Tag Archives: sunshine

9 Truths About Your Mood

happy-1207721-mMy husband asked me a few days ago why I was in such a bad mood. I didn’t really have an answer for him. I realized I had been rather grouchy the last few days, but I couldn’t pinpoint why I was feeling so down.

So, I did some research into our moods. Are there certain things that can affect our mood – both positively and negatively?

See if you agree with these 9 truths that can put you in a good mood or bring you down in the dumps:

Who you spend time with matters
Some people complain about everything. If you spend time around someone who likes to gripe but doesn’t want to solve their problems, it can bring you down. You feel drained and some of their negative outlook can rub off on you. It’s important to spend time with friends whose company you truly enjoy. It’s good for your health and overall well-being.

Multi-tasking can tax your mood
Trying to juggle several balls at once can limit your ability to fully focus on and enjoy what you’re doing. It’s better to do one thing at a time and give it your full attention. Living in the moment helps you be fully present in the now, rather than worrying about what you need to do next, or even next week.

Exercise can make you feel good
Exercise helps the brain create new neurons, boost blood flow to the brain, and increase the levels of key chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. In addition, you’ll most likely feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish exercising, as well as many other rewards from a good workout.

Being disorganized can bring you down
Spending time looking for items or shuffling papers can leave you stressed and anxious. You may have misplaced your keys and end up being late for work. You can’t find an important document or forget to pay the credit card bill. By getting more organized, you can be more efficient and have greater peace of mind. Your mood will benefit when everything falls into place.

Music can lift your spirits
Music has been shown to lift a person’s mood, but it may depend on the type of music. Some music can improve moods while other music can make your mood worse. Learn more about the health benefits of music.

The weather can impact your mood
I will definitely agree that the weather can bring my mood down. I tend to get sinus migraines when rainy weather is coming. About 10% of US adults suffer from mood disorders, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD most often occurs in winter but can happen any time of the year. Sunshine can boost your mood and “spring fever” has been studied as a real phenomenon that can be brought on by warmer temperatures after cold weather.

Thinking about money can make you unhappy
Studies have shown that just thinking about money can make people unhappy. It’s not just worrying about daily spending or trying to balance your bank account. Experiments show that even subconscious reminders of money can dampen our spirits. So, create a budget, make sure your finances are in order, and then let it go.

Foods can affect your mood
Certain foods may help boost your mood. Studies show that people who eat more olive oil, salmon and walnuts are less likely to be depressed. These foods are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and could have mood-boosting properties. On the other hand, eating a lot of sugar and carbs may make you feel good at the time, but you will crash later and feel tired and unmotivated.

A smile makes things better
Studies have shown that smiling can alter our stress responses in certain situations. Smiling, even if you’re not happy, can slow your heart rate and decrease perceived levels of stress. Smiling tells your body that everything is okay. Smiles are also contagious. When you smile at someone, it’s hard not to smile back. You can share your good mood with others.

While outside forces can have an impact on your mood, the biggest part of your mood is controlled by you. You can choose to let the external influences roll off of you and make a conscious decision to be in a good mood. Smile and enjoy the moment!

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6 ways winter affects your sleep

How winter affects sleepIt seems like every year I start having trouble sleeping at night right around the daylight savings time change.

I recently read an article that talks about how the Earth’s axis affects our sleep habits. As the days shorten with the arrival of winter, a gap is created between our internal body clocks and our sleep patterns in comparison to the natural day. Daylight savings time was actually created to help deal with these changes in daylight hours.

Before electricity and the daily grind of getting up at the same time every day to go to work, people woke up with the rising sun and went to bed when it was dark. During the long winter nights, sleep was actually biphasic. That means we slept for a few hours, then woke up for a few hours, and then slept again for a few hours.

Artificial light modified our sleep habits and made them more routine. The good news is that a regular sleep routine and getting plenty of rest are good for our bodies. On the other hand, artificial light means we can stay up long after it’s dark outside and get up before the sun rises. We are more likely to create a pattern of sleep deprivation.

From a previous blog, we know it’s important to get plenty of sleep. Here are 6 ways your sleep can be affected during the winter:

Lack of sunlight
We need sunshine to help us be alert and energetic. A lack of sunlight can make us sleepy and sluggish. During the winter months, many of us get up in the dark and drive to work before it’s barely daylight. By the time we leave work, it’s once again dark. We need the light to tell our bodies it’s time to be awake. On the other hand, we need darkness and nighttime so that our body knows it’s time to go to bed. Spend a few minutes outside each day. Even on dreary days, it’s still good to experience fresh air and natural light.

Lack of exercise
Because you feel tired and unmotivated during the winter months, you may skip your exercise routine. In addition, cold weather can keep you from getting outside and doing chores or activities that would normally tire you out. Try to take a brisk walk or even use the stairs to increase your movement during the day.

Fluctuating sleep patterns
Winter time and cold weather makes it even more appealing to snuggle under the covers and sleep in on the weekends. Just as too little sleep affects you mentally and physically, too much sleep on the weekends can throw off your sleep patterns during the week. It’s best to only vary your bedtime and wake up time by about an hour or so, even on weekends.

Bad eating habits
I know I tend to hibernate in the winter. I want to eat warm, filling comfort foods that aren’t the best choices. But when you eat a heavy meal in the evening, your body has to work harder to digest it. Your full belly can actually keep you awake at night or disrupt your sleep pattern. Keep up your healthy eating habits even in the winter, especially if you aren’t burning as many calories.

Your house temperature
Turning the heat up may make you more comfortable on a cold evening, but it will make it harder for you to sleep. We tend to sleep better in a cooler room because it will keep our body temperature down. However, a room that’s too cold can make it difficult to sleep as well. You need to find the temperature that’s just right to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sickness
Winter often brings on more colds and flu. We need sleep to help heal our body. Yet, when we get sick, it often interferes with our sleep because we may have a sore throat, stuffed up nose, or run a fever. It can be harder to get a good night’s sleep with cold and flu symptoms.

If you notice you are feeling tired, sluggish and grouchy this winter, take a look at your sleep habits. You may need to make some adjustments to your routine and your sleep environment so that you can get a better night’s sleep.

Do you have tips for creating a healthy sleep routine, even in the winter? We would love to hear from you!

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?