Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Randomly Reach Out to Friends

Everyone needs friendship and affection. Calling a friend can be exactly what you need to deal with stressful situations. But, if randomly reaching out makes you nervous, you may be surprised to learn that many friendship worries are just myths.

Myth #1: Your Friends Are Upset With You

Stress does weird things to the brain. It can make you invent imaginary scenarios and replay negative feelings constantly. Worries about friendship are one of the most common fears.

Cut through dark clouds by taking action. Remember that these worries are just a side effect of anxiety. They're not real.

Pick up the phone. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how excited the person is to hear from you.

Myth #2: You Messed Up Texting

You know the drill: You were texting with a friend when your boss called, and you had to rush to the office. Or you wrote a message that sounded great in your head but came out all wrong.

This situation has happened to most people at some point. Your friends have probably done the same thing countless times!

You can still have a great conversation. You just need to break the ice again. Send a humorous or encouraging text message that reminds the person how much you appreciate them.

Myth #3: Friends Shouldn’t Argue Ever

Avoiding arguments with friends is a good goal, but the reality is that it will probably happen at some point. That doesn’t mean the friendship is over.

Real friends are like family members. Being perfect isn’t a realistic requirement.

When you haven’t slept in a week because your kids are sick, it’s understandable to be irritable. That being said, knowing how to apologize and forgive is crucial. Saying “I’m sorry” and sending a cute cat meme is often all that’s needed.

Myth #4: Your Friend Is Avoiding You

There could be a thousand reasons why your friend hasn’t responded, but many people immediately blame themselves. It’s more likely that the person has simply been busier, more distracted or more stressed than usual.

A friendly voice may be precisely what both of you need! Offer to buy a cup of coffee and talk at the park. That way neither has to worry about cleaning the house or getting dressed up for a restaurant.

Myth #5: Your Friend Was Rude to You

Be very careful how seriously you take text messages. Misunderstandings are extremely common.

Text messages are really bad at communicating emotions. Forgetting to include an emoji can make something funny sound sarcastic. Without hearing the other person’s voice, it’s easy to take words incorrectly.

When in doubt, opt for a quick phone call. Asking “How are you today?” can often clear up misunderstandings in seconds.

Myth #6: Too Much Time Has Passed

Time isn't the friendship killer you think it is. Happy memories don't just disappear. You can build on them with new moments.

Don't focus on the time that has passed. Focus on reconnecting.

Real people mature and change, but it only makes them more interesting. The core things that attracted you in the past are still there: good qualities.

The Benefits of Reaching Out

Spending time with friends has many physical and emotional benefits. It can alleviate stress, improve your self-esteem and encourage you to stay fit. Like anything of value, friends take time and effort, but they’re worth it.

Should You Chew Caffeinated Gum? Pros, Cons and Weird Effects

A cup of coffee (or three) in the morning is more than a pleasant ritual: It’s an important way to wake up, get the blood flowing and stay focused at work. Of course, coffee isn’t everyone’s — pardon the pun — cup of tea. Now, some people are switching to trendy caffeinated gum for their morning jolt of energy. What is this new pick-me-up, and how safe is it?

Caffeinated Gum Bootcamp

Caffeine gum looks and tastes like other gum, but it has a serious amount of caffeine as the star ingredient. Caffeine content varies by brand, ranging from 10 mg to 100 mg per piece. In comparison, a small cup of brewed coffee has 100 mg on average.

Athletes, Fighters and … Working Moms?

The U.S. military has used caffeine gum during special forces operations for a long time. When soldiers need a performance boost or have to stay alert for long periods, they pop a piece of the supercharged gum.

Now,  everyday people are getting in on the action. When working parents have to leave early for work, instead of a drive-thru, a piece of caffeinated gum provides the shot of adrenaline they need. When they hit an afternoon energy slump, it’s time for — you guessed it — more gum.

