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 with headphones on the bed

Add Pink Noise To Your Bedroom Routine

Let’s face it, everything is better in pink. If there are two cupcakes, one with white icing and one with pink, which one do you pick? Hostess snowballs? Definitely better in pink. If your Mom bought you and your sister notebooks, she had better have made sure both or neither were pink. Party dresses? Don’t even go there.

If you are familiar with white noise, you know it to be that pleasant buzzing that often occurs when the radio loses reception. It is often used in healthcare to block out noise caused by hearing impairments or as a sleep aid, but did you know about pink noise? Although it may sound like the latest psychedelic rock movement, pink noise is more accurately the latest proposed solution to sleep interruption. And, according to a recent study, it may actually help to improve memory as well.

Sound Stimulation and Sleep
According to recent research done at Northwestern University, when gentle sound stimulation is synced up to the rhythm of brain waves, it can not only lead to a better sleep in older adults, but can also improve their ability to remember specific words.

Why Deep Sleep Is important
Memory loss typically occurs throughout the process of aging; so does the gradual decrease in deep sleep. Scientists suspect a connection. Because deep sleep is a critical component in the consolidation of memory, it is believed that a reduction in one may be responsible for a reduction in the other. Therefore, scientists believe that using sound stimulation to induce deep sleep may be the solution to memory loss.

During deep sleep, brainwave production is reduced to a rate of one per second, quite a bit slower than the 10 oscillations that happen during the seconds when one is awake. Giovanni Santstasi, co-author of the study was able to create an algorithm capable of transmitting audio during the rising of slow wave oscillations, to boost the synchronization of neural activity.

Woman sleeping

The Study
The study was comprised of 13 individuals aged 60 and up recruited from Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. It targeted individuals suffering from low levels of sleep and memory loss.

The aim of the study was to monitor brain waves in individuals using a breakthrough audio system that can lock in audio stimulation at the moment when specific neuron communication occurs during deep sleep.

Participants were exposed to a night of acoustic stimulation followed by a night of false stimulation. The two stimulations were identical, except for the fact that the individuals did not hear noise in the false stimulation. Upon awakening, the subjects were given memory tests, with another set given the following morning.

Results
The study found that while memory recall ability rose by a couple of percentage points following the false stimulation, those who listened to the pink noise showed a vast increase in memory recall. In fact, those who were subjected to the acoustic stimulation showed three times as much improvement as their counterparts. These finding suggest that slow wave sleep can indeed have a significant impact on memory.

What Does This Mean?
For those suffering memory loss, the new is good. It suggests that there might be a way to safely improve memory without the use of expensive, side effect inducing medicine. “Pink noise” may offer a completely safe and simple alternative.

What do you think about the latest findings? Is pink the new white? Let us know!

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Woman working

Tips For Staying Healthy When You Work At A Desk All Day

You’ve finally gotten the job of your dreams. The pay is great, your coworkers are lovely, you have your own office with a great view, upholstered chairs, and a mahogany desk with a table lamp. Your mother tells you to quit; she says the job is way too dangerous. “Dangerous?” you say,” How is it dangerous? All I have to do is sit at a desk all day!”

Although it hardly seems worthy of a daredevil, sitting for hours has proven to be harmful, and even deadly, over time. So your mother may be right, after all. Termed “the new smoking” (rather fatalistically), extended periods of time sitting still have been linked in studies to a greater risk of metabolic syndrome, and health problems known to cause heart disease, as well as diabetes. So, If quitting your job is not a realistic option, here are a number of suggestions to keep health risk or a minimum.

The Exercise Break
Even if you work out regularly, it may not be enough to prevent you from becoming a statistic. According to Katy Bowman, biomechanics expert, “If you’re sitting eight to 12 hours a day and you’re taking a one-hour yoga class, it’s not enough.” She recommends short breaks to move around at regular intervals as a better idea.

Another way of avoiding stress and strain? Stand up straight! Cr. Julie Cote, Ph.D. recommends exercise programs like pilates, which focus on posture and range of motion, but adds, “One seven-week program is not going to cure you forever.”

Bowman recommends on the job training. “Even if you cross your leg while you’re sitting on the chair and lean forward, that’s a hip opener… You can cross a leg, you can spinal twist, you can stretch your calf, you can stand up.”

Woman working

Workstation Adjustments
If your employer offers the option, in-house ergonomic programs are available. These programs will send a therapist to your location of employment to come to your desk and assess you. They will suggest personalized exercises, such as moving your head to avoid neck strain, or making adjustments such as tilting your computer monitor.

The therapist may also adjust your chair to offer better lumbar support. Sit stand stools which allow sitting and leaning are also a good option, as are balance balls. Keeping chair seats angled forward can hold the back in a healthier position.

