Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

By Chrissy MacDonald

Getting a good night’s sleep is something we may take for granted until it doesn’t come easy. If you have a hard time falling asleep every night, it can affect your whole life.

We spend about one third of our lives sleeping. Most adults need about six to eight hours of sleep every night. Children need more sleep than adults to be at their best. Teenagers need a lot of sleep. People usually need less sleep as they get older. Getting too little sleep can affect productivity and creativity.

When sleep is repeatedly disrupted, it can have a negative effect on our health, well being and mood. Many factors can affect the quality of sleep such as indigestion, breathing problems, pain, stress, depression, caffeine, some drugs, deficiency in calcium and magnesium, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Here are some things you might like to try to help you sleep better:

  • Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Establish a ritual before bedtime. This might include a warm bath about an hour before then a cup of chamomile tea.
  • In the late hours of the day and early evening, avoid eating foods such as chocolate, cheese, ham, tomatoes and sugar which tend to be stimulants. Foods such as bananas, figs, yogurt, turkey, tuna and whole wheat are more likely to help promote sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet. When the body is deficient in copper, iron, calcium or magnesium, normal sleep can be disrupted.
  • Avoid alcohol which can contribute to disrupted sleep.
  • Keep the television and other distractions out of the bedroom.
  • The bedroom should be comfortable, calming and quiet. Keep colors and lighting soft.
  • Pay attention to your pillow and mattress. When buying new ones, try them out in the store for a few minutes to make sure you get what you need.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep because of worrying, try to focus on happy memories and thoughts. Think of ten things you are thankful for.
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation.
  • A regular program of exercise can improve the quality of sleep.

If you find it difficult to sleep on a regular basis, look at all of these things, examine your diet and any drugs you are taking. See if you can find a reason your sleep is being disrupted.  Do everything you can to fix the problem instead of relying on drugs to help you sleep.

 

Can You Make Yourself Healthier and Happier?

By Chrissy MacDonald

Many health problems, pain and unhappiness can be helped (not necessarily alleviated altogether, but often helped) with regular exercise, a healthy diet and effective stress management techniques.

How do you feel? Do you have any of these issues: Lower back pain; sore neck; stiff joints – hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, bad knees or ankles; arthritis; osteoporosis; high blood pressure; diabetes; high cholesterol; constipation or bloating? Are you overweight, overtired, overstressed or depressed?

Why do we sometimes put up with ill-health, pain and unhappiness when a few simple steps can help?

Sometimes I wake up a bit cranky and down (yes, it’s true!). For some reason I tend to focus on the negative when I first get up. It takes a while for me to get going. After breakfast I feel better. Then I go for a walk with my little Vizsla puppy, Indi. Today it was a beautiful spring morning. A bit of morning exercise, fresh air and sunshine made a big difference to my state of mind. It felt good to walk and move my body.

Do you feel as good as you would like to?  What could you do to feel better? If you sit all day at a computer, there are exercises you can do to help your sore neck, aching back and tired wrists. Don’t slouch at your desk, get up every half hour and walk around for a break. Do figure eight motions with your wrists to keep the muscles from getting sore and stiff. Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles often throughout the day: Do shoulder shrugs. Turn your head from side to side, then up and down. This will help the neck and shoulders from becoming stiff.

If your hips are getting stiff, make sure they get movement all around the joint, not just forward and backward as in walking. This will help increase circulation and may help prevent future problems. Sit cross legged on the floor more often.

Oftentimes our health can be improved with simple awareness. Good health is often a choice we make. Poor lifestyle habits can contribute to ill-health. What would make you feel better right now? What is one small change you can make today to help yourself? Sometimes it’s just a matter of identifying the problem and then finding a way to help it.

13 Tips to Deal with Stress and Be Happier

We all face situations that cause emotional stress. It may be driving in traffic, facing a career decision, a family crisis or the death of a close friend or relative, poor health, or moving to a new town.

If stress is not dealt with properly, it can take its toll on the body with headaches, high blood pressure, depression, skin issues and heart problems.

If you’re feeling stressed, try to figure out what is really causing you to feel this way. Then make whatever changes you can to help the situation. It may be something you physically change or it could be how you adjust your reaction to the situation.

Instead of waiting until stress becomes a problem, be proactive with a healthy lifestyle and outlook.

They say you teach what you need to learn the most. As I write these tips, I am also reminding myself how important they are in my own life.

  1. Be physically active. Exercise releases endorphins which give a feeling of well being. Being healthy helps you to better handle stressful events. Stretch your body to release tight muscles.
  2. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and real food to get all the nutrients you need. Avoid the pre-packaged processed stuff.
  3. Get enough sleep and rest. Without it you may get run down and stressful situations will hit you harder.
  4. Make time for relaxation and fun activities even if you have to schedule it into your day.  Have a bubble bath, go for a walk or read a book. Take a few minutes for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
  5. Remember that many problems are temporary and manageable. Ask for help if you need it.
  6. Prioritize your personal activities, appointments and work schedule to help give a feeling of control over your life. Some things are not as urgent as we think and can be put off or crossed off the list. Remember you can only do so much in one day.
  7. Make a list of your goals and find ways to accomplish them. Make a six month plan, a one year plan and a five year plan. If you want a different job, find a way to make it happen. Life is too short to be stuck in a place where you say, “someday” way too many times.
  8. Avoid harmful coping strategies like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. They may distract you for a while but will harm your body and become a burden to your mind.
  9. Spend time with people who are supportive and kind. Find a way to eliminate from your life the people who weigh you down mentally.
  10. Breathe deeply. Lie on your back, legs up over a chair, arms outstretched. Close your eyes and breathe. Do this every single day. Try it and you’ll see why.
  11. Laugh more and allow yourself to be happy. It’s OK to be happy.
  12. Practice looking at the bright side of small upsets as practice for larger ones.

When I was a teenager, I had a boyfriend with a motorcycle. I sat on the back and since I didn’t have a full visor, I had to keep my mouth closed so the bugs wouldn’t get in. This picture has come to mind many times over the years. You have to know when to hold tight and just hang on. You’ll get there.

Look after yourself now and when faced with stress, it will be a lot easier physically and mentally.
Remind yourself that you’ve managed stressful situations before and you’ll do it again.