#199 Take a Nap

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#199

Take a Nap

I know that perhaps more than half of us don’t need any suggestion or help to act upon this happiness tip – we’ve mastered it … hands down. This part of the population already knows that taking a nap midpoint throughout the day can be highly beneficial and frankly, improve our health.

Stress reduction

One of the most important benefits is a naps ability to help us reduce stress. Sleep deprivation – even a basic lack of enough sleep – increases the amount of cortisol in our bodies. When we sleep, our bodies release growth hormone which neutralizes cortisol. Let’s face it – our lives get busier and busier leaving us less time to sleep and when we do… it’s difficult to quiet our minds. When we are tired, it is hard to process information, control our emotions, and stay focused. Everything is worse when we are exhausted.

Perfect nap

Many of us are familiar with the ‘power nap’ concept but Psychologist and sleep specialist Sara Mendick recommends a 90 min nap smack dab in the middle of the day. It seems as though the ‘ratios of sleep during this cycle mimic a night sleep’ and is therefore, more refreshing – at least for those of us who have typical schedules and sleep between 11 pm and 7 am. Additionally, as long as your nap is three hours *before* you go to bed for the evening – your nights sleep should not be affected.

Be happier

Being able to take naps will also serve to increase your happiness. We tend to think of pulling the covers up over our head as deepening depression but if it is to intentionally nap – it may indeed improve your mood! Getting more sleep makes us more productive – another element known to increase happiness. We’ll be less stressed – inducing feelings of well-being. Our health improves – giving us something to be happy about.

Make it Work

If you are in a traditional 9 – 5 job, this suggestion may be very difficult for you to employ and yet perhaps it is possible for you to rearrange your hours in such a way that at least some part of that strategy is an option. If you work evenings, are a college student, a homemaker, self-employed, or maybe even work from home, making this nap initiative work may be possible. Still, in our global modern economy, many European countries honor the tradition of a ‘Siesta’ and so it’s no wonder that stress related health issues are not as prevalent in those cultures. Maybe we can learn by their example.

If you are inspired to reduce stress, increase happiness, and generate a  better overall life – it may be as simple as setting aside time each day to …

Take a nap.

#205 Take a Hike

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#205

Take a hike

I know many of us take a walk day to day but few of us get out in nature and literally ‘take a hike’ as often as might be enjoyable. What exactly is the difference between a ‘walk’ and a ‘hike’? A hike is generally differentiated by distance; meaning a long way. Theoretically, a long walk could encompass the concept of ‘hike’ but generally it is also referenced as happening in the country or wilderness. Indeed, most of us conjure images of mountains, rivers, trails, and backpacks when we talk about ‘taking a hike’.

Body Benefits

The benefits of ‘hiking’ are similar to many of the other tips that I’ve referenced over the last six months in so much as the overall benefit is an increase in general well-being. Perhaps most prominent is the advantage that the exercise has on our body and spirit. Hiking develops muscle, strengthens our bones, and is overall heart healthy. The time we have to commune with nature is also beneficial as it helps us stay grounded.

Mind Benefits

Escaping suburbia or metropolitan chaos for the peace and quiet of tree studded hillsides allows our mind to settle and tune into the solitude. People who hike have lower rates of depression and anxiety. The choir of natural life creates masterful sonnets designed to touch our soul. For some, it’s a downright spiritual experience.

Be Smart

Walking for long distances is not without risks and so it is necessary to take a smart approach. If you are just getting started – go easy. Train your body to move consistently. Drink plenty of water, wear good shoes, and be prepared for the unexpected. Start locally and move your way up to more advanced trails. If the Appalachain Trail is on your ‘Before You Die’ list, you’ll need to be conditioned. Get off the couch and…

Take a Hike.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#348 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#348

Face the sun

This tip is specifically for those winter months or rainy grey days that may plague our mood or drain our sense of well-being. At those times – when the sun isn’t shining or is only accessible for a short time – our exposure becomes limited. It is likewise restricted for those of us who work indoors 7 to 8 hours a day, regardless of the time of year.

Exposure to sunshine helps our body produce vitamin D. Healthy vitamin D levels are essential to feeling good and when the sun is stubbornly hibernating, supplements may be helpful. An additional benefit to absorbing sun rays is the recent discovery that they promote immune function. Furthermore, sunlight supports the production of serotonin, another chemical that induces feelings of happiness.

When the sun IS shining, a helpful trick is to sit as close to a window as possible – assuming it is too cold to be outdoors – and position your face (eyes closed) toward the rays. Sit there as long as possible so that your skin can absorb as much of the vitamins and energy as possible. If the weather is nice of course, go outside so that there isn’t any barrier between you and the sun’s rays. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to wear sunscreen for this exercise regardless of the time of year. For people with limited access to daytime sunshine due to working conditions, I often recommend that they eat lunch or take a break in their cars utilizing the same techniques. If making time to ‘face’ the sunshine is literally unfeasible for some reason, a sun lamp is a fair alternative.