A Bite-Sized Energy Boost

How effective is caffeine gum? That depends on the amount of caffeine in each brand. A shot of 100 mg of caffeine can undoubtedly make a difference:

  • Alertness: The caffeine rush wakes you up big time, getting rid of grogginess and brain fog, and kicking your brain into high gear.
  • Mental performance: Caffeine can improve mental focus, learning, memory and reaction times.
  • Energy levels and mood: Caffeinated gum can energize your muscles and mind, chasing away tiredness and holding back fatigue. Caffeine also stimulates feelings of wellness and encourages a positive mood.
  • Muscle performance: Caffeinated gum offers significant improvements in muscle performance and endurance (about 5%). In other words, it really can help athletes run faster, swim further and play harder.
  • Fast caffeine absorption: A big advantage of caffeine gum versus coffee is that chewing gets the caffeine into your bloodstream more quickly. You get an energy boost right away. Plus, a small pack of gum is pretty convenient on the go.

The Darker Side of Caffeinated Gum

Coffee, energy drinks and other caffeine sources always have a few risks to keep in mind. You mainly need to limit your total caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can trigger negative effects:

  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

Swapping coffee for gum also means you’re getting less water. To stay hydrated, you would need to increase your liquid intake.

How Much Caffeine?

Doctors generally say that 400 mg of caffeine a day is safe. Caffeinated gum can make things tricky because it’s so easy to pop too many pieces. Even the Department of Defense tells soldiers to use caution with the stuff:

  • Chew only one piece of gum at a time
  • Wait 15 minutes before chewing another
  • Don’t have more than two pieces in three hours
  • Don’t go beyond four to eight pieces a day

Another option is to choose great energy-boosting alternatives such as green tea or matcha powder juices and smoothies. They provide the benefits of caffeine but also deliver filling protein and fiber, protect your cells with antioxidants, and keep you hydrated.

Why ‘Brutal Honesty’ Is a Relationship Red Flag

You've probably heard it before; a friend or family member says something insulting to you, then claims they were only being 'brutally honest.' This statement can leave you wondering whether you were right to be offended and whether your loved one has your best interests in mind.

Many people wear this questionable character trait as a badge of honor. And as you might already know, brutally honest people typically don't have your best interests in mind when speaking their truth.

How to Distinguish Between Honesty and Brutality

Honesty is a crucial aspect of all healthy relationships. The key is to be honest without judging the other person. If your partner is unhappy with your contributions around the house, they should broach the issue directly but in a constructive way. This entails offering solutions and providing support to get everyone on the same page.

Conversely, brutal honesty is concerned with tearing the other party down. Instead of just addressing the issue, the brutally honest person will call your character into question. Using the above example regarding housework, they may claim that you're lazy or unmotivated, whereas the issue might stem from a new work schedule or recent illness.

Signs That You're Being Emotionally Abused

For some people, brutal honesty strays into the territory of abuse. Identifying abuse in your relationships can be challenging, especially romantic ones. And while every relationship is different, the following signs typically indicate that abuse is occurring:

  • Harsh Personal Critiques - It's OK to find fault with a loved one's actions, and it's also OK to call those actions out. What's not OK is harshly criticizing a person, especially someone you're supposed to love. 
  • Claims of Over-Sensitivity or Irrationality - It's normal to be sensitive after someone insults or belittles you. Many abusers use this claim to cast doubt on the other person's rationality and reasonability, which causes them to question themselves in the future. 
  • Assumption of Motivations - Even people who've known each other for years can't read each other's minds. Be wary if a loved one claims to know what you're thinking as a means of placing blame on you. For example, they may say you have malicious intent when you do not.

Manipulation - Abusers will also claim that they're the ones actually receiving the poor treatment. This is often the case when you respond to something the person said strongly, in which case they might turn it around and claim that you're the one being abusive. 

What You Can Do About a Brutally Honest Person

The first step is to broach the subject with your loved one. Remain calm and collected as you discuss how their words hurt. Displays of emotion are normal and natural, but they can provide the other person fodder for their baseless claims. Use examples that have occurred in your life and use clear, concise language to explain how they made you feel.

Pay close attention to your loved one's response. If they express genuine dismay that they hurt you and promise to do better, it may be possible to move forward. However, if the cycle of brutal honesty simply begins again, you might want to consider whether the relationship is worthwhile.

