Focused woman writing in journal, on sofa at home

How Journalling Improves Your Mental Health

While many people keep a diary in their teenage years, this is a habit that so many tend to lose as they progress into adulthood. Although this may be a habit that you have never thought twice about since, journalling can really make a huge difference to your mental health. 

What is Journalling?

Journalling has been going on since ancient times, with the first known journals dating back to Japan in the 10th century. 

To put it simply…

Journalling is the practice of recording your thoughts, emotions and reactions to different events and situations. It differs slightly to keeping a diary, in the sense that a diary is more of a record of daily occurrences, whereas a journal is more about reflecting on life in order to gain some clarity. 

The advantages of journalling have been recognized by many famous faces over the years, with everyone from Oscar Wilde to US presidents choosing to keep a journal. 

In the past couple of years, social media has brought journalling back into the spotlight. Everything from bullet journals and gratitude journals to digital journals and journalling apps (all of which will be discussed in more detail further on) are becoming more popular, but why exactly is this? 

The Mental Health Benefits of Journalling

When you take a look at all of the many mental health benefits that journalling can bring, it is easy to see why this practice is now becoming increasingly popular. 

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two mental health conditions that can really take their toll on a person’s overall health. 

Chronic stress, along with the anxiety that this causes, can lead to: 

  • High blood sugar and blood pressure 
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart attacks 
  • Depression 
  • A weak immune system 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Digestive issues 
  • Fertility problems

People are constantly looking for ways in which they can manage their stress and anxiety levels, and journalling is a great place to start. 

How does journalling help with stress and anxiety?

Well, research has found that journalling enables people to release their worries and anxieties from their mind, rather than suppressing them or dwelling on them.

Not only does this reduce stress and anxiety, but it also frees up the mind and allows it to properly focus on the task at hand. 

This works for dealing with your thoughts and feelings about stressful events that have happened in the past, as well as for stressful situations that are coming up in the future. 

It is also a great way to help you to avoid particular stress triggers in the future. 

How? 

By writing them down, you will be able to better identify exactly what it is that is causing your stress, meaning that you can then take steps in the future to avoid those triggers. 

Reduces the Symptoms of Depression

Around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives, making this a very prevalent illness that needs to be dealt with as early on as possible. 

Wondering how journalling helps a person to deal with depression? 

In a number of ways, such as: 

  • Perspective and control – getting your thoughts on to paper is a great way to look at a situation from a different perspective. It is also quite empowering, and due to the way in which it will make your problems seem more manageable, you will then feel as though you have a better sense of control over your life 
  • Increases awareness – you may not realize at first what it is that is making you feel depressed, but journalling can help you to identify this, bringing subconscious thoughts and feelings to the surface. This then makes it easier to deal with your triggers 
  • Tracking depression triggers – if you take note of your symptoms each and every day in your journal, it won’t be long before you begin to notice a pattern in the triggers that exacerbate your depression symptoms. This then makes it easier to avoid them in the future and keep your symptoms at a low 
  • Gratitude – regularly reminding yourself of the things you are grateful for you in your life can help to keep depressive symptoms at bay

There have been a number of studies carried out on the connection between journalling and depression. 

What did they discover? 

That those who were suffering from depressive disorders experienced a significant decline in their symptoms after journalling for just a few days, with these effects continuing on for the four weeks in which the participants were required to keep a journal.

Improves Memory

As mentioned above, journalling is such an effective way to reduce stress and clear your mind of all of the negative thoughts and emotions that are running through it. 

How is this linked to your memory?

Because freeing your mind of all of that negative clutter enables your working memory to function much better. It means that your brain does not have to use its cognitive energy focusing on stress or worries, and can instead use this to create memories. 

The fact that writing your experiences down on paper also helps to improve the way in which your memory retention works is an added bonus! 

Combats Sleep Deprivation

The quality of your sleep and the state of your mental health are so closely related. 

Sleep deprivation not only has a negative effect on your mental health, but mental health issues can also lead to sleep deprivation, resulting in quite the vicious cycle.

How does journalling help with this? 

Research shows that those who spend just five minutes before bed journalling are able to relax and fall asleep much faster than those who do not.

Think this sounds like an easy way to tackle your sleep deprivation? 

There’s one thing that you need to know if you want to use journalling to help with this…

Rather than journalling about what went on during the day, the improvements in your sleep patterns will only really come about if you journal about tasks that you still need to accomplish. In other words, writing a to-do list for the next day will bring about better results than writing about tasks you have already completed. 

Why? 

Because all of your to-do tasks are the ones that will keep your brain active in the evenings. Writing these down, and therefore offloading them, will then put your mind at ease, enabling your brain and body to fall asleep so much easier. 

The Different Methods of Journalling

Ready to give journalling a try? 

