#54 Host A PJ Party

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.

#54

Host a PJ Party

One of the best parts of a girls weekend getaway is the opportunity to slip into PJ’s, grab a glass of wine, and giggle with our besties until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer. Well, you don’t have to ‘getaway’ in order for that to happen! Host a PJ party at home.

Sleepovers

I don’t know many kids who grow up without the experience of looking forward to the weekends for their opportunities to invite friends over to spend the night. Girls may do this more often than boys but the allure is always the experience of spending as much time with your friends as you can. We may reach the pinnacle of this in college as couches and floor space are dominated by friends who can’t or shouldn’t be driving home. Once we step into adulting, our friends sleepovers give way to sleepovers of a different nature.

Belonging

One of the most elementary benefits of this kind of comradery is the sense of belonging that it instills. Strong feelings of belonging are helpful to us in so many different ways. When we feel as though we ‘belong’ to a group, our self-esteem is higher; our sense of trust is stronger; our immune systems work better; we sleep more effectively; and the benefits continue…

When we spend quality – stress free – time with our friends, it strengthens our bond; our sense of belonging. Overnight visits are a wonderful way to make this happen.

Self-care

Hosting a one, or a group of friends and taking the time to truly interact with them in a carefree manner is a great way to practice self-care. It’s gathering your tribe; lifting yourself up; and surrounding yourself in love. It’s a wonderful healing exercise, even if you aren’t actively thinking about ‘healing’.

Friendship is to emotional stress what the ocean is to mosquito bites – an organic healer.

If you need a friendship boost or if you are aware of a friend that does – I highly recommend getting back to basics, employing some self-care and…

Host a PJ party!

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

 

#70 Splurge on Nice Sheets

Merry Christmas! If this is a religious holiday for you, I wish you the joy of Christ’s blessings. If not, I wish for you the joy and love of friends and/or family and hope you have a beautiful day.

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.

#70

Splurge on Nice Sheets

Considering that we spend somewhere around one-third of our life in bed, it’s not presumptuous to think that it needs to be a place of comfort.  A major element of a great bed are the sheets that we lie between. It’s one of those treats we never knew we needed until we’ve had the experience. Once you have the pleasure of sleeping on really nice sheets, it will be a goal.

Material

What determines how nice a sheet is? The experts say that the very first thing to look for is the fiber of the sheet – what is it made of? The higher quality of fiber, the more comfortable the sheet. 100% cotton sheets may wrinkle and be more expensive but they will absorb moisture better than anything else. If you perspire a lot while you sleep, cotton sheets are a must. They’re easier to keep clean as well because polyester blends tends to hold dirt and stain. For the most comfortable feel, choose a long fiber sheet generally labeled ‘Pima’ or ‘Egyptian long staple’.

Thread Count

After the material, you want a high thread count. [note that lower thread count 100% cotton is better than higher thread count poly blend] In my experience, typical sheets are in the 200 range (the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch). Thread counts can go as high as 1000 but really nice sheets are in the 500 – 800 range most often.

Weave

The method of weaving those threads is also a determinant of how the sheets feel. The most common is Percale, equally woven between horizontal and vertical threads. Percale sheets are known to be crisp and breathes more easily so they’re cooler in summer months. Sateen sheets are woven differently and are therefore much thicker and tightly woven. They will keep you warmer in the winter months and they are generally thought to be softer.

Buying

If you didn’t get sheets under the Christmas tree, don’t fret. January is known for its “white sales” where linens are generally deeply discounted. If sheets aren’t the priority right now, you’re likely to find great prices at online retailers like Overstock.com throughout the year. It’s been my go-to site for linens for years. Similar to the strategy many of us use for electronics – buy the most exquisite you can afford.

Treat yourself to the thing you never knew you wanted…

Splurge on nice sheets.

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

 

#131 Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed

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.

#131

Sleep on the other side of the bed

I will occasionally recommend this suggestion to clients who have difficult sleeping and/or couples who are attempting to inject new energy into their relationship. It is sometimes met with resistance and declarations that they won’t be able to sleep yet, when they report back in, I often hear how making that shift was a new and interesting experience.

