular sleep schedule will help to train your body clock into feeling tired at the same time each evening, while waking itself up at the same time each morning. Make sure that you stick to this schedule, even on the weekends
  • Stay away from caffeine or alcohol from late afternoon onwardsboth of these can hugely impact your sleep, as well as its quality
  • Don’t keep blue light-emitting electronics in your bedroomthe blue light that comes from the screens of these devices keeps your body awake for longer
  • Avoid daytime nappingeven if you feel tired during the day, avoid the temptation to nap, as this will only prevent you from falling asleep at the optimum time that night
  • Work out in the morningsyou may think that exercising would help you to fall asleep, but this actually raises the heart rate and triggers the release of adrenaline into your body, both of which will keep you awake. However, exercise done in the mornings, or even the afternoons, can actually help you to sleep better at night
  • Avoid eating two hours before bedthis sets your digestive system in motion, which can keep you awake

Infographic on how to get better sleep

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders cause you to frequently wake up during the night, which then interferes with the quality of your sleep, leading to you feeling chronically fatigued each day.

These are some of the most common sleep disorders:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – the most common sleep disorder, affecting more than 20 million adults in the USA alone. This disorder consists of a blockage in the airways, meaning that the brain wakes itself up to send a signal to the respiratory system to continue functioning normally. This usually causes a person to stop breathing for about 10 to 20 seconds, and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, without a person even realizing it
  • Narcolepsythis is an autoimmune disorder in which the brain is not able to properly control its sleep and wake cycles. This means that you experience the REM stage of sleep, which is when you are sleeping the deepest, at random points during the day
  • Restless Leg Syndromethis neurological disorder causes a person to feel an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, which leads to them moving their legs around to relieve this. Since this makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep, as well as stay asleep, the result is daytime fatigue

Treatments vary for each sleep disorder, and in some cases, especially for restless leg syndrome, these disorders can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. This makes it important to see a doctor if you think that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. 

Depression

Depression is much more common than you would think…

Around 300 million people around the world, including 16.2 million adults in the USA, have depression. It is also believed that around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives. 

What does this have to do with daytime fatigue?

Research shows that people with depression are much more likely to experience daytime fatigue. Not only that, but people who already have daytime fatigue are much more likely to end up depressed.

As you can see, this results in a vicious circle that can be difficult to break out of.

When it comes to treating depression…

There are many treatment options out there, depending on the severity of your depression. This is something that only a professional can advise you on, so make sure that you speak to a doctor if you think that you may be depressed.

Too Much Caffeine

Coffee is commonly drunk to help people stay awake and alert, but, sometimes, it can have the opposite effect.

While a cup or two won’t do any harm, drinking too much caffeine can lead to:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • A jittery feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

What happens once the caffeine wears off?

You end up “crashing”, resulting in you feeling completely fatigued.

What can you do about this?

Well, let’s begin by what you shouldn’t do…

Drinking even more coffee in order to overcome this would be the worst way to deal with the problem.  

Instead, try to cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to completely cut caffeine out of your life, because this will only leave you with withdrawal symptoms.

Try slowly weaning yourself off the coffee, as well as any other caffeinated drinks. Replace these with water or other drinks, so that you are consuming less caffeine each day.

A Poor Diet

The food that you eat fuels your body, so it only makes sense that your body will feel weak and tired if it is not being fed with the right nutrients.

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day…

Breakfast!

So many people out there skip breakfast, not realizing just how crucial this meal is.

Why is it so important?

Because the food that you eat for breakfast helps to wake your body up, giving your metabolism a kick start for the day. Without breakfast, your energy levels will be lacking from the start of the day.

If you don’t have time for breakfast, or are simply too tired early in the mornings…

Try putting a small grab-and-go morning snack together the night before, and then slowly build up your new breakfast habit to encompass larger and more filling meals.

Now on to the rest of the food you eat…

Try to avoid large and heavy meals during the day, as these can often leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.

Make sure that your diet is a balanced one, featuring plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts and seeds. 

Why is this important?

Because if you eat processed, high-sugar foods instead, this causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. Once this drops back down, it leaves you feeling fatigued and low.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS manifests differently in every single woman out there.

For many, daytime fatigue is one of the symptoms, and this is actually extremely common.

Your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps it to regulate its sleep cycles. During your premenstrual phase, as well as your menstrual phase, melatonin levels fluctuate, often decreasing. This then keeps you up at night, making you feel fatigued during the day.

Not only that, but the hormonal changes during your premenstrual phase can lead to an increase in the amount of deep sleep that you experience. However, this occurs during the day as well as the night, causing you to feel tired and sluggish.

Dehydration

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?

This is a condition that affects millions of people, even though it is so easily prevented.

How does this relate to daytime fatigue?

Because research shows that dehydration is the number one cause of midday fatigue.

How does dehydration cause this?

Due to the way in which a lack of water causes your blood pressure to drop. This then leads to headaches, fatigue and a loss of concentration. 

How much water should you be drinking each day?

This varies, not only depending on your weight but also your activity levels through the day. A good amount to aim for would be around two liters a day, but don’t forget that you will also be getting a small chunk of this from the food that you eat, especially if your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Can’t seem to drink enough water during the day?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Mix up a pitcher of fruit-infused water to give your water some extra flavor
  • Try to drink a full cup of water before every meal
  • Download an app to help you to track how much water you are drinking, as well as setting alarms to remind you to drink some water
  • If you are drinking a sugar-filled drink, try diluting this down with some water
  • Install a water filter, as this can help your water to taste better
  • Mae sure that you drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume

Remember…

If you are feeling thirsty, then this means that you are already dehydrated.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

More and more people are experiencing a sedentary lifestyle these days, and this is actually a common cause behind daytime fatigue.

How are the two connected?

Well, the lack of physical activity leads to your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems de-conditioning, while also depressing your mood. Both of these can then result in daytime fatigue.

There is so much research out there that backs up the way in which exercise is able to help reverse daytime fatigue, making this something well worth trying.

Hate the idea of exercise?

Physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours in the gym.

If you really think about it, you are guaranteed to be able to find some form of physical activity that appeals to you. Whether this may be a dance class, a group dog walk, a visit to the beach, a gardening session, or even blasting some music at home and dancing around the house, any activity that gets you up and moving regularly can help you to feel less fatigued during the day.

Daytime fatigue is extremely common, but so frustrating to deal with due to the way in which it impacts everyday life. In order to overcome your daytime fatigue, spend some time working out the cause of it, as treating the root issue will be the most effective way to deal with the problem.

Friends laughing while using a tablet

How Social Media Affects Your Life

Do you frequently use social media?

For the majority of people out there, the answer will be yes.

The next question is…

Have you ever thought about how this has actually affected your life over the years?

Social media has so many different effects on daily life, both positive as well as negative, and no matter how addicted you may be to your favorite social media platforms, it is important to still be aware of the impact that this is having.

Social Media Can Prevent Quality Sleep

When you can’t seem to fall asleep at night, are you guilty of often reaching for your phone and scrolling through social media sites?

This is extremely common, and is something that many people do as a way to wind down after a long day.

However, while you may think that this is harmless, it is actually having quite a detrimental impact on your sleep quality…

How?

