Archive for April, 2013

24
Apr
13

Mind, body, spirit Take these steps for a good night’s sleep

Eight hours a day is what is recommended, but most American adults fall short of sleep almost every night. That’s just an average; some people require less and some require more. 

Although you may be able to function with less than eight hours, you probably aren’t functioning at peak efficiency. Lack of sleep affects your mental capacity and decision making. Prolonged periods with a lack of sleep can increase your stress levels. You may also notice unexplained weight gain. 

How to get a good night’s sleep

  1. Make bedtime an appointment

Put it on your schedule. Everything else in your life is on a schedule, why not sleep? The more often you’re able to get to bed at a certain time, the more your body will expect it.

  1. Avoid caffeine in the evening

The more you can cut out in the daytime, the better, too.

  1. Get regular exercise

Physical activity helps to tire you out, and it doesn’t really matter if you exercise in the morning or at night.

  1. Give yourself some wind down time

Turn off the phone, TV and computer a half hour before bed time. These all stimulate the brain. The object here is to shut down.

  1. Try to wake up without an alarm clock

This is impossible for some, but if you wake up without an alarm, chances are that you probably got the amount of sleep you needed to be fully rested. 

  1. Clear your mind

Even if you’re giving yourself ample time to wind down, you still may have thoughts swirling around. Try writing them down in a journal to get rid of them. 

Improving your sleep habits can have effects on your overall health and well-being. If you notice that you’re not sleeping enough, make sure you’re taking steps to get more rest. For more information about sleep and how to get more of it, take a look at the National Sleep Foundation (link to http://www.sleepfoundation.org) website.

 

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17
Apr
13

Mind, body, spirit 10 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated

Motivation is a tricky issue for many people. Whether you want to lose weight, get a promotion, plant a garden or finish the basement, making yourself move toward a goal is difficult. 

Corporations hire motivational speakers. There are shelves of books, entire sections dedicated to it. Motivational speeches by coaches are the stuff of legend. And you can actually use those things to inspire you, but here are 10 things you can do to help yourself stay motivated.

1. Develop a positive attitude

Negativity sets you up for failure. Take charge of your attitude and the power it possesses. There is a positive side to every situation, challenge or trial you go through. 

2. Know your obstacles

If you know the obstacles you may encounter, you can create strategies to overcome them. 

3. Be personally accountable

Write down the goal. Put it on a Post-it Note on the bathroom mirror. Address the goal every day. Know what you’re going to do that day to help you move toward achieving it. 

4. Be accountable to someone

Find someone you can confide in about your goals. It can be a friend, spouse, or even a life coach. If you tell them about your goal and what you’re doing to achieve it – every day – your chance of success increased. 

5. Be realistic

Setting your goals is crucial; you need to set goals that are attainable. That is not to say they should be easy. Challenge yourself. 

6. Surround yourself with positive people

Hanging out with a group of people who are motivated will help you adopt the same frame of mind. Birds of a feather do flock together.

7. Stay active

Exercising actually keeps people happy and upbeat. It gives you more energy, which in turn helps you achieve more in life. Exercise has a way of freeing your mind to allow you to focus on the task at hand. 

8. Measure your progress

It is important to understand that you’re making progress toward achieving your goal. Make it a point to look back at where you started and how close you are. Allow yourself to celebrate progress and feel good about it. 

9. Be persistent

Things may not work out right the first time. This just means that you need to try harder. Keep working even though you may have a setback.

10. Get Started

Today. Do it today. Not on the first of next month. Not on Monday. Today is the day to start. You’ve determined what the goal is and how to get there. The time for thinking about it is over and the time to do it is now. Get moving!

10
Apr
13

Walk your way to better health

 

Over the past couple of years, much attention has been paid to the “10,000 steps” regimen. The theory is that you should set your goal to walk 10,000 steps a day. Bear in mind that your normal, everyday walking counts in your total. A sedentary person walks between 1,000 and 3,000 steps a day, which means they would have to account for 7,000-9,000 steps in order to meet their goal.

How far is 10,000 steps?

Of course, it varies, but the average person covers 2.5 feet with every stride. That works out to 25,000 feet, which is 4.75 miles. Determining just how much you’ll need to walk as part of an exercise regimen is simple. An inexpensive pedometer will tell you how many steps you normally take every day. Average it over a week and you’ve got a good starting point. You may be surprised at how little or how much you actually walk in a given day.

Ways to increase your walking distance

After you’ve determined how much you walk during the day, it’s time to think about how to increase the distance you walk. Be creative! There are a number of ways to increase the distance you walk each day. One warning, though: If you don’t currently walk much, don’t jump right in and try to hit the goal of 10,000 steps a day. Increase the number of steps you take gradually – maybe 500 a week – until you reach your goal.

  • Wake up and get moving. Take a walk around the neighborhood just to wake up.

  • Take a walk with your spouse, child or friend.

  • Walking the dog is great for you and the dog. Do it in the morning and the evening.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

  • Park farther from the store or walk to the store.

  • Go shopping. You don’t even have to buy anything.

The health benefits of walking

Walking will not only help you physically, but can help your mental state as well. It helps you to relax and get your mind off of things. By the same token, it can also help you concentrate. For many, it is the “me time” they take every day.

People who walk for exercise can experience significant weight loss. As the weight comes off, you may even find yourself with the ability to come off of diabetes medication. It can tone and tighten the muscles in your legs and glutes. More importantly, a brisk walk can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, too. As with any exercise regimen, it’s a good idea to talk to your physician about walking for better health.

