woman drinking tea next to window

De-Stress for the Weekend

Have you had a particularly busy and stressful week?

Here are some tried-and-tested ways for you to de-stress for the weekend, so that you can really relax, unwind, and enjoy your time off.

Why is it Important to De-Stress?

Before you try to de-stress, it is important to understand why this is important, as this will give you the extra motivation needed to really make an effort.

Each time you experience stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which helps to trigger the fight or flight response in the human body. In ancient times, this would help humans escape from dangerous predators and other fatal situations.

effects of cortisol

However, in today’s world, stress can be caused by so many different factors, from a traffic jam to a late night at work. Your body cannot differentiate between how serious the stressor is, so will always release cortisol.

While this is not too harmful in the short term, it can really be damaging in the long run.

How?

Here are just a few of the physical and mental health problems that stress can cause:

  • Hypertension and headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Acne and other skin issues
  • Exacerbation of existing conditions, such as asthma, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome

While it may be difficult to control how often you feel stressed, there are, thankfully, a number of ways in which you can de-stress your body quite quickly.

Take a Deep Breath

The very first thing that you should do when you begin to feel stressed is focus on your breathing.

Why?

Because even just taking a few deep breaths will give your body an extra boost of oxygen, which will quickly help to relieve stress and tension.

On the other hand, shallow breathing, which people often do when they are stressed, does the opposite, and stimulates the nervous system, making you feel even worse.

In addition to taking a few deep breaths, you can push this even further and try out a couple of breathing exercises.

While these may seem futile, several clinical studies have proven that breathing exercises can help to do everything from reducing blood pressure to preventing damage caused by stress.

Go For a Walk

One of the best ways to relieve your body of stress is to get it moving.

This can be in the form of any sort of exercise, but walking tends to be the easiest to do when you want to de-stress quickly.

How does it work?

Well, when you take a brisk walk, your body releases several neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. These then improve your mood, as well as your overall sense of well-being.

In addition to this, exercise also helps to increase blood flow to the brain, which is another way in which it relieves stress.

Don’t have much time for a walk?

All you need is 15 minutes, as this is enough for you to experience some of the immediate benefits that exercise can bring. Of course, if you can spare a bit more time, then that will be even more beneficial.

Do Some Forest-Bathing

There is so much research out there to prove how forest-bathing can significantly reduce stress.

happy woman walking in the forest

No idea what this is?

Forest-bathing simply refers to spending some time in a forested area, and has been a trend in Japan for a while.

Why?

Because studies have shown that spending time in a forest will leave you with lowered cortisol levels, as well as lowered blood pressure. 

Buy a Few House Plants

While you may not be able to spend time in a forest every day, house plants are a great way to ensure that you have some contact with plants on a daily basis.

Just being around them can help to induce your relaxation response, so try incorporating a few around your home.

There are even some house plants that are known for their de-stressing benefits…

Here are a few:

  • Lavender – its scent helps to slow down heart rate, and lower blood pressure and stress levels
  • Jasmine – will help you to feel less anxious and more peaceful, while inducing sleep
  • Rosemary – purifies the air while reducing stress and anxiety
  • Aloe Vera – cleanses the air of certain toxins while treating symptoms of anxiety
  • Snake Plant – improves energy levels while treating stress-induced headaches

A Good Night’s Sleep

There is an increasing number of studies out there that point to the connection between regular, quality sleep and the ability to overcome stress.

A good night’s sleep helps your mind and body to repair and restore itself, resulting in a number of different benefits:

  • Lowered stress levels
  • Better emotional regulation
  • Stronger immune system
  • Decreased risk of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease

Feeling too stressed to get to sleep? 

Try to create a relaxing environment in your bedroom, with the use of candles, essential oils and soft music. There are also many breathing techniques out there that could have you fast asleep in no time at all.

Have a Laugh

The idea of laughing when you are feeling immensely stressed may seem a little far-fetched, but even faking a few laughs can have an impact, really making you feel so much better.

