Fall Asleep For Life

8 Best Tricks For Getting Good Sleep

By Andrea Watson | September 23, 2020
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So, we all know from yesterday that good sleep leads to better brain function and elevated mood as well as a feeling of rejuvenation. So what keeps you tossing and turning at night? Is it racing thoughts, worry, or just that you’re not tired? Maybe your circadian rhythm is off, or you took a long nap today. Maybe you’re just too stressed in general. We are all up to speed on why sleep is important, now we just need to have the how. Well, today you can read about the best ways to get quality sleep right here. So let’s go!

Cut down on sleep

What??? Are you serious??? Yes! Cutting your number of sleep hours can actually be beneficial. It can make it so that when you are ready to sleep, you fall asleep faster and stay asleep better than if you try to go to bed early. Now, don’t overdo this. Too little sleep leads to weakened immunity, higher blood pressure, psychosis, and more. Plus, too much sleep ages you faster mentally. Cutting your sleep to about six hours is totally doable, though. And worth it for better quality sleep.

Routine

Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every night and day. Even on weekends. Make sure to incorporate a relaxing bedtime ritual such as taking a warm bath or reading a good book for half an hour or so. Just make it consistent across all bedtimes. When your sleep patterns are irregular, it increases the risk of obesity and high blood sugar, and more.

Get up and walk away

If you don’t fall asleep in 15-20 minutes after going to bed, get up and walk away. Staying in bed will only prolong your frustration and misery anyway. Go do something quiet and relaxing in another part of the house. But don’t play on your phone or use your computer! These are bad for sleep. You could keep reading that book for a while more, or do a crossword puzzle. Pick something you can do in dim light that won’t keep you up any longer. And remember, you still have to wake up at the same time tomorrow, so be sure to choose something that really relaxes you.

Make your sleep space extra comfy

Comfort is key here. If you need pitch blackness, hang up blackout curtains or try a face mask. If you need total quiet, get some ear plugs. If it is the opposite for you, try ambient music (there’s a LOT on YouTube) or a sensory lamp or projector. Make sure you have the right pillow and blanket or comforter. Be sure to check the temperature in your room and adjust your heating/cooling system accordingly. It should not be too hot or too cold. These are all easy and fairly inexpensive ways to get what you need-good investments for great sleep.

Schedule matters

You should save certain tasks and activities for certain times of the day. This list includes:

  1. Schedule stressful tasks for the morning time
  2. Limit caffeine and don’t have any after 2 p.m.
  3. Exercise in the a.m. hours
  4. Limit fluid intake after dinner-including alcohol
  5. Don’t eat a big meal right before bedtime, keep snacks light and bland
  6. Do some easy stretching or yoga exercises before bed
  7. Restrict naps to early afternoon and keep them about 20-30 minutes long
Breathe for relaxation

The way we breathe is important for sleep time. When we sleep or when we relax, we naturally breathe into our stomachs, like inflating a balloon in our belly. This not true for when we are awake. We need to be relaxed to get good sleep. Try this 4-7-8 breathing technique to help you relax and fall asleep. There are several other techniques to choose from as well. My favorite is the Bhramari pranayama.

Avoid nicotine

Smoking is SO bad for you. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and it ages you faster, to name a few negatives. But it also affects your sleep. Nicotine disrupts sleep and leads to the development of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Nicotine is a stimulant-a substance that keeps you up. The opposite of what you need for quality sleep.

Don’t overuse your bed

Reserve your bed for lovemaking and sleeping only. Don’t read, watch t.v., eat or do anything else in bed that don’t fit the two prior mentioned categories. Doing so can teach your brain that bed is a place for every day activities, not just sleep. When your brain and body know that your bed is a place specifically meant for sleep, then it is easier to fall asleep when you lie down at night.

So what have we learned here? First, quality sleep is important for your brain, your health, and well-being. Second, there are lots of ways we can get better quality sleep, including watching our schedule, avoiding nicotine, and creating a fixed routine. Third, there are some nasty drawbacks to not getting the kind of sleep we need. If you have to shop for something extra, limit liquids after dinner, or practice breathing exercises for relaxation, it will be well worth the investment of time or money. Sleep is awesome. We all know it. So let’s all go for it and start rocking our sleep.