Habit

We are creatures of habit and without realizing it, we tend to slip into comfortable routines that create the potential for chunks of monotony to set in. The side of the bed we choose is one of those ‘chunks’. It’s necessary to notice comfortable, unconscious patterns and challenge them from time to time; to force a ‘shift’; to shake things up! In doing so, we are organically more present; more conscious of our being; and more aware of our power.

Just Try It

In 2015, a survey concluded that people would rather give up the TV remote than to change the side of the bed they sleep on so if you share the bed with someone, this suggestion will need to be a team effort. Consider sharing this post with your partner and make the suggestion. It doesn’t have to be a permanent change, or even a long term one. It can be for a night, a weekend, or however much time you may need to experience an awareness of the difference.

Potential Benefits

Changing bed sides may be good for your mattress assuming that different body sizes and shapes are on the new side – mattresses tend to conform to our bodies over time and changing it up will work to smooth out the ingrained shape. You may also find that sleeping is easier on one side versus the other; perhaps you will change the side you sleep on – shifting the pressure points to which your body is expose. You may find more romance by shifting sides… it could feel like you’re in bed with a different partner – playing into fantasy or simply refreshing a staleness in your relationship. You may snore less, be warmer, cooler, or be on the side with less light.

At the very least, you’ll be challenging your brain and the way it remembers – an activity that is all over healthy for your memory and it reminds your psyche who is running the show! Maybe start on a Friday night so that you’ll have the weekend if it totally ruins your sleep pattern. Generally though, people consider it an interesting experiment when they…

Sleep on the other side of the bed.

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

#186 Sleep on the Beach

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.

#186

Sleep on the beach

In the spirit of Labor Day weekend, I thought it best to remind you how amazing it is to fall asleep on the beach. Maybe not on a hot sunny day when the beach is crowded as you may expose your skin too long and/or awake with each passerby kicking sand across your back. It is amazing however, to sleep on the beach overnight – allowing the thunder of consistent wave action to lull you into a deep slumber.

These days isn’t almost impossible to pitch a tent in the dunes as they are protected along almost every coastline in the USA but… there are dozens if not hundreds of public and private campgrounds that border ocean beaches. If you’re planning well enough in advance and with a little research, you can pick a spot as close to the wave action as possible. In some areas, tying a hammock between a couple of trees may even give you a sunrise view over the top of any dunes. As an avid camper, the only drawback I’ve ever noticed about beach side camping is the amount of sand that I end up bringing home.

Perhaps the best spot in the Mid-Atlantic is Assateague State Park. It’s a bit of a pain to get to and the flies can be atrocious at times but you just can’t beat the location!  California has tons of locations as well as Florida. (I guess the more coastline you have, the better the opportunities!) The Travel Channel did a piece and after seeing the options, my bucket list just got a bit longer.

Now, this suggestion is to actually get down in the sand… form it to your body and sleep there – preferably under the stars but I’m aware that might be simply too much to ask of some people. So… with a bigger budget you can go all fancied out and rent a beachside bungalow in almost any beach community. Certainly, around the globe there are thousands of options and perhaps the only reason that people go to places like the Seychelles islands where the beach and luxury go hand and hand; where almost every sleeping option is either over sand or surf.

No matter how you do it or when, there’s a magical element of being able to drift off to the sound of ocean currents embracing the beach. Treat yourself with the experience as often as you can…

Sleep on a beach.

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

#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.

#211 Dry Your Sheets Outside

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.

#211

Dry your sheets outside

Smell Sunshine

For much of the population, having a machine available to dry our clothes is something that we take for granted. Few of us hang our clothes on ‘the line’ to dry in the sun and breeze. If you have had this experience, you know that there is a sweet scent of fresh air that permeates the material so that when we come nose to fabric there is no question as to the smell of sunshine.

Line Dry

I know most of us don’t keep a clothes line permanently installed these days but having a line that can be temporarily strung and used once in a while offers us the opportunity to bring a little of the outdoors – inside. Sheets are easy to dry this way because they can be draped over the line – no clothespins needed.

