Eating well and saving more can be easier when you know when to shop and where to look. Looking for ways to get more from your food budget? Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. These tips can help you shop smarter to get the most nutritious foods at a better price. Choose frozen […]Eat Healthy On A Budget Part 2
Our minds register the vibrations of the sounds we hear around us, our bodies then resonate with it, reminding us of harmony. “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. ” – Nikola Tesla There is a YouTube channel, Healing Vibrations, has numerous videos of […]The Healing Frequencies of Sound
We’re all familiar with that silly image of the person who resorts to counting sheep when they just can’t seem to fall asleep. But when you’re the one who’s been tossing and turning all night, insomnia is no laughing matter. Turn Those Electronics Off! Turn off all electronics at least 1 or 2 hours before bedtime. […]How To Sleep Well Without Taking Any Medication
Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfied life is within reach. A few tweaks to your regular habits can help you get there.
Habits matter. If you’ve ever tried breaking a bad habit, you know all too well how engrained they are.
Well, good habits are deeply engrained, too. Why not work on making positive habits part of your routine?
Here’s a look at some daily, monthly, and yearly habits to help kickstart your quest. Just remember that everyone’s version of happiness is a little different, and so is their path to achieving it.
If some of these habits create added stress or just don’t fit your lifestyle, ditch them. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
We smile because we’re happy, and smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes us happier.
That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile plastered on your face all the time. But the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens. Or try starting each morning by smiling at yourself in the mirror.
Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness.
Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a cliff — unless that’s what makes you happy, of course.
The trick is not to overexert. If you suddenly throw yourself into a strenuous routine, you’ll probably just end up frustrated (and sore).
Consider these exercise starters:
- Take a walk around the block every night after dinner.
- Sign up for a beginner’s class in yoga or tai chi.
- Start your day with 5 minutes of stretching. Here’s a set of stretches to get you started.
Remind yourself of any fun activities you once enjoyed, but that have fallen by the wayside. Or activities you always wanted to try, such as golf, bowling, or dancing.
3. Get plenty of sleep
No matter how much modern society steers us toward less sleep, we know that adequate sleep is vitalTrusted Source to good health, brain function, and emotional well-being.
Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. If you find yourself fighting the urge to nap during the day or just generally feel like you’re in a fog, your body may be telling you it needs more rest.
Here are a few tips to help you build a better sleep routine:
- Write down how many hours of sleep you get each night and how rested you feel. After a week, you should have a better idea how you’re doing.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Reserve the hour before bed as quiet time. Take a bath, read, or do something relaxing. Avoid heavy eating and drinking.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
- Invest in some good bedding.
- If you have to take a nap, try to limit it to 20 minutes.
If you consistently have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder requiring treatment.
4. Eat with mood in mind
You already know that food choices have an impact on your overall physical health. But some foods can also affect your state of mind.
- Carbohydrates release serotonin, a “feel good” hormone. Just keep simple carbs — foods high in sugar and starch — to a minimum, because that energy surge is short and you’ll crash. Complex carbs, such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains, are better.
- Lean meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy are high in protein. These foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy and concentration.
- Highly processed or deep-fried foods tend to leave you feeling down. So will skipping meals.
Start by making one better food choice each day.
For example, swap a big, sweet breakfast pastry for some Greek yogurt with fruit. You’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth, and the protein will help you avoid a mid-morning energy crash. Try adding in a new food swap each week.
5. Be grateful
Simply being grateful can give your mood a big boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.
Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or just waiting for that snoozed alarm to go off.
As you go about your day, try to keep an eye out for pleasant things in your life. They can be big things, such as knowing that someone loves you or getting a well-deserved promotion.
But they can also be little things, such as a co-worker who offered you a cup of coffee or the neighbor who waved to you. Maybe even just the warmth of the sun on your skin.
With a little practice, you may even become more aware of all the positive things around you.
6. Give a compliment
Research shows that performing acts of kindness can help you feel more satisfied.
Giving a sincere compliment is a quick, easy way to brighten someone’s day while giving your own happiness a boost.
Catch the person’s eye and say it with a smile so they know you mean it. You might be surprised by how good it makes you feel.
If you want to offer someone a compliment on their physical appearance, make sure to do it in a respectful way. Here are some tips to get you started.
7. Breathe deeply
You’re tense, your shoulders are tight, and you feel as though you just might “lose it.” We all know that feeling.