Fall asleep for life

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Breaking It Up

Top 7 Ways To Chill for Cheap

By Andrea Watson
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You work hard. At home, at work, even during rec time, you’re constantly hitting it, right? Yeah. It can be exhausting, I know-especially if you have kids. Moms just never get a break. But that’s not really a healthy way to live, is it? Without any “me” time, self care goes out the window and then what have you got left? A charred stump of human who is so burned out she can hardly get anything done any more. Well, let’s end all that right here, right now. You can take breaks. You should take breaks, and most importantly, you are allowed to take breaks. Today we are going to discuss some of my favorite ways to chill for cheap. So let’s go!

Take a Nap

That’s right, you heard me. Go ahead and pass out for around 30-90 minutes per day. Doing this has been shown to benefit your brain, specifically your cognitive functioning. Hitting the hay for any amount of time is kind of like hitting the restart button on your phone. You may fall asleep anxious (not recommended) or in a super-busy daze, but after you catch those zzzzs you wake up feeling like you’ve caught your second wind. You work better, play better, and solve problems better after a reset. Be careful not to nap for too long, otherwise you lose all of these great benefits. Naps that last for too long have no proven positive side effects and can really leave you feeling sleepy and unmotivated. Are the kids too loud? Too needy? Set up a “Quiet Time” for everyone in the house. Establish the nap time rules. Try ear plugs, or some soothing white noise sounds. You can find these on YouTube if you don’t feel like paying for noise.

Hit the Gym

Okay, so you don’t actually have to go to a gym to do this, but more power to you! You can do this one just about anywhere. Go for a walk, jog, or run. Get in a quick ab workout. DO some yoga. YouTube is a great resource for finding instructional workout videos and if you don’t know where try typing in “quick and easy workouts”. You only need about 30 minutes per day to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s also great for your health, and that’s just an added benefit! Your doctor will be impressed, your heart and lungs will thank you, and your waistline may even shrink a bit all while you are taking this one step to giving yourself a break.

Trade Massages

Massage is a great way to relieve tension and relax. The perfect break. Massage lowers cortisol levels (that’s a stress hormone). It also lowers the amount of cytokines (molecules that increase inflammation) you have running around and boosts your immune system. These are all scientifically proven reasons to get a massage and if you want to take the time out to read all about it you can do that here. If you don’t have the money to go to a massage therapist, you could always use a friend or significant other to help you out. Maybe even one of your kids could do it. This is why I say trade massages. Just the other night by best friend and I traded scalp massages and it was amazing! Whether it’s your scalp, shoulders, face, hands, or any other part of you, massage usually feels great and benefits your health as well as mental health.

Have a Snack

Let’s face it: a lot of us simply forget to eat throughout the day. It’s an un-habit that’s hard to break. So when I say have a snack, I mean something filled with protein. Protein is good for you. Not only does it keep you away from sugary carb-filled munching, but it also contains amino acids (those neurotransmitter producers) that help in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Whether it’s trail mix or Greek yogurt, there are lots of fast and easy (as well as portable) snack ideas to choose from.

Listen to music-Loudly

Who ever said, “If it’s too loud you’re too old”? Well, a lot of people I guess. It doesn’t really have to be loud it just has to be something you enjoy (no “Wheels on the bus”). People have been taking breaks with music ever since our ancestors were beating on home-made drums with animal bones and sticks. Music improves our mood, and it also allows us to do a variety of things. We each have different music for working out vs relaxing. Depending on what you want to do, the type of music you choose can help you get there. It could be Gaga. It could be Ariana Grande. Hell, it could even be Slayer. Even if you want something generic like Japanese drum sounds, whatever you pick, make sure it’s for you and make sure it fits your break time goal. And if you have head phones, it can be as loud as you want!

Play

Yes, like a kid. No, Not on your phone or other device. I mean really actually play. This costs nothing and pure fun is rare. Make sure to take at least half an hour to do this.There are board games, puzzles, coloring, and so many other types of adult play time to choose from. Play is excellent for kid brains and adult brains alike. It promotes problem solving abilities, imagination, creativity, and emotional well-being. But wait- There’s More! Playing with another person is even better. It strengthens our relationships, sharpens interpersonal skills, and promotes laughter, which is the best medicine after all. Not to mention that it also keeps you feeling energetic and young, and who doesn’t want that? You may have to get set up the right way before you can implement and really enjoy play time for yourself. Check out this awesome Pinterest board for inspiration, or simply walk to the neighborhood park.

Go Outside

In the rain. In the shine. In the snow. It doesn’t matter. Being outside helps us to get connected with nature. This is important if we want to reduce stress, anger, and fear. It also allows us the time to ponder our own existential crises and really get down to who and what we are. We get to know ourselves better during a nice reflection period in nature. It helps you to relax naturally and energize your body and spirit. Plus, it gives you something new to look at and focus on. A change of scenery is always good for a break. A half hour in nature really does your whole selves good and makes for a happier you.