You Deserve a Loving and Kind Relationship

You deserve respectful treatment, regardless of the type of relationship or how long you've known the person. And if the person is reluctant to alter their behaviors, they're prioritizing their brutal outlook on life over your feelings.

Six Stretches to Liven Up Your Morning Routine

An incredible good morning stretch makes my list of all-time top-ten best feelings. While the old-fashioned arms to the sky pose is a classic, of course, sometimes you just want to switch it up. When the urge for something new arises, wake up your senses with one of my x favorite morning stretches.

Child's pose

You can do this yoga resting pose on the floor with a blanket or mat. Start on your hands and knees, with knees aligned with your hips and big toes together. Lengthen your spine as you inhale, then tuck your chin to your chest as you rest your rear on your heels and exhale. Stretch your arms overhead, palms flat on the ground, and rest your forehead on the floor. Hold for five deep breaths to beat early morning fatigue and soothe any stiffness that's cropped up overnight.

Cat and cow pose

More of a flow than a stretch, cat and cow works wonders for the spine. Start on all fours on your mat or blanket with hands directly under your shoulders. As you breathe in, drop your torso down and lift your gaze to the sky. Raise your tailbone as you gently press your stomach toward the floor.

On the exhale, bring the belly back up and drop the chin. Round the back (think of a Halloween cat) as you tuck in your "tail." Do several reps at the pace of your own breath for a quick asana to get your day rolling.

Knees to chest 

Next, flip over on your back and pull your knees toward your chest, exerting only gentle pressure. Hold for about 30 seconds and do three reps for a stretch that can alleviate bloating and back pain. In other words, you need this stretch when you have PMS.

Neck stretches

This stretch is especially important if you spend a lot of time looking at a screen or working at a computer. Over time, the muscles in the neck and shoulders become tight and tense, especially if you tend to hold stress in those areas. Sit up straight on a chair or your bed, then place your hand on top of your head and carefully press your ear toward your shoulder. Stop right away if you feel pain or discomfort. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat for 10 reps on both sides.

Standing quad stretch

Ready to get moving? You don't have to have a run planned to stretch out your quads. Stand up and place your right hand on a solid object for balance. Bend your left knee with your heel toward your rear, then grasp your left ankle firmly with your left hand. Feel the delicious stretching sensation as you hold for about 30 seconds with three reps on each side.

Toe touch

Also known as a standing forward bend, this stretch has a spot in your regimen long past middle school gym class. It helps your internal organs work efficiently while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Start this stretch in mountain pose, a yoga position in which you stand up straight with hands at your sides, palms facing out. As you inhale, sweep your hands out and up, then draw them together over your head. Try to keep the length in your spine as you fold your body in half at the hips, hands on your legs or on the floor. Hold the stretch for five deep breaths.

You'll feel alert and energized with these stretches, but that's not their only benefit. Over time, a regular stretching routine can reduce stress and improve mobility and flexibility. Best of all, these stretches put you in the right mindset to make the most of your day.

Positive Affirmations: The Science and Benefits

Positive affirmations seem innocuous and fruitless to skeptics, yet people have been using positive phrases to challenge unhelpful or negative thoughts for decades. While the practice can seem odd to the newcomer, that doesn't indicate its ineffectiveness.

There is plenty of research to support the practice of daily affirmations to support mood and self-esteem. It all comes down to self-talk and the altering of negative subconscious patterns. In essence, positive affirmations are about replacing adversarial self-talk with more positive and adaptive narratives.

Reviewing the Science

Positive affirmations only work when developed into a habit. If you want to make lasting changes to your inner dialogue, confidence, and self-esteem, you need to alter your frame of mind, which takes time.

While affirmations require time, they do not require faith to work. The use of daily affirmations is rooted in sound, well-established, and supported psychological theory, specifically self-affirmation theory. The practice was the focus of several empirical studies. It has been proven time and time again that self-integrity is malleable and that how people perceive the world can affect their view of self.

In other words, by sculpting a more positive view through positive self-affirmations, people can maintain self-integrity regardless of outside influences. People, then, have the ability to determine their morale through the power of thought and perception.