Instinct may tell you to take a long, deep breath to calm yourself down.
Turns out, that instinct is a good one. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress.
The next time you feel stressed or at your wit’s end, work through these steps:
- Close your eyes. Try to envision a happy memory or beautiful place.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth or nose.
- Repeat this process several times, until you start to feel yourself calm down.
If you’re having a hard time taking slow, deliberate breaths, try counting to 5 in your head with each inhale and exhale.
8. Acknowledge the unhappy moments
A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s just part of life.
If you get some bad news, make a mistake, or just feel like you’re in a funk, don’t try to pretend you’re happy.
Acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness, letting yourself experience it for a moment. Then, shift your focus toward what made you feel this way and what it might take to recover.
Would a deep breathing exercise help? A long walk outside? Talking it over with someone?
Let the moment pass and take care of yourself. Remember, no one’s happy all the time.
9. Keep a journal
A journal is a good way to organize your thoughts, analyze your feelings, and make plans. And you don’t have to be a literary genius or write volumes to benefit.
It can be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts before you go to bed. If putting certain things in writing makes you nervous, you can always shred it when you’ve finished. It’s the process that counts.
Not sure what to do with all the feelings that end up on the page? Our guide to organizing your feelings can help.
10. Face stress head-on
Life is full of stressors, and it’s impossible to avoid all of them.
There’s no need to. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that stress isn’t always harmful, and we can even change our attitudes about stress. Learn more about the upside of stress.
For those stressors you can’t avoid, remind yourself that everyone has stress — there’s no reason to think it’s all on you. And chances are, you’re stronger than you think you are.
Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, try to tackle the stressor head-on. This might mean initiating an uncomfortable conversation or putting in some extra work, but the sooner you tackle it, the sooner the pit in your stomach will start to shrink.
Decluttering sounds like a big project, but setting aside just 20 minutes a week can have a big impact.
What can you do in 20 minutes? Lots.
Set a timer on your phone and take 15 minutes to tidy up a specific area of one room — say, your closet or that out-of-control junk drawer. Put everything in its place and toss or give away any extra clutter that’s not serving you anymore.
Keep a designated box for giveaways to make things a little easier (and avoid creating more clutter).
Use the remaining 5 minutes to do a quick walk through your living space, putting away whatever stray items end up in your path.
You can do this trick once a week, once a day, or anytime you feel like your space is getting out of control.
12. See friends
Humans are social beings, and having close friends can make us happier.
Who do you miss? Reach out to them. Make a date to get together or simply have a long phone chat.
In adulthood, it can feel next to impossible to make new friends. But it’s not about how many friends you have. It’s about having meaningful relationships — even if it’s just with one or two people.
Try getting involved in a local volunteer group or taking a class. Both can help to connect you with like-minded people in your area. And chances are, they’re looking for friends, too.
Companionship doesn’t have to be limited to other humans. Pets can offer similar benefits, according to multiple studies.
Love animals but can’t have a pet? Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter to make some new friends — both human and animal.
13. Plan your week
Feel like you’re flailing about? Try sitting down at the end of every week and making a basic list for the following week.
Even if you don’t stick to the plan, blocking out time where you can do laundry, go grocery shopping, or tackle projects at work can help to quiet your mind.
You can get a fancy planner, but even a sticky note on your computer or piece of scrap paper in your pocket can do the job.
14. Ditch your phone
Turn off all the electronics and put those ear buds away for at least one hour once a week. They’ll still be there for you later. If you still want them, that is.
If you haven’t unplugged in a while, you might be surprised at the difference it makes. Let your mind wander free for a change. Read. Meditate. Take a walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Be sociable. Or be alone. Just be.
Sound too daunting? Try doing a shorter amount of time several times a week.
15. Get into nature
Spending 30 minutes or more a week in green spaces can help lower blood pressure and depression, according to a 2016 studyTrusted Source.
Your green space could be anything from your neighborhood park, your own backyard, or a rooftop garden — anywhere you can appreciate some nature and fresh air.
Better yet, add some outdoor exercise into the mix for extra benefit.
16. Explore meditation
There are many methods of meditation to explore. They can involve movement, focus, spirituality, or a combination of all three.
Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 5 minutes. Even the deep breathing exercises mentioned earlier can serve as a form of meditation.
17. Consider therapy
We’re certainly happier when we learn how to cope with obstacles. When you’re faced with a problem, think about what got you through something similar in the past. Would it work here? What else can you try?