So we have had our break (using one of these 7 awesome ideas) and now it’s time to get back to it. You should be feeling relaxed, focused, and rejuvenated. Perhaps you are in a silly mood after all that play, or ready to take on that big looming project after listening to your favorite focus music. Maybe your brain is working better since you ate that power-packed protein snack. Whatever you do for your break is up to you. Make it a priority. Put yourself first right now, because this is an important part of self-care, which is essential for effective adulting. Be proud of yourself for allowing a break time in as part of your regular routine. And keep going. Every day. For your mind, health, and well-being as well as for those loved ones around you.

breaking it up

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Self Care For 2020 (Guest Post)

5 Easy Steps to a Happier You

By Valerie Rice and Andrea Watson | September 21, 2020

Self Care is about as important as it can get. Why? Because you are the center of your universe. Yes, it’s true.  Your family and your job are priorities, of course; but don’t sacrifice the well- oiled machine that makes them go! How does self care work? How can a busy person with family, work, a spouse, or any other number of responsibilities take a minute to care for themselves? I will tell you the secret. You MAKE the time. And it isn’t even that hard. Trust me. We can start in just 5 easy steps. 

 Step 1: Get to know you. 

This sounds silly, but most of us define ourselves by our titles. Try it. I am a mother, a writer, a psych nerd, and so on. For this step I want you to get a pen and paper and write three things about yourself that don’t relate to a social title. For example: I am an individual who loves to bake from scratch, an avid reader, and a secret metal head. You can add more, let’s see how you do. 

Step 2: Take your list and turn it into activities. 

For my list, I would add listening to my favorite band as a self care activity. I can turn it on during a shower, at work, or while cooking or cleaning. I can also add baking on the weekends instead of throwing store bought food at my family. One of these activities takes no extra time and the other takes a minute. Seems easy, right? Whatever you do, make sure it fits YOUR life, because YOU are the center of your universe. For easy, scientifically proven stress relief tips, check out Life All Day.

Step 3: Start small. 

Science tells us that small steps add up to lasting change. Biting off more than we can chew leads to an epic crash and burn. We want to avoid that. So pick an activity you think you can manage, squeeze it in tomorrow, and give it a shot. If it works for you, congratulations! You just successfully completed a self care activity. Now you should build on it. Maybe do one thing you love tomorrow. It can even be the same thing. If that seems daunting, maybe try for next week. Whatever you see is manageable. 

Step 4: BREATHE 

This one everyone can do. Before you go to bed I want you to try something. It’s called box breathing and it’s the number one technique used by therapists everywhere.  It’s done in 4 easy steps:

  • Breathe in for the count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 4 
  • Exhale for a count of 4 
  • Hold for the count of 4

Why? Because this exercise is shown to help us breathing humans to relax and center. We can calm ourselves, focus on where we are, and feel better. This helps us with mindfulness. To learn all about mindfulness, click  here.  Who doesn’t want to feel better? If you like breathing and want more exercises, you can click here. 

Step 5: Don’t beat yourself up. 

I know I mentioned social labels, right? Yes. A social label is something everyone sees you as. A wife, husband, cashier, parent, teacher, etc. It is hard to throw off the labels society gave us and see the person underneath. So if you have to try more than once to find the you underneath your label, you are not alone There is no one true activity for everybody because each person is different. Think about it. I can’t go bowling because, not only do I hate the smell of bowling shoes, but I am not coordinated enough. So this would be a miserable activity for me to use. My son can’t meditate because he has ADHD and is constantly bouncing off the walls. Sometimes literally. My poor walls! But we can both find activities that give us the self care we need. Yes, I made him do this activity because I’m THAT mom. 

My son takes baths and I read books. My oldest daughter listens to music. The whole point of a self care activity is to refuel the person underneath all the responsibility. Now go back to step one. Take your pen and paper and write down which of the things on your list you think you can do. This is your road map to taking care of yourself successfully. Put it somewhere you can see it.  Memorize it and eat it (wait! Don’t eat it, I was kidding!) and if it doesn’t work you can try again. If it makes you feel whole, and it doesn’t drain your battery, then you’re doing it right. Well done you!