The nose experience

Crawling into bed with sun dried sheets is an experience we should all have at least a few times in our life. It takes clean sheets to an entirely new level and may offer the sense that you are sleeping under the stars – at least as far as your nose is concerned. You may be used to the pleasant aroma of your brand of dryer sheets and yet I’m certain that you’ll fall in love with the fragrance of the sun after you…

Dry your sheets outside.

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

Photo by Dmitry Arslanov on Unsplash

#259 Replace Your Pillows

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.

#259

Replace your pillows

Do you have a plan to replace old, worn out pillows? If you’re like me, I think about it when I am changing the linens and then I forget or put them at the bottom of my priority list – you know, below pedicures and sushi nights. Admittedly, there have been times in my life when I was forced to double case a pillow to hide the dried drool stains and evidence of age if I was in a pinch. At those moments, new pillows became a priority.

Let’s face it, one-third of each day is spent in bed with our heads on a pillow; having the right one is a necessity for a good night’s sleep and potentially, for our health. According to some experts, the basic poly-fill pillow needs replaced every six months (what??). The more expensive memory foam pillows can last as long as 36 months (double what??). I’m embarrassed to admit that mine are much older.

Indeed, my primary – my favorite – pillow is perhaps 8 years old at this point and I’ve kept it because I can’t seem to find one that I like as much. There are so many different pillow options these days and if money isn’t a concern three are plenty to consider. We must choose between content; feathers, down, memory foam, microbead, water, gel or buckwheat. Then there are the different body parts that pillows support; neck, body, and shoulders. There are pillows for health; sleep apnea, allergies, back pain, and migraines.  And, not the least of which is important is the degree of firmness – several options in that arena are also available.

The best time to buy pillows is in January when most of the major merchandisers have annual white sales but I for one, am usually not shopping that time of year… more like recovering from December’s blown budget. It makes good sense to bite the bullet and search sales for new pillows on those beds that get used daily at least annually… (yes, I’m inclined to buy the cheaper ones).

If I’ve totally grossed you out now that you are thinking about how old most of the pillows are in your house, the fix is simple… for a mere $12 or so (each) this weekend at Macys you can …

Replace your pillows.

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

Photo by Martin Castro on Unsplash

Six Ways to Cope with Crap

“You never really know what’s coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” ― Alysha Speer

We can’t control everything that happens in our life and there are times for all of us that we turn a corner and run full on into crap. For some, we are just getting cleaned off and another pile of dodo drops from the sky like a storm that blows in on a hot summer day without any warning. The kind of crap I am talking about doesn’t distinguish between gender or class, race or religion, age or vocation… it comes slowly and quickly sometimes with notice, other times suddenly and abruptly. At all times, the only part of the crap that we actually can control is how we cope with it. Here are six constructive and helpful ways to manage all that stinky stuff:

ONE: Use the skills you have.

Remember that you’ve made it through every rough day you’ve ever had before. Chances are, the thing you are going through now is not the first load of crap you’ve encountered. Remind yourself of the coping skills you’ve used in the past. Generally speaking, crap causes stress – stress can be mediated by utilizing traditional and somewhat basic coping tools. Meditation, exercise, therapy, social support, writing and the like are fantastic resources that help us deal with stressors both big and small. Use them! Use several of them at once if necessary and use them often.

TWO: Eat right and sleep right.

Both of these are relative ‘no-brainers’ and we all know them intellectually but the first thing that people under stress tell me is that it is preventing them from eating and sleeping. Then we face the bigger problem of how magnified the basic stressor becomes when we haven’t slept and/or we aren’t providing our bodies with the nourishment that makes our brains work. Furthermore, it seems as if the basic stress point births more stressors that in and of themselves, become big and problematic when we allow ourselves to become run down physically.

This isn’t the time to worry about dieting… while I’m not suggesting that we all develop the habit of ‘stress eating’… keeping fruit, nuts, and juices available so that we have something healthy and quick to grab at any time, makes sense. When I know someone is going through a rough time, I take them a big bowl of whole fruits – I know… buzzkill.