If you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, consider speaking with a therapist on a weekly basis. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition or overwhelming crisis to seek therapy.
Therapists are trained to help people improve coping skills. Plus, there’s no obligation to continue once you start.
Even just a few sessions can help you add some new goodies to your emotional toolbox.
Worried about the cost? Here’s how to afford therapy on any budget.
18. Find a self-care ritual
It’s easy to neglect self-care in a fast-paced world. But your body carries your thoughts, passions, and spirit through this world, doesn’t it deserve a little TLC?
Maybe it’s unwinding your workweek with a long, hot bath. Or adopting a skin care routine that makes you feel indulgent. Or simply setting aside a night to put on your softest jammies and watch a movie from start to finish.
Whatever it is, make time for it. Put it in your planner if you must, but do it.
19. Give back
If you find that giving daily compliments provides a needed boost to your mood, considering making a monthly routine of giving back on a larger scale.
Maybe that’s helping out at a food bank on the third weekend of every month, or offering to watch your friend’s kids one night per month.
20. Take yourself out
No one to go out with? Well, what rule says you can’t go out alone?
Go to your favorite restaurant, take in a movie, or go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Even if you’re a social butterfly, spending some deliberate time alone can help you reconnect with the activities that truly make you happy.
21. Create a thought list
You arrive for an appointment with 10 minutes to spare. What do you do with that time? Pick up your cell phone to scroll through social media? Worry about the busy week you have ahead of you?
Take control of your thoughts during these brief windows of time.
At the start of each month, make a short list of happy memories or things you’re looking forward to on a small piece of paper or on your phone.
When you find yourself waiting for a ride, standing in line at the grocery store, or just with a few minutes to kill, break out the list. You can even use it when you’re just generally feeling down and need to change up your thoughts.
22. Take time to reflect
The start of a new year is a good time to stop and take inventory of your life. Set aside some time to catch up with yourself the way you would with an old friend:
- How are you doing?
- What have you been up to?
- Are you happier than you were a year ago?
But try to avoid the pitfall of judging yourself too harshly for your answers. You’ve made it to another year, and that’s plenty.
If you find that your mood hasn’t improved much over the last year, consider making an appointment with your doctor or talking to a therapist. You might be dealing with depression or even an underlying physical condition that’s impacting your mood.
23. Reevaluate your goals
People change, so think about where you’re heading and consider if that’s still where you want to go. There’s no shame in changing your game.
Let go of any goals that no longer serve you, even if they sound nice on paper.
24. Take care of your body
You hear it all the time, including several times in this article, but your physical and mental health are closely intertwined.
As you build habits to improve your happiness, make sure to follow up with routine appointments to take care your body:
- see your primary care physician for an annual physical
- take care of any chronic health conditions and see specialists as recommended
- see your dentist for an oral exam and follow up as recommended
- get your vision checked
25. Let go of grudges
This is often easier said than done. But you don’t have to do it for the other person.
Sometimes, offering forgiveness or dropping a grudge is more about self-care than compassion for others.
Take stock of your relationships with others. Are you harboring any resentment or ill will toward someone? If so, consider reaching out to them in an effort to bury the hatchet.
This doesn’t have to be a reconciliation. You may just need to end the relationship and move on.
If reaching out isn’t an option, try getting your feelings out in a letter. You don’t even have to send it to them. Just getting your feelings out of your mind and into the world can be freeing.
The loss of sleep is a common problem in modern society, affecting many individuals at some point in their lives.
Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. People vary in how little sleep is needed to be considered sleep-deprived. Some people such as older adults seem to be more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation, while others, especially children and young adults, are more vulnerable.
Although occasional sleep interruptions are generally no more than a nuisance, ongoing lack of sleep can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, emotional difficulties, poor job performance, obesity and a lowered perception of quality of life.
There is no questioning the importance of restorative sleep, and a certain amount of attention is necessary to both manage and prevent sleep deprivation.
This Medical News Today Knowledge Center article examines the consequences of sleep deprivation, along with what can be done to treat and prevent it.
Fast facts on sleep deprivation
Here are some key points about sleep deprivation. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Sleep loss alters normal functioning of attention and disrupts the ability to focus on environmental sensory input
- Lack of sleep has been implicated as playing a significant role in tragic accidents involving airplanes, ships, trains, automobiles and nuclear power plants
- Children and young adults are most vulnerable to the negative effects of sleep deprivation
- Sleep deprivation can be a symptom of an undiagnosed sleep disorder or other medical problem
- When you fail to get your required amount of sufficient sleep, you start to accumulate a sleep debt.
