Tag Archives: life balance

10 Common Habits That Get You Hooked

hook-485885-mYou probably have activities that you love to do. What you may not realize is that normal hobbies and habits can turn into an addiction.

When you hear the word addiction, your mind may automatically think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. But, the definition of addiction may surprise you. According to Wikipedia, “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.

That means you can also become addicted to “behaviors.” Something that starts out as fun turns into a habit, and then becomes a compulsion.

Here are 10 surprising things you may be addicted to:

The Internet
You may think that browsing the internet is just a fun way to pass the time. However, studies have shown that internet addiction actually alters the brain in ways that are similar to the affects of drug and alcohol addiction. An addiction to the internet involves loss of control, as well as negative consequences at home and at work.

Smartphones
Smartphones are another new habit that can become an addiction. You keep it with you all the time and check it every few minutes. You ignore in-person interactions to catch a text or a post from someone you haven’t seen in years. You work too much because you’re constantly checking your phone. Put the phone down and have a conversation!

Coffee
You may not realize that caffeine is a drug. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I want coffee. I am on edge without it and will get a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Coffee, soda and energy drinks can all be overused. As long as you don’t overdo it, your caffeine habit can be harmless.

Sugar
Many people get sugar cravings. Foods high in carbs, fats and sugar can affect your brain just like drugs do. You may be craving a chocolate candy bar or an ice cream cone. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted, but your sweet tooth can get out of control and contribute to other health problems.

Shopping
I admit it. I have a shopping addiction. I love clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets and more. I just enjoy the act of shopping. When you shop, it may lift you up when you’re feeling down or just make you happy. That’s because your brain actually releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Chronic shopping may also mean you have impulse-control problems or anxiety issues. Shopping too often can also lead to financial, social or deeper emotional problems.

Tanning
You can become addicted to the sun. The ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight releases chemicals in your body called endorphins. They make you feel good. You may also feel like you’re never tan enough no matter how tan you get. This may be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder.

Gambling
Of the behavioral addictions, gambling is the one most closely related to drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling lights up the same areas in the brain as drug addictions. You may bet on an office pool, gamble online or gamble more seriously at slot machines, poker tables, or off track betting. If you’re not lucky, betting can wreak havoc on your finances, job and family life.

Work
As I sit here writing this on a Saturday morning, it’s possible that I am addicted to work. While most of the work world looks forward to weekends, those who have an addiction may find themselves working nights and weekends. While we joke about being a “workaholic,” it can jeopardize a person’s health and relationships.

Videos games
Can’t put down the video game console? Do you think about playing games while doing other activities? Research shows that boys and men most commonly have a video game addiction. If you’re shirking responsibilities, work or social activities to play video games, you may be addicted. With games becoming more realistic and challenging, it’s even harder to separate fantasy from reality.

Food
Food can become a problem if you’re eating to ease emotions, overeating while alone and then feeling guilty after the binge. While food can seem like a drug for people with eating disorders, it’s not considered a true addiction. It’s important to develop healthy eating habits and avoid issues with food.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Any activity or habit can become an issue if it begins to control your life. It’s important to find balance in everything you do. If you discover that you’re hooked on a behavior and it’s having negative consequences, it may be time to make a change!

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8 Ways to Fit Healthy Habits Into Your Hectic Life

time-1128278-mDoes it ever seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to do? Lately, that seems like every day for me.

How can I fit in healthy habits when I don’t have any time? Then, I just feel more stressed and out-of-sorts because I didn’t fit everything in.

Decide what you truly want to accomplish and prioritize your life around your goals. When you make the time for healthy habits, you’ll have more energy, lower your stress levels and achieve more life balance.

Here are 8 ways you can fit healthy habits into your hectic daily routine:

Track your time
For a day or two, write down everything you do and what time you do it. Then, take a look at your routine. Does anything stick out to you? You may be watching more TV than you realized, or playing games on your phone. You might be able to break that time down and fit in your healthy habits.

Ask yourself: What tasks take longer than they should? Do I need to change my priorities to cut out things that are less important than more healthy options? What can I say no to?

