Tuesday, August 11, 2015

22 Habits That Will Make Your Life A Little More Peaceful Each Day

1. Throw out, sell or donate everything you don't need. Use this guide to minimalism to help you decide what you're keeping in excess. If there's anything that will immediately release your anxiety and put you at ease, it's making the choice only to keep the physical things that either serve a purpose or hold a positive meaning for you. 2. Organize everything you do. And I mean everything. Your paperwork should be filed and your bills should be organized as soon as they come in the door. Your clothes should be kept in an easily accessible fashion, and your day-to-day necessities should always be placed somewhere you can easily find them. It will take so much of the guesswork and fumbling out of searching for that one random thing you only use once every two weeks (but desperately need, when you do). 3. Don't consume what you don't need. This is the other half, the more difficult half, of releasing everything you don't use: you can't buy more crap to replace it. Only buy the food you're going to eat, and be very mindful and selective of what clothing and other products you buy. Will you actually use them? Do you even really want them, or do you want to just feel better in the moment? Trust me: A bolstered bank balance and the confidence of having a little more self-control will feel much better (and so will keeping a simple space you can actually maintain). 4. Put your self before your work life, as often as you can. Sure, there are some exceptions -- like when you have to take care of your responsibilities and forego a few more minutes of sleep for an important email -- and that's fine, as long as you're in the mindset that you are not your work. You are more than just what you do and earn. 5. Do something that makes you meditative. If sitting cross-legged and breathing isn't your jam, find something that is. Do whatever it is that makes you really grounded and present and in the moment. If that's going for a long drive with the windows down and music blaring, do that. If it's dancing, do it in your room each day. If it's painting, schedule time to do that, too. 6. Learn to turn daily chores into therapeutic practices... for example, bathing. You have to do it regardless, and the combination of hot water, the physical act of "cleansing" and how relaxing a hot shower or long bath is at the end of a long day makes it an ideal daily practice to reduce your nerves. Light a candle and listen to music and use salts to cleanse yourself. Be meditative about your rituals, and focus on the act of releasing and clearing. 7. Start to build a commonplace book. It's a collection of quotes, ideas and passages that particularly inspire you or make you think, compiled and organized and filed neatly, so you can access whatever information you feel you need. Keep sections for "inspiration" or "healing" or "relationships" or "work," and keep track of all the little things you come across that inspire you. 8. Incohesively journal. And don't worry about storybooking your life... similar to the commonplace book, just jot down the ideas and epiphanies and observations you have in your day-to-day life. Look back and reflect on the things that most compel you to express them, and they'll give you an idea of what it is you need to change/do more or less of in your life. 9. Burn candles at night. The flame itself is mesmerizing and calming; it will make your space smell better, and will overall give you a beautiful ambiance. 10. Replace your daily coffee/tea intake with hot water with lemon and honey. It's relaxing and yields incredible health benefits. It's cheaper and more natural than your usual latté alternative. There's nothing not to love. 11. Only pay in cash. It's difficult until it becomes a habit, and then you won't be able to imagine how you ever did anything else. It keeps you conscious of what you're spending (makes you realize how much the little things add up), keeps you on your budget and completely removes the "will this purchase dip into my bill money" fear (which should never be an issue). 12. Recite mantras. Even if it seems a little too new-agey for you at first, I promise, it's so extraordinarily powerful that you'll actually start to consider what it is you repeat to yourself once you see how impactful this practice becomes. Whatever you feel you're lacking, or you want more of, say you "are" that thing. For example: "I am safe." "I am in financial abundance." "I am always taken care of." "I am successful." You lay the foundation to enact a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I am" is the most powerful "prayer" you can say. 13. Stop interacting with people who aren't positive influences in your life, and don't apologize for doing so. If they want to call you rude or unkind, so be it. You are under no obligation to make other people comfortable at the expense of your own sanity. 14. Cook your own dinner. There's something very grounding about combining ingredients and working with foods and making your own meals. It makes you feel connected, responsible and empowered, in the simplest, most human way. 15. Observe what you unconsciously consume. Food, music, reading, TV. These things affect how you feel throughout your days. Don't underestimate the power of the things you don't even realize you're letting into your life. 16. Ask yourself what kind of life you'd like to live, and base your other goals off of that idea. If what you think you want, for example, is to "start a business," ask yourself if doing the dirty work of it, day in and day out, is your passion -- or if you're just in it to say you did it and seem successful. This, more than anything else, is how to determine the path best suited to you. 17. Make much more realistic goals than you normally do. You won't actually be accomplishing any more or less than usual, but you will remove the guilt from believing you should have done more. 18. Find your ultimate joy in the simplicity of everyday life. Show yourself that you don't need extravagance to have a truly incredible internal experience. You don't need expensive foods to have a great meal. You don't need anything other than what you currently have to start living the life you want. Why? Because the life you want is ultimately rooted in a feeling -- a feeling that you can induce simply by shifting your perception. 19. Pay attention to what you seek. You will find it, no matter what. If what you subconsciously want is to see all the things that are wrong with your life, so as to force yourself to change it, that's exactly what you'll get. If what you seek is knowing all the ways you're as unworthy as you fear you are, that's what you'll get, too. (So of course, you can make the opposite true.) 20. Develop a personal philosophy, and let it guide you through your daily life and decisions. If you don't have any personal belief about why we're here, what you're ultimately doing, what your purpose is, etc., you're going to live a highly unfulfilled life, riddled with worry, anxiety and unrest. You don't have to adopt the beliefs of a certain religion or a particular group of people, but you do have to subscribe to what feels absolutely right to you. Not because somebody else told you so... but because it's aligned with who you inherently are, and how you inherently think. 21. Stop trying to police yourself. Contrary to your instinct, much of the effort you exert to "hold yourself together" is useless. The more you integrate every aspect of who you are, the less you will unknowingly exert energy toward suppressing feelings, therefore compounding your stress and putting yourself on the road to implosion at any given moment. It's more dangerous to suppress and ignore the "negative" aspects of who we are than it is to accept them. (In psychology, this is sometimes referred to as the "shadow selves" or Gestalt therapy.) 22. Stop believing that the way you perceive things is the way they actually are. Leave yourself room to be surprised. Remember that when you're in a place of fear, you're not seeing things clearly, or the way they really are. Remember that you can't predict what will make you happy, but you can choose to seek gratitude, and peace, in the present moment.