How?

Laughing has been proven to have the ability to decrease the amount of cortisol in the body, while also reducing inflammation within arteries.

Pucker Up

Don’t feel like laughing?

Try kissing instead.

couple kissing

Studies have shown that this works well for women in particular, as kissing that special someone on the lips triggers the brain to release endorphins.

The kiss does not need to be sexually arousing, but should be a deep and emotional one. Aim for at least one ten-second kiss a day to keep your stress levels to a minimum.

Eat a Meal Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Stress and food are closely connected, which is why many people often reach for junk food to comfort them in times of stress.

However, the excess sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients will only make you feel worse in the long run.

Want to know what to eat to make you feel better?

Food containing omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids prevent the body from producing too much cortisol, which will stop you from feeling so stressed. It also triggers the release of a hormone called DHEA, which is known for being able to combat stress, doubling the effects that omega-3 fatty acids can have.

So, which foods do you need to eat?

Here are some of the foods that are richest in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Herring
  • Flaxseeds
  • Egg yolk

Chew Some Gum

Can chewing gum really help you to de-stress?

Science says yes, and while it may not help during times of extreme stress, it will definitely make a difference if you are experiencing mild to moderate stress.

Studies have shown that chewing some gum can reduce the amount of cortisol in the body by 16% during mild stress, and 12% during moderate stress.

While this may seem too good to be true, it is definitely a method worth trying!

Listen to Some Music

Music has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, so spending some time listening to a few tunes could really help you to de-stress before the weekend.

woman dancing to music

Not sure what to listen to?

Give classical a try for maximum benefits, as this has been shown to slow down the heart rate, decrease cortisol levels, and lower blood pressure.

However, just about any sort of music will still trigger your brain to release plenty of neurochemicals, such as dopamine, which will have you feeling great.

Don’t have any music at hand?

Make your own! Even humming to yourself can help to lower stress, so don’t be afraid to sing a few songs aloud.

Unplug

If you are someone that tends to be glued to your smartphone, then you should know that these have been linked to heightened stress levels. There are so many other ways in which the modern world over-stimulates the mind, leading to an increased stress response.

The best way to take some time out from all of this is to unplug. Turn off your phone and your computer, and spend some time in an environment where there are no electronic distractions. Whether you create a small haven at home, or head to the beach to spend the day with the sun, sand and sea, unplugging can really help to re-balance your mind.

Play a Video Game

While electronics do often contribute to an increase in stress levels, they can also help to reduce them.

One example of this is with video games, which decrease stress and improve the mood.

How?

By absorbing your mind in the game that you are playing, which provides the perfect distraction to give your nervous system some time to calm down.

However, the type of game that you choose is key…

Violent games should always be avoided, while the most beneficial games tend to be puzzle games.

Write It Down

There is no denying that journaling is a great way to reduce stress, but there are several different theories as to why this is.

Whatever the reason may be, writing about stressful events or moments will help you to process them so much better. On the other hand, if you choose to ignore what you are feeling, this will only heighten your body’s stress response.

Journaling also enables you to take a look at your stressors from a different perspective, giving you the chance to observe how you can improve things in the future.

You do not need to spend long writing, as just a few minutes may be all you need. Try to do this every day, so that you get into the habit of it and it soon becomes second nature.

Eat a Banana

While eating a banana may not help during times of extreme stress, this is definitely a clever trick to try if you are experiencing mild stress.

How does it work?

Well, during times of stress, blood pressure rises. Bananas are packed with potassium, which can quickly regulate blood pressure.

Bananas also provide the body with the energy needed to rise above a stressful situation, while protecting the body from some of the negative effects that stress, and cortisol, can have, from a stroke to a heart attack to depression.

Learn a Craft

The majority of crafts out there tend to make use of repetitive motions, and these are known to be extremely meditative, relieving stress and reducing anxiety.

