Tag Archives: enough sleep

10 Habits That Are Zapping Your Energy

too-tired-1752-mAre you tired of being tired all the time? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks. I feel like I’m slogging through the days and fighting to stay awake.

It comes as no surprise to me that many of our habits that can drain our energy are also the same habits that cause us to feel like our lives are out of balance. We need to get back to the basic foundation blocks of living a balanced life.

Feeling tired not only robs you of your productivity and pleasure, it can also make you no fun to be around. The good news is that fixing your fatigue and lack of ambition may be as easy as making a few, simple lifestyle changes.

Here are 10 ways you can change your habits and put more pep in your step and energy back in your day:

Drink more water
We all know we need to drink more water, but how much to drink is more difficult to determine. Even if you’re not dehydrated, you can still experience the negative effects of not drinking enough water. Being tired and cranky can be a sign that you need to drink more. Water flushes out toxins, keeps tissues hydrated and increases your energy level. If it’s difficult for you to drink water all day, mix it up with 100% fruit juices, nonfat milk or unsweetened tea (preferably herbal or decaffeinated).

Eat smart
If you feel that your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, it may make sense for you to eat five or six small meals a day. This strategy can help your blood-sugar level remain constant and give you a steady amount of fuel all day. Just remember that you still need to maintain the same calorie intake for the day, simply spread it out over smaller meals. You will find that your energy level stays more balanced.

Cut the sugar
While sugar gives you a quick energy boost, it also drops you back down hard when it runs out. Then, you start craving that energy high again. Along with eating small meals a day, try to avoid the sugar rush and keep healthy snacks on hand. By combining a few ounces of protein with complex carbohydrates, you can keep your blood sugar more stable and boost your energy levels. For instance, snack on whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, lean turkey or chicken, or nonfat yogurt.

Watch the caffeine
Caffeine increases your energy levels, but it also takes away more energy than it’s giving. Like eating sugar or big meals, caffeine will boost your energy, but too much can cause a rebound effect and lead to fatigue. The best option is to quit caffeine by gradually reducing your intake However, if you can’t cut out caffeine completely, at least stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.

Get more sleep
The need to drink caffeine during the day can also be the result of not getting enough sleep at night. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every night will put you on track for being rested and alert. Make it a habit to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. You can strengthen your sleep patterns and get a better night’s sleep.

Lose the clutter
Being disorganized or having clutter in your home or workplace can make you feel lethargic, as well as lacking in enthusiasm and optimism. Trying to remember where things are and searching for lost or misplaced things can be a huge drain both emotionally and physically. It’s important to cope with clutter so you can be more productive and quickly move on to doing more fun things.

Stop stressing
Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. Conflict and stress can quickly deplete your energy and rob you of your ambition. Managing your stress levels is the best option. When you make time to take care of your inner self, you will find that you are able recharge and boost your energy. Relaxation takes different forms for different people. For you, it may mean sitting in silence, taking a walk and appreciating nature, working out or taking a bubble bath.

Move your body
With fitness, there are actually two ways to zap your energy. First, you can simply not exercise. Physical activity can energize us physically, emotionally and mentally. Without it, we are naturally more sluggish. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you feel good and enhance your mood. On the other hand, too much exercise can also cause problems. Over-training depletes your energy reserves, breaks down muscle, and makes you weaker not stronger. Find a balance by creating a healthy, fitness routine.

Say no
Do you say yes to everything? Spending time doing things you don’t really want to do can be another energy drainer. Think about how you spend your time each day. Do you do things that fuel you? Or do you spend your time on activities that deplete you? If you raise your awareness of where your energy is going, you can learn to say no to the things that deplete your energy. Then, energy can flow back into your life.

Make time for yourself
One of the ways to bring energy back in your life is to make time for yourself. Do things that make you happy and energize you. For instance, read a good book, go on a date night with your spouse, spend time with your kids, hang out with friends, focus on the good things, meditate or get a massage.

You can keep your energy levels in balance by creating more healthy habits that also will bring your life as a whole into balance. You can regain and maintain your missing energy!

6 ways to beat stress for better health

Stress juggling too many responsibilitiesWe all deal with stress. It can be a juggling act to balance all of our responsibilities. Your boss just dumped a bunch of work on your desk on Friday afternoon. The car battery died. One of the kids is sick. The property taxes are coming due.