Sunday, August 2, 2015



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

8 Things Your Mouth Reveals About Your Health

1. What your dentist is seeing: Or in this case, smelling. You've got funky breath. What it could mean: The most likely causes of less-than-minty-fresh breath are poor oral hygiene or gum disease, but halitosis can also signal a sinus infection, especially if your dentist still notices the odor when you exhale through your nose, says Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Cardiology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry. It can also be caused by acid reflux -- a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found a strong association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and bad breath -- or sleep apnea, says Ruchi Sahota, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, because people with sleep apnea are more likely to breath through their mouths at night, which can lead to dry mouth (another cause of bad breath). Next steps: If your dentist decides that the problem isn't subpar brushing or gum disease, they'll likely refer you to your primary care physician to find the underlying cause. 2. What your dentist is seeing: Your gums bleed during the flossing, just like they do at home. What it could mean: When you get back on the flossing bandwagon after falling off and notice some bleeding for the first few days, that's normal, Sahota says. What's not normal is gums continuing to bleed every time you floss. "It could be an indicator that you're pre-diabetic, diabetic and don't know it or, if you've already been diagnosed with diabetes, your blood sugar isn't under control," she says. Though it's not exactly clear why diabetes and gum disease are linked (or whether there's a causal effect to the relationship), the American Academy of Periodontology says that diabetics may be more likely to develop the disease because the condition makes them more susceptible to infection. Next steps: If you know you have diabetes and your gums keep bleeding, talk to your primary care doc about how to manage the condition better. And if your dentist is the first one to suspect diabetes, he or she will recommend you get a blood sugar test. 3. What your dentist is seeing: White patches on your tongue or inner cheek. What it could mean: You may have a less-than-stellar immune system. Oral thrush (an overgrowth of the candida fungus, or yeast, in the mouth) can lead to creamy white patches on your tongue or inner cheeks, and it can signal an immune system that's not up to snuff. (We all have some candida in our mouths, but it's kept in check in healthy immune systems). People are much more likely to develop thrush if they're undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer or have serious immunosuppression, such as HIV, but a dip in immunity due to a cold, a course of antibiotics or using corticosteroids for conditions like asthma can make someone more vulnerable too. Next steps: An antifungal medication can help clear away the patches. 4. What your dentist is seeing: Worn-down teeth. What it could mean: You're more stressed than you realize. Stress can manifest as teeth grinding, wearing down teeth. "In really bad cases, people will flatten them out," says Wolff. Your personality type may predispose you to grinding, too. A 2010 study in the Journal of Research in Personality found that people who rated higher on the neuroticism scale were also more likely to report that they grinded their teeth. Research in the International Journal of Oral Science in 2014 reported that sustained jaw clenching (another characteristic of bruxism, or teeth grinding) can lead to severe damage of the tissue in the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. Next steps: Your dentist can fit you for a bite-protecting device like an acrylic mouth guard to wear at night to minimize the damage. 5. What your dentist is seeing: Squeaky-clean teeth but inflamed gums. What it could mean: It's rare (Wolff has only picked up on it once during his 34 years in practice), but it's possible for certain types of acute myeloid leukemia to spread to the gums and cause bleeding, swelling and inflammation. "What would tip us off is if the gums are bright red and bleed upon touch, but the teeth themselves are immaculately clean with very little plaque," Wolff says. That combined with weakness and weight loss merits a trip to your primary care physician for evaluation. Next steps: If you meet these criteria, schedule an appointment with your PCP to get it checked out. 6. What your dentist is seeing: Your dental X-rays look a little off. What it could mean: The bones of the jaw aren't immune to the effects of osteoporosis, and on an X-ray, they may take on the appearance of ground glass, says Wolff. Osteoporosis also puts you at increased risk of tooth loss. Women with the condition had an average of 3.3 fewer teeth than women without it, noted a study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. Next steps: Ask your doctor about getting a bone-density test. If it shows you have or are at risk for osteoporosis, you can discuss medications and other ways to slow the progression. 