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Can’t Find Time For Self-Care? Try ‘Habit Stacking.’

This extremely simple productivity hack will instantly carve out time for yourself in a way you never thought of before.

Try this technique instead of making self-care an afterthought.

We live in a world where it seems like everyone is doing the most. They’re getting their work done, they’re keeping their houses clean and they’re seeing their loved ones ― all while making time to practice self-care. Seeing others “mastering” balanced lives can feel defeating, particularly when you struggle to get through even two tasks on your to-do list.

Of course, sometimes doing nothing is productive, and we all know what we see on social media isn’t always a reflection of reality. But if you are struggling to make some time for yourself, you might just need to do some strategizing.

This is where “habit stacking” comes in, a term created by author SJ Scott in his 2014 book on the topic.

Habit stacking might seem like another kitschy self-improvement hack, but it may just be the mental trick that helps you stick to your quests long term. The strategy involves listing habits you already have ― such as walking the dog or driving to work ― that are already quite easy and routine for you, and attaching new self-care methods on top of them.

Ready to try it yourself? Here’s how to make sure your habit stacking sticks:

Start by picking a small new habit

This can include anything you are hoping to improve on. It should be a self-care technique that makes you feel good, but not necessarily something you always have time to do.

The key here is to start off as granular as possible. Say you want to get some movement in, but just writing “exercise” on your to-do list seems like a lofty goal. Instead, add a workout move you’re trying to master to the end of a habit you already do each day.

Diane Boden, host of the “Minimalist Moms” podcast and author of “Minimalist Moms: Living & Parenting With Simplicity,” practices this each morning by adding pushups after the habit of brushing her teeth.

“If I already practice one behavior, why not attach another to it? The connectivity makes all the difference in maintaining new habits you’d like to develop,” she said, noting that eventually your new habit will become second nature. “Can you get yourself to a point where the habits you desire to cultivate become reflexive?”

Write out a list of everyday habits you already do, then stack them together in a way that makes sense

Mentally roll through your normal routine and jot down the automatic behaviors you do each day, like Boden with brushing her teeth. Other options can include getting out of bed, brewing coffee, changing out of work clothes or getting into bed.

Listing these on paper will help you realize the long list of possibilities and find the area of your day that works best for you. For example, Allison Chawla, a psychotherapist in New York, recommended stacking sitting down to dinner with a gratitude moment.

Other potential combinations could be something like meditate for just one minute while brewing your coffee, doing a few yoga poses immediately after changing out of your work clothes or journaling for five minutes when you get into bed.

Boden prefers to stack habits in categories, such as combining two health and fitness habits. For example, you could drink a glass of water before and after your daily walk, improving your health habits in multiple ways.

glass_water

An example of habit stacking: If you want to drink more water, set a glass by your bed to drink when you first wake up before you get out of your sheets.

Build up these combinations slowly for most success

The endgame here is for your brain to automatically associate one habit with another, so this won’t happen overnight.

And don’t try to do too much at once, either. Say you have multiple self-care habits you want to try, like journaling and meditating. What you should not do is string all these habits together or try all the combinations in one day — hence the “stacking.” Focus on making the journaling a daily routine before jumping to that and meditation.

Try not to get discouraged if it takes a long time. “It’s a lifestyle change, so people often don’t see the results they want because they are productive in one aspect but they lose that productivity in another way,” said Andre Pinesett, a physician and student productivity and performance coach.

Also keep in mind that multitasking, which research shows can be inefficient and counterproductive, is not habit stacking and is not helpful, Pinesett added. Instead of trying to do these habits at the same time (can you brush your teeth while doing a pushup?), use one as a cue for the next one to start.

Finally, make acknowledging your progress its own habit to stack

It’s essential to build in validation as its own habit as you succeed toward a greater goal of self-care. Take some time to acknowledge the work you did ― whether it be sticking to journaling before bed or your pushup after brushing your teeth. You can do this by writing it down, which often helps reinforce positive emotions.

