There are often periods in our life when we are dealing with a large amount of anxiety or get that burnt out feeling. I can usually feel the warning signs because I’m definitely not getting enough sleep and I tend to get easily irritated which often leads to behaving less kindly to those around me (to put it diplomatically).
Ideally, if we could all wake up refreshed every morning (which is easier said than done), our quality of life would be so much better. There is nothing better than being able to wake up feeling clear-headed and ready to take on the day. Because who doesn’t want to have the best chance for success when being faced with unexpected challenges that need a positive response to best deal with issues that inevitably pop up.
Here are a few Helpful changes that anyone can do to make ourselves feel more refreshed and rejuvenated.
1. Make Time for Personal Growth
Your daily routine, no matter how busy, has an opportunity for you become a BETTER you. Why not find an interest that you can do each day that provides either learning, physical exercise, mental well being, and/or that can help you attain a goal that considered more a dream than a reality.
True fact, I’ve always wanted to start a blog but never thought it was something that I had the knowledge, technical expertise, or ability to learn. The lesson is that you sometimes just have to try things to know whether you can succeed (Here’s to hoping that with your help I can make this small blog successful).
a. Read something that makes you happy
When Hulu and Netflix and HBO (Sigh; with their addicting… Game of Thrones) are just a couch seat away, it can be easy to forget about the hidden discoveries within a good book. It takes a conscious effort to create a healthy balance between the amount of time you spend watching vs. reading. By setting a designated time that you want to read each day you will re-awaken the gentle caress of your neglected imagination that is able to convert the written word into images (LOL; Calgon… take me away).
b. Learn something that makes you happy
I personally think challenging yourself and learning something new can keep us from an early grave of what can be a repetitious rinse and repeat (Daily grind) syndrome. There is something to be said for making the time for personal growth in areas you often forget to cultivate. Try finding a challenging activity or even take a Skillshare class (LINK) in order to become proficient in something that you’ve always wanted to learn and/or could provide a helpful skill that you can use to make a dream into a reality (maybe a small blog endeavor).
c. Do something that makes you happy
Whether it’s during your day or the weekend, getting some fresh air and sunshine (valuable vitamin D awaits) is a holistic way to re-energize yourself. Walking (or Hiking), Bike riding, Tennis, and Swimming are all activities that most people can do from when they are very young to the more graceful elegant age of… (insert life expectancy here).
2. Reduce Eating Processed Foods
In the past, my family hardly ever used to read food labels except for the occasional review of foods high in sugar and to avoid antibiotics, steroids, and hormones (interesting fact: Poultry, Milking Cows, Pigs, and Sheep have banned commercial genetic modifications for over 50 years so you really don’t have to look for the labels that say Steroid or Hormone Free).
Sadly on a personal level, the need to read labels changed within a year when one of the twin boys got sick and diagnosed with Diabetes I (autoimmune) and the other twin boy became sick and diagnosed with Leaky Gut (autoimmune) that was caused by gluten and dairy; suddenly it became very necessary to check Every food label.
The problem is that additives, along with added sugar and the highly suspicious high fructose corn syrup is everywhere. Slowly, many of us are becoming aware of the dangers because autoimmune issues are on the rise and even the “healthy” families are finding out that processed food with a wide variety of additives can start an unhealthy cycle of more hunger, irritability, headache, sluggishness, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. The slowly developing landmine of various autoimmune diseases has definitely increased dramatically in the past 20 years.
Recent research in regard to autoimmune disease has shown that tight junction dysfunction (intestinal permeability) has been found to be commonly present in studies that correlate between autoimmunity and food additives (processed foods with additives for improved taste, smell, texture, and shelf life). They found that the additives glucose (sugars), sodium (salt), fat solvents (emulsifiers), organic acids, gluten, microbial enzyme transglutaminase, and nanometric particles all weakened tight junctions increasing the development of the dreaded “leaky gut”.
3. Get More Sleep
Sleep is one of the biggest factors in maintaining our energy levels throughout the day. For those late nite individuals who like to burn the candle at both ends, I call forth the wisdom of Blade Runner; “The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”. My analogy would interpret this as; you can only function for so long with a shortened/interrupted amount of sleep before the repercussions begin to cause problems with your quality of life. Here are some basic tips for creating a nighttime routine for those restless bedtimers.