7. What your dentist is seeing: Your mouth is really, really dry. What it could mean: Medications like antihistamines can dry out your mouth, but an extremely dry mouth (as in, you couldn't swallow a cracker without water) is a hallmark symptom of Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune condition in which moisture-producing glands in the body come under fire from white blood cells. It's most commonly diagnosed in people over 40, and 9 out of 10 Sjögren's patients are women. "It gets parched in there," says Wolff, who'll ask patients with dry mouth whether they're taking any medications that list dry mouth as a side effect and whether they're also experiencing dry eyes (another Sjögren's symptom). The lack of saliva can also lead to tooth decay. Next steps: If he suspects Sjögren's, Wolff refers patients straight to a rheumatologist for testing. 8. What your dentist is seeing: Lesions at the very back of your mouth. What it could mean: You could have oral cancer, which isn't exactly common, but it's also not rare. The American Cancer Society estimates that 45,780 new cases of oral cavity or pharynx cancer will be diagnosed in 2015, just over half the number of expected skin cancer cases. Cancers at the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancers) are most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus infection (HPV). Although the lesions can pop up anywhere in the mouth, they're most likely to develop under the tongue around the base and near your esophagus, says Judith Haber, PhD, principal investigator of the Teaching Oral-Systemic Health (TOSH) program at NYU College of Nursing. Oral cavity and oropharyngeal tumors are twice as likely to develop in men as in women, and the American Cancer Society reports a recent uptick in cases of oropharyngeal cancers linked to HPV. Next steps: If your dentist notices these lesions, they may ask you about your sexual activity to assess whether you could have contracted HPV, as oral sex is one of the main reasons people get oral HPV, says Haber. They may then refer you to your doctor or an oncologist for testing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

5 Wondrous Ways Running Improves Your Health

1. Better Knees Think running wears out your knees? Think again. One recent study found that it may actually help prevent knee osteoarthritis, a condition that affects roughly 9.2 million adults; another discovered that road warriors were up to 18 percent less likely than walkers to develop the condition, in part because running may increase the thickness of knee cartilage. 2. Less Stress When it comes to the mood-boosting effects of running, science suggests you can get more than just an endorphin high. According to a lab study in The Journal of Neuroscience, running may reduce anxiety by triggering neurons that mute your response to stress. 3. Lower Breast Cancer Risk A 2013 study of more than 70,000 women revealed that those who walked at least seven hours per week were 14 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than their more sedentary counterparts. The most active women, who worked out vigorously (running or swimming) for at least six hours a week, slashed their risk by 25 percent. 4. Sharper Mind Good news: You don't have to slog away for a long time to reap impressive benefits. One small study found that people who engaged in light activity -- like walking on a treadmill for an hour -- three times a week saw gains in memory after just three months, suggesting that short-term fitness may slow age-related cognitive decline. 5. Longer Life In a 2014 study of more than 55,000 people, those who ran daily -- even for just five to ten minutes -- lived, on average, three years longer than those who didn't run. Worth noting: Runners who logged longer workouts didn't significantly decrease their risk of death from heart disease more than those who ran less. Who doesn't have five minutes? Get going!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