Due to the blue light that is emitted by the electronic devices you use.

There are multiple studies out there that show that the blue light from LED screens interferes with your body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your brain that it is time to fall asleep.

Without as much melatonin in your body, you end up being more alert, staying awake for longer than you otherwise would have.

Of course, there is an easy fix to this…

All you need to do is download an app that adapts your device’s screen to the time of day, meaning that it takes on a warm orange filter in the evenings. This is so much easier on the eyes, and will prevent your device’s blue light from keeping you up

While this may seem like a great solution, keep in mind that simply staring at any sort of screen will still trigger your brain to stay awake. If the blue light apps don’t seem to be working for you, you will likely be better off staying away from social media, along with any other electronic devices, for at least an hour before bed

Social Media Can Affect Your Self Esteem

Whether you openly admit it or not, you likely have a few insecurities, and this is something that everybody experiences in their life.

While this is completely normal, social media has the effect of exacerbating any insecurities, making you feel worse about them than you already did. 

In fact, a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen found that those who used social media regularly tended to suffer from Facebook envy.

What is Facebook envy?

Simply put, it refers to the feelings of jealousy that you feel after seeing all of the activities that your friends have been up to on social media.

On the other hand, those who abstained from using social media for a while reported that they felt much more satisfied with their lives, and considered their mental well-being to be quite high. 

Social Media Makes it Easier to Spread and Absorb Knowledge and Information

While the internet already made it so much easier for information to be shared, this became even more so after the rise of social media.

In just a few seconds, your message could be spread to people all across the globe, giving you quite the sense of power.

The upside to this is the fact that if you have an important message to share, you can easily do this.

However, there is also a downside to this too…

Fake news is a term that you have likely heard about quite a bit recently.

If you haven’t, the term fake news refers to a story that has been created to deliberately deceive its readers and spread misinformation.

Fake news spreads like wildfire on social media, with the more “likes” a story receives making others believe it even more.

The only way around this is for social media platforms to regulate the news that is posted, but this would, of course, end up leading to censorship, which defeats the purpose of social media to quite an extent. 

Want to keep yourself educated when it comes to fake news and misinformation?

Well, when you read a story that sounds doubtful, all you need to do is a quick Google search to find out more information from trustworthy sources, before making up your own mind about the situation.

When it comes down to it…

Don’t believe everything that you read on social media!

Social Media Can Hinder Real Life Social Interaction

You may think that you are an incredibly social person because of the hundreds, or even thousands, or friends you have on social media, as well as the fact that you are always communicating with many of them.

However, when it comes to real life social interaction, social media can actually hinder this quite a bit.

How many times have you been spending time with others, only for one or more of those people to be staring at their phone?

This is so common, and even if you personally are not guilty of it, chances are that you will notice this happening when visiting a restaurant, a bar or any other social setting.

Constantly staring at your phone, or even checking it periodically, takes your attention away from what is actually going on around you.

Social Media Can Also Promote Real Life Social Interaction

While social media does hinder real life interaction, it can also have the opposite effect…

Social media is a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends whom you have lost touch with, bringing you together once again and making it easier for you to meet up in real life.

There are also many events that are organized and promoted through social media, which you may otherwise have never heard of. These events bring together people with similar interests, enabling you to make so many more like-minded friends.

Not only that, but social media has been seen to be quite effective when it comes to promoting real life social interaction among introverted adolescents. It allows them to interact with others from the safety of their screen, which then builds up their confidence when it comes to real life interactions.

Social Media Can Encourage Cyberbullying

Have you heard of cyberbullying before?

This is a problem that is becoming increasingly common, and refers to bullying an individual by sending them intimidating messages.

Why is it becoming more and more common?

This is largely due to social media, and the way that these platforms make it so easy to involve yourself in someone else’s life.

This is especially the case with younger generations, as many do not realize just how hurtful their words and comments can be.

Social Media Can Be Extremely Entertaining

One of the great things about social media is the amount of entertainment it provides. This can be in many different forms, such as:

  • Watching videos
  • Looking at pictures
  • Playing games
  • Reading stories

Thanks to all of this, social media can sometimes  be a great way to relax and de-stress.

Social Media Keeps You Constantly Connected

There are many people that feel that being constantly connected is nothing but a positive, but this can actually have quite a detrimental effect on your mental health.

How?

Because of the pressure you face to always be available and quickly respond to others, and this can often make you feel as though you simply never have any time to relax.

Even when many try to disconnect, they end up feeling as though they are missing out on what is going on, and crave being back online again.

Social Media Makes It Easier for Small Businesses to Reach Customers

In the past, one of the biggest challenges that a small business would face is the lack of a marketing budget, and this would make it extremely difficult to reach new customers.

However, social media has turned this all around…

Even with a completely non-existent marketing budget, social media still gives you the opportunity to reach out to, connect with, and interact with new and existing customers, making it so much easier for you to build a reputable brand.

For many small businesses, social media is their sole form of marketing to begin with, and this is usually set up long before a business develops a website. 

Not only that, but advancements in social media enable users to make purchases directly through social media platforms, meaning that small business don’t need to even worry about setting up online shops anymore, saving so much time and money.

Social Media Encourages Multitasking

Are you guilty of checking social media sites while you are in the middle of doing something else?

This is something else that is extremely common, and ends up causing you to multitask.

This may sound great, as well as productive, but research shows that the human brain is not actually capable of multitasking. While you may think that you are doing multiple tasks at once, your brain is actually just switching from one to the other very rapidly, meaning that you are not fully concentrating on any one task.

Why does the brain do this?

It is likely due to the way in which humans evolved. In order to survive while hunting big animals, it became necessary for humans to put all of their focus on to one task, and this is one of the reasons as to why humans have become the dominant species in the world

So, while you may think that your brain can cope with constantly checking social media while you are working, keep in mind that this is actually preventing you from being as productive as you would be if you put social media away for a while.

Social Media Can Affect Your Job Prospects

Many people still do not realize just how often potential employers will check out your social media accounts. Why do they do this?

To find out more about you, of course!

Social media profiles can be extremely revealing, but, sometimes, the information that is revealed is not what you want your employer to know.

This makes it so important to be aware of every little thing you post or comment on, while also editing privacy settings to ensure that only the people you personally know have access to all of these details in your life.

Using Social Media Responsibly

While social media may have its downsides, there are definitely plenty of upsides that come with it too.

Wondering how to use social media in a way that impacts your life positively, rather than negatively?

There are several steps that you can take to do this, such as:

  • Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you aren’t when posting on social media. Stay honest and don’t lie or exaggerate
  • Watch what you postdon’t over-post every detail of your life, and keep in mind that everything you put on to the internet is permanent
  • The right frame of mindnever post on social media when you are angry, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Be aware of your friends on social mediait may be tempting to accept friend requests from just about everyone, but remember that all of those people will then be able to see so many details of your life
  • Privacy settings – every social media platform will have its own privacy settings, so make sure that you are aware of these

Social media really has spread all across the globe, with more than 2.3 billion people in the world being active social media users. While there is no denying that social media can have quite a few negative impacts on a person’s life, it does also have so many positive points too. The key is to use social media in a responsible way, and make sure that you do not allow it to dominate your life.