Cut your to-do list
Highly successful people often have very short to-do lists. You may be overestimating what’s realistic to get done in a day. Cut your planned to-do list down by 25% to take into account all those things that can come up and derail your plans. Then, you can keep from overloading yourself. Make sure your healthy goals are at the top of the list!

Drink more water
Be sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. Water is an all-purpose, healthy drink. It helps your digestion, circulation, aids in weight loss, improves your skin and more. If you feel fatigued during the day, it could be because you aren’t properly hydrated. Water can also help you feel full and keep colds at bay.

Stock up on healthy snacks
One of the quickest ways to derail your eating habits is to grab an unhealthy snack when you’re hungry and on the go. When you go grocery shopping, pick up portable, healthy snacks. For instance, baby carrots, string cheese, fresh fruit, nuts, and single-serve packs of yogurt, applesauce, crackers, etc.

Buy frozen, healthy ingredients
One of the biggest deterrents to sticking to your healthy eating habits can be making time to prepare nutritious food. Purchase frozen, ready-to-cook ingredients. Frozen fruits and vegetables still have a high vitamin and mineral content. You can also buy frozen boneless chicken breasts and a variety of frozen seafood in single-serve packages. These are great options for quick, healthy meals.

Try interval training
A busy schedule means your workout may get left out. You can fit in a great workout in 20 minutes. Short bursts of high-intensity exercise can actually be more effective.

Walk it out
The average job means sitting at a desk in front of a computer for a big part of the day. Then, consider your commute to work, eating lunch and dinner, and then relaxing on the couch at the end of the day. You may find that you spend as much as 80% of your day sitting down. Sneak in some extra exercise by running errands on foot, taking the stairs, and parking at the end of the parking lot. All those extra steps you take add up!

Give yourself some slack
Are you trying to create a 4-course meal every night for dinner? Obsessing about creating the perfect presentation for work? Worrying about whether your kids’ favorite outfits are washed? Focus on getting tasks done, not striving for perfection. You can have leftovers or a quick, healthy meal for dinner. The presentation will be fine, and the kids have plenty of clothes to wear.

Go to bed
Sleep is one thing you can’t cut to get more done. When you don’t get enough sleep, you will be less efficient during the day, your energy level suffers, and your cognitive function is reduced. Lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to getting sick. By getting enough sleep, you are more likely to have the energy to get more done during the day.

Making healthier choices may be a matter of making more time. Decide what you truly want to accomplish to create a more balanced life. Then, use these tips to fit your healthy habits into your daily routine!

7 Tips to Finding the Best Workout

exercise-at-home-901909-mI have a hard time getting into an exercise routine. And then the next thing I know, I’m in more of a rut than a routine.

It’s important to find a workout routine that will fit your lifestyle and personality. From my own experience, if you try to create an exercise program that doesn’t match your skills or isn’t something you enjoy doing, you won’t stick with it.

Here are 7 questions to ask yourself as you design a workout routine:

What is your goal?
Before you plan a routine, you need to decide why you are working out. What is your specific goal? Do you want to build muscle, lose weight, increase strength and endurance, or get toned?

To lose weight: You need a high-intensity workout. You can try Zumba, spinning or running.
To build muscle and tone: You need strength training, such as kettlebells.
To get more endurance: You need a hardcore burn for your whole body, and can try boxing boot camp or kick boxing class.

What is your fitness level?
If you sit on the couch with the remote, you probably need to start with a workout that’s different than someone who has been running 5K marathons. Decide if you are beginner, intermediate or advanced. With just about any type of exercise routine, you can tailor it to your fitness level. For instance, if you’re a beginner, you can start out walking and then work up to jogging. If you’re advanced and already run 5K’s, you may want to try a half marathon or triathlons.

How often can you workout?
We are all busy. Finding a time to fit in your workout can often be the biggest challenge. Decide when is the best time for you to exercise. Some people like to get up and workout early in the morning. Others find that after work is good time to wind down before going home. I personally have found that right before lunch is a good time for me. Then, decide how many days a week and which days you prefer to workout. If you can make exercise a regular event on your schedule, you are more likely to turn it into a routine.