Keep at it, and you’ll find it’s easier to prioritize yourself than you thought.

By Alexandra Frost  11/11/2021

Source: www.huffpost.com


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Think a Little Alcohol Might Be Healthy? Think Again

Wine lovers, beer drinkers and those who enjoy a martini now and then have long been told that moderate drinking beats total abstinence.

Unfortunately, new German research is throwing some cold water on that advice, finding that premature death among non-drinkers is likely the result of unrelated health problems that have little to do with the decision to forgo Chardonnay or Tanqueray.

“For many years, the belief in medical care was that low-to-moderate alcohol drinking may add to health, in particular to cardiovascular health,” said lead researcher Ulrich John.

Red wine in particular, he noted, has received a lot of attention for its purported ability to give moderate drinkers a longevity leg up over abstainers.

“This does not seem to be justified in the light of the present study,” said John, a professor emeritus of prevention research and social medicine with the Institute of Community Medicine at University Medicine Greifswald, in Germany.

Why? Because “the majority among abstainers seem to have severe risk factors in their life” that existed before any decision to not drink.

In a report published online Nov. 2 in PLOS Medicine, John and his colleagues presented results of a survey of more than 4,000 German men and women who were 18 to 64 years of age when they were interviewed between 1996 and 1997.

All were asked to reveal their drinking habits in the preceding year, along with information about their overall health history, and alcohol and drug use. Death data were available from a follow-up 20 years later.

Just over 11% said they had abstained from alcohol during the prior year. But about nine in 10 of them said they had been drinkers at one time, the findings showed. Nearly three-quarters had at least one major risk factor for early death, including risky alcohol consumption and tobacco use.

wine

Among abstainers, just over one-third said they had a prior alcohol abuse problem, while about half said they smoked daily, for instance. About 11% described their overall health status as “fair” or “poor.”

The investigators also found that premature death from cancer or heart disease was no higher among the abstainers who had no other health risk factors than it was among low-to-moderate drinkers.

“We were surprised by the large proportion of those who had former alcohol or drug use disorders among the abstainers,” John said.

But in the end, he added, “the majority of alcohol abstainers had severe health risk factors that might explain the greater likelihood to die early, in contrast to the low-to-moderate drinkers.”

John’s advice: “Please do not drink alcohol for health reasons.” If a healthy life is the goal, he added, “the optimum is not to drink alcohol.”

The findings come as little surprise to Lona Sandon, program director of the department of clinical nutrition at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

There is no compelling reason a non-drinker should start using alcohol in order to promote health or reduce risk of disease, she said.

“And for people with high risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, any amount of alcohol is not recommended,” Sandon added.

But what about all the reported health benefits of red wine?

In an online report, the Mayo Clinic acknowledged that antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, while polyphenols such as resveratrol have been said to help limit blood vessel damage and reduce blood clotting risk.

Could that mean that red wine is the exception to the new advice? So far, the research aiming to prove as much has been inconclusive, according to the Mayo Clinic report.

And Sandon cautioned that when it comes to promoting health, “red wine does not make up for poor diet, and lack of exercise or other healthy habits.”

She recalled a client who was an avid runner.

“She wanted to lose some body fat in hopes to improve her running times,” Sandon said. “She was also drinking red wine on a near daily basis as she believed it to be a healthy habit.”

As it turned out, the woman was actually drinking the equivalent of two to three drinks a day. “At this amount, it is no longer healthy, and the extra calories were not helping her to reach her weight-loss goals,” Sandon said.

Her advice: “Don’t fool yourself into thinking red wine is the fountain of youth. It may actually do more harm than good.”

SOURCES: Ulrich John, PhD, professor emeritus, prevention research and social medicine, Institute of Community Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Germany; Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, LD, program director and associate professor, clinical nutrition, School of Health Professions, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Mayo Clinic, “Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?”, Oct. 22, 2019; PLOS Medicine, Nov. 2, 2021, online

By Alan Mozes  HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) 

source: www.webmd.com


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Are You Stuck in the “I’ll Feel Better When” Cycle?