Young woman stressed and rubbing her forehead

The Best Ways to Relieve Stress at Any Time

In the short term, stress isn’t such a big deal, and can actually help when it comes to meeting goals and challenges, urging you to act in a more efficient way.

However, chronic stress can really cause some problems…

This is when you experience stress over a longer period of time, whether this may be weeks or months. This can really damage your health in several different ways, including:

  • Lowering the function of your immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and irritability
  • Flare-ups in autoimmune diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Increased cardiovascular risks 

With 70% of Americans claiming to feel stressed on a daily basis, learning how to tackle and deal with stress could really make a huge difference to the general health of many people. 

Want to know how to go about reducing your stress levels?

Here are a few of the best ways…

Do Some Exercise

It has been proven time and time again that those who exercise on a regular basis are likely to experience less stress and anxiety than people who do not.

Why is this?

For a few different reasons, such as:

  • Lowered stress hormones – exercise lowers the levels of cortisol in the body, while triggering the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that help you to feel happy
  • Improves sleepthis then helps to reduce stress
  • Improves self-esteem this can really help with anxiety

Don’t have time for a long workout?

There are many ways in which you can quickly squeeze some exercise into just ten minutes of your day, although you should then do this twice a day for best results.

Try doing some squats or standing push-ups while cooking meals in the kitchen, or spend five to ten minutes a day climbing stairs.

If you drive quite often, try parking further away than where you would usually park, so that you have to walk for five to ten minutes.

Even while you are sat down watching TV, you can still be exercising…

Jog on the spot during commercial breaks, or use small weights to do some leg exercises while you are sitting.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are actually one of the most effective ways to instantly lower your stress levels.

When you breathe in a deep and relaxed way, even if you are forcing yourself to do this, it sends a signal to your brain to calm down. Your brain then sends this same signal to all of the different parts of your body, and, before you know it, you will feel so much less stressed and more relaxed. 

Want to give this a try right now?

All you need to do is:

  • Place your tongue behind your upper front teeth
  • Breathe in through your nose quietly, for a count of four
  • Hold this breath in for a count of seven
  • Exhale completely, forcing your mouth to make a whoosh sound while doing so, for a count of eight

You should then repeat these steps four more times

Spend Quality Time With an Animal

Did you know that science has proven that spending quality time with an animal can decrease stress in a few different ways?

Some may find this hard to believe, but it is true.

Just physically being around an animal, even if you are just watching a fish in an aquarium, decreases your blood pressure. Petting them will magnify this effect.

Animals can also help the way your body responds to stressful situations in the first place, reducing the amount of stress that you actually experience. 

Take a Natural Supplement

There are some supplements that can really help to keep stress levels low.

These include:

  • St. John’s Wort lifts the mood and helps you to look at situations in a more positive light
  • Rhodiola Rosea shown to reduce stress and lift the mood, which is why it has long since been used by athletes in Russia
  • Magnesiummagnesium deficiencies are extremely common, even though magnesium promotes relaxation while regulating the way in which the body responds to stressful situations
  • Valerian Roota herb that is commonly used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia, and has been proven to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate 

Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, you do need to ensure that you purchase any supplements from a reliable source, and only use high quality products.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times as a stress reliever, and can really be quite effective.

Not quite sure what aromatherapy is exactly?

It makes use of aromatic plant oils, such as essential oils, as well as other aromatic plant compounds to boost both physical and psychological well-being.

Plants can be extremely powerful, and many people respond well to scents, making aromatherapy worth a try.

Want to give it a go?

The easiest way to get started is by using essential oils. The best oils for stress relief are:

  • Lavenderwhen this is rubbed on the skin, it enters the bloodstream in just five minutes, reducing stress and agitation and boosting mental concentration
  • Cedarwoodhas a calming effect on the mind, while triggering the brain to release serotonin, which helps to stabilize the mood
  • Limerefreshing and uplifting, lime can really help with stress and anxiety caused by grief or sadness
  • Rosepromotes tranquillity in the body while boosting self-esteem and helping with depression
  • Orangea study carried out in Japan showed that patients taking orange oil for stress and depression were able to reduce their intake of antidepressant medications
  • Sandalwoodhas a therapeutic effect on the brain, helping to balance your emotions 

Wondering how to actually use these oils?

Some can be applied directly to the skin and then inhaled, although others will need to be mixed with a carrier oil, so make sure to thoroughly research the oils you choose to use.

Alternatively, place the oils in a diffuser, or sprinkle a few drops in a bath or shower.

Drink Some Tea

There is quite a bit of research out there that shows just how effective drinking tea can be when it comes to relieving stress.

Different studies prove different things, from the way in which drinking black tea can lower the levels of the stress hormone in their body to those who drink tea being able to de-stress much quicker than those who do not.

Just about all types of tea will have this effect, but you do need to be drinking it on a regular basis in order to experience these results.

Chew Some Gum

Don’t like tea?

Try chewing some gum instead.

This is actually something that has been done for centuries, with even the Ancient Mayans and Greeks chewing on tree sap. This practice was introduced to settlers, after which it spread all over the world, resulting in the modern day chewing gum we know today.

Wondering how chewing gum can help with stress?

Research suggests that chewing gum is able to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, leaving you feeling less stressed. It also helps to wake your brain up, keeping you feeling more alert and perceptive, meaning that you will be much better equipped to deal with stressors that come your way. 

If you find that this helps you…

You need to make sure that you do not rely on this stress-relieving method completely.

Why?

Because people who chew gum for stress tend to bite down harder on the gum each time they chew, and chew much more aggressively. This can then lead to jaw problems, which can get quite serious. 

Write It Down

The next time you are feeling stressed, try writing about it.

Keeping a journal is actually quite a meditative practice, and can help to reduce stress and its symptoms.

Not sure what to write about?

Write about the stressors you are currently experiencing, noting everything from what triggered the stressful situation to who you were with and how you feel, both physically and emotionally.

By doing this on a regular basis, you will be able to identify new patterns in your stressors, and may even be able to find a way to tackle these directly.

Give Someone a Hug

This may sound too easy to be effective, but giving somebody a hug can really help to relieve stress.

How?

Because hugging triggers your body to release oxytocin, a hormone that helps to promote relaxation in the mind, while boosting your mood and making you feel so much more positive about stressful situations.

Try to hug your loved ones multiple times a day to really take advantage of this.

Laugh

Laughing can be a fantastic way to relieve stress

You are probably thinking…

“I don’t feel like laughing when I’m feeling stressed!”

Even forcing yourself to laugh can make a huge difference.

How?

In a few different ways, such as:

  • By directly reducing cortisol levels
  • By bringing more oxygen into your body and into all of your organs
  • By relaxing your muscles to emphasize tension-relief

Give Yoga a Try

A study carried out on people experiencing chronic stress discovered that yoga was able to help relieve stress in 85% of subjects.

Yoga not only relaxes the body, but it relaxes the mind too, helping it to slow down.

It also encourages effective breathing, which, as mentioned above in the section on breathing exercises, can be so effective in reducing stress and its symptoms.

Already a fan of yoga?