Top 5 Ways To Relax Naturally

By Andrea Watson
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you are like most people, you are no stranger to stress. Your job, family, goals, and bills can all add stressors into your day-to-day life. Some stress is good for us. It reminds us of our needs and prompts us to take action. However, if stress levels get too high, it can start to affect your health and your sanity. Sleep, work performance, relationships, immune system, and physical appearance can all suffer when stress levels are too high. Here we will go over strategies to reduce stress and win back our health and vitality. 

Sing!

Surprised? It’s true! Singing and humming reduce stress and anxiety in a scientific way. Singing stimulates your vagus nerve. We’ll start at the beginning here. Your vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body, connecting to your brain and a bunch of important organs. It influences breathing, heart rate, and digestive function. The tone of the vagus nerve is a biological process that represents the activity of the nerve itself. When you increase the vagal tone by singing, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, making it easier for your body to relax after stress (Jordan Fallas). You don’t have to be a good singer for this to work; everybody can do it. So when you are riding that adrenaline wave that comes after a stressful situation, remember to open up and belt out the first song that comes to mind. You will calm down faster and get back to normal in an all-natural way. 

Meditate

Here we have another scientifically proven and totally awesome way to de-stress. Meditation is an ancient practice that is believed to have started in India, although now it is practiced all over the world.  There are different types of meditation that help us to increase mindfulness and relax. Relaxation meditation involves focusing on an object, mantra, or your own breath or visualization to bring you to a calm state of being. Sometimes it helps to chant or use a singing bowl. The best solution may be to find some calming music or a Tibetan healing soundtrack to play softly in the background. You may want to shop around for your meditation sounds. Sometimes a track with a continuous “om” chant can be very peaceful too. It can take some time to develop our meditation skills (yes, it is a skill) because it can be difficult to clear our minds, visualize one thing, or focus on a single object or mantra. The practice is worth the benefit, though, so don’t give up if you don’t get it right away. Daily meditation can help improve our overall mood, help us get better sleep, increase our focus and productivity, and train our minds and bodies how to relax on cue. 

Take A Bath

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised to know that science has something to teach us here. Taking a bath can calm the nervous system, reducing levels of stress and anxiety and can improve our mood. Better than that, bathing helps our heart health, it helps us breathe easier,  balances hormones, and kills bacteria to improve our immunity. It gets even better. While you take a bath you can add other relaxation techniques for super stress reduction, You can meditate in the bath, or even sing, combining methods for maximum results. Plus, there are so many ways to spruce up bath time! Candles, lavender, herbs, citrus, not to mention the huge variety of bath products you can add to your water. You can check out some of the best products here.

Try Yoga

Yoga is another practice developed in India. It was first mentioned in the sacred texts of the Rig Veda over 5,000 years ago. In the beginning, yoga was primarily just for mystic seers and priests, teaching sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action, and wisdom. Today yoga is used as exercise and as a way to reduce blood pressure and heart rate and to relax.  Don’t be fooled by it’s tranquil look and nature. Yoga is a physically demanding practice; however, unlike other strenuous exercises, yoga relies on the mind-body connection and utilizes meditation, controlled breathing, and relaxation techniques.  

Walk it Off

Walking has great benefits. It improves our heart health, helps us to lose weight, gets us from point A to point B. Walking also can help our minds to let go of persistent or bothersome thoughts, especially if we have a nice route to take. You may need to drive for a while to find a nice walking spot if you live in an urban area. Consider researching places to walk or hike around where you live. You can also use a combination meditation/walking technique to help you relax as you walk. Just make sure that you don’t walk so far you are too tired to walk back, and remember to walk safely!

So there you have it-the top 5 ways to reduce stress naturally. One of the best things about these top five is that they can be used in different combinations to make your relaxation time extra effective. Even if you only choose one or two to try, you will still benefit. Self-care is important, and finding ways to reduce stress without using anything external can be difficult. Give some of these techniques a try, and see which ones suit you best. You will be less stressed, have more vitality, and enjoy life more when you are relaxed. 

Top 5 Ways To Relax Naturally

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Building Credit For Beginners

Introduction To Credit

By Andrea Watson
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What They Never Taught You In School

Many of us managed to get through high school and into adulthood without knowing much or anything about credit at all. I had a conversation the other day about building credit from the ground up and how those fresh new adults really don’t know what they’re doing. Have no fear. There are ways to get out of the catch-22 of no card, no credit, no card. In this article we will cover what credit is and how it is calculated and how to build credit from the ground up.