Striving for major accomplishments requires feeling satisfied along the way.

KEY POINTS

When it comes to big aspirations, it’s beneficial to reflect on the good within more minor accomplishments along the way.

Often people’s “feel better when” comes from their mind’s capacity to imagine what will happen in the future.

Know when good enough is good enough. Try not to waste energy on maximizing things that don’t matter.

We are often caught in the trap of believing that we’ll feel better at some point in the future when life circumstances change. Clients will frequently tell me (and I’ve told myself):

“I’ll feel better when…”:

  • I’m done with school
  • I find my life’s partner
  • I have a baby
  • I’m less anxious
  • I lose weight
  • This work project is done
  • The pandemic is over

But what happens when that future never arrives, or if it does, you’ve already moved on to the next “I’ll feel better when?”

Allison Briscoe-Smith described this striving as having a “bitter aftertaste” when I interviewed her for the From Striving to Thriving Summit. So what can we do instead?

Psychologically hydrate. When it comes to big aspirations, it’s beneficial to take in the good of more minor accomplishments along the way. Rick Hanson gave me this wise advice when discussing skillful versus stressful striving. Complete a small task and linger on the feeling of a job completed. By sticking with an experience of completion for a few moments, you can savor a feeling of satisfaction.

Take perspective on your self-story. Often our “feel better when” comes from our human mind’s amazing capacity to imagine. We compare ourselves to other people who we think have what we want. We imagine a “better version” of ourselves, a person who is thinner, smarter, more self-controlled. Be an observer of your imagination. What stories does your mind create about you and others? Are they helpful or harmful? Are there other perspectives you can consider?

strive-for-progress

Be a satisficer. Know when good enough is good enough. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, has well documented that folks who are satisfied with what they have are happier in the long run than those who keep working to maximize their options. Becoming satisficer ( may bring some discomfort and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) or Fear of a Better Option (FOBO). However, FOMO and FOBO may be a good thing when it means you are no longer wasting your precious energy on maximizing things that don’t matter to you. Some have termed this JOMO! (Joy of missing out!) Pick out the good enough outfit, select the good enough restaurant, stop at the good enough work and spend your energy enjoying the life you are in!

Attend to process over outcome. Savor what it feels like to be on the journey rather than focusing on endpoints. How does moving your body feel when you exercise? What does learning and working toward mastery feel like right now? How do curiosity and perspective-taking change your experience in relationships? Focus on the bewilderment of the process. Savoring is a crucial mindset of happier people. Your life is now. Enjoy it!

Remember, you are not a self-improvement project. It hit home for me when I first heard the term “the subtle aggression of self-improvement” by meditation teacher Bob Sharples. As a therapist, I am in the business of helping people lead rich and meaningful lives, but many times I see that this becomes a business of, “there is something wrong with you to be fixed.” I’ve become wary of self-help programs that contrast you now with the future, better you. It’s a great sales tactic to improve something that is broken, and it’s a terrible way to approach being human. You may be stuck in addiction, old relationship patterns, or anxiety, but remember, you are not broken. You are whole and always have been.

Maximize where it matters. Just because you are attending to the process, accepting yourself as you are, and allowing for good enough, it does not mean you should stop focusing on purpose-driven pursuits. I believe in putting your all into places that are meaningful to you and linked to your values. Go all out. Be a die-hard. But only … in the domains that are most important to you. Then be present in the vitality of living your values.

We don’t have to wait for a future point when we feel better to start living fully. As Steve Hayes shared with me on Psychologists Off the Clock, the goal isn’t necessarily to “feel better” but to “get better at the feeling.” Let go of the small stuff, choose your values, and play big where you care.

Journal Prompts:

Consider some tasks or relationships that are draining you. How do you know when you have done enough? What is good enough for you?

If you were to live in line with your values today, what kind of action would you take? What outcomes would you be willing to let go of?

Where do you want to maximize your efforts? What values deserve your greatest effort and energy?