Knitting is a great example of this, as it features so many repetitive motions.

knitting red jumper

Not a fan of knitting?

Try cross-stitch instead, or have a go at making your own jewelry.

Spend Time With Friends

There are a few studies out there that show that spending time with a close friend can really help to decrease cortisol levels in the body.

Don’t have any friends nearby?

Give man’s best friend a try instead. Dogs are known for being able to lower stress levels and increase happiness. Even if you do not have a dog of your own, or know anyone that has a dog, you can still head over to your local animal shelter and spend a few hours volunteering with all of the dogs that live there.

De-Clutter

Surrounding yourself with masses of clutter is only going to make you feel stressed so much easier.

De-cluttering can seem like an intimidating task, but, by taking it one small step at a time, you will soon accomplish all you need to.

Begin with a small part of your home, such as a drawer, throwing out what you do not need and then re-organizing what remains.

Each day, or even each week, tackle a new part of your house, until your whole home has been de-cluttered.

 

relaxed woman sitting on the bank of river

11 Steps to a Calm, Relaxed Mind

Learning how to relax your mind is an essential life skill to have, especially in this day and age where stress is so abundant. Not only will this help to mentally rebalance you, but calming your mind will also give your brain a bit of a boost, resulting in higher creativity and productivity.

  1. Listen to Some Music

Music can have quite the impact on your mind, with different genres of music having their own unique effects.

For those who need to reduce stress, studies have found that instrumental music can be extremely effective at relaxing the mind, especially Native American, Celtic and Indian tunes. Light jazz and classical music can also have this same effect, as can sounds of nature, such as rain and thunder.

If you need some help getting to sleep at night, try spending 45 minutes before bed in a relaxed, comfortable position, while listening to some calming music.

Alternatively, if you need some help lifting your mood, go for something lively and upbeat, as this can really help you to feel more positive.

Of course, singing along to music is also a great way to release tension while boosting your mood at the same time.

  1. Snack on Some Calming Foods

Feeling anxious or worried can often lead to stress eating, which is the term used when someone eats to make themselves feel emotionally better, rather than eating because they are hungry.

When this happens, the foods that are eaten are often high in salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that only end up making the stress feel so much worse.

In order to keep your mind feeling relaxed, try opting for one of these calming snacks instead:

  • Walnuts – helps to regulate cortisol in the body, which is the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline
  • Asparagus contains enough folic acid to quickly boost the mood
  • Oranges, Berries and Other Vitamin C-Rich Fruits studies have shown that vitamin C can lower cortisol levels, while also lowering blood pressure
  • Chamomile Tea calms nerves and reduces symptoms of anxiety
  • Dark Chocolate maintains calmness in the body while lowering blood pressure
  • Oatmeal stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, which is a chemical that immediately lifts the mood
  1. Give Meditation a Try

If you have been looking into different ways to relax your mind for a while now, then you will likely have already stumbled upon the recommendation of meditation

So, have you given it a try yet?

Meditation is something that so many people do not fully believe in, dismissing it as something that would never work. However, science has now backed up some of the many calming benefits that meditation can bring.

To begin with, studies have found that meditation can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the same way that antidepressants can, and to the same extent as well. It can also trigger changes in the way in which the brain thinks about the self, which can really make such a difference to anxiety.

If you are not feeling anxious, but simply have trouble controlling your distracted mind, then meditation can help with this too. Research has shown that meditation can decrease the activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for your wandering mind, keeping you focused on the task at hand.

  1. Write it Down

When your mind is racing with what seems like a million thoughts, writing it all down can really help.

How?

Firstly, the act of writing in itself is enough to engage the mind enough to slow it down a bit, while putting your thoughts down on paper helps to organize them, preventing everything from seeming so chaotic.

woman writing in a notebook

Want to give this a try?

Use a notebook if you prefer writing by hand, or create a special document on your computer if you prefer to type. Then, spend 15 minutes or so jotting down everything that happens to be in your mind.