Sometimes everything piles up at once, and you feel overloaded. You may not be able to keep all the balls in the air, and it seems like too much to handle. You can’t avoid stress. It’s just part of life. However, you can control how you deal with it.

Stress can cause you to gain weight and can even shorten your lifespan. By learning to manage stress, you can live a much happier, healthier and more productive life.

Here are 6 ways you can make changes in your life now to help you beat stress for better health:

1. Balance your lifestyle
How you live your life affects your stress level. If one aspect of your life is out of balance, it can lead to stress and dissatisfaction – not only in that area of your life but also in other areas. For instance, if your work schedule has become extremely hectic, it will impact your personal life. Your spouse may wish you could spend more time together. You may miss your kids’ sports or school activities due to work.

Here are some areas to work on to help you find more balance and reduce stress:

Look at your schedule. It’s important to create a balance between your personal needs, work, and your family and friends. Our relationships with others are an integral part of our happiness. Start by looking at your commitments. Maybe you need to adjust how and where you spend your time. Make more time for you. Or plan more activities with your family or friends. There may be things you don’t need to do at all. Sometimes just saying no when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be the greatest stress reliever.

Get enough sleep. Your body uses sleep to rest and re-cooperate from the stresses of the day. Your body and mind need sleep for many other healthy reasons, too.

Eat healthier. By eating healthier you have more energy, may lose weight or maintain your weight, and will feel better about yourself. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and protein can also help boost your immunity. Staying healthy is one of the best defenses against stress.

Make the time to exercise. If you can work exercise into your daily routine and make it habit, you will feel healthier and reduce stress. Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can help lower your stress level.

Find a sense of purpose. You may feel stressed if you aren’t doing anything that’s meaningful to you or that you truly enjoy. You may find a sense of purpose through your family, friends, a hobby you love, work or by volunteering. Your purpose should make you happy to get out of bed in the morning and fulfilled at the end of the day.

These are a few of the areas in your life that can get out of balance. It is also important to make sure you are financially and spiritually balanced. You may find it helps to set goals and improve your habits in order achieve more.

2. Get organized
Being surrounded by clutter can also contribute to stress. If you feel you are constantly searching for things or simply feel overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in your life, then take the initiative to clean up the clutter and reduce your stress.

You can also improve your time management skills. I know I am often guilty of procrastination. I put things off or do unimportant tasks to avoid what I should be doing. The next thing I know, I haven’t gotten anything worthwhile done. By managing your time more effectively, you can prioritize what is urgent and what can wait. You can also get more things done in a shorter amount of time. That leaves more time to do the fun things!

3. Change your mindset
It’s easy to get caught up in negative thinking. Situations that are out of your control or not even your fault suddenly start to cause you unnecessary stress. Negative thoughts can trigger your body’s stress response. Changing your mindset to more positive thinking can help you cope with stress more easily.

4. Learn to relax
When you feel stressed, take time to relax. It may mean simply closing your eyes, breathing deeply and thinking positive thoughts for a few minutes. You can envision yourself in a place that makes you happy and relaxed. Sit outside and soak up the sun for a few minutes. Go for a quick walk and let your mind wander. You can also use different types of relaxation techniques to help you reduce tension.

5. Disconnect
We live in a plugged-in world. While all of our high tech devices – TVs, cell phones, computers, tablets – can help us stay connected and make work and life easier, they keep us connected all the time. Turn off the computer and cell phone and take a break from technology every once in a while. Spend time with family and friends without the distractions. Go outside and do nothing. Enjoy just being.

6. Reach out
If you start to feel too overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family. Simply talking to someone and venting your frustrations can help you feel better. You can talk to people you know from church or a religious leader. You may reach a point when you want to talk to a counselor or therapist. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it!

You can beat stress and live a more balanced, healthy and fulfilling life. How do you cope with stress?

7 foods that can help you sleep

Almonds help you sleepDo you have trouble falling asleep? I have a hard time shutting off my brain and drifting off at night. Knowing that I may have difficulties going to sleep, I stay up later than I should. Or, maybe you can’t stay asleep. My husband often wakes up early in the morning and then can’t fall back to sleep.

There are so many health benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, we wrote a blog about the many reasons why you should get more sleep.