A. Tip #1: Stay on Schedule.
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends (where many people try to insert their “Catch-up Sleep”), is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock (experts call your circadian rhythm). Staying consistent also means that the quality of your sleep will be better.
B. Tip #2: Stop Eating and Drinking approx. 1.5 hours before bedtime.
Also, a good idea is to avoid nicotine and caffeine which are stimulants and can take hours to wear off (makes it harder to fall an stay asleep). Alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, however, it can also lower the quality of your sleep. Also, pay attention to eating sufficiently a few hours before going to bed or hunger can wake you up later. And go easy on any liquids before you decide to turn in for the night to prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
C. Tip #3: Create a Comfy Environment.
Make your room as relaxing and conducive to sleep by keeping it quiet, cool, and dark. Outside light can keep you awake, so try room-darkening shades (yeah, I do not remember fondly working Nights – hard to sleep during the day with city garbage trucks and landscapers). Your mattress and pillow also make a big difference. Ideally, mattresses should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows should be replaced annually. A mattress should feel comfortable, and if you sleep with a partner, make sure it’s big enough so you both have plenty of space.
D. Tip #4: Start an Evening Ritual.
Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music, performing light yoga, or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body that it’s time to settle down. However, avoid watching TV or looking at any laptop, tablet or smartphone screens because if you’re trying to relax and unwind your mind since those activities can trigger your brain to stay awake.
E. Tip #5: Don’t Obsess over the Clock.
Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out (wrongly, I used to countdown how many hours of sleep I might get after every 30 min interval of being wide awake). Keep your bedroom clock out of immediate view so that you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy. Here are a couple ideas…
a. Yoga: Try “legs on a wall.” Sit close to a wall. Lie on your back, push your butt close to the wall, and lift your legs up and rest them against the wall. Put your arms by your sides and turn up your palms. Hold that position for 10 to 20 seconds.
b. Stretching: Sit on the floor with your legs together, flat, and outstretched in front of you. Slowly bend your torso forward and reach for your toes. Try to hold this hamstring stretch for up to 30 seconds.
c. Massager: Try using either a Dual motor percussion therapy massager (around $125), foam roller, or even a tennis ball and your own body weight to rub out knots and ease aches and chronic pain, which are known to disturb sleep.
d. Relaxation Exercise: While lying in bed, curl your toes on both feet and hold them in that position for a few seconds. Then uncurl them so they’re completely relaxed. Next, tense up your calf muscles in your legs and hold them in that position for a few seconds. Then release them. Follow that pattern and work your way up the body, tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. There are so many muscles in the body that sometimes you may not even realize that you’ve spent all day tensing, say, your shoulders—until you stop to think about your shoulders, specifically, and release that tension.
e. Meditation: Find a quiet room and dim the lights. Sitting in a comfortable position on the floor, with your shoes removed, close your eyes. Breathe deeply—in through your nose and out through your mouth—as you try to clear your mind of all thoughts. Focus on your breath. Doing this for 25 minutes per day is ideal, but even a few minutes of meditation is better than nothing!
4. Create Blocks of Time for a Balanced Life
This is especially important for the self-employed, but it can apply wherever you work. Be strict with the times that you allocate for work and equally strict with times allocated for family and other tasks. There are a variety of time management Gurus that can provide you the inexpensive materials and systems that will take your hectic lifestyle and organize it more efficiently. Because oftentimes if your feeling like your always playing catchup, what you really need is a new system of working smarter by removing hidden obstacles to your success.
5. Occasional DEVICE Separation Anxiety
Granted there is something very ironical about you Reading something on your device that says “GET OFF Your Device”. However, sometimes we do forget that there is something wonderful about being outside to be involved with our friends and family that we cannot enjoy if we are too often attached to our many, many available Devices (Begone, Addicting Device!!).
Storytime; I have teenage kids and I find it crazy that they can be with that group of friends (together) and they can still spend much of that time (together) ON their phones and Not interacting with each other. Which goes along with this sad tale; recently we were at a Rollercoaster theme park and my kids left their phones in the car to prevent their devices from getting lost/broken and they actually had to re-learn how to hang out while waiting for the rides while being device-less for hours. Oi Vay! There is something wrong with that.