This does not need to be in any particular order, so long as you are able to get all of your thoughts down.

Once you are done, put this aside for now. You can then return to it a bit later and really give everything your attention, once things are not so frenzied.

You will likely find that writing it all down makes you feel so much more in control of things, and helps to ease some of the stress taking place in your mind.

  1. Get Moving

It has been proven countless times now that exercise is an extremely effective way to improve well-being, especially when done on a regular basis. 

Wondering how it does this?

Firstly, exercise triggers changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters, the ones that are responsible for your mood. What makes this even better is that these changes are quite long-lasting, meaning that they will still be in effect hours after you are done exercising.

For those who are feeling a bit down about things, a 2006 study found that exercise can actually have similar effects to antidepressants in the way that it promotes the growth of new neurons in the brain, therefore alleviating depression and anxiety.

To make it even better, exercise that features repetitive motions, such as running, is actually classed as a meditative activity, and, for those who have a tough time calming their mind enough to fall asleep at night, exercise can help with this too, making it much easier to sleep each night.

  1. Spend Some Time in Nature

Another easy way to quickly calm your mind is to simply step outside and head somewhere where there is plenty of natural beauty.

This is something that has been proven quite a few times, and there is a very interesting reason behind it…

Plants and trees release special chemicals that help to slow down the rate at which they decay, and these same chemicals can help to slow your mind down as well.

Studies have found that just a short walk in the woods, or anywhere else where there is plenty of nature, can significantly lower cortisol levels in the body, helping you to feel less anxious, while also boosting your memory at the same time. 

  1. Play a Game

Playing certain types of games, such as puzzles, can really help some people to relax their mind and lower stress levels.

How?

Well, due to the hectic nature of modern day life, many people end up feeling bored when they try to relax, as they have become accustomed to always having a certain level of stimuli in their life. Puzzle-type games can help with this, as they do still provide a mental challenge, but not too much, meaning that they are able to still pull people into a state of mindfulness.

Puzzle games also trigger the brain to produce more dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that helps to improve the mood and balance out brain chemistry, keeping you in a state of relaxation.

Wondering which games you should be playing?

Give one of these a try:

    • Sudoku
    • Crossword puzzles
    • Wordsearches
    • Brain-teasers and riddles
    • Electronic puzzle games, such as Bejeweled
    • Jigsaw puzzles

woman playing sudoku

  1. Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for your well-being, and this not only refers to the number of hours that you sleep for, but also the quality of sleep that you generally have.

Wondering how much sleep you need each night?

Eight hours is what the average person needs, but many people do not end up getting this amount, often due to an over-active and stressed out mind.

If you can relate to this, then there are a few steps that you can take to help your mind and body to unwind before bed, so that you fall asleep quickly and easily:

    • Spend an hour before bed relaxing your mind, keeping away from your TV, computer, phone, or any other electronic devices
    • Develop a pre-bedtime routine that promotes relaxation. This can include a warm bath, a good book and some calming music
    • Drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed, as this helps to induce sleep
    • Make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes
    • Try a breathing exercise while lying in bed
    • Develop a regular sleep schedule that you stick to on weekends as well as weekdays
  1. Stop Multi-Tasking

While it may often feel as though you are getting more things done by multi-tasking, this may sometimes not be the case. By having so many different distractions, your mind will end up scattered, and you will actually not be very productive in the end.

One key to keeping your mind relaxed, calm and focussed is to only concentrate on a single task at a time.

Do you find it difficult to do this?

Try making a list at the beginning of each day, writing down all of the tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Then, prioritize the tasks, and tackle them one by one, starting with the most important and working your way down.

In addition to only working on one task at a time, you should also try to stop multi-tasking in other ways. For example, you are likely to be regularly checking your phone, or your emails, while you are doing something else. Try to put a stop to this, so that you really are completely present in the task that you are currently doing.