About the Author
Diana Hill, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, co-author of ACT Daily Journal, and co-host of the podcast, Psychologists Off the Clock.

October 23, 2021 |  Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster

source: www.psychologytoday.com


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Eating Chili Peppers Can Help You Live Longer, Cut Risks For Heart Disease And Cancer


DALLAS, Texas — Previous studies have shown that spicy food can have a positive impact on your health. Now, a study released by the American Heart Association has a “hot” new take on the topic. Researchers say eating chili pepper isn’t just good for your health, it can help you live longer by reducing heart disease and cancer.

The study finds consuming chili peppers cuts the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 26 percent. The odds of dying from cancer decreased by 23 percent compared to people who don’t include peppers in their diet.

One of the key findings is that chili peppers act as a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulator. This is due to the release of capsaicin into an eater’s system. This substance gives a pepper its trademark mild to intense spicy flavor.

The international appeal of chili peppers
Researchers looked at over 4,700 studies from five major health databases to gather their data. Their final report included four large studies on the health of individuals who either did or didn’t eat chili peppers. The data examined more than 570,000 people from the United States, Italy, China, and Iran.

Overall, the report finds a 25-percent drop in all causes of death among people who include chili peppers in their diet.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” says senior author Bo Xu of the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute in a media release.

“The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Dr. Xu adds these findings have some limitations because the respondents ate different amount and various types of chili peppers. This makes determining if a specific variety or serving size is better for a patient’s health.

The study is being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

by Chris Melore NOVEMBER 13, 2020

Source: www.studyfinds.org/eat-chili-peppers-live-longer/


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The Fruit That Boosts Weight Loss And Reduces Fat Absorption

A weight loss fruit that makes you feel full, improves your gut health, and reduces absorption of fats.

Having an avocado every day as part of your diet will increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce the absorption of fat.

The fruit is rich in fibre and monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

A study by Ahmed et al. (2019) suggests that avocados contain a fat molecule that could help prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight by improving blood glucose levels, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.

A new study has found that people who eat avocados have higher levels of gut microbes responsible for breaking down fibres and producing a number of metabolites (short-chain fatty acids) that improve gut health.

Ms Sharon Thompson, the study’s first author, said:

“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce.

Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health.

Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids.

These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”

Bile acids are produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the intestine for breaking down fats from foods we eat.

Western diets are higher in fats causing more production of bile acids which can alert the gut microbiota population and cause intestinal inflammation.

The study recruited 163 overweight or obese participants and divided them into two groups receiving a normal diet.

The only difference was that one ate fresh avocados (175 g for men or 140 g for women) as part of a meal every day for 12 weeks and the other group had a similar diet but no avocados.

avocado-toast

Dr Hannah Holscher, study co-author, said:

“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota.

We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.

Despite avocados being high in fat, the avocado group absorbed less fat compared to the other group.”

Dr Holscher said:

“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.

This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat.

We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group.”

Types of fats found in foods affect the gut microbiome differently, for example, avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are considered heart-healthy.

On top of that, avocados are high in soluble fibre: an average avocado contains 12 g of fibres which is a big portion of the daily recommended fibre intake (28 to 34 g).

Dr Holscher said:

“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber.

Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day.

Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation.

Eating fiber isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.

We can’t break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can.

When we consume dietary fiber, it’s a win-win for gut microbes and for us.”

People shouldn’t worry that avocados are high in calories as it is more important that it is a nutrient-dense food that contains micronutrients like fibre and potassium that we don’t get enough of.

About the author      Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition (Thompson et al., 2020).

source: PsyBlog   October 7, 2021


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Which Bread Is Best For You — Whole-Grain, Multigrain or Whole Wheat?

Hint: Check the label first and foremost

Gone are the days of eating white bread. Many people are aware that whole-grain has more nutritional heft than white, fluffy, overly milled breads, but it’s not always easy to pick a good loaf when you’re at the grocery store.