SO, without suffering finger swiping muscle memory convulsions; You might want to consider having an Unplugged 2 hours or more away from Devices just to re-connect with family/friends or even organize a weekly activity/game night.
6. Declutter and Cleaning
Regular decluttering is good for your peace of mind because most of us build up “things or possessions” that we no longer need and have just been taking up space (usually for years). Now, as someone who usually prides myself on getting rid of the stuff that I don’t need, it’s very unfortunate; that my garage, closet, attic, and storage would probably disagree with me.
While most of us aren’t exactly Hoarders, I’m pretty sure we all could use an honest evaluation of the various storage places that hold our “things or possessions”. I remember seeing on TV a home that had tunnels running between rooms filled with junk (no one could even stand up!) makes me wonder what went terribly wrong. I’m guessing somewhere along the way they just said, “I don’t care what people say about me, I will keep anything and EVERYTHING”.
Nowadays, I do find that it is a nice to have the selling option where you snap a photo and place your items on a Phone App or eBay-like-site to get your unused stuff is gone (Yes, even that unwanted gift that you’ve kept in case it was ever needed).
Moving onto cleaning, I honestly dislike the idea of neverending and repetitive work, yet the alternative of a living in a messy environment is definitely the worse option. So I clean and then I clean some more. Of course, with kids, it’s a lot like whacking/cleaning one mess and some messy mole child has made 8 more messes that pop up. The important key point regarding both of these mundane tasks is that having an organized Home environment helps tremendously in keeping your mind Free of clutter.
7. Connect or possibly Re-Connect with Your Family and Friends
It can be hard staying connected with everyone and everything around you while trying to stay on top of your own day-to-day responsibilities. It’s often easy to lose track of days, weeks, and even longer when you’ve got a busy lifestyle; that sometimes you can fail to notice the joys, problems, accomplishments and most importantly the needs of the people who matter the most to you. While this usually isn’t from lack of caring; it can often come from lack of Balance when it comes to juggling the world of career, home, family, activities, and everything else.
The key point is that greatest joys will likely come from Family and Friends; so why prioritize them any less when “the sky is falling” from any number of other sources. I find that continually needing to re-connect is much harder than maintaining a connection. While easier said than done; oftentimes you have to be able to ask for help and/or support if you find that you are having trouble staying connected to the people who matter the most. Fortunately, there is support and resources for people who need it and usually, it’s closer than you think.
8. Significant Others
I admit this overlaps the last itemization about staying connected with Family, but it really deserves a wide open space of its own. Because partnerships are just that, a relationship that grows with attention and can fall apart with neglect. Simple it would seem; and yet there is a reason irreconcilable differences are around 50 percent.
I do get the feeling that many people are more nostalgic and wistful when it comes to the beginnings of their romances. Because what I have come to understand now is that the hardest part of a relationship is keeping the excitement and mystery alive in the years to come.
My hypothesis is that in the beginning, Love is all you need to overcome disagreements and differences. However, after some of the shiny newness wears off, I would conclude that in order to sustain the relationship that we have to be willing to develop a deeper understanding and communication with your partner.
Because without being willing to invest in a continuous amount of relationship work; there often arises the hidden danger in all relationships that get neglected. The danger is a slow fracturing of your relationship amidst our daily grind of family, work, interests, friends, and even just differences in outlook/aspirations.
I remember a relationship quote from psychologist, writer, and former teacher Hugh Mackay; that says “Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational.” I think this encompasses a lot of the difficulties that happen throughout our life; because where you are in your life is not always where everyone else is (around you).
While I hesitate to advise anyone else on how to keep things new and exciting, I will throw out a few suggestions for keeping your relationship from taking a nose-dive.
A. Tip #1: Appreciate your Partner
After you’ve been married for a multitude or plethora of years; it’s easy to start settling into a comfortable routine and maybe even start the accidental slide from “being there” for each other to “taking each other for granted”. This is where the Danger of complacency happens; studies (backed by divorce rates) have shown that when One of you is Not feeling connected or appreciated, they are more likely to become interested in someone else that provides them the feeling of being connected or appreciated.
The interesting thing is that this is obvious on paper but less obvious when it’s happening to you. I think even the smartest people in the world can have a “blind spot” when it comes to recognizing what is causing problems in their own relationships. Most of the time, it simply comes down to continuing to express appreciation for your partner so they don’t feel like they are being taken for granted. Because without the continual development of positive feelings, connection and commitment in your relationships; it’s too easy for someone else to come along and fill that void.