Give some of these poses a try for the best stress-relieving effects:

    • Wide-legged forward bend
    • Low lunge pose
    • Standing forward bend
    • Garland pose
    • Legs up the wall
    • Bound angle pose 

Listen to Calming Music

It has long since been known that music can have such a relaxing effect on the body, and science has now proved this.

Listening to music can really help to promote relaxation within the body, not only lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, but also the amount of cortisol in your body.

Wondering what you should be listening to for maximum stress-relieving benefits?

Any type of music that you enjoy can help, but, for best results, slow-paced and instrumental music is ideal. Give classical, Native American and Celtic music a try, but make sure you pick something that you actually enjoy the sound of.

Eat Stress-Busting Foods

You are likely already aware of how the foods that you eat have a direct impact on your body, and this applies to the stress that you are feeling too.

There are many ways in which certain foods can help to relieve stress, such as:

  • Complex carbsfoods such as whole grain bread and oatmeal encourage the brain to produce more serotonin, giving your body a steady supply of this feel-good chemical
  • Fruits high in vitamin Cfruits such as oranges, lemons and strawberries help to reduce cortisol levels in the body while strengthening the immune system, all thanks to their vitamin C content
  • Leafy greens packed with magnesium, leafy greens can help to reduce stress-related symptoms
  • Avocadosthese are high in potassium, with half an avocado containing more potassium than a whole medium-sized banana. Potassium can really help to lower blood pressure, but be sure not to overdo it with the avocados, as they are also quite high in calories

Stress can really have such a negative effect on your life, which is why it is important to tackle this head on and keep your stress levels under control. The next time you find yourself feeling stressed, give a few of these stress-relieving tips a try to see what works best for you.

 

11 Unusual Ways to Manage Stress

Between work, school and family obligations, it’s easy to crumble under the weight of our day-to-day lives.

And no matter how much you try to practice a healthy lifestyle and maintain a clear mind, you still can’t seem to catch a break.

Which is odd, because you already know all the well-established de-stressing mantras: eat less junk food, exercise more, drink at least eight glasses of water a day…

And while all of this is sound advice, something just hasn’t clicked for you yet.

Perhaps you need a fresh take on how to battle with everyday anxieties that are burdening you.

You’ve come to the right place, then!

We have prepared a list of unorthodox stress relievers that can reduce anxiety levels and help you achieve a calmer, more balanced everyday routine.

And if you’re curious to find out what they are, make sure to keep reading – who knows, you might just find the perfect stress-reliever for your needs!

Fill Out a Coloring Book

Did you notice that in recent years, bookstore shelves have been lined with a curiously large number of coloring books?

And not in the children’s section, either.

This is because adult coloring books have been shown to work wonders when it comes to reducing stress levels and practicing mindfulness.

You don’t need much – a simple book with sketches, a couple of coloring pencils and, voila, you’re ready to switch off and immerse yourself in a simple, yet rewarding activity that can take you mind off the everyday worries.

When it comes to designs, coloring books come in all formats and themes: mandalas, botany, architecture, etc.

So, whatever your preferred visuals are, you can rest assured there’s a coloring book out there ready to become your stress-reducing project.

Chew Gum

Humans have been chewing on various things to improve their mood for millennia, all the way from the Ancient Greeks to the Maya.

Why is this the case?

Well, studies have shown that chewing gum can be immensely effective in minimizing stress and contributing to a more balanced mental state.

Moreover, if your mouth is preoccupied with chewing gum, your brain becomes more awake and perceptive, which can be very helpful in those stressful situations when you have to stay alert and focused.

And if you want to keep it on the healthy side, make sure to stash yourself with sugar-free gum. This way, you won’t have to worry about extra calories or carbs while you’re getting your dose of stress relief.

Dance Away the Worries

“Dance like no one’s watching” might sound silly, but this advice can be golden when it comes to reducing stress.

Just like it’s the case with any other physical activity, dancing will help you break sweat and boost blood flow, which will then release the endorphins – neurotransmitters that help alleviate symptoms of stress. 

However, unlike the more traditional forms of exercise like running or going to the gym, we tend to consider dancing to be something fun and liberating.

Moreover, if your work or school entails stuffy environments and ultra-professional behavior, dancing can be a great outlet for releasing the goofier side of yourself.

Finally, if you decide to make dancing a regular occurrence in your life, not only will you reap its benefits for the mental state, but you will also improve flexibility, build muscle and increase your stamina.

Moreover, if you’re looking to shed a few extra pounds but dread going to the gym, regular dancing can be a great fitness substitute.

Cook Your Favorite Meal

Sometimes, stress can be exacerbated by poor dietary choices.

When we’re swamped with work and other tasks, we tend to go for the least healthy, instantly filling foods, which often tend to be loaded with processed carbs and sugars. 

And these two are never good news for stress.

A good plan to avoid situations like these is to set aside some time to cook a meal from scratch.

You can do this either for yourself or even for your loved ones.

Make a list of all the groceries you need, prepare your favorite healthy recipe and get cooking!

And if you need inspiration on what are the best ingredients for a body-soothing meal, look into incorporating one or more of the following ingredients into your dish:

  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Carrots

Take your time to focus on every step of the cooking process and try to do so without distractions.

This will help keep your mind occupied on the task at hand and hand keep you distracted from worries that could otherwise infest your thoughts.

Not only will a cooking session take your mind off day-to-day problems, you will also have a healthy, replenishing meal at the end of it.

Hang Out with Your Pet

Our furry companions can also be amazing when it comes to diminishing stress levels.

Giving your beloved cat or dog a belly rub can give you an instant jolt of endorphins and dopamines, which in turn reduce stress.

Not just that, but having a four-legged friend with you at all times can help make you feel less lonely in case you live on your own.

Plus, when you have another living being to take care of, chances are you won’t have time to dwell on your concerns 24/7.

Moreover, if you have a pet that requires regular walks, this also means you have a reason to go out in nature more often than people who don’t own animals.

And when you do that, your body is replenished with many nutrients that can help improve your overall mood and well-being.

Chat with a Friend

When we’re alone in our thoughts, our worries can only grow bigger and more tangled.

In order to avoid this vicious circle, it’s important to reach out to people around us.

That’s why it could be a good idea to ring your friend when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed.

Having someone close to talk to will make you feel less alone and caught up in your own mind.

Moreover, verbalizing your problems out loud will help you put them into context and help view them more realistically.

On the other hand, you don’t even have to talk about all your problems and worries if you don’t feel like it.

A light, breezy convo can do wonders for improving your mood just as well.

For example, you can reminisce about fun or meaningful moments you’ve shared or exchange your favorite inside jokes.

Go to a New Place

Feeling sluggish and anxious can sometimes be a result of lack of movement and stale surroundings.

A change of environment can greatly improve your spirits and make you feel more productive and alerts.

This doesn’t mean you have to book an expensive trip or go miles away from your home.

Simple things like taking a different route to work or visiting a park or neighborhood in your city you’ve never been to before can also do the trick.

Spending time in unfamiliar environments will provide visual and mental stimulus for your brain. This will in turn help relieve stress and divert your attention to other things in your surroundings.

Moreover, if you decide to do a nature jaunt, this can also help boost your mood. Relaxing amidst greenery can calm the nerves, while the sun can replenish your body with Vitamin D, which can help lift your spirits when you’re feeling depressed and sluggish.