Where will you exercise?
Some people like the gym. They like going somewhere specifically to workout. You may have more access to equipment and get more variety at a gym or fitness center. Others like to be outside and go to a park or just run or walk in their neighborhood. I personally like to be at home. I work from my home so I am more likely to fit in a workout if I do it at home.

What do you enjoy?
I am more inclined to workout if I enjoy doing it. As much as I hate my treadmill, I do like the ease of just going to my basement and hopping on for a walk or run. I also like playing team sports, such as volleyball, softball and basketball. I have fun playing in the yard with my kids. I pass a volleyball with my girls and play baseball with my son. Sometimes we do some basketball scrimmage or just throw a frisbee. All of these activities get the heart pumping and incorporate muscles that I may not use on a daily basis.

What is your personality?
Your personality can impact the type of workout routine that will be best for you. If you like to socialize, you may want to go to a gym, attend exercise classes or get together with a group of friends. You may need someone to yell at you to motivate you. You might thrive in a boot camp setting or having a personal trainer to challenge you. Most of the time, I am a loner and like to do my own thing. I also like to keep things the same. I like to know what to expect and not have to put a lot of thought into deciding what my workout will be each day.

How can you mix it up?
However, your routine may get stale or just need to be shaken up every once in a while. You may need a challenge or to get motivated again. Here are few ways to mix things up:

  • 7-minute workout: You work harder than you thought possible and push yourself to the max.
  • Sprint triathlon: It’s a shorter version with a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3-mile run.
  • Ballet barre class: You can take classes at a studio or follow a video at home.
  • Adult sport leagues: Show your team spirit and join a recreational league, such as tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball or even dodgeball.
  • Aerobic gaming: Get serious about video games with exergaming. Burn calories by dancing or boxing.
  • Hula hoop: Give hula hooping a whirl. Who knew this grade school fun could burn calories and raise your heart rate.

If you’re having trouble getting into an exercise routine, design a fitness program that will fit your goals and your lifestyle. You are more likely to keep on track and achieve more balance in all aspects of your life. You can make your workout routine fun and effective!

12 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

jogger-657075-mI know I should be exercising. I know it’s important to good health. I know it will help me find better life balance. Yet, I manage to make excuses and find reasons why I can’t fit a workout into my daily routine.

So, if you’re like me and need more motivation to just get moving, here are 12 unexpected benefits and rewards of exercise:

Reverse the effects of stress
You probably already know that physical activity is a stress buster. What you may not realize is that you are actually reducing stress levels. That’s because when you workout you reduce the levels of stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – in your body. You can calm your body and your mind to help you get in the right mindset to identify and tackle what’s causing your stress.

Release happy chemicals
Working out can help boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins that help create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies show that exercise can even alleviate the symptoms of someone who is clinically depressed. In some cases, working out may be as effective as antidepressant pills.

Build self-esteem and confidence
Physical fitness can boost your self-esteem and improve your self-image. It’s not about age, weight or size – exercise can help elevate your perception of your attractiveness and self worth. You can also feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish a challenging workout or reach a difficult goal.

Alleviate anxiety
You might be surprised to learn that jogging can be more relaxing than a warm bubble bath. Getting on the track or treadmill for some aerobic exercise can help reduce sensitivity and anxiety.

Live longer
Research shows that regular exercise can add years to your life. Working out and being active can lower your risk of early death by 30%. We’re not talking extreme – just a little exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Sleep better
Regular exercise may help you enjoy a good night’s sleep. Try walking, running, biking or strength training during the mid morning or early afternoon to promote better sleep. Avoid evening workouts because they may interfere with sleep patterns.

Boost your brain power
Exercise can make you smarter. A study has shown that mental agility improves when testing is conducted on a treadmill. When you’re physically active, more blood flows through all parts of your body, including your brain. Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Get more done
Sitting on the couch or at your desk and feeling uninspired? Research shows that taking the time to exercise on a regular basis can increase productivity and leave you feeling more energized. Getting in a workout during the workday seems to benefit your health, mood, efficiency and even relationships.