7 Very Important Reasons To Take A Nap Right Now

1. It'll increase your patience happy napping Feeling frustrated? According to researchers at the University of Michigan, who published a study recently in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, you should probably take a nap. Participants were asked to complete a particularly frustrating task -- drawing geometric designs on a computer screen. Those who took an hour-long nap before the exercise were able to draw for 90 seconds, compared to a control group who watched a nature documentary instead of napping. They gave up after 48 seconds. 2. You'll be more alert napping Whether you're on a long drive or trying to get through a difficult task at work, napping is a great way to increase alertness if you're feeling foggy. A NASA study found that after napping for forty minutes pilots were more alert, and a smaller study found that after just ten minutes participants felt more alert. 3. Just thinking about taking a nap can lower your blood pressure stretching While an actual nap is certainly beneficial, so is the time before you take one. One British study found that participants' blood pressure dropped before they even fell asleep -- just anticipating the nap they were about to take was enough. 4. It helps you remember more people sleeping A study conducted by researchers in Germany found that taking an hourlong nap can dramatically improve our ability to remember information. For the study, participants were asked to remember specific words and pairs. Then, half the participants watched a DVD while the other half napped. When asked about their memory of the words, the nap group performed five times as well as the DVD group. 5. It can improve creativity drawing If you haven't been feeling too imaginative lately, it's probably time to hit the hay. A study conducted by psychiatrist Sara Mednick out of the University of California, San Diego, found that people who take REM naps -- the deep sleep state where you're dreaming -- were more creative when it came to problem solving than non-REM nappers. 6. Regular naps may prevent heart disease sleeping One study of 23,000 Greek adults found that people who took midday naps -- a.k.a. "siestas" -- were over thirty percent less likely to die of heart disease, according to The Washington Post. "Napping may help deal with the stress of daily living," Michael Twery of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute said, according to the Washington Post. "Another possibility is that it is part of the normal biological rhythm of daily living. The biological clock that drives sleep and wakefulness has two cycles each day, and one of them dips usually in the early afternoon. It's possible that not engaging in napping for some people might disrupt these processes." 7. Taking a ten minute rest is beneficial, too napping Don't think you can actually fall asleep? It may not matter all that much. A 2007 study, which took a look at the effects of napping versus resting, found that simply lying down for ten minutes improved mood regardless of whether or not the person fell asleep.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

7 Ways To Hand Wash Your Dishes FAST

1. Switch to a soap with the right ingredients. Look for antibacterial soaps with lactic acid, which provides antibacterial benefits and gets the job done fast. Soaps with lauramine oxide, like Mrs. Meyer's and Method, have grease-cutting power, says Kerr. 2. Use a sanitizing rinse. Dipping dishes in a sanitizing rinse will mimic part of the process they go through in a dishwasher, and it'll provide peace of mind that your dishes are clean, even if you don't scrub them for hours. After washing, dip your plates in one gallon of water with one teaspoon to one tablespoon of bleach. Reynolds says you can also use this solution to clean your dish sponge and your sink in a jiffy. dip dishes in water 3. Be patient. Let dishes soak. It's tempting to start scrubbing caked-on food right away, but do yourself a favor and let pans soak in a sink of warm, sudsy water first. "Those couple minutes of soaking time are going to go a long way in making things a lot easier to clean," says Kerr. It'll loosen food particles and save your hands from sponge-induced fatigue. For pots with burn marks on the bottom, soak in salt and cold water overnight, then boil the water to remove grime. 4. And while you're waiting, go get a serious sponge. Kerr swears by the Dobie Pad sponge. "It's covered in a plastic netting that allows you to scrub like a Brillo but it doesn't cause any scratching," she says. Lysol's scrub sponges are also a strong, scrub-worthy alternative to the average dish sponge, for a comparable price. 5. Use cold water to un-stick dairy and starches. Rinsing ice cream or butter off a plate with hot water can cause it to gum up, Martha Stewart explains on her blog. Take her advice, and get these foods off with a cold rinse before continuing to wash the dish in warm water. 6. And make baking soda your grease-dissolving best friend. Coat a sticky, greasy pan with one tablespoon of baking soda, and cover the bottom with water. Heat it up a bit, then scrub the gunk off in mere seconds. 7. Don't stack dirty dishes in your sink. It's a small tweak, to be sure, but have your guests or roommates leave their dishes on the counter next to the sink, not inside it. Remember: You need to leave your sink open so that you can actually wash those dishes. Unstacking and re-stacking is going to make washing your dishes take longer, and ain't nobody got time for that.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