Identity and the Self

How you view yourself is often the result of many outside influences, such as friends, family, employer, etc. However, while these people play a role in how you develop, what matters is how you internalize their input.

Affirmations remind people that what matters most is how they view themselves. While receiving feedback can alter beliefs and thinking, it should not detract from the person.

The routine practice of positive affirmations can help people realize the significance of self-reflection and self-talk. When you commit to seeing the best in you and surround yourself with positivity, you can experience significant benefits from affirmations.

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Benefits of Daily Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are not just words. When focused into a habit, they have a transformative effect that can alter health, performance, and productivity. According to the years of research, daily affirmations can provide several distinct advantages, including:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Improved resilience to criticism
  • Altered negative physical behavior
  • Improved academic performance

Outlook for Habitual Use

Despite the naysayers, positive and daily affirmations are tied to actual and proven results. With habitual use, positive affirmations can alter a person's way of thinking, encouraging an optimistic mindset. The change from a negative focus to optimism can also lead to fewer negative thoughts, also reducing the tendency to linger on negative experiences.

For those struggling with anxiety or other health conditions, affirmations can encourage resilience, allowing for action and improving confidence. Primarily, affirmations help create a broader sense of self, allowing people to manage social pressures more constructively.

Using positive affirmations is advantageous. While some skeptics might feel a little strange conversing with themselves in the mirror, they will likely notice a positive change with practice and commitment. Sometimes, to make ourselves feel better, we need to feel a little strange first.

Have you ever tried daily affirmations? If so, for how long, and did they work? Leave a comment below.

Understanding Meditation and The Advantages of Daily Contemplation

Meditation is typically viewed as a spiritual experience, but that does not mean it is inherently religious. While several religions have traditions steeped in meditative practices like prayer and daily readings, meditation is not deliberately faith-based.


Many mindfulness instructors have shared their techniques and experiences to help bring more people into the mindfulness fold because the benefits of continuous practice are bountiful. However, while a person might meditate to form or nurture a connection to their spiritual self, they do not have to adhere to a specific ideology or religious group.

Meditation, more than anything, is a period of intense focus on the present. It is a time to shut off intrusive thoughts and feelings, like stress and anxiety. The reason so many people now meditate daily is the numerous health and wellness benefits.

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Understanding the Benefits of Daily Meditation or Contemplation

Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to separate your feelings from your negative thoughts. Most people spend their days fixating on their challenges and shortcomings rather than taking time to reflect on something positive or taking time to calm down and focus on the problem analytically.

By taking a break from intrusive and negative thoughts, you can return to a problem with a fresh perspective, often finding a peaceful way to resolve your dilemma. If you are not used to meditation, try reading a passage from a book that inspires you. Take five to 15 minutes to reflect on the selection and nothing else. You should find that your body and mind relax during this meditative break.

Well-Being and Self-Confidence

Many people struggle to remain still for only a minute with their thoughts. The idea of change and impermanence are so terrifying they feel that every second of every day must be filled with some activity, some worry. However, as people build the habit of meditation, they begin to develop a healthier relationship with change and fear.

Meditation forces people to be present at the moment, and that feeling solidifies the knowledge that time is ever-shifting. Practitioners become comfortable and at peace with the idea of change and the passage of time, especially when they are forced to acknowledge the importance of each moment. Eventually, practitioners begin to feel an improved sense of self-worth and well-being, leading to enhanced confidence.

Physical and Psychological Health Benefits

Meditation has likely been studied more than any other mindfulness practice. According to the bulk of research, meditation has many physical benefits, including:

  • Improving metabolism

  • Regulating heart rate

  • Reducing cholesterol

  • Improving sleep quality

  • Regulating blood pressure

Additionally, meditation can help improve psychological characteristics. Many practitioners explain seeing or feeling an improvement in three areas:

  1. Happiness

  2. Focus

  3. Emotional stability

Achieving the benefits of daily meditation means you must first establish a habit. As you begin the practice of meditating, it can feel strange. You do not have to start with 20-minute sessions; many instructors explain that starting with only a few minutes a day is ideal for building a habit and routine.