Walkstation
If you’re willing to go high-tech, you can invest in a Walkstation, which is a low speed treadmill with a desk attached. If you’re more a DIY type, there are several online bloggers ready to offer advice on building your own.

Although this idea may seem appealing, Dr. Joseph Henry, senior director of health and well-being had this to say. “We thought it might send the message that you’re not to leave your desk, you’re chained to your desk. We’d rather they (the employees) actually got up from their desks and take a break from their work instead of being stuck at their desk all day.” Henry prefers encouraging employee health by allowing them to request an exercise ball to sit on and to use the companies 150 acre campus for walks and walking meetings.

Either way, it seems the message is clear, the body is made to move and it’s your job to move it.

How do you feel about movement in the office? What’s your take on the Walkstation? Is it the wave of the future or should we wave it good-bye?

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!

Woman eating burger

Taming Your Fast Food Craving

Are you a fast food junkie? Do you religiously monitor news reports and commercial advertisements to hear the latest concoction your favorite fast food restaurant has on offer? Were you the first to try the Taco Bell Naked Fried Chicken Chalupa? Do you regularly challenge your new friends to Doritos Loaded eating contest? Are you willing to travel several miles out of your way to the nearest Weinerschnitzel to eat “Pastrami with your Mommy?” If so, have you read the nutritional information on that stuff?

Fast food can be hard to resist. After all, how can you compete with companies willing to spend millions of dollars on discovering the right level of crunch in a potato chip? But there are ways to fight back. Read on to find out how you can tame your fast food craving.

Why We Crave

Vanishing Food Density
Cheetos are a classic example of a food with vanishing caloric density. It melts in for mouth quickly, before your brain realizes there are calories in it. The result? Your brain thinks you’re not eating as much as you are and you overeat.

Sensory Response
The brain craves variety. The more familiar the brain becomes with a food, the less pleasure it will derive from it. Fast foods are designed to provide enough taste to remain interesting without dulling the sensory response. This is why many fast foods are covered with sauces and glazes.

Memories
When you eat something you like, the pleasurable response is registered in your brain, creating a trigger. Every time you see or even think about that food, memories and responses can cause cravings, and even physical responses, like salivation.

How To Fight Back

Woman with healthy groceries

Rules and Strategies
Research has shown that the less junk food you eat, the less you will crave it. Your first step in fighting your fast food craving is by cutting down on processed and packaged food.

Try using the “outer ring” strategy at the grocery store. If you aim to purchase foods on the outer ring of the store, you will generally be selecting from whole foods like meats, eggs and produce.

Also, try and follow the “five ingredient rule” and avoid buying foods with more than five ingredients, which are more likely to contain empty calories.

Choose From a Wide Variety of Foods
The brain needs novelty to remain stimulated. If your craving the crunch of a Nacho, you may not be able to replicate the taste, but you may be able to get a similar sensation by dipping a celery stick in hummus. Try and get creative with food textures and flavors to keep things interesting.

Learn To Cope with Stress
Stress causes the brain to release chemicals, like opiates and neuropeptide, Y that trigger mechanisms similar to those you get from sugar and fat. Learn to handle stressful situations without reaching for junk food. Try a simple breathing exercise or quick meditation. Exercise and activity are also great stress relievers and can provide distractions from food cravings.

If you have a mild fast food obsession, how do you control your cravings? Let us know how you managed to avoid the lure of the Bacon Cheese.

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 having a bath

Adult Bath Time Is Good For Stress

“The boss! The baby! The dog! That does it! Calgon! Take me away!” You may remember the classic 1970’s Calgon commercials. A woman comes home, the image of her angry cigar -smoking boss still fresh in her mind, her crying child and barking dog, still taunting her memory. It all melds into a spinning wheel of confusion; the woman throws up her hands in frustration.The scene changes. The same woman in a bath filled with Calgon bath bubbles. The soothing voiceover encouraging her to lose herself in luxury. The stress formerly seen in the woman’s face replaced by a blissful expression. She has found her escape.

For years, bath times have been viewed as a source of stress relief. The warm water, the soothing scent, all calling up a sense of comfort and intense relaxation. Are you more than ready to make your bath time into a tranquil escape from insanity? Here’s all you need to know about perfecting your adult bathing experience.

Set the Mood
You know lighting is a very important part of atmosphere. Ditch those regular wall lights and get experimental. Try some old fashioned candles or tea lights which you can strategically place all around your bathroom; just keep them away from the towels!

Crank Some Tunes
Music is a crucial element when it comes to relaxation, just make sure it’s something you like. You can get sassy with Beyonce or Adele, or go more traditional with some classical movement. If heavy metal is more your thing, just make sure you don’t rock all the water out of your bath!