Strengthen your bones
Your bones and muscles get stronger with physical activity. Weight bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing, tennis and running, can help lower your risk of osteoarthritis, help you maintain balance, and improve coordination.

Ward off illness
Many health experts feel that one of the most important habits you can adopt for good health is regular physical activity. Exercise may help prevent a variety of ailments from heart disease and diabetes to breast cancer and the common cold. A 30 to 45 minute walk every day can boost your immune system and help you lower your risk of chronic disease.

Be more creative
Vigorous exercise that gets the heart pumping can help boost creativity for up to two hours after you’ve finished. Physical activity can free your mind from your worries and help you let the creative juices flow. If you’re blocked at work, take a walk outside, get some fresh air and let your mind wander. You can free up your mind and refresh your brain.

Keep Alzheimer’s at bay
In addition to improving brain power and learning, exercise may also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Working out can boost brain chemicals that support and prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. A daily walk or jog can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s or even slow its affects once it’s begun.

Working out can have positive benefits beyond the gym. You can improve your mood, boost your self confidence, get more creative and increase your life span. Those are all good reasons to step away from the computer and get moving!

How Birth Order Impacts Life Balance

kids-day-out-538639-mI have three children, and I have recently been reading about birth order and how it impacts us as children and adults.

I also realized that birth order may influence how we are able to handle some of the important areas in our lives as we strive to achieve life balance. Birth order can significantly influence personality. It can also factor into our communications skills, cognitive skills and decision-making abilities.

Some researchers say that birth order can be as important as genetics in shaping us. It’s not necessarily something we’re born with, but rather how our parents treat and raise us differently that influences so many aspects of our lives.

Here’s a quick rundown of what research says about your birth order:

FIRST BORN
First borns are more likely to be overly pampered and receive more attention from their parents during early childhood. They bask in their parents’ presence and sometimes act like mini-adults.

First borns tend to be:

  • Keen observers
  • Confident
  • Reliable leaders
  • Controlling
  • Achievers

MIDDLE CHILD
Middle children may feel left out because they aren’t the oldest or the youngest. They can be stubborn and sometimes unreasonable. They can also be extremely creative and see things differently than others. They can be quite straightforward and outspoken.

Middle children are often:

  • People-pleasers
  • Have a large social circle
  • Somewhat rebellious
  • Keep the peace
  • Want to make their mark

LAST BORN
The youngest children not only receive attention and affection from parents, but also from older siblings. The last born can be demanding. They are always treated as kids – no matter how old they are – and this can impact their decision-making ability.

The baby of the family can be:

  • Attention-seeker
  • Self-centered
  • Manipulative
  • Outgoing
  • Fun-loving

How can your birth order affect your ability to live a balanced life? Here’s how birth order may impact your personality, relationships and family dynamics.

Personality
If you are firstborn, you are probably a high achiever who seeks approval, dominates and is the perfectionist in the room. You are more likely to be in a leadership role at work. These traits may make it harder for you to find a balance between life and work. You may also struggle with getting caught up in the details rather than looking at the whole picture in order to find balance.

As a middle child, you are probably understanding, cooperative and flexible. Yet, you are competitive and concerned with a sense of fairness. You and your siblings will never excel at the same things. As the middle child, you will choose to do the opposite of your siblings. You may miss out on doing things you love out of stubbornness. You may spend time competing with others rather than focusing on what you need to do to find your own life balance.

If you’re the baby, you’ve had more freedom than your other siblings and have become more independent. You have a sense of place and security. Because your parents were more laid back with you, you may follow a more creative path, such as actor, writer, director or comedian. Since everyone took care of you, you tend to be less responsible and may make poor choices that can throw your life out of balance.

Relationships
When it comes to relationships with a spouse or friends, firstborns are reliable. On the downside, they may need to work on being more spontaneous and free-spirited. Firstborns also tend to want to be in complete control, which can come off as bossy to partners and friends.

Middle children like to get along and often make a very good romantic partner. They have been less spoiled and are willing to work together to create a more meaningful relationship. A middle child is more likely to pick an intimate circle of friends to help extend their family, since they may have lacked in attention when younger.

