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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!)

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!

Does Crystal Therapy Really Work?

You hear so much talk about crystals these days, both good and bad. Some folks swear by them, while others claim their just a lot of new age nonsense. Still, you can't help but be curious when hearing all the positive stories about them.

The truth is, many people do experience benefits from crystals. They might not be able to do all the magical things people claim, like curing major illness or making your dream man fall in love with you, but they can give you a real boost spiritually and mentally when you know what you're doing with them.

Types of Therapeutic Crystals

Healing crystals are not one size fits all. There's actually a wide variety out there, each of which is associated with specific benefits:

Obsidian

Obsidian is said to have protective qualities. If you're feeling emotionally stifled or blocked, it can also help you release some of those built up emotions to achieve a sense of clarity. The stone can be identified by its glassy black color.

Turquoise

You're probably already familiar with turquoise jewelry, which is indeed quite eye catching. However, the stone offers more than just aesthetic appeal. It's also thought to bring balance to your mind and spirit, as well as having intense healing powers.

Moonstone

Looking for a new beginning? Then moonstone is your go-to crystal. It can also quell feelings of stress and anxiety, which far too many people struggle with these days. Moonstone has a sort of earthy look, with grayish-white coloring.

Rose Quartz

Pretty pink rose quartz has a strong association with love. If you're having trouble in any type of relationship, romantic or otherwise, ruminating with some rose quartz can bring you some peace. It can also help you build up the love you have for yourself.

Amethyst

Deep purple amethyst is known for its purifying qualities. It can also help you tap into a deeper spiritual nature. Its healing power is great for dispelling those negative thoughts rattling around your mind.

Tips for Using Healing Crystals

You basically have two options when using your healing crystals. Some people swear by wearing them on their bodies for all day protection through constant contact. Of course, not everyone is comfortable wearing jewelry, especially something like crystals. In this case, just carry them with you. Put them in your purse or pocket when you're out and about.

Before your crystals can do their thing, you must program them. I know what you're thinking, programming is something you do with a computer. What you're actually doing is associating your crystal with an intention. Hold the crystal in your hand and state what you wish to get from it: improved mental health, a better love life, greater self-confidence, whatever it might be. After stating your intention, be sure to thank the universe for the gift it's about to give you.

More intensive crystal therapy may be required if you're really struggling. In this case, do a crystal ritual each morning where you lay down to meditate with crystals on different parts of your body. Place crystals over your seven chakras, or energy centers on the body: base of the spine, lower abdomen, above the navel, over the heart, base of the throat, between the eyebrows, and the crown of the head.

Make sure crystals are also placed liberally throughout your home. Not only can they heal your mind and spirit, they can also make your living space feel more positive and nurturing. If you work from home, make sure there are quite a few hanging around your work desk!

The mind is a mysterious thing, and using crystals to achieve mindfulness is not as silly as it sounds. Also, having a little faith in something kind of whimsical never hurt anyone. Why not expand your mind and give it try?

How and Why To Try Hot Yoga at Home

Hot yoga is the “hot” new workout trend that offers a wide variety of benefits. If you think the idea of doing yoga in a hot and sweaty environment sounds like torture, you’re in for a treat! While it’s true that yoga isn’t “hot” unless it’s done in a humid and warm environment, it’s a much more enjoyable practice than you’re probably imagining in your head. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here’s how and why to try hot yoga in your own home this week.

Understanding the Point of Hot Yoga

I have to admit, I used to look that people who did hot yoga were a little crazy. Why in the world would you choose to exert your body in an environment that forces you to release as much sweat as possible? But now that I’ve learned more about it, I’ve come to understand the point of this unconventional form of exercise.

Hot yoga offers the same benefits as traditional yoga (you know, the standard benefits like improved strength, stress reduction and flexibility), but it also gives you an even more intense workout in less time. So if you don’t have an hour to spend on a typical yoga routine, you can spend half an hour doing hot yoga and get the same benefits! Plus, the humid environment a hot yoga session provides is meant to replicate the humid natural environment found in India, where yoga originated. So you get a more authentic experience from doing hot yoga than from doing traditional yoga in an air-conditioned environment. Just make sure you drink lots of water before you get your sweat on!

Benefits of Hot Yoga

Now that I’ve got you thinking hot yoga may not be so bad, here’s a list of some of the impressive benefits the practice can provide.

  • Increased calorie burn

  • Improved flexibility

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mood

  • Boost in cardiovascular health

  • Improved bone density

  • Decreased blood glucose levels

Now keep in mind that in order to maximize these benefits and stay safe during your hot yoga session, you need to stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your hot yoga session. You may also want to guzzle a low-calorie sports drink to restore your body’s electrolyte balance.

If you’re pregnant, don’t do hot yoga unless you’ve been given the green light from your doctor. And if you have certain health conditions, such as low blood sugar, heart disease, anorexia or a history of fainting, hot yoga may be too intense for you.

How to Start Hot Yoga at Home

While prepping your space for a hot yoga session requires a little effort, it’s worth it if you don’t have a gym membership or don’t have time to go to an official hot yoga class. Here’s how to set up any room in your home for hot yoga.

  1. Designate one room in your home for you hot yoga session, and close the doors and windows.

  2. Put a small space heater in the room to bring the space to your desired temperature.

  3. Consider adding extra layers if the space heater isn’t getting the room warm enough for your liking.

  4. Bring in a humidifier and steam things up!

  5. Have a water bottle on-hand at all times.

  6. Complete your planned yoga session, making sure to take frequent water breaks throughout.

  7. If you need help coming up with your own hot yoga workout routine, look online or find a favorite workout on YouTube. You can also make things more fun by inviting a friend to come work out with you.