Snacks
You can’t relax if your hungry and you sure don’t want to leave the bath to search through your kitchen, so make sure to have some of your favorite snacks on hand, just make sure your chips don’t end up floating next to your rubber ducky!

Temperature
The optimal temperature is an absolute must if you want to achieve bath time nirvana. 33.3 degrees celsius is the recommended water temperature; it should not exceed 38.3, which will be too hot and may leave you feeling drowsy.

Woman with red wine in bath

Red Wine
Red, red wine, it makes you feel so fine. Not only might you want to sip while you soak, but you may want to actually mix the wine with the bath water. It will not only smell great, but it will treat your skin to some beneficial antioxidant action.

Don’t Dehydrate
Just because you’re soaking in water, it doesn’t mean you are safe from dehydration. You might be surprised at the amount of perspiration a body can produce in a hot bath. Have a cool glass of water on hand and it may be useful to keep a flannel and jug of water close by so you can make yourself a cold compress if you start to feel sweaty.

Face Mask
While you’re pampering, why not apply a face mask? It will nourish and cleanse the skin on your face while the bath does the same to the skin on your body.

Self Massage
While your muscles are relaxing, you might as well address the problem spots. You can use a water proof ball resting it against a solid surface, while exerting pressure on it evenly. The water will help to control the degree of intensity you apply.

Bath Oils
The type of bath oils you chose may effect the type of benefits your bath can give. Lavender oil is known to encourage sleep and sandalwood oil can help relieve anxiety. Just add about ten drops when the bath is half full to allow even distribution and a sufficient amount of scent.

Support Your Head
The last thing you want is a stiff neck when you’re trying to relax. Fold up a couple of towel for a makeshift pillow.

How do you like your bathing experience? Do you have some anti-stress tips for us? We’d love to know!

Woman enjoying meal

Stress Free Ways To Cut Calories

You know something is big when it gets its own nickname. When Jennifer Lopez became JLo, it was Illuminati confirmed. When Ben and Jennifer united to form Bennifer, the star power was undeniable, and when hunger joined anger to make hanger, you know it wasn’t just a figment of the imagination. Hanger is real. It even has its own meme.

Why do we get hangry? As time passes after you eat, your blood glucose level starts to drop and, if it falls fast enough, your brain perceives it as a life-threatening emergency. Hence the reason you flipped over your desk at work after you were told your lunch hour would be a bit late. So what do you do when you’re trying to cut calories, but want to maintain your cool while doing it? Relax, there are some stress-free ways to diet.

Guilt
If you find yourself going on a major guilt trip every time you sneak that extra cookie, you may have unrealistic goals. If your diet involves cutting your favorite food completely out of your menu or losing 5 pounds a month, you’ve set the bar too high and are giving yourself a greater chance of failure. Clinical psychologist Marlene Schwartz, PhD advises dieters to go easy on themselves. Focus on small goals that will increase your chance of success, like taking a walk during lunch time. According to Schwartz, “Research shows that the more you believe you can lose weight the more likely you are to actually do it.”

Stressed businesswoman

Stress
If your stress levels are through the roof, you might seek some support. A recent study conducted by Ashton University in England showed that dieters who did not have the social support of an organized group showed higher stress-hormone levels than those who belonged to an assigned weight-loss program.

While commercial programs, such as Weight Watchers can help lend a communal feeling to the dieting process. a John Hopkins University study showed that participation in church-based exercise and nutrition programs are just as likely to succeed. The friends you already have can be your biggest cheerleaders. According to Beth Casey Gold, RD, when recruiting your buddies, “emphasize how important it is to you to make these lifestyle changes, then offer specific examples of what kind of encouragement will help and what won’t.” Stress positive reinforcement over negative remarks for best results.

Anger
If you find yourself lashing out at the family, it may be due to a significant cut in carbs, a side effect known by experts as the “Atkin’s Attitude.” “Your body need carbs to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter in your brain that regulates mood, emotion, sleep, and appetite.” informs Judith Wurtman, PhD and director of Women’s Health at MIT. The quick anger fix? Grab a healthy high carb snack like popcorn or whole grain toast. Try to get at least 130 grams of carbs per day to maintain optimal brain function, according to the National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board.

 Temptation
In constructing your diet, focus on long-term changes, rather than short-term deprivation. If you commit to eating nothing but celery and carrots each day, you are probably dieting with an end in sight. Schwartz suggests that you, “gradually incorporate small changes that you’ll stick with for life. Try swapping one unhealthy food out for a healthier one rather than completely depriving yourself. You’ll be less likely to succumb to temptation.

How do you handle hanger? Let us know what works for you. We love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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