It’s important to note that people who are afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have probably been advised of these techniques and yet they are advantageous for all of us – all year long. For all of us, grabbing a little more Vitamin D and purposefully manufacturing natural serotonin is as easy as being sure to turn and…

Face the sun.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

When Darkness Knocks

“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.” ― Steve Maraboli

In the beginning of the year I started a gratitude challenge on my Counseling Facebook page. Each day since then – except for two – I have listed three things I am grateful for that day. I’ve tried not to replicate anything, which has been hard because every morning when I am writing them I am always grateful for my coffee! Certainly, at first it was easy as there are many obvious pieces of my life that I am always thankful for … a roof over my head, a warm room, comfy pillows, enough food, etc.

I’ve noticed as the time goes by however that unless I begin duplicating items, I must stretch my awareness a bit and it has been interesting to extend my awareness beyond my immediate surroundings to include the sound of my wind chimes and birds chirping. I am so grateful for those things. Not only do they represent the fact that I can hear but they are pleasant sounds and by noticing them, I also notice how they resonate in my body – my spirit. They create a nice sensation; pleasure.

It promotes more consciousness of people smiling, friendly service, and kind hearts. It stimulates my recognition of generosity, helpfulness, and benevolence, which are all contributors to the experience of happiness. Indeed, I believe I’ve felt a little bit happier than usual despite the negativity that tries to inject itself into my life.

It’s one thing to be a mental health counselor and experience the sadness, frustration, and negative emotions of clients – that’s my job and I am sufficiently capable of keeping it away from my personal psyche. Along the way, I learned the art of allowing clients to dump their stuff in my office without feeling as though I needed to pick it up. I rarely experience a derogatory impact of my clients affect. Don’t get me wrong… if there is something deeply sad – a client who lost a child or someone so deep in their own pain that they are suicidal – I feel sad but I don’t hold it. I can walk out of my office and leave it there.

It’s a whole other thing to live in an environment that is frequently heavy. Our political climate is currently stressed – no matter one’s affiliation – every day there is some element of drama pumped into our consciousness and we are exposed to exhausting bickering, draining our enthusiasm and confidence.

I am still adjusting to the whole ‘empty nest’ experience. While I quite enjoy the clean and constantly straightened atmosphere of my home, there is an eerie silence here that highlights the absence of my family. I miss the anticipation of hearing the creaking steps as one of the girls would come home from work at midnight or the sound of the shower and blasting music in the morning as she prepared for her day. I am blessed that they stay in contact with me via Face time or regular phone calls but it’s entirely different from the smell of their perfume lingering in the air.

And then there is the reality of Harlan’s illness. Coping with fatigue is one thing but coping with pain is another entirely. Every day is filled with the blessing that he can still work and concurrently filled with the reality that he does it battling the effects of chemo and the relentless pain of bone lesions. I see him getting tired. He does an amazing job but I watch him and I am sad and pissed and helpless and scared.

53b65c930000205a90fe98e8069d868d

I don’t like those feelings yet I know they are real and appropriate. They exist like fleas that jump on me when I walk in the door and every time I think I have fumigated their existence with my coping skills, they find another entrance or they are simply re-birthed into our experience. The early spring weather allowed me the opportunity to open the windows and replace the dark sad air with fresh spring hope and then it got cold again. I can feel the air thicken and so I walk outside where the sun is starting to stay longer and a bit brighter.

I live by the motto that there is something good in every single experience; not only on a global level but day by day. What is good about today? The gratitude challenge that I am conducting forces me to pay attention, to look beyond the obvious, to deny those damn fleas too much of my blood. It helps to push the pendulum back, to balance the scale, to make life tolerable.

When I am sad that he is hurting, I am grateful for his doctors. When I feel helpless to fix it, I am grateful to hold his hand. When I am disappointed that we aren’t bike riding, I am grateful to sit next to him on the couch. When I am frustrated that he goes to bed so early, I am grateful that his body heat warms the sheets on my side.

Please know that this is a ‘work in progress’ and I am – in no way – perfect in my efforts to find the silver lining every. single. time. But I keep trying. My daily expression of gratitude is one of the ways that I am working to create balance and a stronger sense of happiness in a time when darkness is constantly knocking on our door.

Won’t you join me? Hop on my HCC Facebook page and add your own three things. The more positive energy we can put forth in the world – the better.

 

If you liked what you read just now, please SHARE it with friends and family by using one of the buttons below (Facebook, Twitter, Email & LinkedIn) and know that I am grateful for your effort.

Also, I love to connect with my readers. Feel free to comment, follow my blog, or connect with me on social media.