  1. De-Clutter Your Environment

While having some clutter in your home or at work may not seem like that big of a deal, research has shown that clutter can actually have quite the impact on the way in which your brain processes information.

In the same way that multi-tasking can impair your ability to properly concentrate, having too much clutter will end up overloading your senses, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and drained of mental energy.

The brain actually finds organization much easier to deal with, meaning that when you enter a de-cluttered space, your brain will not have to work so hard, which will have you feeling far calmer. 

You’re probably thinking…

“That all sounds great, but how do I actually get started with de-cluttering?”

Begin with a small part of your home, even if this is just a single drawer in your dresser.

Take all of your belongings out and then sort them into the following piles:

  • Keep – these are the items that you often use
  • Sell items that you do not use, but could be worth some money
  • Give Away items that you can donate to charity
  • Trash or Recycle items that would be of no use to anyone

Once you have organized a small part of your home, move on to the next, allocating yourself an area of your home to de-clutter each evening, or even each week.

woman decluttering her environment

Before you know it, your home will be de-cluttered. You can then take this principle and apply it to other areas of your life that need de-cluttering, such as your office or your car.

  1. Ensure That You Are Having Enough Social Contact

Social contact is such an important part of keeping the mind and spirit relaxed and happy, but, as a person becomes older and more stressed, this is an area of life that often ends up being neglected.

Having friends that you can talk to can really help to keep you calm, in a number of ways:

    • Talking to a friend about a problem can lower cortisol levels in the body
    • Having close friends tends to make people healthier in terms of diet and exercise, both of which will help keep your mind calm
    • Laughing on a regular basis can reduce stress and improve your mood

If you know that you have been neglecting the social side of your life a bit lately, then this is something that needs to change. Try setting aside a chunk of time each week that you dedicate to spending with friends, even if this may just be a quick drink after work.

Healthy lifestyle

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Office with plant

Improve Your Health With A Nice Office Plant

If you have seen “Little Shop Of Horrors” you may not be so enthusiastic about the idea of owning a plant. After all, the idea of a human blood- sucking Venus Flytrap with a mind of its own is not exactly the most encouraging image for the novice horticulturist. However, if you are not yet scarred for life by the image of your small table plant coming to life and crooning, “Feed me Seymour” in a funky baritone, you may not be completely adverse to the idea of becoming a parent to a beautiful bouncing office plant. And, if so, you may be among the fortunate individuals that can reap the health benefits of having such a plant on your office desk. Here are some of the reasons you should make your workplace a little greener.

Plants Improve Air Quality
Studies have shown plants can play an important role in improving indoor air quality. In 1973, environmental scientists found the swamp plants could actually eliminate Agent Orange from water samples and volatile organic compounds from the air. Additional research suggests that people recover from illnesses faster when surrounded by greenery.Plants Reduce Stress

Plants Reduce Stress
A State University Study at Surrey University in the UK confirmed beliefs that office plants can reduce stress. Participants in the study were asked to take a difficult exam. Half the participants did so in a plant-filled room, while the other half did not. Measurements taken afterward proved that the presence of plants eased stress for participants and that subjects recovered more quickly from stress in a plant-filled environment.

Woman holding plant

Plants Increase Productivity
With the reduction of stress comes the increase of productivity, research has found. A study published in the “Journal of Environmental Horticulture asked a group of workers to perform a simple task on a computer in a room filled with plants, while another group was asked to perform the same task in a plant- less room. Results showed a 12% increase in productivity in the workers who accomplished the task in the presence of plants. These workers also reported feeling 10% more attentive after completing the task than those tested without the horticulture.

Plants Make A Room More Comfortable
Although a thirty to sixty percent humidity is the range recommended for human health and comfort, many offices come up short of these numbers, especially during the winter and summer. Low humidity can lead to conditions increasing fatigue and respiratory discomfort. Findings by Washington Star University show that humidity rises significantly when plants are added to the environment, with one study demonstrating plants’ abilities to bring a room to the ideal range of comfort.