B. Tip #2: Two-Way Conversations
Again, it’s too easy to say that Communication is the key to having a successful relationship. But what happens when your relationship has developed into a back alley of hurt feelings and repetitive conversations that don’t seem to fix anything. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way; because when issues continue to bubble below the surface for an extended period of time, there is something that eventually triggers a release usually in the form of an explosive argument.
The difficulty is that if you aren’t feeling connected with your partner the way you used to, it becomes more difficult to say something about it. Just be aware; the longer either of you waits, the harder it becomes and the more damage it can do to your relationship. It’s surprising how easily hurt feelings can develop into resentment which then becomes the kryptonite to a good relationship.
My suggestion is to find a quiet neutral place, remember what makes both of you happy being together, cool down if needed, make eye contact, start off the conversation with something like “hi, I’m committed to working this out”, really listen/comprehend where things went wrong on both sides, try to find a solution that works for everyone, and avoid jumping to conclusions or putting words into each others mouths or using a laundry list of the past in order to win. Someone very wise once said, “you can win the battle but lose the war”.
Because in the end, the way you and your partner handle your disagreements plays a big role in whether you’ll stay together for the long haul. Luckily, healthy conflict resolution is a skill that anyone can learn. You can solve problems with your spouse by talking with each other honestly, fighting fair, and finding ways to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the future.
C. Tip #3: Two-Way Ownership (Self-sacrifice)
Doing things for your partner is much more than some heroic gesture like rescuing them from a natural disaster or even saving them from an overly talkative guest at a social function. While the Romantic in me thinks that the ultimate sacrifice is pushing someone out of the way of certain death and taking their place. I’ve come to realize that the best sacrifice is when you both want the Other person to achieve the happiest moments, greatest joys, amazing accomplishments, and life-fulfilling deeds/work; because their happiness simply makes you happy. Very, very cheesy; yet true.
Now, the analytic in me considers How do we go from where we are (the Actual) to the Ideal? Honestly, I’m not sure there is a right method but I do feel like I might be a weather vane who can point a little in the right direction. The concept of giving and receiving, quid pro quo (something for something), and partnership are all based on balancing shared responsibilities. Too much giving and not enough receiving creates imbalance and causes tension; so how do balance something that is so subjective? We can’t, but what we can do is take ownership during the times when things are good, bad, and ugly.
I think sometimes that from a macro perspective we must look like billions of small mammals trying to find the meaning of life all while doing the best we can in our immediate environment. In Reality, what most of us really want is to be able to look back and say we didn’t waste the time we had by being selfish and destructive. So getting back to the Ideal situation of both partners wanting the Other person to achieve the happiest moments, greatest joys, amazing accomplishments, and life-fulfilling deeds/work; the Solution (in my eyes) is don’t hold back your passion, admiration, adoration, amusement, frustration, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathic pain, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, or surprise.
Because having Fear of someone else’s reaction can limit us from giving our Best and bringing out the Best in them (sorry about the soapbox).
E. Tip #5: Maintain the Passion
Psychologists would likely tell you that; “Intimacy isn’t just about sex and Passion isn’t just about doing it on every piece of furniture you own”. After you’ve done it 298 times (a funny Friends reference); its possible things can start to slow down in the bedroom. This is life, and here is where you Both might need a pair of jumper cables (LOL, re-spark the romance), feather duster, strawberries and some whipped cream (my spouse is glaring at me!!).
Which brings me to my spouse, I still remember the initial discovery of finding someone who encompasses such a large part of what you are doing and thinking. There is something heartwarming about looking back at the unique entanglement at the beginning of a relationship. How the excitement feels never-ending and there is a childlike wonder of discovering something completely unique when two people are learning about one another for the first time. It’s almost as if the romantic ideals that are found in music, books, and movies seem more profound and relevant as you both enjoy the intoxicating magnetic pull of each other’s hand and other appendages (I was going with lips… 😊 laughs).
While not exactly an expert, here are a couple tips for re-kindling the romance.
- Try something new and different: If you’re shy about how to broaden your horizons, an app like Kindu can help (Free). It basically presents different sexual ideas to each of you privately on your phones. If you both like the idea, it’ll show up as a match, but if only one of you does, the other person will never know. It’s a safe way to explore what you might both be into if you’re not ready to speak up just yet.