The main symptom of ongoing sleep loss is excessive daytime sleepiness, but other symptoms include:
- depressed mood
- difficulty learning new concepts
- inability to concentrate or a “fuzzy” head
- lack of motivation
- increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
- reduced sex drive
Sleep deprivation can negatively affect a range of systems in the body.
It can have the following impact:
- Not getting enough sleep prevents the body from strengthening the immune system and producing more cytokines to fight infection. This can mean a person can take longer to recover from illness as well as having an increased risk of chronic illness.
- Sleep deprivation can also result in an increased risk of new and advanced respiratory diseases Trusted Source.
- A lack of sleep can affect body weight. Two hormones in the body, leptin and ghrelin, control feelings of hunger and satiety, or fullness. The levels of these hormones are affected by sleep. Sleep deprivation also causes the release of insulin, which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Sleep helps the heart vessels to heal and rebuild as well as affecting processes that maintain blood pressure and sugar levels as well as inflammation control. Not sleeping enough increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Insufficient sleep can affect hormone production, including growth hormones and testosterone in men.
Sleep deprivation occurs when someone does not get a healthy amount of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2015 recommendations for appropriate sleep duration’s for specific age groups are:
- Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours each day
- Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours
- Adults (18 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours
Some groups of people may consider sleep as wasted time and purposely deprive themselves of sleep to pursue other things such as entertainment, educational goals, or money-making pursuits.
This intentional sleep deprivation is most likely to be seen in teenagers and young adults.
Others may unintentionally not get enough sleep because of shift work, family obligations, or demanding jobs.
Consistent sleep-wake patterns of going to bed late, frequent nighttime arousal’s, or waking up early can lead to sleep deprivation and the accumulation of sleep debt.
Additional causes of sleep deprivation include medical problems such as depression, obstructive sleep apnea, hormone imbalances, and other chronic illnesses.
Treatment is only required when a person physically cannot get to sleep, due to either physical or psychological difficulties.
A therapist or sleep specialist will be able to offer guidance and coping techniques for reaching a restful state and sleeping.
There are two main avenues of treatment for sleep deprivation: Behavioral and cognitive measures and medications.
Behavioral and cognitive treatments
There are a number of effective methods to enhance sleep that do not require medication, including:
- Relaxation techniques: Progressive muscle relaxation involving tensing and untensing different muscles in the body to help calm the body. Meditation techniques, mindfulness training, breathing exercises, and guided imagery can also help in this area. Audio recordings are available that can help a person fall asleep at night.
- Stimulation control: This involves controlling pre-bedtime activities and surroundings to moderate the sleeping pattern. For example, a person controlling their stimulus would spend time in bed only when they feel sleepy, which controls the association between being in bed and feeling ready to sleep.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a type of therapy designed to help people understand and change the thought patterns behind certain behaviors. It can challenge beliefs that may not be healthy and promote rational, positive thought. CBT can help a person to develop a healthier sleeping pattern.
When non-medicinal treatment is not effective, drugs are available that can help induce sleep. Some are available over-the-counter (OTC), and some are only available with a valid prescription.
There is a wide range of available options, including benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and melatonin receptor antagonists.
However, some people form a dependency on sleeping medications. It is important to limit the dosage and try to use non-medicinal measures where possible.
The good news is that most of the negative effects of sleep deprivation reverse when sufficient sleep is obtained. The treatment for sleep deprivation is to satisfy the biological sleep need, prevent deprivation and “pay back” accumulated sleep debt.
Some suggestions for good sleep habits include:
- going to bed when tired
- following a routine for bed and wake-up times, keeping it consistent every day of the week
- avoiding eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
- if unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes of trying, going to another room and trying to read until feeling sleepy, then returning to bed
- engaging in regular exercise during the day
- keeping the bedroom quiet, dark and a comfortably cool temperature
- turning off electronic devices when you go to bed
Paying off the sleep debt
When you fail to get your required amount of sufficient sleep you start to accumulate a sleep debt. For example, if you need 7 hours of sleep nightly to feel awake and alert and only get 5 hours, you have a sleep debt of 2 hours. If you continue that pattern for five nights, you have an accumulated sleep debt of 10 hours.