The youngest child is looking for fun and excitement. They are spontaneous, and this spontaneity can lead to problems in relationships. They may come off as unreliable and not accountable for their actions. The last born may be more manipulative of friends and their spouse, throwing relationships out of balance. Last borns are also least financially dependable, which can lead to money issues.

Family dynamics
The oldest child has to deal with the highest expectations and has tougher rules than those who come after him or her. This can put extra pressure on first borns. They may resent the next children because of the added pressure and the expectation to act as caretakers for younger siblings. The first and second born may team up against younger siblings, or may compete for their parents’ attention.

The middle child feels, well, caught in the middle. They are neither oldest or youngest. They may never feel good enough. Sometimes, the oldest and youngest will form a bond that doesn’t include the middle child. Middle children are big on fairness because they may have felt the levels of attention and expectations were out of balance when they were growing up.

The youngest is the peacemaker in the family and the comedian. They act as a clown to get attention or to smooth over rifts among family members. The older siblings may feel the youngest already gets more attention and is more spoiled.

I can see some of these birth order traits in myself (and my older brother), as well as in my three children. Birth order, and how it may have shaped your personality, is important to consider as you strive to achieve a more balanced life.

Is Your Life in Balance?

zen-still-life-605551-mI have been feeling really pressed for time this summer. I am working full-time and chauffeuring three kids to multiple sports activities and events. There just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to do.

I went on vacation a few weeks ago and worked a few hours every day that I was gone. I feel like I neglect my kids and husband some days, and I haven’t spent time with friends in months.

When your life gets out of balance, you may feel burnt out, unsatisfied, angry, depressed or stressed.

On the other hand, when your life is in balance you have better over health, you’re more fit, you have a positive outlook, and your relationships are strengthened. You will have greater peace of mind, feel in harmony and be excited to embrace each day.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if your life is out of balance – and what you can do to bring it back into balance:

Do you feel overwhelmed?
If you feel like pulling the covers up over your head in the morning and hiding from the world, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. Stress and anxiety can keep you from feeling balanced. It might be a good idea to take a break, step back and give yourself some down time.

Here are 9 Intriguing Things to Know About Stress

Do you have a social network?
And by social network, we don’t mean Facebook or Twitter. When is the last time you spent time with friends and just relaxed? Do you spend quality time with your family? Our relationships are important to our sense of well-being. Neglecting friends and family, or having conflict within your relationships, will make it difficult to find life balance. Make sure you take the time to nurture the relationships that matter to you.

Your friendships matter. Here are 7 Reasons Why We Need Friends

Are you out of shape?
Lack of exercise and poor eating habits will take their toll on your mind and body. Letting yourself get out of shape can impact your quality of life and lead to negative feelings that impact your mood and attitude. Eating right and exercising are good for the body and soul.

Get some workout tips at 15 Exercise and Fitness Do’s and Don’ts
Want some healthy eating tips? 10 Healthy Eating Myths and Facts

How is your energy level?
Do you find yourself yawning and wishing for a nap about halfway through the day? Do you wake up groggy in the morning or toss and turn at night? Your sleep habits can impact your life balance. It’s important to establish good sleep habits and make sure you are getting plenty of rest.

Need more reasons to get a good night’s sleep? Here are 8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

Are your finances a mess?
Are you living beyond your means and feeling the pressure of debt? Your financial situation can cause stress, as well as put added strain on your relationship with your spouse. You can get control of your finances by taking a look at your spending habits and creating a budget to help you get back on track.

Want help creating a budget? Read more: Tips to Achieving a Balanced Budget

Do you have bad habits?
Are you controlling or overbearing to your friends and family? Maybe you’re a perfectionist and expect everyone else to be that way, too. Do you smoke, chew your fingernails or overeat? If there are things about yourself you would like to change, then do it! With time and some patience,  you can change those bad habits and replace them with good habits.

Need to overcome bad habits? Learn how: 7 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

What do you want to accomplish?
What are your goals in life? We all need dreams and plans to keep us excited and motivated. Set goals for yourself and accomplish them. Then, set new goals and challenge yourself to continue to grow and expand your horizons.