Sing, Sing, Sing

Stress can often become worse over time because we keep it buttoned up and hidden away from the eyes (and ears) of the world.

And if you’re not a particularly assertive or outspoken person, chances are you rarely speak up about things that concern or irritate you in your everyday dealings.

Did you know that singing can be a great way to release all the things you never get to verbalize?

It’s no wonder why so many nights out and business dinners often end in karaoke bars and rooms.

And if you feel too self-conscious to just start shouting at the top of your lungs in front of your family or housemates, you can do so when they’re out the house or while you’re in the shower.

Having your own mini-karaoke session in the bathroom or in your car can help you expel all the negative emotions you’ve been building up and start the day fresh.

Give Yourself a Facial

After a stressful day at work, in school or running errands, you just want to shut off from the world and unwind in the comfort of your home.

Why not elevate your relaxation to new heights and give yourself a little spa treatment?

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy; for example, a simple facial treatment can do wonders to relax your muscles and help you clear your thoughts.

Start off your mini-spa treatments by taking the day off with an oil or balm cleanser.

Once you wipe away all the makeup and daily grime, add another pump of your favorite face oil and start rubbing it into your face.

In the process, give yourself a face massage by moving the tips of your fingers in small, circular motions around your face.

Focus on your temples, your brow bone, center of the forehead and the jaw muscles, which tend to be very tense when we are stressed.

Once you’re finished with your face massage, treat yourself to a nourishing sheet mask infused with green tea, Aloe Vera or any other soothing nutrients.

Just slap one on and let it work its magic while you catch up on your favorite TV show.

If you want to treat yourself in the morning before work, you can also use pre-made ice cubes enriched with cucumber slices to awaken your skin and perk up your complexion.

Have a Glass of Orange Juice

In those moments when you’re feeling acute bouts of stress or anxiety, a refreshing glass of orange juice can do wonders for balancing your mood.

To make your own stress-annihilating drink, grab a couple of oranges and soften them up by rolling the fruit against a hard surface.

Cut them in half and squeeze them into a glass. Take a spoon and scrape off the pulp, then add it to your juice for more texture, fullness and nutrients. 

Your freshly squeezed citrusy concoction will be packed with Vitamin C, which can help diminish cortisol (stress) levels.

Not only will this zesty drink soothe your taste buds and calm your mind, it can also boost your immunity and even brighten up your skin.

Not only will this zesty drink soothe your taste buds and calm your mind, it can also boost your immunity and even brighten up your skin.

Sounds like an all-around win!

De-Clutter Your Office or Apartment

Sometimes, the cause for stress can lie in our immediate environment.

Think about it: how can you have an unencumbered, organized mind if your room or office space is a complete mess?

That’s why you might want to set aside some time to tackle the clutter and arrange your belongings in the most optimal way.

Not only will this help establish a clean canvas for your work or day-to-day life, the act of cleaning itself can have great therapeutic benefits for your mind and body.

To make the most out de-cluttering, arrange your things in such a way that all the items you use daily are easily accessible. Store the things that aren’t used as often in compartmentalized spaces. Finally, donate or get rid of all the things you absolutely don’t need anymore.

Freeing up your living and working space from unnecessary things will help you focus on the stuff that really matters. 

Arranging your apartment and office is not only liberating, it will also make you more productive and at ease.

Just make sure to maintain the order and you won’t ever have to worry about unwanted clutter in your life.

Hopefully, these tips can help you make the first steps towards clearing your mind and beating stress once and for all. With some luck, you will finally be able to have a fulfilling, worry-free daily routine.

Man running in the city against the sunset

9 Reasons to Give Running A Try

Running is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise, and many people today use it as their primary workout source or as a cardio-boosting addition to a more elaborate routine.

There are many reasons why running as exercise can be great: it increases stamina, tones the body and blasts calories. 

Furthermore, its benefits for mental health are not negligible either – running can help balance stressful schedules and help you center your thoughts.

Moreover, it’s practically free and can be done pretty much anywhere!

If this intro hasn’t made the case for running yet, let’s dive into all the reasons why this type of exercise might just be the ideal fit for you.

It Lowers Stress Levels

If you tend to exercise on the regular, you might already be aware of the fact that workouts can do wonders for your mood.

When we’re breaking sweat, our body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are incredibly beneficial in reducing stress and pain levels.

Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise can trigger the release of endorphins and contribute to an overall improved mood.

And running is a great way to squeeze in that precious endorphin-boosting session into your day-to-day routine.

Not only will running activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your veins, it will also give you an opportunity to be focused on nothing but yourself and your thoughts.

This will help you clear your mind and re-balance yourself.

Moreover, if your daily schedule tends to be hectic and your sleeping pattern is all over the place, running can contribute to a more regulated sleep-wake cycle, due to release of serotonin and other sleep-facilitating hormones.

Finally, the more you exercise, the physically fitter you’ll get. Watching your body transform for the better will increase your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in your skin.

It Increases Your Productivity

Our day-to-day lives are riddled with all kinds of stressful situations.

Whether you are worrying about your job, studies or other obligations, sometimes it’s hard to focus and keep your priorities straight.

When your mind is frazzled, it’s easier to slip up and fall behind on your schedule.

With running, you will not only feel more energized and physically fit, you will also improve your concentration and sharpen your mental abilities.

You will feel revitalized and ready to take on whatever challenge is presented before you.

Moreover, if you turn running into a regular habit, you will feel motivated to arrange the rest of your schedule around it and stick to your routine.

It’s no wonder that so many great minds of our time were also enthusiastic runners.

It Will Make You Go Outside

Very few modern-day jobs require being on your feet or spending prolonged periods of time outdoors – the majority of people go about their day sitting behind screens in stuffy offices and cubicles.

This can greatly affect your mood and make you feel sluggish and devoid of energy.

And if you don’t often come up with an excuse to venture outdoors, running can be a great tool for readdressing this issue.

By exercising out in the open, you will find a way to reconnect with nature, which will instantly make you feel more happy and fulfilled.

woman running outside with dog

How is this the case?

Well, being out in nature is closely linked to feelings of accomplishment and happiness.

Moreover, running outside will also replenish your body with Vitamin D, which tends to decrease during dark winter months.

Vitamin D can also contribute to strengthening your bones, soothing your nerves and improving your overall immune system.

And when you mix the benefits of being out in nature with a body-boosting workout, it becomes clear why this combination can be so beneficial for your overall wellness.

It Doesn’t Cost a Thing

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to take up exercising is the potential cost.

These days, even the most basic gym membership can put a strain on your wallet, not to mention the dizzying prices of tailored workout routines and personal trainers.

Furthermore, once you fall down the rabbit hole called the fitness sphere, you might start feeling that you’re not doing exercise right unless you’re shelling out big bucks for all the right equipment, workout gear, and state-of-the-art accessories.

It’s no wonder that the financial aspect of exercising turns people off physical activity.

Luckily, this is not the case with running.

To start running, all you need to do is get out of the apartment and get your two legs going.

OK, perhaps a pair of good running shoes might make your life easier.

Of course, if you want to enhance your running experience at a later date, you can always do so with various workout-facilitating accessories.