As mentioned earlier, there are now so many different ways in which you can do this, whether you prefer to go old school with pen and paper, or opt for something more high-tech and digital. 

It goes without saying that a blank notebook and a pen is all you really need to start journalling. 

However, if you need some extra help getting started, then you may want to look into some of the other journal types out there that provide all of the inspiration you need to really get your thoughts on paper. 

There are many journals out there that already contain journalling prompts, and these can sometimes make it easier to get started in terms of actually writing something down. 

Want something more high tech than pen and paper? 

There are several digital journalling tools and apps out there to choose from. 

Here are a few of the most popular: 

  • Ohlife – this free service will send you an email each day, asking how your day went. All you need to do is hit the reply button and type out a reply, which can be as short or long as you want. Send your email and then log on to your account to see all of your past replies 
  • Grid Diary – this program will send you eight question prompts a day, laying out your answers in an easy-to-view grid-like format 
  • Five Minute Journal – this app will send you timed prompts, asking you to list different things, whether this may be three things that you are appreciative of or five things that happened that day. This app was developed around psychology research, and is a great one for reflection 
  • Day One – offers a wide variety of features, from being able to add metadata and music information to the way in which you can customize it to send multiple prompts at certain times of each day 
  • Momento – Momento not only gives you the opportunity to jot down your thoughts and memories, but it also draws together all of the information you have posted each day on each of your social networks

What Should You Write About?

If you go for a journal or app that offers up writing prompts each day, then this makes it easy to know exactly what you should be writing about. 

However, going with just a blank notebook and a pen, or even a blank page on your computer, can sometimes leave you with writer’s block. 

So, how do you decide what to actually write about? 

Well, as mentioned earlier, if you want to use journalling as a way to help improve your sleep, then try to jot down a quick to-do list of your upcoming tasks the next day. 

However, in order to gain all of the other mental health benefits mentioned above, you need to delve a little deeper when journalling…

Here are some ideas of what to write about: 

  • Your accomplishments, no matter how small these may seem 
  • Five things that you are grateful for 
  • A recollection of the events that occurred that day 
  • Reflections, meaning sentences that begin with “I want”, “I think” and “I feel”
  • How things are going at work and in your personal life 
  • A bucket list 

Don’t worry about your spelling, grammar or punctuation when journalling. You need to be able to write freely from your mind, without having to worry about any of those things. 

If you don’t really enjoy writing, a bullet journal may be a better option for you. 

What is a bullet journal? 

If you do an online search for this, you are likely to feel a little overwhelmed. So, to put it simply, a bullet journal is basically just like a normal journal, except that you write things down in bullet points and lists rather than sentences and paragraphs.

This is referred to as rapid logging, and you would make use of different symbols to categorize your notes. 

It may seem complicated, but this method of journalling can actually be extremely helpful when it comes to improving your mental health. 

Making Journalling a Habit

Many people make the decision to start journalling, and go out and buy themselves an inspiring new notebook or journal, as well as some new pens, to get them started. 

While it may go well for the first day or so, turning journalling into an actual habit can be tricky. 

One of the best ways to do this is by keeping your journal near your bed. Set aside just five minutes each night before you go to bed for journalling. Doing this first thing in the morning can also be a great way to start your day. 

Alternatively, if you would like to let loose and freely write for longer, set aside 20 minutes of journalling time three times a week. If you consciously set days and times for journalling, this will make it much easier to incorporate the habit into your existing lifestyle. 

Keep doing this for a while and it won’t be long before journalling becomes a natural habit! 

As you can see, not only can journalling be so useful when it comes to improving your mental health, but it is also such a fun and creative practice to make use of. Even if you think that journalling may not be for you, give it a try for a week or two, as you will likely witness its benefits for yourself by then.  

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! 

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.

Woman eating healthy salad

Habits That Help You Maintain Healthy Vision

By now most of us know: pretty = healthy. If you want pretty skin, you need to make sure we have a fully stocked beauty arsenal. If you want a rock solid body, you better make sure you’re hitting the gym and not the vending machine. If you want shampoo commercial hair, you need to make sure the hot oil treatment is on hand. The same goes for our eyes. If you want to keep those peepers clear and gorgeous, you need to keep them healthy; the only question is, how do you know whether your giving them the care they need? It might surprise you to know that there may be a few things you’re doing that are actually hurting those pretty eyes, and here are some of them. Read on to learn what not to do if you want to keep your eyes healthy for a good long time.

Sleeping in Contacts

If you heard about the woman whose eye examination revealed 27 contact lenses in her eyes, you probably know that sleeping in contacts is not such a great idea. While there are two types of contacts that the FDA has approved for overnight wear, New York optometrist, Deeba Chaudri warns that even these can be risky.  According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthamology, the risk of developing a corneal ulcer is multiplied by 10 or 15 times in extended wear contact lens users, compared to those who wear contacts only during the day.