Do you have any meditation practices to share? Leave a comment below.

6 Amazing (Natural) Remedies for IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common than you may think. Anywhere from 25 million to 45 million people in the U.S. have it. That means around 1 in 10 Americans may have IBS symptoms! What can you do about it? 

Tip 1: Stop Listening to Family Members

One of the most important ways to deal with the symptoms of IBS is to ignore what other people tell you. There will always be a well-meaning family member offering to share the "secret" to curing bowel problems. The thing is, IBS is very different from other digestive problems, and some “common-sense” diet tips can make things worse.

Let me give you an example: fiber. Everyone knows that you need more fiber to help ease digestive discomfort, right? Well, with IBS, that’s not always the case. Yes, you need dietary fiber, but too much can actually trigger bloating, gas or constipation issues.

Tip 2: Go for a Walk

One of the worst triggers for IBS isn’t a food at all. It’s stress. There’s a direct connection between how you feel emotionally and how your colon works. Depression, anxiety or stressful events can trigger bowel problems.

Want a great solution for stress and IBS at the same time? Exercise! Working out is good for your body both physically and emotionally. It relieves stress, encourages healthy bowel movements, improves your self-esteem and even benefits your sleep quality — all of which are great for IBS symptoms.

Choose moderate-intensity exercises that get your heart rate up but feel relaxing:

  • Walking

  • Going for a calm bike ride

  • Doing low-impact aerobics

  • Swimming

  • Stretching

Pro tip: Exercising also makes it easier to pass gas, especially if you’re outdoors. You didn’t hear it from me!

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Tip 3: Be Balanced

If you have IBS, try to take things slow and steady when it comes to diet changes. Let’s say you read an article on the health benefits of Greek yogurt. Normally, if you’re like me, you’d rush to the store to buy a couple of gallons right away! To avoid IBS symptoms, however, it’s better to avoid extremes. Start slow and work your way up.

Tip 4: Skip FODMAPs for a While

FODMAPs are carbohydrates that many people with IBS have trouble digesting. Unfortunately, FODMAPs appear in a surprising number of otherwise awesome foods:

  • Wheat

  • Rice

  • Some fruit (mainly watermelon, apples, mangoes, peaches, pears and cherries)

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Some vegetables (such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas)

  • Beans and lentils

  • Dairy foods with lactose (cow’s milk, soft cheeses and yogurt)

Take note of foods that cause problems for you personally. If you suspect certain grains make irritation worse, ignore Dr. Oz and listen to what your gut is saying. Identifying your personal triggers can be huge for avoiding IBS symptoms.

Tip 5: Try Peppermit Oil (in Capsules)

There's some evidence that taking peppermint oil can help with IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating. This plant oil appears to help the muscles of your intestines relax while soothing irritated or painful spots from the inside. Go with capsules to avoid problems with heartburn.

Tip 6: Take Care of Your Gut With Probiotics

A healthy gut has a blend of over 300 different types of microorganisms that work together to protect your digestive lining, break down foods, make vitamins for your body, absorb nutrients and even improve your emotions! Getting plenty of probiotics can help with pain, boating, bowel movements and overall intestinal comfort.

You can find probiotics in several foods:

  • Yogurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Kimchi

  • Pickles

  • Kombucha

But wait — didn’t I just say that lactose in dairy can make IBS symptoms worse? If you notice that yogurt bothers you, there are several options. You could choose a lactose-free Greek yogurt. Or you can simply take a probiotic supplement and avoid the fuss!

Do Essential Oil Diffusers Actually Do Anything for Your Health or Mood?

Wouldn't it be great if moms could squeeze in little bits of relaxation all day long? That’s what essential oil diffusers promise to do: create a positive, refreshing and energizing ambience that makes you happier and healthier. Do they work?

What Are Essential Oils and Diffusers?

Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant extracts. These natural compounds come from a variety of flowers, herbs, trees and other plants. Some of my favorites are tea tree, lavender, sandalwood, lemon and (of course) rose. Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy to promote wellbeing for body and emotions.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers deliver these plant scents into the air as aromatic molecules. That way you can smell relaxing aroma as you’re going about your daily activities. The tiny particles reach your nose’s receptors and send signals to your brain, especially to the area involved with emotions. Today's oil diffusers are similar to the air fresheners of yesteryear, but using comforting natural plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals.

How Effective Are Essential Oils?

Do essential oils work? To be honest, scientists aren’t completely sure. Some research has shown that essential oils such as lavender can have benefits:

  • Relief from anxiety

  • Help with depression symptoms

  • Sleep quality improvements

  • Calming effects for dementia

  • Pain relief for osteoarthritis

In other words, aromatherapy may help your mood and emotional health, but scientists can’t confirm it. That's why doctors aren't actually writing prescriptions for lavender oil or tea tree oil.

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What Are the Best Types of Essential Oil Diffusers?

There are many types of diffusers to choose from. Each has pros and cons, and you should look at the price tag, too:

  • Electric diffusers: You add essential oil to water and an electric fan disperses the air and oil droplets into the air.
  • Reed diffusers: Small sticks absorb essential oils from a jar and release them into the room naturally. This can take a while, but it’s silent. Reed diffusers are my favorites for the bedroom.
  • Ceramic diffusers: Terracotta or ceramic absorb and gradually release essential oil into the surrounding space. These diffusers don’t have much reach, so they’re best for a bathroom countertop, tub, or another small space.
  • Heat diffusers: Heating essential oils can change their chemical properties and take away therapeutic benefits. Skip these diffusers unless you’re only after the scent.
  • Ultrasonic diffusers: These high-tech devices use vibrations to create a fine mist of essential oils and water. These are great all-around diffusers for large spaces, and they can also humidify the air in dry homes.
  • Nebulizer diffusers: For fast dispersion you can smell throughout the house, nebulizers are hard to beat. I don’t like them personally because I’m always afraid of breaking the glass container. They also go through more essential oil than other options.

What's the Bottom Line for Essential Oil Diffusers?

My point of view is that you should find out whether essential oils work for you personally. Don’t believe crazy claims or miracle cures you read online. Try your favorite aromatic scents with an essential oil diffuser for a month or two. Write down how you feel at the beginning and compare again at the end. If you notice you feel less stressed or that you’re sleeping better at night, keep going!

Can Positive Stress Really Be Good for Your Body?

The idea of stress that is good for you seems weird. You’re probably thinking that the words “positive” and “stress” don’t even belong in the same sentence. But it’s true: certain types of stress produce beneficial effects instead of negative ones.

What Is Positive Stress?

We’re not talking about situations that make you feel terrified or anxious. Instead, healthy stress is associated more with activities that are challenging but also produce excitement, fun and happiness.

Positive stress makes life worth living. It’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about celebrating accomplishments. It’s about trying new experiences. Positive stress gives every day more zing.

What Are Your Healthy Stress Sources?

Everyone views stress in a different way. Some writers love deadlines and get more done with them (I’m not one.) Do any of these situations get your blood flowing in a good way?

  • Work assignments
  • Fixing your car
  • Flying
  • Having a baby
  • Preparing for vacation
  • Working out
  • Taking care of DIY projects
  • Throwing a party

Someone who loves working on automobiles will probably see taking care of minor repairs as something enjoyable. That’s positive stress.

The same thing goes for dating. Falling in love makes your heart beat in a good way. You stay awake at night, maybe a little anxious, but mostly because you’re excited and can’t wait to see the person again.

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What Are the Benefits of Positive Stress?