However, none of this is absolutely essential if you’re just looking to set your body into gear – which is what makes running one of the cheapest forms of exercise.

You Can Do It Anywhere

Sometimes, the hardest part about exercising is actually dragging yourself to the gym.

This is especially the case if you don’t live close to it.

And if you exercise at home, sometimes you’ll find this isn’t the ideal setting either, especially if your living space is cramped or if you share your apartment with other people.

If you decide to go running, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And yes, while running on treadmills is very convenient and requires the least amount of effort (especially during cold winter months), going outside to run is even better and more beneficial for your mind and your body.

Is there really that big of a difference, you ask?

The answer is yes! Whether it’s in nature or an urban environment, trail running activates more muscles than running on a treadmill, since your legs and feet move at different angles, depending on the surface and incline.

Consequently, you burn more calories and become firmer in a shorter amount of time.

Moreover, you’ll be more mentally stimulated due to constant changes in your surroundings – as opposed to the faceless interiors of gyms and exercise studios.

It’s Great For Losing Weight

If weight loss is the primary reason why you have decided to take up running, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this type of exercise is extremely effective at burning those extra layers of fat.

Even a simple, slow-paced jog can speed up your metabolism and help you shed the pounds faster.

But if you take it up a notch and start doing high-intensity runs, your body will be able to melt those calories away even faster.

Another great thing about running is that your muscles have to keep on working even after your workout is over in order to recover. This is called “the afterburn effect”.

Even better, combine your running routine with a couple of weekly strength training sessions, and your muscles will turn into bona fide fat-blasting machines.

And if you want to fully maximize on the weight loss potential of running, try to maintain a balanced diet. Processed sugars and fats may slow down your calorie-burning journey, so it might be best to switch to a diet packed with whole grains, veggies and nuts.

It Tones the Body

So, we learned how running can be extremely helpful in shedding excess weight.

But this type of exercise can also be efficient in sculpting your body and firming your muscles.

When you run, your legs tend to do most of the work. With time, you will notice how your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings are becoming more defined.

If your workouts involve running on diverse terrain with plenty of inclines, you can also rest assured your glutes will become toned as well.

However, firming your body through running doesn’t end with legs.

If you work out continuously, you will develop a strong and resilient core, which will result in more sculpted abdominal muscles.

A stronger core will improve your posture and prevent the occurrence of injuries during future workouts.

If your main fitness goal is to tone your body, you should make the most of your running sessions.

The best way to do this is to keep them varied and interesting. Combing long-distance runs with high-intensity sprints; try to run on all kinds of surfaces with different inclines.

This type of exercise will activate a good chunk of your muscles and enhance your performance. Plus, you can rest assured your workouts will never be boring!

It Clears Up the Skin

Some benefits of running are skin deep.

But hey, who’s complaining? If you can achieve a glowing complexion in addition to a healthy, toned body, then all the better.

There are many ways in which running helps improve your complexion.

For one, running boosts your circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients into your cells. This increases collagen production, which then results in plumper, firmer skin.

Moreover, when your skin cells are feeling energized, they are then motivated to shed your body of all the toxins and pollutants that can cause a host of different skin woes.

Moreover, when we exercise, the levels of stress hormone cortisol become gradually lower. And with lack of tension and stress, you lower the chances of developing stress-caused skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

However, in order to maximize on all the perks running has for your skin, you need to take a couple of precautionary measures.

For one, when possible, try to avoid wearing makeup when running.

A combination of thick product and sweat may cause breakouts. A lightweight, salicylic acid-enriched cleanser should give you a clean canvas and reduce the chances of spots and blackheads.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, be that on your face or your body, you might want to invest in quality workout gear. Avoid anything that’s too tight and opt for nature-derived fabrics like cotton or hemp. This way, your skin will be able to breathe and you won’t have to worry about pimples caused by sweat-drenched clothes.

It’s Social

Exercising can often feel solitary.

Between the unfriendly hours and drab gyms, it’s hard to look forward to a good workout when you know you’ll be alone with your thoughts for the entirety of the time.

This doesn’t have to be the case with running, though!

If you find yourself an exercise buddy, you’ll never have to worry about your runs feeling dull or lonely.

Moreover, when you set plans to run with another person, it makes it harder to bail out on workouts. Plus, having someone to talk to and catch up with will definitely make you excited for every running session.

social running group

Also, running with friends might awaken your competitive streak – by comparing yourself to another runner, you might feel extra motivated to do better with each running session.

And if you don’t have any friends who are willing to jog with you, you can always join a local running club. Not only will you have company during your sessions, you might make some new friends!

Finally, a great way to boost your performance is to join a race in your area. Half-marathons, marathons and charity races will inspire you to achieve better results and become a more accomplished runner.

Has this list convinced you to finally go for a run? With all the benefits running will provide for your body, you’d be foolish not to. Now it’s time to put on your best pair of trainers and hit the ground running!

Young woman laughing

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

Many people believe that happiness is something that happens by chance, but this is not necessarily true…

Instead, think of happiness as a life skill, something that you can work on and develop to ensure that you are feeling consistently happy each day.

Wondering how to do this?

It’s easy. All you need to do is adopt each of these habits into your daily life…

Meditate Daily 

For someone who has not bought into the idea of meditation, the thought of doing this on a daily basis can seem pointless.

However, meditation has been proven to have so many different health benefits, from increasing focus and concentration to improving memory. In addition to all of this, meditation on a regular basis can permanently rewire the brain to increase happiness levels. 

benefits of meditation infographic

Meditation is not something that has to take much time either…

When just starting out, all you need to commit to is a couple of minutes of meditation a day. Even if you are extremely eager to get started, it is always best to begin small, so that you can turn this into a habit that you will stick to.

Pick a time of the day to set aside for meditation, and find a quiet spot somewhere. Sit down comfortably, and then do the following:

  • Focus on your breath as you breathe in, following this through your nostrils, throat, lungs and stomach
  • Do the same as you breathe out, counting your breaths if this helps
  • If you find that your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath
  • Repeat this process for a couple of minutes

It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, so long as you do this process each and every day. After a week, you can increase your two minutes of meditation to five minutes, and keep doing this in five minute intervals each week.

It will take about a month for this to become a habit, after which time you will likely also notice the benefits that this brief daily meditation is bringing to your mind and body. 

Keep Busy, But Don’t Rush Yourself

There is an incredibly fine line between staying busy and feeling rushed, but it is this balance that can really make a huge difference to how happy you feel.

Research has shown that feeling rushed will inevitably lead to stress, and therefore unhappiness, while having too much free time results in boredom and dissatisfaction

On the other hand, being productive can really boost your happiness, but you need to do this at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Are you someone that often takes on more than you can handle?

The best way to handle this is to stop and think each time an opportunity or project comes your way. Unless you are really and truly excited and passionate about it, you need to learn how to say no.

Exercise

Do you do some form of physical activity each day?

If your answer is no, this is a habit that can really help with your happiness.

How?

Because exercise triggers the release of certain proteins and endorphins in the brain, all of which will make you feel happier. 

Exercise also helps to boost productivity, which will help with the point mentioned above about keeping busy.

Think you do not have the time to exercise each day?