You may also need to take a closer look at what you eat before you go to bed. Your choice of a late night snack can make the difference between lying awake at night or getting a deep, healthy sleep.

Here are 7 foods that are recommended to help you get a better night’s sleep:

Almonds
Almonds contain magnesium that relaxes your muscles. They supply protein which can help maintain a steady blood sugar level while you’re sleeping. Almonds also promote sleep by switching you from your more alert adrenaline cycle to a sleep and digest cycle.

Decaf Tea
Chamomile tea is great for relaxation and helping you sleep. The herb alleviates anxiety and promotes relaxation. Green tea, as long as it’s the decaffeinated variety, contains theanine which helps promote sleep. So, have a relaxing cup of tea a few hours before bed.

Cherries
Cherries, and in particular tart cherries, naturally boost the body’s supply of melatonin. This chemical controls the body’s internal clock to regulate your sleep. You can eat fresh cherries when they are in season, sip cherry juice or snack on dried or frozen cherries.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that triggers a rise in blood sugar. This rise triggers insulin production and releases sleep inducing chemicals in your brain. Oats also contain minerals, vitamin B6 and melatonin, which help prevent stress and promote sleep.

Bananas
Bananas are a great source of magnesium and potassium – both of which help you relax your muscles. They also contain tryptophan which converts to serotonin and melatonin to help calm the brain.

Dairy
Yogurt, milk and cheese also contain tryptophan. In addition, the calcium in dairy products can help relieve stress and and allow you to stop worrying as you try to fall asleep. So, a glass of milk before bed may actually help you sleep. Cottage cheese contains digesting proteins which may also keep your digestive system relaxed all night long.

Toast
You can have a piece of toast to go with your dairy snack. Toast is warm, comforting and filling. It also can help you sleep because it triggers insulin production, which in turn releases tryptophan and serotonin. And, we know both of these chemicals promote relaxation and help alleviate anxiety.

Here are few things to keep in mind as you have a late night snack:

• Eat your snack at least an hour before bedtime

• Avoid large meals late in the day which may stir up your digestive system. You may also want to avoid spicy foods that can give you heartburn or indigestion when you lie down to sleep.

• Cut out fluids a couple hours before bed – you will be less likely to need a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

• Beware of caffeine. You may want to cut out all caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.

• Skip the nightcap – alcohol can interfere with your sleep. Having a drink before bed may help you fall asleep, but it may make you restless during the night.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may want to try snacking on the foods above before bed. You can also check out the blog 11 tips to getting a good night’s sleep. Do you have your own tricks to help you sleep?

8 tips to beating the winter blues

how to beat the winter bluesI have lived in the Midwest my entire life. I love the change of seasons: spring brings rainstorms and blossoming flowers while fall offers the beauty of colorful leaves and a nip in the air.

About January, I usually start wishing I lived somewhere sunny and tropical. I begin to long for warm breezes, green grass and flip flops. Right now, I get up in the dark to put my kids on the school bus, and it’s dark by the time we finish dinner. I feel tired, grumpy and have very little motivation.

So, what can we do to beat the winter blues? Here are 8 tips to boost your energy level and lift your spirits during the winter:

Soak up some sun
I don’t like to be cold. So, in the winter months, I hibernate in the house. However, exposure to natural sunlight can improve your mood. There is a scientific reason why you might feel blue during the winter. Lack of sunlight reduces the amount of serotonin we produce. This hormone makes you feel happy. Try to spend some time outside in the sunshine every day.

I have a huge window in my living room that faces to the west. I am not sure if it has the same effect, but I enjoy sitting on the floor in the sun. It warms me up and makes me feel like I am soaking up the sun.

Keep up the exercise routine
It is tempting to lie around and wallow in the winter blahs. It can be hard to get motivated to exercise. In the long run though, exercise will help your mood and improve your outlook. That’s because exercise can raise your serotonin levels just like sunlight. So even better, spend time outside in the sun and go for a bike ride, play street hockey, ice skate, jog or simply take a walk.

Fuel up with healthy foods
Beware of the munchies. When your serotonin levels are low, your body may crave foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and soda. Loading up on sugar will only make you feel more blue when it wears off. Stick to your healthy eating habits, and include as many fruits and vegetables as you can.

