Posts tagged ‘sleep’

July 1, 2013

Ditch the electronics….

Tired? No focus? Did you know that your technology has a large part to do with it? You could be “sleeping” enough hours, but still seem restless, and it has to do a lot with how plugged in you are throughout the day. Technology puts your body into flight or fight stress mode which imposes great stress! The more revved up you are during the day, the harder it is for you to not only wind down at night, but get into a deep state of REM. Electronics also emit a EMR (electromagnetic radiation) which again does not allow you to sleep as effectively as you might like. 

How can you change this?

1. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before sleep. Give your brain some time to come “down”

2. Move your cell phone out of the bedroom or away from your bed

3. Try to limit how much technology you use throughout the day. 

I know its hard to fathom limiting our technology when we live in such a high powered and fast moving world, but if you are having trouble feeling rested, this could be a good place to start! Image

June 17, 2013

The Simple Life

fab

Hi, Friends! Do you ever have those moments where everything is working really well in your life? When events are spinning themselves out so smoothly that you swear (sassily and a bit smugly) that you really can do it all? I feel this way one day maybe every other week, if I’m lucky! Mostly I feel like the pieces of my world are like errant socks on laundry day—I reach down to grab a pile of dirty clothes to take to the washer, trying to gather all the whites, say, at one time. It’s a weird, OCD-ish game I play with myself, but if I manage to grab all the clothes at once without dropping any bits on the journey across the house, I win! Usually I end up dropping a sock or two, so then I lean down to grab the escaping footwear and more socks (unmatched, of course) jump out, along with a few panties. Aaaaack!

normal washing

We live in a busy, fast-moving world, and we are juggling a ton of things. Our days are filled to bursting, and sometimes just glancing at my calendar the night before makes me so anxious and panicked that I just wait until I’m back at the starting block the next morning, when I’m more mentally stable and armed with caffeine. Then the day starts, and GO, GO, GO! Things are moving along nicely, and then you remember you were supposed to call so-and-so. Then you make the call, and forget to allow for construction on your way to work. You miss your turn, and now you’re about to be late for a meeting. Lunch comes along and you haven’t packed a good lunch because you meant to go to the grocery store last night after leaving the gym and you just forgot. And so it goes. Before long, your equilibrium is off kilter and things snowball from there. If I find myself in a cluster like this late at night or for several days in a row, I quickly reach the end of my rope—tearful and exhausted, unable to cope with the smallest setbacks.

busy mind

In trying to help myself find my way back to sanity during these times, I’ve come up with a little TLC checklist—I call it my Love List. I use it to quickly check to see if I’ve taken care of myself well enough and to figure out where I’ve veered off course.

Love List

1. Nutrition: Have I eaten well enough today? Have I had healthy meals at the appropriate times? Did I get my snacks in? How do I feel right now? Have I eaten enough healthy food to get me through all my activities?

2. Exercise: Have I moved enough today? Have I enjoyed living in my body today? How does it feel? Have I challenged it enough? Does it need rest and care instead of unrelenting activity? Do I feel strong?

3. Sleep: Did I get enough sleep last night? How did I feel this morning? Did I feel rested or was I dragging? Am I feeling good now, or am I in a fog?

4. Water: How much water have I had so far? What’s my goal? How do I feel? Would having more water help me feel better right now?

5. Care of the Soul: Have I prayed today? Have I had enough uninterrupted time to think or dream? Have I done at least one thing that has nurtured my soul? What do I long to do? What would make me happy?

ok

The answers to these questions provide clues to what’s out of whack in my life. They also give me a structure to do one thing at a time to heal my crazy ways. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t go step by step, I soon get lost in the rat’s nest of mental and psychological chatter in my mind. By reviewing my Love List, I can breathe easier and get my grip back. Maybe this list (or your own special creation) will come in handy when you find yourself adrift.

Have a wonderful and simple week,

Brooke

April 1, 2013

My Fast Food

tulips

Morning, everyone! This is Brooke, and yes, I’m struggling today. It really feels like a Monday today, which works out well, since it IS Monday. But surely I’m not alone here. Here in North Texas (Dallas to be exact), spring has sprung forth joyfully—the tulips are gorgeous, the redbuds are crowned with purple-pink blossoms, and yellow-green pollen is beginning to coat everything. And while the weather may feel like California for the next few glorious weeks, allergy sufferers (like me) are likely sucking it up, mainlining eye drops and Kleenex for the foreseeable future. But at least it’s spring!

I know we’d all like to have everything under control, but I’m just going to be honest—I’m kinda sleep-deprived most of the time, including today. So when I have these draggy kind of days, I think what would help me feel more nourished and less depleted? Good food and fresh juice, of course! Thankfully, I have the perfect place for fresh, fast food strategically placed between work and home—Whole Foods! I swear I hear heavenly melodies every time I turn into the parking lot.

car pic w juice_cropped

My first stop is the juice counter to order the Sweet Tooth—a scrumptious mixture of apple, pear, beet, carrot, and ginger. A little of that ginger will clear your sinuses right out. Wow! Then onto the rainbow spread of the salad bar and prepared food—not only are the choices abundant, but they are (for the most part) healthy and conscientiously made. It makes my heart happy to partake of these delicious dishes, and the very best part is that I didn’t have to think about them or cook them. They are special for me—fast food that’s a little bit fancy. I load up on some starchy carbs as well as veggie carbs and tasty protein. Here’s a fun tip: If you need a nice, crunchy little salad and you’re in a hurry, pick up a Salad Shooter. It’s a small container with 5-6 layers of crunchy, tasty salad fixings, and when you add the little container of dressing, you put the lid back on, shake the whole thing up, and magic! Instant salad perfectly dressed.

whole foods_cropped

You can still make healthy choices for your fast food, even if you don’t have a Whole Foods or Central Market nearby. Find a lean protein, some slow-digesting healthy carbs (whole grains, sweet potato, quinoa, etc.), as much salad and green veggies as you like, and of course lots of water.

feeling great

Have a super week and happy eating—you deserve to feel great!