Sometimes, a refined loaf of bread can masquerade as something more nutritious. Patrol the bread aisle and you’ll see terms like whole wheat, multigrain, seven-grain, 12-grain, all-natural, organic and enriched, to name a few. Who wouldn’t throw up their hands trying to decide what to buy?

Dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, helps break down which bread is healthier and what you should stay far away from.

Look for ‘100%’ on labels

When browsing the bread aisle at your grocery store, look for the term “100% whole-grain” or “100% whole-wheat” on the package.

“If you’re wondering which is better, either one works,” says Jeffers. “Whole wheat is a whole grain.”

Although different grains offer different benefits, many whole-grain breads are primarily made with wheat. If you’re looking for a nice mix of grains, check your ingredient label. Primary ingredients should be listed first in order of the amount within the loaf (wheat, oats, flax seeds, barley, buckwheat, etc.).

“Be cautious of terms like ‘wheat’ or ‘multigrain’ that don’t mention a percentage,” she warns. “They sound healthy, but they’re probably made with partially or mostly refined white flour. Wheat flour is 75% white flour and only 25% whole-wheat.”

“Enriched” is another clever term that means the maker of the bread has added nutrients to an otherwise nutrient-free white bread. When you see that word on a label, put it down and look for something else.

Unless you find that 100% on the package and whole-wheat listed as the first ingredient on the label, the bread is simply a refined loaf of bread with synthetic nutrients added to replenish those natural nutrients lost in the milling process.

bread

Good bread makes your body happy

The benefits of eating 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain far surpass just the taste. Eating whole-grain foods within an overall healthy diet helps to lower your risk for many diseases, including:

Whole-grains are also rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system and help control weight. The Whole Grains Council reports that benefits are greatest with at least three servings per day, but every whole grain helps.

Say ‘no’ to substandard bread

Most other bread is made with grains that have been finely milled. The resulting flour is whiter and lighter — in more ways than one.

Not only does this refined flour look whiter and bake fluffier, but it also falls short of many of the nutrients essential to optimum health. Whole-grains begin as a whole grain kernel: bran, germ, endosperm.

The milling process mechanically removes the bran, which is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain and contains B vitamins and other minerals. Milling also removes the second germ layer, which is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. In the end, what’s left is the starchy center, which is ground into flour for various baking purposes.

“Refined flour lacks all of those wonderful nutrients and high-starch foods like white bread can quickly raise your blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for diseases like diabetes,” she says. “That’s why you should consider nothing but the best: 100% whole wheat or whole-grain bread.”

 November 4, 2020 / Nutrition

source: health.clevelandclinic.org


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The Happy Brain Chemicals that Makes You Feel Good

Some content on this page was disabled on December 20, 2021 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Anthony Khow. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

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4 Ways To Create And Maintain Inner Peace

4 Steps to Create a Lasting Inner Calm

When it seems like the world is in complete disarray, is it possible to create inner calm?

Is our well-being at the mercy of external events, exclusively affected by circumstances? Many people believe this to be true—or at least live their lives as if it is. The problem with this mindset is that it creates a massive sense of lacking something, of unrest and of overall stress. We cannot possibly feel like we are in control of our lives if we let the environment we live in rule our inner tranquility. The truth is, you’re greater than your surroundings and the events that are happening around you. You have the ability to create inner harmony regardless of situation or circum- stance. The key is to unlock your inner power and knowledge. As the founder of The Positive Change Group, I help clients find balance. And as an expert in the field, I know that understanding the following simple steps and staying true to them will create lifelong positive changes.

CREATING LASTING INNER CALM

1. YOUR TIME

Time truly is your most precious commodity. When clients I work with say they don’t have time, they’re expressing a false reality. We all have the same amount of time in a day. The difference is that people who are truly happy and have inner peace are very discerning about with whom and how they spend their time. You have time for anything that you make a priority. The key is to reassess your priorities and make sure they are in alignment with what is right for you.

It is simple, really. Where you spend your time can either drain you or energize you. When was the last time you asked yourself questions such as these: Why am I doing this? How is this serving me?