- Create intimate time: Generally, every marital therapist advises couples to “Make a date for sex,” and while it seems ridiculous because it’s not something we ever thought we would ever have to put on the “To Do List”. But it really is central to a passionate marriage. So why not think of it as building anticipation with a day-long foreplay. Take the time (both of you) in planning the details; imagine things to try, maybe have a dress code, light candles, put on your some music, rub each other’s backs, and see to each other’s needs.
- Times apart can Make the times together Special: Instead of jumping into lukewarm activities together to create or revitalize a passionate marriage, it may be best to start with the personal passions that made you interesting and attractive to your partner in the first place. Take a class, learn an activity, go out with your friends and bring back to the marriage a fresh sense of excitement and passion.
9. Give Back What You Can
When you were young, there was nothing better than receiving a gift. A wrapped gift was a tantalizing promise with endless possibilities which hopefully ended up with something on the Must-have list. I can recall the feeling of being jittery with anticipation and how long the wait felt like centuries before gift opening time!!
We all eventually reach an age where Giving the gifts becomes just as fulfilling as it was when you were receiving them when you were young. I think that discovering the joy of making someone happy is more powerful as you realize that there are many people who have much less to be thankful for.
The ability to create and appreciate others getting something they Desperately needed can (hopefully) turn the worst Grinch into a satisfied giver. If you can give hope for a better tomorrow, I believe its worth far more than any excess of money or luxury item.
Because many of us are far more privileged than others, why Not foster and promote (among the next gen) that desire to help the less fortunate?!!
Traveling more frequently (as time & money permit) can provide you with unexpected interactions with a diverse group of people from different beliefs, backgrounds, environments, and viewpoints. I believe that when you have more exposure to diverse lifestyles the experience can provide you with a hidden benefit. Because the more open-minded you become, the more welcome you are to perspectives that don’t exactly mirror your own.
While people often travel to nearby vacations sites OR all around the world for various reasons seeking adventure, satisfying curiosity, escapism from dullness, or even just to chase those epic Selfie shots. However, something else can happen as well; you can discover breathtaking beauty, do something that awakens your inner beast, relieve the weight of a difficult issue/problem, become closer to a friend/companion, or just immerse yourself in the tranquility created by your surroundings.
According to the internet, there are 195 countries covering the globe which I sure contain more than a lifetime of experiences, exotic foods, cultures, and jaw-dropping views.
But travel isn’t just reserved for finding the biggest sights or most dramatic events. You don’t have to fly around the world or spend a fortune chasing larger-than-life thrills to awaken your inner OMG. Even small gestures, like taking the family on a cruise or embarking on an adventure closer to home, such as hiking a nearby trail, can help you let go of control for a while, altering your sense of time and your place in the mystery of life.
While I’ve always liked the idea of carpe diem (seize the day) which was made famous in the movie Good Will Hunting. The idea of living life to the fullest is a grandiose thought, however, I’ve always wondered how well it applies to the everyday minutia of life. Am I really “seizing the day” when I’m getting gas, making dinner, paying bills, attending some repetitive work function, herding the family towards the door, or driving the kids to their 50 billion activities (just slightly exaggerated 😊(laughs).
I’m guessing in most situations everyday life ends up getting in the way of your ideal version of carpe diem.
Sure, it would feel like I’m truly living life to the fullest if I were to discover some pristine beautiful place undiscovered until my eyes laid eyes on it. However, most people would likely settle (on a daily basis) for a well-manicured lawn and house that isn’t falling apart.
Would I feel the ultimate sense of accomplishment if my life’s work resulted in a life-changing invention, discovering a cure for “insert debilitating disease here”, saving an endangered species, providing peace on earth, and generally saving humanity from the effects of overpopulation… well, of course. However, most people would likely settle (on a daily basis) for having an amazing widget that would take care of getting gas, making dinner, paying bills, attending some repetitive work function, herding the family towards the door, and driving the kids to their 45 billion activities (slightly reduced exaggeration😊(laughs).
The problem with wanting the ultimate sense of accomplishment is that the vast majority of people will never get that feeling.
So I leave you with this quote from Helen Keller; “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
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