03
Apr
13

Mind, body, spirit Signs you’re stressed out

Stress is the feeling that’s created when you’re faced with change. It can be both positive and negative; however, for most people, stress is definitely negative.

Why? Quite simply, because there’s too much of it and we react to it in a negative way. Yes, it can be positive, but we tend not to think of it as stress. It is a challenge that we must arise to meet. Requiring our best performance, it produces a genuinely positive response.

The most common connotation is that stress is negative, and our response to it can vary and can affect our physical, emotional and psychological well-being. Prolonged periods of stress can be debilitating and you should take steps to ensure that you’re dealing with stress in a proactive way.

Be on the lookout for these signs of stress.

Weakened immune system

If you’ve got a cold you can’t shake, it could be a sign that your body’s immune system is working at its full potential. 

Memory loss

Studies have shown that chronic stress can expose the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that controls short-term memory.

Grinding your teeth

If you wake up with pain in your jaw or teeth, it could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep. This can cause the enamel to erode and can crack your fillings. A mouth guard can prevent damage while you’re addressing the stress that’s causing you to grind your teeth; a visit to your dentist to discuss options would be good.

Upset stomach

Stress can cause gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, abdominal upset, cramps and diarrhea.

Back pain

When you’re experiencing stress, you may hold your body in different positions while sleeping or tighten your muscles subconsciously, leading to ache and fatigued muscles.

Sleeplessness

Stress and anxiety can cause you to not get a restful night’s sleep. It can make it hard to relax. This can cause restlessness and even insomnia.

Vomiting

In some instances, stress triggers nausea and vomiting.

Headaches

Head pain can range from low-grade headaches to debilitating migraines.

Strange thoughts

When you are stressed out, it can be very difficult to concentrate. You may find your thoughts wandering, and your thoughts may not always seem rational.

Acne breakouts

One very unattractive symptom of stress is pimples and acne breakouts caused by the release of androgen in your blood, which clogs pores.

Sensitive gums

Another sign of a weakened immune system, your body may not be able to fight the bacteria that settle around your gum line, which causes inflammation, bleeding and sensitivity. 

Itchy skin

Stress can lead to skin rashes and may worsen skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis. 

Twitchy eyes

You may notice that your eyelids start twitching uncontrollably on their own when you are stressed out. 

Hair loss

You may find that you’re losing a higher than normal amount of hair when washing or brushing your hair. Stress causes your hair follicle to go into the resting phase; prolonged inactivity causes the hair to fall out.

There are more symptoms that can be indicators of stress, but these are very common. If you notice that you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, a visit to your doctor is in order. They can help you with strategies to deal with stress so that it does not become a debilitating aspect of your life.

Mind, body, spirit

Signs you’re stressed out

Stress is the feeling that’s created when you’re faced with change. It can be both positive and negative; however, for most people, stress is definitely negative.

Why? Quite simply, because there’s too much of it and we react to it in a negative way. Yes, it can be positive, but we tend not to think of it as stress. It is a challenge that we must arise to meet. Requiring our best performance, it produces a genuinely positive response.

The most common connotation is that stress is negative, and our response to it can vary and can affect our physical, emotional and psychological well-being. Prolonged periods of stress can be debilitating and you should take steps to ensure that you’re dealing with stress in a proactive way.

Be on the lookout for these signs of stress.

Weakened immune system

If you’ve got a cold you can’t shake, it could be a sign that your body’s immune system is working at its full potential. 

Memory loss

Studies have shown that chronic stress can expose the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that controls short-term memory.

Grinding your teeth

If you wake up with pain in your jaw or teeth, it could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep. This can cause the enamel to erode and can crack your fillings. A mouth guard can prevent damage while you’re addressing the stress that’s causing you to grind your teeth; a visit to your dentist to discuss options would be good.

Upset stomach

Stress can cause gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, abdominal upset, cramps and diarrhea.

Back pain

When you’re experiencing stress, you may hold your body in different positions while sleeping or tighten your muscles subconsciously, leading to ache and fatigued muscles.

Sleeplessness

Stress and anxiety can cause you to not get a restful night’s sleep. It can make it hard to relax. This can cause restlessness and even insomnia.

Vomiting

In some instances, stress triggers nausea and vomiting.

Headaches

Head pain can range from low-grade headaches to debilitating migraines.

Strange thoughts

When you are stressed out, it can be very difficult to concentrate. You may find your thoughts wandering, and your thoughts may not always seem rational.

Acne breakouts

One very unattractive symptom of stress is pimples and acne breakouts caused by the release of androgen in your blood, which clogs pores.

Sensitive gums

Another sign of a weakened immune system, your body may not be able to fight the bacteria that settle around your gum line, which causes inflammation, bleeding and sensitivity. 

Itchy skin

Stress can lead to skin rashes and may worsen skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis. 

Twitchy eyes

You may notice that your eyelids start twitching uncontrollably on their own when you are stressed out. 

Hair loss

You may find that you’re losing a higher than normal amount of hair when washing or brushing your hair. Stress causes your hair follicle to go into the resting phase; prolonged inactivity causes the hair to fall out.

There are more symptoms that can be indicators of stress, but these are very common. If you notice that you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, a visit to your doctor is in order. They can help you with strategies to deal with stress so that it does not become a debilitating aspect of your life.