Spend time with friends
You may get in a rut and want to hole up in your house. Brave the cooler temps and get out and do something. Meet up with friends for coffee or dinner. Spending time with friends has so many benefits. Or, plan a get together with your family. I know having people over to my house energizes me to clean and create fun snacks. Something as simple as calling a friend can also help brighten your day – and theirs!

Get plenty of sleep
We have talked about the importance of getting enough sleep in previous blogs. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but don’t sleep too much. Both too little and too much sleep can affect your mood. A short nap (15 – 30 minutes) can also help re-energize you during the day. Naps may also help you live longer!

Pamper yourself
What feels like a luxury to you? Soaking in a hot bubble bath, drinking a cup of hot tea, or watching the big game on TV with friends or family? Find ways to give yourself a little treat that will perk up your spirits.

Plan something fun
Come up with a fun activity you can do next week. Maybe it’s taking your kids to a movie or planning a lunch date with a friend. Then, think about making plans for something you can look forward to. Schedule a fun activity for the spring when the weather warms up. Or, start looking into locations for a summer vacation. Sometimes the planning and anticipation can be half the fun!

Look forward to spring
Start thinking about things you can do when spring arrives. You may want to create a new flower bed. It may be time to purchase patio furniture to spruce up your outdoor living space. You could think about new routes for bicycling or places to go hiking. These activities can help you get geared up for a fun and healthy spring!

Do you notice a difference in your mood during the winter months? What do you do to fight off the winter blues?

10 reasons to get more sleep

need more sleepI have terrible sleep habits. I like to stay up late, I watch TV or play on my iPad in bed, and then I don’t want to get up in the morning. Most nights, I get maybe 6 hours of continuous sleep. No big deal, right? So what if I can take a nap standing up and get grouchy for no reason.

Well, after doing some research, I was surprised by how much getting enough sleep affects overall health and well-being.

Check out these 10 reasons you should get more sleep:

Live longer
I was surprised to learn that getting enough sleep can help you live longer. Sleep may have more influence on longevity than healthy eating habits, exercising or heredity. Without enough sleep, you are more likely to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke or possibly even develop breast cancer.

Be healthier
Sleep may also help you fight off illness. Good sleep helps boost your immune system. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to catch colds, the flu and other infectious diseases. It will also take you longer to recover if you are skimping on sleep.

Look better
Yes, you do need your beauty sleep. We undergo changes in metabolism and secrete growth hormones when we are in our deepest sleep. That means you look better – and possibly even younger – when you are well-rested instead of deprived of sleep. 

Feel better
You also feel better when you get plenty of sleep. You have more energy, ambition and enthusiasm. Being more rested can help you have a better attitude and be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way throughout the day.

Build your brain
Sleep can boost your memory. During sleep, new memories are processed in your brain. Lack of sleep affects your concentration, decision-making skills and overall performance. In fact, not getting enough sleep can have mental and physical affects similar to drinking too much alcohol. Sleep just helps your brain work better.

Be skinnier
Studies suggest that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight. Sleep can help you maintain better hormonal balance, and that helps you choose to eat healthier foods. When you are sleep deprived, you crave high-carb and high-sugar foods. So, sleep more and leave the cake, donuts and cookies alone.

Be safer
As mentioned earlier, being sleep deprived is similar to drinking too much alcohol. With the right amount of sleep, you are more alert and aware. You are less likely to have an injury due to falling or being careless. In addition, you are a better driver when you are more rested.

Make better decisions
Lack of sleep can make it difficult to make good decisions, or for that matter, even any decision at all. I have been known to stare at my sock drawer for five minutes in the morning, trying to pick out a pair of socks. I have trouble making decisions on a good day, but without enough sleep it’s nearly impossible.

Reduce pain
Physical pain can be associated with lack of sleep. Studies have shown that if you have chronic pain from an injury, getting enough sleep may help reduce the pain. Sleep is nature’s pain reliever and can even help reduce the need for pain medication.

Be happier
When you are deprived of sleep, you may experience more moodiness and anxiety. Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can also lead to depression. Getting enough sleep can improve your overall mood, help you concentrate and improve your productivity. You can better cope with stress and stressful situations in your day-to-day life.

After learning how important sleep can be to my overall health, I am setting a goal to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Are you sleep deprived? Tell us about your sleep habits!