Here are a few ways in which you can easily incorporate more exercise into your everyday life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Do some window shopping, but at a fast stroll
  • Stand more, whether this may be on public transport or while watching television
  • Do a ten minute long squat each day, or start with a shorter time and build this up each day
  • Install a pull-up bar onto a door frame in your house, and then do one or two reps each time you pass underneath it 

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

In order to really be happy, you need to be able to challenge yourself, and succeed at those challenges. Taking risks and embracing change is so important, even though it may seem frightening at the time.

Don’t like the idea of having to step out of your comfort zone each day?

This does not need to be anything crazy, like jumping out of a plane…

Instead, just try to do something small that you have never done before, whether this may be eating a new ingredient, styling your hair in a different way, or taking a new route to work.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet has a direct impact on your mood, and, even if you already eat quite healthily, the majority of people out there could likely easily make a few changes to improve their diet.

On a daily basis, you should be eating at regular intervals, as this helps to keep your mood stable, and make sure that you do not skip meals.

There are certain foods out there that have been proven to boost the mood, such as:

  • Protein – including eggs, seafood, poultry and tofu
  • Vitamin D obtained through sun exposure, but also comes from egg yolks and soy milk
  • Vitamin B-12 and Folate comes from broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, cottage cheese, lean beef and salmon
  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and oats

On the other hand, there are certain foods that can really throw your mood off, making it much more of a challenge for you to feel happy. The main culprit here is sugar, as well as refined white starches. While sugar may give you a short burst of energy, this will soon drop back down, leaving you feeling even crankier than before. 

So, how do you implement all of this on a daily basis?

It’s easy…

Small changes are the key here, as you do not need to completely overhaul your entire diet overnight.

Instead, aim to improve a small part of your diet each day in a way that you would not have normally done. This could be anything from adding one less spoonful of sugar to your morning coffee to incorporating some extra leafy greens in your dinner to swapping your white bread for a wholegrain version. 

Be Appreciative

Whether showing appreciation for someone else, or for yourself or what you have, being appreciative has been proven to significantly increase happiness levels, with some studies even showing that it can boost this by up to 25%

The idea of being more appreciative may seem easy in theory, but how do you actually go about doing this on a daily basis?

Simply verbally expressing appreciation for someone, whether this may be for something that they have done or just an aspect of their personality, is a great way to start. Alternatively, try writing a handwritten thank you note to somebody each day, but make sure that you are only sending this with sincere appreciation in mind.

Wake Up Earlier

When you first start working on implementing this habit, the earlier starts to your day will likely not immediately make you feel happy, but this is something that will develop quite quickly.

Waking up earlier will help to keep you feeling invigorated and energized throughout the day. It also gives you extra time in your day, which can help with productivity, which also then results in happiness. 

To top it all off…

Early starts mean that you are likely to start going to bed earlier, and will be able to maintain a much healthier sleep routine.

Just like with changing your diet, this is not something that you need to get drastic about.

Instead, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and give yourself a few days to a week to get used to this change. Once your body has adapted, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier again, and keep repeating this process until you have begun to naturally rise at a time that suits you.

Learn Something New

Human beings have a core need for psychological well-being, and a natural desire to learn new things and progress in life.

There are numerous studies out there that suggest that education can directly increase happiness, thanks to the way in which the mind is being challenged. 

Don’t want to go back to school?

Fortunately, you do not need to, as there are so many other ways in which you can learn new things. Here are a few ideas:

  • Arrange a skills swap with friends
  • Ask a keen gardener to teach you how to develop your green thumb
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Sign up for a free online course
  • Think of a skill or activity you would like to do, and use the power of the internet to teach it to yourself

Of course, there is no denying that learning new skills can often cause stress…

However, research suggests that while the actual learning process can sometimes feel stressful, your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction will be higher when you look back on your day and all that you have learned.

Give Yourself a Treat

Research shows that in order to be truly happy overall, you need to have plenty of small positive experiences along the way. The frequency of these experiences is actually more important than the intensity, which is why treating yourself on a daily basis can really help to boost your happiness levels.

Wondering what to treat yourself with?

Everything from breakfast in bed to purchasing gourmet coffee beans rather than instant to setting aside some time each day where you can curl up with a good book. 

Spend Money on Experiences, Rather than Material Goods

There are quite a few studies out there that show that experiential purchases, meaning spending money on experiences, makes people far happier than buying material goods.

Why?

For a few different reasons:

  • Material goods get old quickly, while experiences can be shared throughout a lifetime
  • Experiences get recalled and revisited frequently, boosting happiness
  • Experiences are much more unique in nature
  • Experiences tend to be social, and humans are social animals

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Do you remember constantly comparing yourself to other people when you were in your teenage years?

Hopefully, this is not something that you do quite as much now, since comparing yourself to others can really minimize happiness.

If you catch yourself making comparisons to others…

Turn this around and instead compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. Think about your qualities that have improved over the years, as these are much healthier comparisons to be making.

Keep a Journal

If you have never kept a journal before, the thought of starting one can seem a little daunting…

However, a journal is a great way to help your mind to process the events that are happening in your life, building up your awareness and increasing your clarity.

Even if you only manage to jot down a few lines a day, this can really help in the long run.

The easiest way to get started with this is by grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, but there are also journaling apps that you can download. These will send you notifications each day to remind you to write, which is always helpful when you are first trying to build a habit.

Not sure what to write about?

Just about anything will do! Start by writing down the events of the day, or even what you have eaten. You can also jot down your goals and dreams, as well as any worries or fears that you may have, as just the act of writing these down will help you to work your way through them.

Taking proactive steps to be happy means that you are much more likely to experience consistent happiness in your life, and it makes happiness more of a sure thing, rather than you just waiting and hoping for it to appear. Each of these daily habits are so easy to incorporate into your life, so have another read through the list and then pick a few that you can begin to implement right now.

Couple holding up bottled juices

10 Foods You Think Are Good For You, But Actually Aren’t 

Have you been trying to improve your diet and eat in a healthier way?

This can sometimes seem quite easy, thanks to the wide range of foods available that are touted as being healthy.

However, while you may think that you are doing your body some good by consuming everything from agave nectar to store-bought green juices to coconut oil, you could actually be causing more damage than you realize…

Store-Bought Green Juices

Green juices have exploded in popularity lately, and for good reason too…

Juicing fruits and vegetables means that you are extracting the fiber, which means that, when you consume them, your body is able to absorb and make use of the nutrients within them at a much more efficient rate. This then gives you the fantastic surge of energy that green juices are so famous for.

There are so many green juices available in stores these days, and while some of them may be quite healthy, the majority are likely not.

So, how do you go about making a decision?

Many people think a juice that comes in a vivid shade of green is definitely going to be healthy, but it actually only takes a tiny amount of spinach, or another green, to achieve this color. The rest of the juice will tend to mainly consist of fruits, rather than vegetables, as this not only helps the juice to go further, but it also makes the taste one that will appeal to a wider audience.

The only way to decipher whether or not a store-bought green juice is good for you is by taking a look at the ingredients list. Not only do you need to be looking at which fruits and vegetables have been used, but make sure you also examine how much sugar the juice contains.

You will find that many juices out there are actually packed with sugar, with some even containing just as much as a fizzy drink

Of course, the best way to enjoy a green juice without worrying about whether or not it is bad for you is by making your own.