Do I really want to be doing this?

All these questions are necessary to ask because the answers lead to the next vital point: When we understand how precious our time is and how it directly relates to our self-love, then we’re more careful about whom we spend it with. And this is key to having what I call healthy boundaries.

Healthy boundaries are essential to finding inner calm. Many people can attribute the lack of healthy boundaries to a feeling of depletion and disharmony. How can you possibly have inner harmony if you are not able to say no to what doesn’t serve you? Many of us often feel a sense of obligation or duty to say yes to things that make us miserable.

Positive Change Exercise #1: Do a Time Audit

Take a week and look at the things you do and whom you spend your time with. Decide what brings you joy and what depletes you. The simple act of bringing consciousness to how you spend your time is the first step toward making change.

Once you become aware of how your time is being spent, then you can start to create healthy boundaries and choose when you need to politely say no. This may mean making small changes or starting out with only what you feel comfortable doing, working forward from there. And don’t worry about feeling selfish. The reality is that everyone around you gets the best version of you when you take care of yourself and cultivate that inner calm.

Emotional_intelligence

2. YOUR THOUGHTS

They can be the hardest things to change because thoughts are so powerful. But let’s just look at it in a simple way. Thoughts hold energy. For instance: Think about a time in your life when you felt like you weren’t enough or when you felt you were a disappointment. How does that feel?

Now I want you to think of a time in your life when you felt joy, love, or a sense of accomplishment. How does that feel?

Notice the difference in your body when thinking of each moment. Our thoughts are powerful and have energy.

Calming tip: When you’re in a difficult situation or feeling stressed, breathe in deeply, filling your body completely; on the exhale, intentionally release the stress. Now, in this moment, take yourself to that place where you felt love or joy or accomplishment. Sit in that energy and know that it exists in all moments. Then, take another deep breath, let the stress go and inhale love. Look at the situation you’re currently in and understand how your inner state can impact the outer environment, either by fueling stress or eliminating it. Keep breathing, and let your mind shift.

3. YOUR WORDS

The next key step is paying attention to your words. Do your words lift your spirits? Do the words you say create calm or promote the opposite reaction? It is impossible to feel a sense of inner peace when the words you speak are negative, judgmental or aggressive. Words carry energy. Where do you want your energy to be? Make sure your words match your desire.

Positive Change Exercise #2: Do a Vocabulary Audit

Notice some of the common phrases you use that create stress or struggle. I used to always say, “I am so busy.” It was an easy go-to when talking to people until I decided that I hated saying this and I hated the way it made me feel, as if I didn’t have time and was always on the go. Once I started to eliminate this phrase from my vocabulary, it was amazing what shifted. I felt more in control of my life and my time. “Busy” can be a choice. It takes practice to change, but the more you work on it, the easier it becomes.

4. YOUR ACTIONS

Finally, our actions need to create calm, too. This active part is one of the biggest aspects of creating change. But it is easier to carry out calm and harmonious behaviours when our words and thoughts are also in line with the goal of inner peace. When we train our brain to think and speak calmly, it becomes easier to do.

Positive Change Exercise #3: Do an Action Audit

Create a list of all the things you love to do that nourish your body and soul. Now look at that list. How many times a day or a week are you actually doing the things on your list? The simple act of bringing a conscious awareness to what you do is the first step toward accomplishing change.

  • Activities that can create inner calm:
  • Spending time in nature
  • Moving your body
  • Eating healthfully
  • Finding quiet time for self
  • Reading or journaling

Activities that can drain your energy:

  • Watching or reading the news
  • Eating unhealthy food
  • Surrounding yourself with toxic people
  • Spending too much time on social media

Think of other things you can add to your calm list and what you can eliminate or do less of from your energy drain list. This is what I call being in alignment.

The effort is in the inner work. When we realize the power we have within us to improve our thoughts, words and actions, we can see the results of these efforts in our own reality. We realize that we have some choice, regardless of what is going on around us. We get to choose what we think, say, do and feel.