How it Works

Your credit is a three digit number made up of five key factors. These factors determine what the number is and what you can do with your credit. These factors are:

  • Payment history
  • Your amount of debt, aka your credit utilization ratio
  • The age of the credit accounts, or credit history
  • The mix of your credit accounts
  • New credit inquiries

Payment history affects your credit score the most, accounting for 35%. Eesh! Creditors report your payment history to the three bureaus about every 30 days. This is why it is so important to pay your bills on time!

The amount of debt you have makes up 30% of your score. The credit utilization ratio is found by how much credit a creditor gives you vs. how much of that you use. It’s beat to keep your ratio under 10%.

The age of your accounts makes up 15% of your score. The age of your oldest account and the average age of your combined accounts are what they look for. Older accounts can lift your score so it’s best not to close those old accounts.

The mix of revolving debt and installment debt make up 10% of your score. Revolving debt would be the things like credit cards and the installment debt is things like car loans.

Credit inquiries are either soft or hard. Soft ones don’t go on your report, but hard ones do. Hard inquiries can lower your overall credit score. There are sixteen more things that can affect your credit score. I recommend checking out credit.com here for more detailed information.

How to Build a Credit Score

There are several things a person can do to build up credit. Establish a mix of revolving credit and loans. You can do this by

  • Becoming an authorized user on a parent’s credit card
  • Take out a federal student loan
  • Take out a loan with a cosigner
  • Get a secured credit card
  • Get a credit builder loan
  • Use a free service like Experian Boost or Credit Karma for tips, suggestions, and general help in raising your score.

One type of revolving credit you can try is store credit cards. These do not come with annual fees, and they still report to bureaus like other cards do. As long as you make your payments on time your credit will creep up. For more information on using store credit cards, visit Self.inc.

Taking Out Loans

There are a few different loan options you can take when trying to build credit. Student loans are easy to get if you are going to college. Plus, you don’t have to pay them back until after you graduate! Credit builder loans are usually given out by credit unions or banks for the express purpose of building credit. Taking out a loan with a cosigner requires someone who trusts you to make your payments. If you fail to pay, the cosigner is legally responsible for the debt. Visit Money Under 30 for more information on these different types of loans. No matter which one you choose, remember to always make your payments on time!

Time is of the Essence

One more thing to remember about building credit is you need patience. It takes about three years to go from zero to decent. It takes about seven years to rebuild bad credit. This is why it is important when you are starting out to look at your options. Loans, revolving and installment credit, using cosigners and paying bills on time are all things that will help you on your way. One more thing- keep an eye on your credit. You can get one free credit report every year by going to annualcreditreport.com. Make sure to dispute any errors right away. It is much easier to build up than to repair. Be smart about your credit and life will be much smoother for you!

Credit for beginners

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Confidence for Lifestyle Enhancement

By Andrea Watson | September 4, 2020
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Photo by Emmy E on Pexels.com

You’re pretty confident, right? Do you have confidence that you can do your job, take care of your children or partner, cook a meal, drive a car? Great! Then you are already familiar with the concept- not to be confused with self-esteem. I am confident that leveraging what you already have can enhance and enrich our lives. How? It can help us move up in our careers, expand our knowledge and skills set, nurture our relationships, and open us up to trying new things!

Evolution

So how do we use the confidence that we already have? It has gotten us this far, hasn’t it? Well, let’s go further. First we must realize that confidence is an evolutionary thing. It evolved to give us an edge in survival. It also drives our actions. It is up to us- not anybody else to believe that we can do something. Accurate self-assessment is a must. Otherwise, our perception of ourselves and ergo our confidence level is skewed.

Achievement

Confidence is built on achievement, not hollow praise.Those little things we have done right or excelled at built us up to try bigger things. Bigger achievements lead to more confidence and new action to try bigger things and the cycle continues. Performing a realistic appraisal of our abilities allows us to strategize for the future. We can plan to strengthen ourselves and use the improvements to create a positive feedback loop. This will strengthen our perception that we can influence outcome.

Visuals

We can also imagine ourselves being successful. Engaging in positive visuals allows us to feel confident for those moments. Taking criticism productively instead of as a put- down or threat is also great for confidence. If we see criticism as information that can help us be and do better it will enhance our task performance next time.

Celebrating

Noticing and celebrating our tiny successes can help us subconsciously build up positive expectations for upcoming events and tasks. We have to notice our success in order to utilize it. These are all practical steps we can take in our lives to build more confidence in ourselves and broaden our horizons. Now all we have to do is apply it in the areas of life we wish to enhance. This should come naturally and can benefit us in countless ways. So get out there and go for what you want! I’m confident you can.

Confidence

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