Don’t Rub Your Eyes

Your mama always told you not to do it. The professionals concur. Says Chaudri, “Sometimes your eyes itch and you have to rub, but it’s best to keep the lid closed and only touch the outside of the eye.” Rubbing your eyes too hard can lead to inflammation and broken blood vessels, not to mention, eyes are a breeding ground of bacteria, so, “If you shake someone’s hand and then you rub your eyes, you’re transmitting those germs and there’s a good chance you can catch whatever cold he’s got.”

Get Annual Eye Exams

Even if your vision is 20/20, you should still see an eye doctor once a year. Chaudri says, “It’s about getting your overall eye health checked out: There are no pain receptors behind the eye, so if you have a broken blood vessel or a tumor back there, you would otherwise not know it until it starts to interfere with your vision, or worse.”

Staring At Devices

Looking at phones and computers is a tough habit to break, but focusing on anything for too long a time can cause eye strain and headaches. Chaudri advises following the 20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes looking at the screen, take a 20 second break, look into the distance, focus your eyes on something else, and make a conscientious effort to blink, you may have been staring for a long time without realizing it.

Applying Eyeliner to the Waterline

Even though the look may pop up in a few fashion magazines, applying liner to the inside of the lower lashes can come with a risk. According to Chaudri, “When you put liner inside your eye, you’re mixing it with your tears.” If you have contacts in, your lenses can get coated with makeup particles that prevent your eyes from getting ample amounts of oxygen. If you’re not wearing contacts, those makeup particles can bring infection causing germs into your eyes. Liquid liners are the worst offenders because the applicator tube can harbor bacteria. Soft pencils are safer because they are continually being worn down to expose a new tip.

What are you doing to keep your eyes healthy and beautiful? Let us know what healthy eye tips you swear by.

Healthy salad on wooden table

Tips For Changing Your Diet

It’s time to face facts. You’ve outgrown your diet- in more ways than one. Your waistline has matured and its time for your tastes to do the same. It’s come down to saying goodbye to your Oreos or your skinny jeans, and nothing comes between you and your Calvins. You need to revamp your diet or restock your closet, and you’ve made your choice. The only thing is, you’ve gotten so comfortable eating junk food, you don’t know where to start. Hold on to your cutoffs; here are some tips for changing your diet.

It’s Hard
We’ve all heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that doesn’t mean there are no exceptions. John Foreyt, PhD, says, “Many people are skeptical about changing their diets because they have grown accustomed to eating or drinking the same foods, and there is fear of the unknown or trying something new.”

He also notes the tendency to lapse into old habits during times of stress. “Everything can be going along just fine until you hit a rough patch.” To combat these feelings, Foreyt advises that you acknowledge the habits you want to fix, figure out why you have these habits, and make a plan to slowly change your bad habits into healthy ones.

Steps to Fixing Bad Eating Habits

Go slowly
Make changes slowly. Experts recommend starting each day with a good breakfast and getting 8 hours of sleep a night to avoid stress eating.

Work on structuring your meal habits. Eat seated at a table without distractions and try to eat more frequently with family. Try to learn to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full.

Make dietary changes. Aim to reduce portion sizes by 20% and no second helpings. Use whole grain bread for sandwiches and swap mayo for mustard. Flavor coffee with skim milk instead of cream and eat a healthy meal or snack every few hours.

Mother and daughter making salad

Change your cooking methods. Use cooking spray and nonstick pans instead of oil to reduce fat and experiment with more nutritional ways of cooking, like roasting, baking, grilling, or poaching.

Drink more water and cut down on sugary sodas and juices. Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day. Try to eat large portions of foods with high water content, like salads and veggies, instead of calorie dense foods, and flavor foods with herbs, vinegar, lemon, or mustard instead of fattening sauces.

Pay Attention
Become more aware of what you’re eating. Keri Gans, MS, RD, advises, “Read food labels. Become familiar with lists of ingredients and start to take notice of everything you put into your mouth.” Once you begin to assess your diet, you will probably realize the need for improvement.

New Week New Goal
Maybe one week your goal will be to try a new vegetable, or a new exercise. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at one time. Take it slow and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Be a Realist
Don’t expect to see results right away and keep in mind that it usually takes about a month to adapt to new habits.

Diet planning

Have a Plan
Be specific. “To say ‘I am going to work our more,’ won’t help you,” says Gans, “what will help is thinking about when and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.” Plan certain days on which you will go to the gym and stock up on healthy food.

Manage Stress
Change can be stressful. To handle it, Foreyt advises, “Focus on dealing with stress through exercise, meditation, or whatever works for you, so you don’t fall back into those bad habits during periods of stress or use food to help you cope with the situation.”

Are you working on changing your eating habits? Let us know how its going and add your comments and suggestions!