May 11, 2021                   By: Julie Cass

source: www.canadianliving.com


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7 Things to Help You Sleep Better

FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES 

‌Sleep is an important part of every person’s life. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body eventually stops working properly. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that adults should get about seven or more hours of sleep each night. Young adults may need nine or more hours of sleep. A regular sleep schedule can help promote an overall healthier lifestyle. So if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, read on for things you can do to help.

1. Find Your Sleep Schedule

‌Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important ways to improve your sleep. You should aim for around eight hours of sleep a night. Getting up and going to bed at around the same time every day will help you develop a schedule. You should avoid sleeping in or staying up late, even on the weekend.‌

‌By sticking to a schedule, your body’s sleep-wake cycle will begin operating with more consistency. This will help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep through the night. ‌

2. White Noise Machines

‌If you’re having trouble falling asleep because of the noise around you, a white noise machine might help. When you’re trying to fall asleep you may become distracted by sounds like:

  • Cars honking
  • Doors closing
  • Children crying
  • Animal sounds
  • Common city sounds‌

‌A white noise machine in your room can help block the other noises that are bothering you. White noise masks disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound. You can create white noise with the following:

  • ‌A sound machine
  • A fan
  • Crowd noise on your laptop‌

Since there are different types of white noise, you’ll need to find one that’s right for you. Some machines and apps will let you choose different sounds to fall asleep to. ‌

3. Soothing Sounds App

‌One way to add white noise is by using your phone. There are plenty of apps out there for this purpose. Some of these will let you choose from sounds like:

  • Rain
  • Waves crashing
  • Trees blowing in the wind
  • Hairdryer
  • Whispering
  • Gentle humming‌

‌While these apps provide noise to help you fall asleep, there are some downsides. Research has shown that blue light coming from your phone or laptop can slow the production of your sleep hormones, making it harder for you to fall asleep. So keeping your phone near you may be counterproductive to your sleep schedule. ‌

4. Try Meditation For Sleep

‌Meditation uses techniques to help you relax both your body and mind. This in turn prepares you for sleep. You can meditate in bed right before you plan to go to sleep. ‌

‌Some relaxation techniques include:

  • Visualization
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Traditional meditation‌

‌There are other ways beyond meditation to help you wind down your mind at night. These include:

  • Quiet reading
  • Low-impact stretching
  • Soothing music
  • Lowering the lights
  • Disconnecting from electronics 30 minutes before bed
sleep

5. Make Your Room Sleep-Ready

‌Another important part of a good night’s rest is sleeping in the right environment. The first step to making your room sleep-ready is making sure it’s dark enough, as your brain releases melatonin in the dark. This creates a calm and sleepy feeling. You should start reducing your light exposure before bed. It might be a good idea to keep the following out of your room:

  • Television
  • Computer
  • Smartphone
  • Other devices that distract and/or emit light‌

If you need something to do while you fall asleep, try keeping a book nearby. Reading a few pages before you fall asleep can keep you engaged so that you don’t reach for your phone. ‌

‌Other ways you can make your bedroom more relaxing so that it’s a good place to fall asleep include: ‌

  • Pick a quality mattress and pillow. Proper support will keep your body from aching when you wake up.
  • Choose good bedding. Make your bed look inviting with the right sheets and blanket. You should also make sure your bedding will keep you at a comfortable temperature through the night.
  • Block out the light with blackout curtains in your bedroom. You can also use a sleep mask over your eyes.
  • Create a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. In addition to a white noise machine, you can try headphones or earplugs to block out disrupting sounds.
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only. To ensure it’s a relaxing space, don’t do work, play, or other activities in your bed.

6. Try Different Methods

‌One thing that helps someone else sleep better might not help you in the same way. It’s okay to try different methods and routines. The most important part is that you get to sleep and stay asleep for seven hours or more. ‌

‌Keeping a sleep diary can help you track how you’re sleeping. You can write down what you did before bed, if you wake up in the middle of the night, and how you feel when you wake up. This will help you notice any problems or areas that need fixing.