Unlike chronic stress, which weakens your immune system, gives you headaches and triggers inflammation, positive stress has great effects on your mind and body:

  • It motivates you: Reaching your goals can give you a sensation that’s even better than chocolate. It can give your life meaning. It also improves your self-esteem. Running a business can be stressful, but for entrepreneurs, it’s really rewarding to see their company flourish.
  • It improves your creativity: Feeling excited about a project helps you produce better results. My best work is always with topics that I feel passionate about. A little positive stress can help you come up with incredible ideas and solutions, too.
  • It feels amazing: If you’ve ever heard about sports enthusiasts talking about the “adrenaline rush,” that’s what positive stress is. Whether you’re into skydiving, rock climbing, skiing or snowmobiling, adrenaline makes your brain happy.
  • It helps your immune system: Excitement is good for your body’s defenses. Science has shown that good stress activates your immune cells and even helps your body heal faster after injuries. That’s one reason why doctors often recommend that people who are depressed take the time to exercise regularly.
  • It gives you energy: When you have a goal you’re trying to reach, your body literally feels more energized. Imagining yourself fitting into that tight red dress can give you the energy you need to swim, bike, hike or Zumba like never before.

How Can You Boost Positive Stress Levels?

Personally, I find that being a mom is my source of positive stress. I’m nervous sometimes, but also excited and happy. Hearing that “I love you Mommy” is irresistible, and according to science, it’s good for my health, too!

Get more positive stress in your life by doing things that are worth it to you, things that are exciting. Set aside more time for family adventures.

Go on a road trip. Ride a roller coaster with your eyes closed. Try new recipes. Make new friends. Visit new places. Zumba. Find something to be excited about every day!

Best Natural Sleep Aids

Remember the days when you slept like a baby and always woke up feeling refreshed and energized? The last time I slept that way was when I was a teenager. It seems like sleep has become more evasive the older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve had to “adult.” If you’re like me and you can’t seem to get enough shuteye at night no matter what you do, here are some of the best natural sleep aids I’ve discovered.

Valerian

This herbal medicine is made from a plant’s root. Though it’s not very well-known, it’s a great ingredient for achieving deep, restful sleep. If you have trouble finding it at your grocery store, look for it at your local health food store. Most people add it to tea and take it an hour or so before bedtime.

Though valerian is a great sleep aid, it may interact with some medications. So before you give it a try, talk to your doctor. You should also know that if you take valerian regularly, you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking it. Doing so can cause some anxiety or withdrawal symptoms (eek!)

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Chamomile

Chamomile flowers are some of my favorites because they’re so bright and cheerful. They look a lot like daisies. But as energetic as their appearance may be, these little flowers are very effective at helping you sleep. Chamomile tea promotes relaxation and can help you wind down in the hours leading up to bedtime. You may also find that drinking chamomile tea before bed improves your quality of sleep as well.

Just make sure you don’t consume more than the recommended dose. Taking too much chamomile may cause you to get nauseous or to throw up. You may also want to consult with your allergist or doctor before consuming if you have known allergies to flowers in the daisy family.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces in the pineal gland. It helps control circadian rhythms so you sleep better. Unfortunately, some of us don’t seem to create sufficient melatonin to help us nod off at night. Taking anywhere between 1 and 5 mg of melatonin right before bed may help induce sleep.

If you decide to try melatonin, only use it for a maximum of two weeks. Using it longer than that could potentially hamper your ability to produce your own melatonin going forward. Some people may discover that melatonin helps them fall asleep quickly, but causes them to wake frequently in the night. Others may feel more depressed or irritable when using melatonin as a sleep aid. If these things happen to you, discontinue using melatonin products right away.

Lavender

Lavender is a highly fragrant plant that is used in many sleep aid products. It produces a calming effect and may help you fall asleep more easily at night. You can use lavender in a variety of ways. My favorite way is to dilute a few drops of lavender essential oil into a diffuser in my room. I turn the diffuser on at bedtime to enjoy the relaxing benefits of the fumes.

You can also put a few drops of diluted lavender oil right on your pillowcase. Some people even rub a little diluted lavender oil around their nose before going to bed. Just keep in mind that this is a very fragrant oil, so you only need a little bit.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral that helps boost heart and brain function. However, it may also help relax the body and mind so you can get a restful sleep. Studies show that insufficient levels of magnesium are associated with insomnia and troubled sleep. You can take magnesium in supplement form before bed to see if it helps you get more rest at night.

I love each of these sleep aids and alternate between them regularly. To find out which one works best for you, give each of them a try on different nights over the next few weeks. Happy sleeping!