The only way to erase a sleep debt is to get more sleep. Depending on the scale of the sleep debt, it may take some time to recover fully. However, the positive effects of paying this debt off will be felt quickly.
To pay back a sleep debt, it is necessary to start getting the sleep you need, plus an additional hour or so per night, until the debt is paid. Afterwards, the required amount of sleep can be resumed without the additional hour.
Even if the sleep debt is hundreds or even thousands of hours, it can still be successfully reconciled with a conscious effort to restructure obligations, and allowing sufficient time off to recover. You will know you have paid back your sleep debt when you wake up feeling refreshed, and you do not feel excessively drowsy during the day.
If sleep deprivation is ongoing, and negative symptoms persist despite practicing good sleep hygiene measures, consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended.
It is important when diagnosing sleep deprivation to identify an ongoing cycle of poor sleep.
The first step for recognizing a sleep problem is to keep a written sleep history in a sleep log. Write down each day how many hours sleep you have, how many times per night you wake up, how rested you feel after waking up, and any feelings of sleepiness you experience during the day.
If you have a partner, it may be worth asking them to note any snoring, gasping, or limb-jerking, as a doctor may also ask about this.
It will then be possible to present this information to any doctor you visit in a meaningful way.
Sleep specialists can also identify a pattern using a polysomnogram, or sleep study.This is carried out in a sleep laboratory.
Electrodes are placed at various points on the body, including the scalp and face. The person with suspected sleep deprivation will sleep overnight at a sleep clinic, and these monitors will measure breathing, blood, heart rate and rhythm, muscle activity, and brain and eye movements during sleep.
Especially in those who wilfully sleep too little, diagnosis can be as simple as recognizing that you do not get enough sleep and deciding to make changes.
Sleep deprivation weakens the ability of the part of the brain that handles reasoning, known as the prefrontal cortex, to control the emotional part, the amygdala. This leads to the abnormal processing of emotions.
Sleep also appears to be necessary to prepare the brain for learning. When the brain is deprived of sleep, it is difficult to concentrate and form new memories.
When we stay awake all night or significantly cut sleep short, the body does not release the hormones necessary to regulate growth and appetite, and instead forms an overabundance of stress chemicals, such as norepinephrine and cortisol.
Research suggests shorter sleep durations may be a predictor of weight gain in adults and children. Each 1 hour reduction in sleep time per day is associated with an increase of 0.35 kilograms (kg) in body weight. These changes result in an increased risk for hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and stroke in the sleep-deprived individual.
Sleep loss can have a profound impact on both emotional function and normal thinking abilities in healthy individuals, resulting in:
- reduced tendency to think positively
- bad moods, a decreased willingness to solve problems
- a greater tendency towards superstitious and magical thinking
- intolerance and less empathy toward others
- poor impulse control
- inability to delay gratification
Sleep-deprived people are more likely to report increased feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, powerlessness, failure, low self-esteem, poor job performance, conflicts with coworkers, and reduced quality of life. Many of these deficits remain even when alertness is sustained with stimulants such as caffeine.
Finally, sleep-deprived individuals score higher on clinical scales measuring depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
Increased risk of accidents
After around 16 hours of staying awake, the body attempts to balance the need for sleep. If a person does not get enough sleep, the brain obtains sleep through short sleep attacks called microsleeps.
This is an uncontrollable brain response that renders a person unable to process environmental stimulation and sensory information for a brief amount of time.
A person’s eyes often remain open during microsleeps, but they are essentially “zoned out.” As the nature of these attacks is sudden, the consequences of a sleep-deprived individual operating heavy machinery or driving can be catastrophic to both the individual as well as innocent bystanders.
Microsleeps will continue to occur despite an individual’s forced attempt to stay awake, and because of this inbuilt sleep mechanism, it is extremely difficult for an individual to remain awake for more than 48 hours straight.
Sleep deprivation can be linked to serious accidents and poor job or school performances. It can substantially lower an individual’s overall quality of life. Lack of sleep disrupts the brain’s ability to balance emotions and thinking abilities, lowers the body’s natural defenses, and increases the chances of developing chronic medical problems.
While the occasional poor night’s sleep is not a serious problem in itself, persistent sleep deprivation can be.
There is no substitute for restorative sleep. A certain amount of care should be taken to prevent ongoing sleep deprivation in individuals of all ages.