This is actually easy to do, and can be made in larger batches so that you have some juice ready for whenever you need a kick of energy.

Coconut Oil

Around 72% of Americans think that coconut oil is a healthy food, but recent reports from the American Heart Association dispute this

While coconut oil does contain some good fats, around 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is a higher amount than everything from butter to pork lard to beef fat.

Cutting back on the amount of saturated fat in the modern diet is something that has been advised for a while now, and while coconut oil can have its benefits, it should not be consumed in copious amounts, which is what many do.

Coconut oil is also quite calorie-dense, with just one tablespoon of it containing around 120 calories.

While consuming small amounts of coconut oil is no doubt good for you, you would be best off sticking to healthier oils for daily use, such as extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, do not forget that, when used topically, coconut oil has some fantastic antifungal and anti-bacterial properties. 

Agave Nectar

If you have been looking into sugar substitutes, you have likely already come across agave nectar quite a few times, and maybe even used it yourself.

Agave nectar comes from the same plant that tequila is made from, and has a syrup-like consistency, making it a convenient sweetener to use.

But is it actually better than sugar?

Well, agave nectar does have a low-glycemic index, meaning that it does not cause sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

However, this only means that it does not contain glucose…

So what about fructose?

Agave is actually packed with fructose, which is the same substance that you would find in unhealthy high fructose corn syrup. There are a number of studies out there linking a diet high in fructose with a range of different medical issues, including heart disease. 

While agave nectar may be a better option than other artificial sweeteners, it is still a food that you should really try not to consume too much of.

Gluten-Free Foods

For those who have celiac disease, or a gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is essential.

However, for everyone else, a gluten-free diet can actually be detrimental to your health.

How?

In a few different ways:

  • Gluten-free foods usually contain less fiber, which is necessary for bowel health
  • When gluten is removed from a food, it loses its elasticity, so other refined ingredients, such as stabilizing gums, are added in instead
  • Gluten-free foods often contain more calories, fat and carbohydrates than their standard alternatives

With so many different celebrities deciding to adopt a gluten-free diet, it seems to have become the new dietary trend, even though there is really no evidence that points to gluten being detrimental for health unless you have celiac disease. 

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is another ingredient that has become quite trendy in recent years, and its distinctive pink hue not only looks pretty on kitchen shelves, but also contains small amounts of minerals. These include calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

However, have you actually looked into how much of these minerals are in the salt?

The answer is close to zero. While there are minerals present, these are in such tiny amounts that they really will not be making much of a difference at all to your health.

Many people use more Himalayan salt than regular salt, thinking that, because of the minerals, it is better for them. But, it is still just a salt, meaning that you need to be cautious with how much you use.

Low-Fat and Skimmed Milk

If you have been trying to watch your weight, then making the decision between a full-fat and a low-fat milk can seem like a no-brainer.

However, the low-fat version is actually something that you should avoid…

Why?

Well, to begin with, while whole milk does have more fats in it, many of these are good fats, and do everything from improving your metabolism to helping keep you feeling full.

Milk also contains a number of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Without the fat, skimmed milk will have far less of these vitamins.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you…

When skimmed milk is made, its consistency is nothing at all like whole milk. In order to make skimmed milk more palatable, the producers add in powdered milk, as this helps to improve its texture.

Why does this matter?

Because this process actually results in the milk containing oxidized cholesterol, which causes even more damage to your arteries than regular cholesterol.

There are many studies out there that point to the various reasons for which low-fat milk should be avoided, for both adults as well as children.

Store-Bought Almond Milk

One of the reasons that plant-based milks have become so popular recently is because their shelf life tends to be much longer than dairy milks.

But have you ever wondered why this is?

The answer is because the majority of plant-based milks are packed with preservatives, as well as a range of sugars, thickeners and stabilizers, as they need these to obtain their milky texture.

When it comes to almond milk in particular…

One of the most common additives that you will find in store-bought versions is carrageenan.

Have you ever heard of this before?

It is a common preservative, which has long since been linked to everything from intestinal inflammation to cancer.

You will also find a range of vegetable oils in almond milk, many of which do not actually benefit the body, as well as added vitamins and minerals that come in a form that the body cannot easily absorb and make use of.

For those who think that they are getting plenty of almonds in their milk, think again…

Studies have shown that many brands of almond milk out there contain no more than 2% almonds

The milk itself is also produced in a similar way to coffee, meaning that water is strained through ground beans, or, in this case, nuts. This means that the majority of the almond milk you buy is just water, and also does not have much of a nutritional value. 

Still need a dairy-free milk?

Try making your own! You can use just about any nut or seed that you can get your hands on, or even a mix of them, such as:

  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pecan nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Hemp seeds

You can then either store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it in batches so that you always have some to hand.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is often marketed as a healthy, on-the-go snack. While this is true in some cases, the majority of pre-made trail mixes out there are usually filled with calories, and contain ingredients that are actually rather unhealthy.

Does your trail mix contain just nuts, some dried fruit and some dark chocolate?

If so, you are on to a winner!

However, the majority of brands out there contain ingredients such as yogurt or chocolate covered raisins, sesame sticks, candy, and fried banana chips, all of which are packed with sugars, fats and refined carbohydrates.

Just like when it comes to plant-based milks, your best option is to make your own trail mix. This is so simple to do, and you will actually find that you end up saving money, and can also tailor your trail mix to suit your own personal tastes. https://resveralife.com/pump-fiber-diet/

Multivitamins

Research has shown that around half of American adults take daily vitamin supplements, but there are actually no studies at all out there that justify this.

In fact, the over-consumption of certain vitamins can actually lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Of course, from vitamin A to vitamin C to vitamin E, your body requires vitamins in order to properly function, but studies have shown that these vitamins are consumed in adequate quantity in the average diet. 

If you are taking multivitamins or another form of vitamin supplement, it may be worth looking into this in more detail, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not they are actually benefiting your body.

Sushi

High in protein and low in carbohydrates, sushi is definitely one of the more healthier meal options out there.

However, the problem here lies in the fish that is used…

Most of the time, you will find fish such as tuna, sea bass and swordfish used in your favorite sushi dishes.

Wondering what is wrong with these?

They are known for being some of the worst fish to eat when it comes to mercury contamination. This is something that cannot be detected on a fish in terms of sight, smell or taste, and also cannot be destroyed by cooking or preparing the fish in a certain way.

Here are some of the fish types that you should avoid:

  • Tuna, which is the most common source of mercury exposure in the USA
  • Mackerel
  • Seabass
  • Yellowtail

Instead, opt for smaller fish varieties, such as sardines, scallops and anchovies, as these are much lower down on the food chain in the sea, and therefore contain less mercury

Worried that you may have already consumed high amounts of mercury?

Fortunately, you can have this tested, through a blood test, with your physician. If you are a woman who is trying to get pregnant, you may want to wait on this until your mercury levels have dropped back down to a safer amount.

For many people, a healthy diet can be difficult to stick to, especially when foods that you think are healthy are actually not. The best way around this is by being diligent with every single ingredient that you put into your body, making sure to fully scrutinize the ingredients list of every pre-made product that you purchase.

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