7. Supplement Sleep With Melatonin

‌If you’ve tried everything listed above and you’re still having trouble sleeping, try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. If your body isn’t releasing melatonin as it should, you will need a supplement. There are plenty of over-the-counter options available in your local pharmacy. Buying the same brand is important when taking this supplement. Since melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA, you may get different dosages with different brands. ‌

‌You should talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements — especially if you’re taking other types of medication. Your doctor will be able to tell you the right dosage for you.

SOURCES:

‌American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Sleep FAQs.”

‌Consumer Reports: “Sleep Gadgets to Conquer Insomnia.”

‌HelpGuide: “How to Sleep Better.”

‌John Hopkins Medicine: “Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep.”

‌Mayo Clinic: “Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep.”

‌Mayo Clinic Health System: “5 ways to get better sleep.”‌

National Sleep Foundation: “Will a Sound Machine Help You Drift Off?”

‌Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips,” “Technology in the Bedroom.”

By Martin Taylor          Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021

source: WebMD


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Mindfulness May Improve Brain Health And Cognition In Older Adults

Although mindfulness is typically geared towards improving mental health and well-being, it may also provide additional benefits to brain health.

Mindfulness may provide modest benefits to cognition, particularly among older adults, finds a new review of evidence led by UCL researchers.

The systematic review and meta-analysis, published in Neuropsychology Review, found that, while mindfulness is typically geared towards improving mental health and well-being, it may also provide additional benefits to brain health.

The study’s lead author, PhD student Tim Whitfield (UCL Psychiatry) said that “the positive effects of mindfulness-based programs on mental health are already relatively well-established. Here, our findings suggest that a small benefit is also conferred to cognition, at least among older adults.”

The researchers reviewed previously published studies of mindfulness, and identified 45 studies that fit their criteria, which incorporated a total of 2,238 study participants. Each study tested the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention delivered by a facilitator in a group setting, over at least four sessions, while excluding mindfulness retreats in order to have a more homogenous set of studies.

The majority of studies involved a certified instructor teaching participants techniques such as sitting meditation, mindful movement and body scan, generally on a weekly basis across six to 12 weeks, while also asking participants to continue the practices in their own time.

The researchers found that overall, mindfulness conferred a small but significant benefit to cognition.

Subgroup analysis revealed that the effect was slightly stronger for people over 60, while there was not a significant effect for people under 60.

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Tim Whitfield commented that “executive function is known to decline with age among older adults; the improvement in people over 60 suggests that mindfulness may help guard against cognitive decline, by helping to maintain or restore executive function in late adulthood. It might be easier to restore cognitive functions to previous levels, rather than to improve them beyond the developmental peak.”

When they investigated which aspects of cognition were affected, the researchers found that mindfulness was beneficial only to executive function, and more specifically, there was strong evidence of a small positive effect on working memory (which is one facet of executive function).

The researchers also analyzed whether mindfulness outperformed other ‘active interventions’ (such as brain training, relaxation, or other health or educational programs) or only when compared to people who were not offered any alternative treatment. They found that cognitive benefits of mindfulness were only significant compared with an ‘inactive’ comparison, which means they cannot rule out that the benefits may have been at least partly derived from an expectation of treatment benefits, or social interactions.

The researchers say that more research is needed into which characteristics of mindfulness training may be more likely to confer cognitive benefits, or whether delivering interventions over longer periods, or in intensive retreat settings, might yield greater cognitive benefits.

Senior author Dr Natalie Marchant (UCL Psychiatry) said that they “know mindfulness-based programs benefit mental health, and our paper now suggests that mindfulness may also help to maintain cognitive faculties as people age. Mindfulness practices do not share much in common with cognitive test measures, so it is notable that mindfulness training’s impact appears to transfer to other domains. While our review only identified a small benefit to executive function, it remains possible that some types of mindfulness training might deliver larger gains.”

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychology Review (Whitfield et al., 2021).

August 25, 2021

Story source: UCL  PsyBlog