Plants Make You More Aware of the Environment
There’s nothing like a plant on your desk to keep you thinking about your eco-consciousness. Tending to a plant every day is a great reminder of how important it is to care about the earth. Let the shrubbery turn your thoughts to how you can add a few more eco-conscious habits to your workday, such as reducing paper and employing reusable products.

How has a plant added to your earth friendliness? Let us know why you keep a plant in your office for your mental and physical health.

Woman exercising

Get A Handle On Your Health

When it comes to health, are you a Felix or an Oscar? Maybe you remember an episode of the original Odd Couple where the two protagonists order room service. Oscar, the wild man, typically orders a rare steak with a baked potato and fried onions, while the mild-mannered Felix opts for sand dabs, cottage cheese, and weak tea. Where do you fall in? Are you the one drinking a smoothie and wielding a yoga mat headed for the nearest gym, or the one at the donut shop peering out from your stained napkin.

If you are the Oscar, you might be noticing a proliferance of healthy people out there and you may even be starting to feel that you are in danger of being run over by the relentless human race. But, buck up, you too can get a handle on your health by taking some simple steps.

To Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, its always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutririonist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating – all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgement. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure your surrounded with people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big Xes on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day to day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend.

Improve Your Diet
It’s all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives. MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health in the New Year. We love to hear it!

Woman painting

Live Well: Ways to Instantly Improve Your Mood

If you’ve ever thought to yourself that it will nice to be happy someday, listen up. You don’t have to make happy an abstract goal for your future, you can do things to make yourself happy in the next few minutes. We put together three of the quickest and easiest ways you can instantly improve your mood no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Woman sitting besides a pond.

Head Outside
You know the saying ‘you’re only one workout away from a good mood?’ It’s completely true, but it can be difficult to increase physical activity during periods of depression or great stress. Even if you don’t have added feelings of lethargy from depression, it can be difficult to find time for a workout in the middle of your workday when you find yourself stressed and anxious. Taking a brisk walk can significantly boost your mood and energy levels, and venturing outside for your walk is even more beneficial. Research points to the fact that sunlight stimulates chemicals in your brain that help improve your mood. You don’t have to spend your entire lunch hour outside working up a sweat, just a 10-minute brisk walk is all you need to feel reinvigorated. And if you absolutely can’t get outside due to location or weather, spend some time roaming the office halls or walking the stairs for a quick burst of energy.

Chamomile Tea.

Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has long been a bedtime remedy for those who have trouble falling asleep and recent studies show that drinking this tea really is effective at reducing anxiety or feelings of stress. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, 57 participants who had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder were given chamomile supplements for a period of eight weeks. The results were a significant drop in anxiety levels and increased feelings of calm. Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that in addition to promoting calm, chamomile tea can promote sleep. Drink a cup of chamomile tea after a hectic work meeting in the afternoon or at the end of the day to promote peaceful, calm feelings or to really unwind, turn off your electronic devices (yes, including the TV and your cell phone) and enjoy a cup nightly with a book or your favorite music playing. This helps create a ritual that your body associates with feelings of rest and relaxation.

Aromatherapy oils.

Use Aromatherapy
For centuries, aromatherapy and essential oils have been used to address a vast number of concerns that include soothing ailments both physical and mental. The next time your mood declining, try one of the following essential oils. Lemon is particularly helpful when you are feeling angry, anxious or rundown and exhausted because it promotes concentration in addition to containing calming and clarifying properties. If you’re feeling sad or depressed, try jasmine. Jasmine, like lemon, also has a soothing effect, but it also helps lift your mood by increasing optimism, energy levels and confidence. When you need to really unwind and relax, reach for lavender because lavender soothes nerves, relieves nervous tension and can help control depression. One of our lifestyle partners, 21 Drops, features incredible, unique blends of essential oils in a fun and convenient packaging so you can take your essential oils with you wherever you go and not have to worry about spills or bulky glass containers.