Sleeping is difficult when our brains don’t ‘turn off’. You can help by making sure you create an environment conducive to sleeping. Many of us have really bad habits that don’t support healthy sleeping conditions. NO television in the bedroom! NO sleeping on the couch in front of the TV. NO caffeine (including chocolate ice cream and other hidden sources of stimulants – including alcohol). Yes, a single glass of wine can relax you but two may induce less ‘restful’ sleep. More than just a little alcohol of any kind will certainly help you ‘fall’ asleep but your slumber will be restless. Learn progressive relaxation (search in YouTube) and do it as you fall asleep. Use a fan or a white noise machine to help drone out the sound of your thoughts. Technology allows us access to so many helpful tools regarding sleep these days. Lastly, don’t forget to support melatonin production in your body as well.

THREE:  Self-care.

As simple as this sounds, it is the one thing I find goes unnoticed most often. Seemingly, the last thing we think about when we are experiencing a load of crap in life is taking time out for ourselves. I guess it isn’t second nature to stop in the middle of chaos and ‘fuel up’ but let’s think about this… how far does your car go without gas?? Would you let a leak in your roof go indefinitely or would you take time to fix it so it doesn’t get worse?? When I recommend to people that they take some time for themselves, they often tell me they don’t have time but we both know that is an excuse. Learn to look at your life with the intent of carving out small slices that belong to ONLY you. This is the opposite of selfish – the objection most everyone tries to lay out – if you run out of steam, you will be worthless to help anyone! Take five minutes an hour under extreme duress and 30 min. a day otherwise to devote to making sure that YOU are bringing your ‘stress level’ down to its base line. If not, your body will think that it needs an elevated amount of Cortisol in your system to function and a new base will be established – that won’t feel good either!

FOUR: Accept Help

Are you good at asking for or accepting help? I always recommend accepting any type of help that is offered even if you think you may not need it. Someone willing to come mow your lawn will probably be willing to run the kids around instead if you find that more helpful. If someone asks how they can help – don’t say “I’m fine” – ask them “what are you offering?” or “Sure, what did you have in mind?” or better yet, “That would be great! Would you please….”.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to ‘do it all myself’ and it eventually backfires. Asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH – because it unzips your vulnerability. When we ask for or accept help we are making a statement that we can’t do it all ourselves and that is OK!! We are social creatures, not designed to be isolated and alone, or draining every personal resource we have. As a single mom, I had a village – almost literally – neighbors, scout leaders, friends, coaches, and the occasional family member that I depended on because I was only one person and even though I tried – God knows – I couldn’t do it – not successfully. When I made the decision to actually respond affirmatively to people who volunteered their help – my life was instantly better. Those who hadn’t meant it learned a lesson and we probably didn’t remain friends. Those who did, learned that I am a loyal friend who gives back when it is possible.

FIVE: Breathe & Count

At the very least learn how to breathe and count to five. In those few seconds where I take a deep breath and slowly exhale to the count of five, I collect myself and create intention (most of the time anyway). I respond better in conversations that are stressful, to people who are hyper or ultra emotional, and when there is significant chaos or confusion. The time it takes me to breathe and count allows my brain to run through a variety of scenarios where it can choose the best response, or the most logical in that time at least. Sometimes I count to ten if there is room for the extra pause.

SIX: Practice Gratitude

Everywhere you look these days we see reminders to practice gratitude and yet I find that the habits are not yet developed in many people… no worries, start again to make appreciation a part of everything you do. No matter how dense or smelly your pile of crap is – find something in it to appreciate it. I realize that sometimes, this is done in retrospect for the crap as a whole but in your day… there are at least three things that you can be grateful for. Today, I had enough to eat, I hugged three people who love me, and saw a beautiful sunset. If I take some time to really acknowledge those three things, I feel better about my day – at least a little. If you do a gratitude just before bedtime, you’ll have something fresh on your mind that is positive – helping you to sleep more soundly.

 

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