20 Meditation Tips For Beginners

1. Begin With Quick 5-Minute Sessions It's easy for beginners to get overwhelmed when trying to sustain a 20-minute-meditation. That can feel brutal in the beginning. Start out nice and easy. Begin with 5-minute sessions, and when you're ready for more, move it up to 10 minutes. 2. Stretch or Do Yoga First By stretching or doing yoga before you start meditating, you'll prepare your body to sit in one position for a long time. Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Even just rolling your neck and stretching your back beforehand can help you stay comfortable for longer. 3. Try Out a Guided Meditation For a fun experience and to have someone guide you through your meditation, try out a guided meditation. You can find free guided meditations available on YouTube and other platforms. You might find it easier when you follow someone else's instructions. 4. Set Your Timer When you set a timer for your meditation, you don't have to keep checking the clock. This removes a big distraction from your practice. Moreover, you won't be sitting in meditation all day because you've forgotten to see how much time has elapsed. Set your timer so you can relax and enjoy your experience. 5. Remove Distractions Turn off your cell phone, put it on vibrate, or leave it in the other room. You want to be in a space without distractions. I find that the best place to meditate is in my room with the door closed. 6. Don't Try Too Hard Meditation at its best is soothing, relaxing, and effortless. It's merely observation; observing your breathing with your conscious awareness. So there is no real effort involved, just being consciously aware. So don't work too hard at it. 7. Create a Daily Practice or Ritual By meditating every day at the same time or within the same daily routine, you develop a habit that becomes easier to practice every day. If you don't build meditation into your daily routine, you'll find yourself forgetting to do it. 8. Get Relaxed Beforehand You want to wear comfortable, loose clothing and be in a relaxing environment. Make sure your room is comfortable. Before you start, take a few deliberate deep breaths and stretch any part of your body that feels tense or achy. 9. Try Out Different Types of Meditation There are dozens of techniques to meditate, such as Zen meditation, chanting meditations, mantras, and so on. Try out different types to see which one feels right for you. 10. Read "The Power of Now" This epic book by Eckhart Tolle sheds new light on what it really means to be present. And meditation is simply the practice of being present. To me personally, "The Power of Now" is like the bible of true meditation and mindfulness. 11. Let Go of Expectations Don't expect enlightenment. Meditation is about noticing and observing your own sensations, thoughts, and feelings. By just allowing your experience of meditation to unfold in any way that it does, you'll get the best experience. 12. Stay Nonjudgmental By simply noticing things as they are -- without judging them -- you are being mindful. When you notice your mind labelling, commenting, and making opinions about things, you're judging. And that's okay when you judge too. Just notice that, and let it go. 13. Have Fun with Your Practice Allow yourself to really enjoy your meditation session. View your repetitive or silly thoughts with humor. Laugh at your "monkey mind" as it keeps churning. Have fun with it! 14. Your Mind Will Quiet Itself Don't try to force your mind to stop thinking; that'll create distress. It will stop thinking all on its own when you practice your technique, whether it's observing your breathing or repeating a mantra. 15. Your Mind Will Wander It's okay when your mind wanders, that's just what minds do! Just notice that your mind has wandered, and gently -- with compassion -- return your attention to your technique (observing your breathing). Don't beat yourself up, it's normal. 16. Find a Comfortable Posture There are no rules that you have to sit in the lotus position. As long as I'm not feeling sleepy, I prefer to lay down. Find a position that works well for you, whether it's sitting on a chair, cushion, or bench. 17. Your Eyes Can Be Open Or Closed Do what feels right for you. If you keep your eyes open, you might see visual distractions. If you close your eyes, it may feel forced and unnatural while you're awake. So do what works for you. 18. Get Up Slowly After you finish your practice, take your time getting up. Don't rush off to the rest of your day, as you want to stay mindful and bring your meditative state into the rest of your day's activities. 19. Meditate With Others Whether it's with friends, family members, your partner, a coach, or an organization, by meditating in a group it'll help you stay committed to the practice. Moreover, you can share your experiences afterwards. You might be surprised to hear how different their experience was. 20. Observe the Feeling Within Your Body Notice how you feel internally, within your body. What sensations are there in your legs? Do you feel your toes and calves? Notice your diaphragm moving as you breath. This will keep you connected to your body.