It would be amazing to be calm, happy and energetic all the time, but that just isn’t very realistic. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to just muddle through feelings of anxiety or depression. These three tips help you to instantly improve your mood, helping you to tackle stress and negativity in a positive way.

Woman jogging in the morning.

How Long Does it Take to Get Out of Shape

Advertisers selling everything from fake tans to bikinis all welcome the summer season by telling you that you need to “get your body beach-ready.” No matter what that phrase may or may not mean to you, exercise is an important aspect of your overall health and well-being. The terms “in shape” and “out of shape” are relative depending on genetics, age and health. You probably won’t have the same definition of being  in shape or beach ready as the co-worker next to you, but in general you know that getting in shape requires a nutritious diet and regular exercise.

In a perfect world, you would fit your daily workout in with no problem, but your life is hectic and busy and sometimes chaotic. So you take a day off from your fitness routine, no big deal. But how many days off does it take before your body is out of shape again?

Fitness Levels
As previously mentioned, the amount of time that passes before you get “out of shape” is dependent of several things and one of these is your starting level of fitness. Again, it is impossible to pinpoint an exact scale of how fit you are, but the components that go into your fitness level include:

  • Cardiovascular endurance – This refers to what many people associate with general fitness, how well your cardiovascular and respiratory systems endure periods of vigorous activity without becoming winded.
  • Muscular strength and endurance – These areas of fitness are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Muscular strength refers to your ability to use your muscles to their maximum capacity while muscular endurance indicates how well your muscles perform repetitive tasks over time.
  • Flexibility

Woman catching her breath while jogging.

In Shape to Out of Shape
Just as it takes varying periods of time for people to get in shape, it takes different people different periods of time to become out of shape. Craig Rasmussen, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in California, states that after taking a period of two weeks off, “we will probably start to see a decline in general fitness levels.” He adds that “these can occur at different rates in the muscular and cardiovascular systems.” Typically it is your cardiovascular endurance that declines first due to the fact that your muscle memory helps retain a certain level of strength and endurance.

Rasmussen notes that after two weeks it is still probably safe for you to get right back to your normal fitness routines without risking serious injury or damage to your health. However, the longer you remain inactive and the further out of shape you get will determine what intensity you can safely do when you return to working out. The longer you stay away from your fitness activities, the longer it will take to get back to your in shape state. Health professionals recommend at least three to five days a week that include vigorous exercise in order to maintain a level of health and fitness.

Woman changing the time of the day.

Resveralife Live Well: Revel in the Most Pleasurable Time of Day

You have a lot to do during any given 24 hour period. Pressures like work, making it to the gym, cooking and taking care of kids all add a degree of stress to your day. Additionally, these activities all take up significant amounts of your day. Chances are that by the time you finally collapse at night you are too exhausted to do things for yourself that bring you happiness or stress relief. Fortunately, Resveralife came across a recent study published in the Journal of Personality suggests that simply being present and aware during a specific time of day can increase feelings of relaxation and enjoyment.

Digital clock showing 07.00

The Magic Hour
According to the study, the most fulfilling time of day is 7:00 P.M. What are people doing at this hour that makes them happier at any other time of day? Well, because the activities that bring people happiness differ, so do their activities at 7 P.M. One of the study’s authors, Erica Baranski, explains “It is possible that 7 P.M. is unique over other times of day in that the things that generally make us feel comfortable and happy are present. Maybe all the ingredients that make life pleasurable are present at this time more often than at any other time.”

The study used 5,447 members of college communities in 20 different countries and most of the respondents reported feeling the happiest at 7 P.M. When you think about it, the logic behind Baranski’s statement makes complete sense. By 7:00, most people are done with work which is immediately a bit of a relief. Some people have already prepared and eaten their evening meals while others still have a delicious experience ahead of them. Parents may be spending quality time with children or preparing them for bed. Maybe you’re looking forward to an evening full of possibilities. Whatever the night holds, at 7 P.M. the majority of people are free to choose what they do with their time, a feeling that is linked to increased levels of happiness.