Read our blog: 9 Tips to Set and Achieve Life Goals

Finding and maintaining balance in your life is a journey. It’s something you must work at every day. You will have bad days and obstacles will crop up in your path. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish your goals and appreciate the good moments in your life. Continue to seek and strive for balance in your life. You will find that you are happier, healthier and more at peace.

9 Quick Ways to Clean Your House

Quick ways to clean your homeAs the weather turns warm, I am less inclined than ever to clean my house. We are knee-deep in track, baseball and softball. We are constantly on the go, yet we somehow ending up making a mess of the house.

I am working to achieve balance in my life. I feel that one way to help do that is to create a clean and organized home. When everything has a place and I can quickly find it, I am able to eliminate a source of stress. The more quickly I clean the house, the sooner I can enjoy spending time with friends and family or relaxing.

Here are 9 ways to quickly and easily clean your house so that you can find more balance and enjoy your spring and summer:

Have a system
The key to cleaning fast is having a system. You may need to start in the room you hate to clean – which may also be the dirtiest – so that you can get it out of the way first. Some cleaning experts would say clean one room at a time and never go back to a room. I have found that going through the house and doing each specific task works better for me. For instance, I dust the entire house and then clean mirrors. Next, I vacuum all the carpets. Then, I wipe down bathrooms and mop floors last.

Stop it at the door
It’s important to take care of the potential clutter when it first comes in the door to help limit the clutter in your house. Shoes go in a bin or shoe rack. Coats are hung on hooks by the door or in a nearby closet. Keys, purses and backpacks have a home. Anything my kids drag into the house either gets delegated back out to the garage or goes to their rooms. Put the mail in an area it can be taken care of later. One of the easiest ways for your house to appear clean is to keep the clutter under control.

Create storage areas
It used to take me 30 minutes to pick everything up off the tables, furniture and floor just so I can then clean. Storage bins and baskets are also key to decluttering your home and making it easier to clean quickly. If you stay on top of the clutter and create “homes” for magazines, books, toys, etc, it is so much easier to go through and clean surfaces and floors.

Keep your supplies on hand
Use a plastic caddy to store your cleaning supplies. I keep one set under my kitchen sink upstairs and another caddy in the bathroom downstairs. You can carry your supplies around on each floor of the house.

Clean a little each day
If it’s hard to find time to clean the house from top to bottom all at once, then spend a few minutes every day tidying up the spots that get the messiest. For me, it’s the kitchen counters and the bathroom sinks. It seems my kids spill something on the kitchen counter every 5 minutes. And, between toothpaste and dirty hands, the bathroom sinks are disgusting. I keep disinfectant wipes under all the sinks in the house. Then, I can quickly grab a wipe and clean up messes. I also pick up stray clothes and throw them in hampers every day.

Weekly deep clean
By staying on top of the clutter and little messes each day, then you can take care of deep cleaning quickly. You can do a quick dusting, vacuum and mop floors, and your regular cleaning is done.

Do laundry through the week
With five people in my family, I do at least one load of laundry every day. I try to skip doing laundry Sundays, and I may do two or three loads some days. It seems like less of a chore if I throw in a load a day, and it cuts down on piles of dirty clothes and overflowing hampers.

Use little helpers
It has taken me a long time to trust my kids with cleaning tasks. I am a bit of a perfectionist so it’s been hard for me to have them clean. (I still go back and spot clean after them – sometimes.) However, I firmly believe it’s good for kids to know how to clean and to understand that when you make a mess, you need to clean it up. Even young children can put away toys, set the table, gather trash or help fold clothes.

Seasonal cleaning
Once every six months, plan to take a day and get rid of the extra clutter. Go through closets and drawers and get rid of unused clothes, shoes, books and toys. Sort through kitchen cabinets and remove items you haven’t used in a year. Have a yard sale or donate items to charity.

Creating good cleaning habits can make your life more balanced, healthier and happier. It’s a great way for kids to learn that they are also responsible for creating a clean and comfortable home.