~Brooke

January 21, 2013

Chasing Those Winter Blues Away, Part II

Love this kitty!

Love this kitty!

Hi! It’s Brooke again, with some tips to help you enjoy the winter months, even if you don’t love being wrapped in 3 layers before venturing outside. In my last blog, I mentioned seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and some of its possible causes. However, you don’t have to be officially diagnosed with SAD to get down in the dumps and bored during this time of year. Our days are shorter, nights are longer and colder, and activities are driven indoors and away from the happy, if watery, shine of the winter sun. I noticed this recently when my husband and I went to the mall to see a movie—apparently all of the DFW Metroplex decided to join us at the theater. Talk about cramping our style!

So, what can you do to bring a little more pep to your step? Here are just a few ideas:

sunshine over water

1. Get your walk on: Walking outside, especially in the morning, not only gets your blood pumping and muscles moving, increasing your serotonin levels, but also reunites you with that precious sunlight that will not only cheer you up but help your body produce vitamin D, usually in short supply this time of year. If the weather’s too cold even for walking, hitting a treadmill or walking the mall works in a pinch.

2. Boost your “feel-good” hormones: During the wintertime, serotonin is absorbed more quickly by the body, which causes dips in this mood-boosting hormone. Serotonin levels can be improved in several ways, but two of the easiest are ensuring that your exercise and your diet are on track.

woman with DB sexy

Add this pic to my vision board–done!

  • According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, for important health benefits, adults should perform at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week OR at least 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Remember, aerobic activity can still be beneficial to you when it’s broken down into 10- or 15-minute increments, done several times a day. Also, the guidelines recommend that adults participate in strength training, concentrating on working the large muscle groups at least 2 times each week. For more information, check out the guidelines (http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/default.aspx). They make a great resource for getting your family involved in healthy living!
  • When you exercise and really break a sweat or push yourself, your body releases a flood of hormones, including serotonin (the “happy” hormone) and endorphins (hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and make you feel giddy or euphoric). Sign me up!
  • In The Serotonin Secret, author Dr. Caroline Longmore suggests adding serotonin-rich foods to each of your meals. Her ideal sources of this hormone include bean sprouts, spinach, asparagus, turkey, pineapple, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, tofu, and bananas. And look! These foods are also wholesome and clean.

3. Catch plenty of ZZZZs: We’ve heard this 100 times, but getting plenty of sleep is important for so many reasons. During the darker winter months, our biological clock is affected by the lack of bright light, shorter days, and longer periods of “nighttime” in which we must still function. If you haven’t already guessed, the biological clock is closely tied to proper functioning of a healthy body. So, when our clock is messed up, namely during the time changes each year, we are really thrown for a loop until our system becomes accustomed to the new routine. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns and moods, and when we have poor-quality sleep or just don’t get enough shut-eye, we cannot function at our best and are more likely to feel down and mopey. Getting at least 7-8 hours of good, deep sleep will do you a world of good (I’m still waiting to experience this—I’ll let you know what it feels like!).

4. Add some magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps in muscle contraction/relaxation, energy production and transport, protein synthesis, and enzyme production. It even helps us sleep more deeply, which is great news. You can supplement your diet with magnesium found in vitamins, but whole foods are even better. Sources of magnesium include black beans, raw broccoli, spinach, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and some fish.

food-sources-of-magnesium

5. Lighten up: In addition to getting outside for at least 15 minutes, if possible, you can improve your mood by gathering closer to windows and skylights during the day or using “daylight” bulbs (more blue than yellow light) or fluorescent lighting.

  • Some businesses even use special “skyboxes,” or light boxes installed on the ceiling in lieu of skylights. These installations brighten up office spaces with little or no natural light, and they can even be designed to simulate various weather and sky conditions across the office ceiling.
  • There are also personal light boxes, which are prescribed by physicians and used therapeutically to reduce symptoms of SAD. These boxes of powerful light bulbs come in various strengths and are used only in timed doses (anywhere from 5-30 minutes at a time). As you can imagine, this therapy can be easily abused, but you can gain similar benefit from using brighter, blue-tinged lights in your home or office.
  • Dawn simulators are helpful if your biological clock has been monkeyed around with by the changing seasons. These simulators are used as alarm clocks, with or without alarm sounds. The light, situated on your nightstand, begins to glow very dimly, gradually growing brighter over 30-45 minutes, until the light is brightest at your programmed “wake” time. This cool machine is designed to simulate the longer amount of morning sun that we enjoy in the spring and summer. Success with the simulator takes some trial and error, until you find your appropriate range of “sunrise,” but it has been proven to help those who struggle with seasonal blues as well as SAD.
Doesn't she look happy and well-rested?

Doesn’t she look happy and well-rested?

A quick Google search will yield countless tips and tricks for dealing with the winter blues. All you need is a few good ideas that work for you. I hope you enjoy each day, whether chilly and cloudy or bright and sunny. Have a lovely one!

~Brooke