Woman getting a manicure at a salon.

How to Make 7:00 Your Happy Time
The good news is that making the most of the 7:00 hour really doesn’t require much effort from you. Many of the positive effects of this time in the day are simply from being able to make your own plans and surround yourself with comfort. However, if you want to know how to make the most of your 7:00 ask yourself a few questions. What activities truly bring happiness and peace to you? How can you incorporate more quality and meaning into these activities?

This Resveralife Live Well Guide lists a few options for activities that can make 07.00 PM your happy time.

  • Pampering yourself – Give yourself a manicure/pedicure or head to a local salon if one is open a bit later in the evening. Take a relaxing bath with scented oils for extra luxury. Put on a face mask or a deep conditioning hair treatment.
  • Get social – Head to your favorite bar or restaurant with friends for happy hour. Gather your family for a family game like charades.
  • Take it easy – Prepare an easy, but tasty meal for yourself. Bring up your Netflix queue and indulge in your favorite entertainment.

No matter what activities you choose, take some time to enjoy them at this magical and pleasurable hour of the day.

Mother with her daughter in her backyard.

Stress Busting Tips for Mom

Stress levels continue to rise for modern mothers and 70% of mothers surveyed in the United States rate motherhood as “incredibly stressful.” The pressures of everyday family life not only consume time and energy, but they also consume the mind as well. Worrying about finances, success in academics and cultivating a healthier family take their toll on mothers. Below, Resveralife offers some of the most effective tips to help bust stress, if only for a few minutes, and have more peace in your day.

Beautiful woman writing in her diary in a park.

Stay Organized and Plan Ahead
It can be difficult to plan for a typical day with your children, but there are steps you can take to stay organized and help reduce stress. Your kids can constantly come up with new ways to add unexpected stress to your day and those are hard to plan for, but there are also times during each mom’s day when things are stressful. One of the most stressful times of the day is morning. Someone lost a shoe, your keys are magically missing, your child cannot decide what to wear and you’re out of milk. Starting your day this way not only stresses you out in the morning, but it makes your day more chaotic as well. Experts suggest that parents, particularly mothers, rise a bit earlier in the morning than the rest of the house. This way you get at least a bit of uninterrupted time in the morning which starts your day with a sense of calm. Leave outfits for the next day (including shoes) out the night before for easy dressing and make an extra set of keys to save time searching for them every morning.

Woman performing a yoga breathing exercise in an outdoor setting.

Learn Calming Techniques
Moms are going to experience stress each day and it is incredibly helpful to have a few strategies for calming yourself down. One way of doing so is to practice deep breathing. Experts suggest employing the 5-7-8 breathing method to center yourself. Inhale for a count of five, hold your breath for a count of seven and the exhale for a count of eight. This may feel completely foreign and uncomfortable at first, but it slows you down and relieves stress. Another method experts say is helpful is to spend a few minutes each day meditating. You may think you have no time to simply sit and do nothing, but taking just a few minutes every day can help reduce stress significantly. Start small with three to five minutes and sit in silence. If you find it too hard to shut off your thoughts, try focusing on a calming word or phrase and repeat this as you breathe deeply.

Woman trying to hold a butterfly.

Be Present
One of the biggest stresses mom face is worrying about everything that must get done each day. When you spend your time thinking about all of the things that need to be done and how things could go wrong, you are missing out on living in the present moment. Try to really focus on what is going on around you. Notice your surrounding, listen to the noises, inhale deeply and experience the smell of your area. Channeling your stress energy into immersing yourself in the moment naturally relieves stress.

Let’s face it, being a mother is not an easy job. However, it is also the most rewarding one you’ll ever have. With your day so busy it can be overwhelming to take a few minutes out to just focus on yourself, but when your stress is lowered, everyone around you experiences increased happiness as well.