Hot yoga isn’t for everyone. But for those who like a challenging workout that delivers maximum benefits in minimal time, it’s a must-do routine to work into your weekly schedule. Give it a try this week to see if you’ll fall in love with it like I did!

5 Reasons You Should Start Writing a Gratitude Journal

Sometimes people can get overwhelmed by the negativity in their lives despite plenty of sunshine and daisies outside. The problem with these cycles of sadness is they can become permanent fixtures in your personality library, meaning that it becomes challenging to experience any day without noticing its negative characteristics. While such an evolution sounds tragic, there is a straightforward practice you can incorporate in your day to improve mood and stave off pessimism: a gratitude journal.

Gratitude journals are only about accentuating the positives in your life. The best part, it's only a 15-minute practice. If you are not sure such a journal is right for you, consider the following five advantages.

1. Improves Self-Esteem

While it might sound strange, taking the time out of your busy day to acknowledge the good in your life can improve your self-esteem. When people spend too much time focused on everything wrong in their lives and the world, it is easy to begin thinking introspectively in the same way. Suddenly, the things you feel are flaws in your attributes get accentuated and hard to ignore, even when everyone else sees you as beautiful.

By writing and focusing on all that is good in your, the opposite happens. You see the positives, and any of those supposed flaws become an afterthought, a spec on an otherwise beautiful existence.

2. Creates a More Optimistic Worldview

In the same way that a gratitude journal can help you focus on positive attributes and bolster self-esteem, it can also broaden and create a more optimistic Worldview. If you surround yourself with everything ugly, concentrating purely on discouraging news, the positive stories and influences become buried and challenging to uncover. By writing for 15 minutes a day about things that you are thankful for, that make you happy, you begin to rewire your brain to find more of those feel-good things. In a way, gratitude becomes like an addiction, but with positive effects.

3. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Most of the time, stress and anxiety are amplified when people focus too much on the negatives or problems they are facing in life. By shifting focus to positive experiences and feelings, your problems begin to take up less space in your head, and you begin to calm down and enjoy living.

In a way, a gratitude journal is meant to overwhelm your brain with positivity. It helps you psychologically push negative thoughts and emotions out of the way to make room for happiness and motivation. While gratitude will eventually make you a more joyful and relaxed person, it is a process and requires deliberate practice.

4. Improves Quality of Sleep

Many people feel that nighttime is the worst time for worry and anxiety. Their homes are quiet, with nothing but their thoughts to fill the void. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for work or relationship problems for many people to start bouncing around in their heads.

A good way to silence these problems is through journaling. Instead of watching TV or browsing the social media rabbit hole before bed, spend 15 minutes with your gratitude journal. Spending that time with positive thinking can make sleep more comfortable and more sound.

5. Makes You Happier

What a gratitude journal comes down to is positivity. By focusing on the good in your life, you can become a happier and more fulfilled person.

Do you use a gratitude journal? If so, how has it affected your mood? Leave a comment below.

8 Ways To Get Rid of Stress Naturally at Work and at Home

Feeling stress is a pretty common part of life, but that doesn’t make it OK. Your body needs to relax. Whether you’re at work or at home, there are things you can do to get rid of anxiety naturally. These eight tips have made a huge difference for me:

1. Take an Exercise Break

Whether you play basketball, go for a brisk walk, dance or do aerobics, physical activity helps your muscles release built-up tension. Meanwhile, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, the same feel-good hormones responsible for the euphoria you get from eating triple-chocolate ice cream (I won’t tell if you don’t).

2. Help Someone

Instead of focusing on stressful situations, take a few minutes to do something nice for another person:

  • Text your mom you appreciate how she raised you

  • Treat your child to a cookie just because

  • Buy a cup of coffee for a friendly coworker

  • Open the door for someone

You’ll be amazed the effect these little acts of kindness have on your own emotions. Doing something nice for other people feels good. It lets you stay in control of your life.

3. Make Yourself Laugh

The next time you have a lot of anxiety, look for a new joke. Google “adorable animal videos” or “epic animal fails” online. I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better after something tickles your funny bone. Afterward, send the link to a friend and share the love.

4. Listen to Music

Personally, I like to psych myself up with peppy songs from my golden age of music, the 90s. If you’re working at home, don’t be shy! Sing along, get up and dance, or break out your air guitar for a bit. Music makes everything look brighter.

5. Write Down How You Feel

It’s no secret that having a girls’ night out is one of the best ways for letting go of stress. Being able to talk to someone else about your problems can put things in perspective. In fact, after talking it out, the things causing your anxiety may not feel as big or important anymore.

If one-on-one time with a friend isn’t possible, the next best thing is your trusty journal. The act of writing can produce the same comforting feeling of “getting things off your chest.”

6. Get Hugged

Hugs are amazing for your body. They lower stress levels, strengthen the immune system and improve mood. Deep-down, most people love to be touched. Did you know this tactile sensation is the same reason that wrapping yourself up in a heavy blanket is so soothing? When you’re feeling stressed, ask your kid, partner or pet for a hug.

7. Eat Some Yogurt

Recent studies suggest that probiotics may help to reduce stress and improve mood. That means that reaching for a cup of tasty yogurt isn’t just good for your physical heart, it’s also great for your emotions. Add fresh fruit and pumpkin seeds for an extra-nutritious stress-fighting boost.

8. Light a Candle

Aromatherapy can have an excellent effect on stress, but it’s something that most people don’t associate with work. Why not bring your own diffuser for your desk? Soothing scents such as vanilla, apple-cinnamon, lavender and orange can ease anxiety naturally.

These eight “anxiety breaks” give you a chance to clear your head. For 15 or 20 minutes, you don’t have to think about whatever problem has you stressed. Instead, focus on the sound of your tennis shoes hitting the pavement or look at beautiful scenery.