Sugar-Free Gum: Good for Your Child’s Teeth or Not?

As a parent, you want to take good care of your child’s teeth. At the same time, getting them to brush after every meal probably isn’t realistic. Can sugar-free gum help prevent cavities?

Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Kids’ Teeth?

Chewing is a great way to reduce cavities for kids and adults alike. When kids chew, their mouths produce more saliva. This helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing the acid that causes cavities. Saliva also washes away leftover food particles. Sugar-free gum isn’t a replacement for some good old-fashioned brushing, but it’s a nice way provide dental hygiene after lunch or dinner.

That said, the type of gum you choose is very important. The kind of gum your kids want you to buy — bubble gum with fruit fillings — is definitely NOT good for teeth. Instead of preventing tooth decay, bubble gum encourages bacteria to grow. It also pushes the sugar right up against your child’s teeth, easily causing a bunch of cavities.


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Is Sugar-Free Gum Safe for Kids?

This is a tricky question because it actually involves two things: if artificial sweeteners are safe for kids and if gum is dangerous as far as choking is concerned. The answers can vary depending on your child and your family.

The Oral Health Foundation recommends not giving gum to kids under the age of seven. At the same time, it acknowledges that parents are the best judges of when children are ready.

As far as the safety of artificial sweeteners goes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that there’s no evidence these ingredients can hurt children at all (unless you have a rare condition called phenylketonuria). Also, sugar-free gum has relatively tiny levels of artificial sweeteners compared to other products.

To give you an idea of the amount, a stick of chewing gum has around 6–8 milligrams while a can of diet soda has 180 milligrams. Your kids would need to eat the equivalent of 24 sweetener packets to meet the FDA’s max limit. If you’re still concerned, choose gum made with xylitol, erythritol or other natural sugar alcohols.

Is It Bad for Kids To Swallow Gum?

This is part myth and part rare-but-weird concern. First, nothing usually happens if school-age kids swallow gum. It will literally be out of their systems in a day or two. The only exception to this is if children are constipated and swallow a LOT of gum. So, take this urban legend with a grain of salt.

Are There Any Alternatives to Sugar-Free Gum That Kids Like?

Remember, it’s the act of chewing, not sugar-free gum itself, that helps prevent cavities. Depending on the age of your kids, you can offer them naturally crispy or chewy foods instead. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Apple slices
  • Celery sticks
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Rice cakes
  • Whole grain bagels

My kids love foods with a crunchy texture, so these veggies are a big hit. I also keep a few packs of sugar-free gum around for when we need something quick to chew. I’ve noticed that as long as I have everything already cut in the fridge, they actually go for the fresh fruit and veggies more often than gum.

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!

Do Most Coffee Creamers Have Dangerous Chemicals?

I’m a “no sugar, two creams, please” type of girl. So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine sent me an article saying that coffee creamers aren’t good for you — more than that, they’re downright dangerous! Every fiber of my being wanted to shout “that’s blasphemy!” Are coffee creamers really bad for you?

What’s In Your Favorite Coffee Creamer?

The first shocker for me is that most coffee creamers are loaded with sugar — more than a teaspoon per serving! But that’s not the worst part by a long shot:

Hydrogenated Oil

This is just another name for trans fats. To make this artificial fat, manufacturers add powdered nickel or other metals to vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil adds a "creamier" texture. According to the FDA, partially hydrogenated oils are not Generally Recognized as Safe in food. They raise bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Cellulose Gel

I’ll give you a hint: cellulose is another name for “wood.” That’s right, some popular coffee creamers add small amounts of wood pulp to help thicken the consistency of cheaper ingredients. Don’t want wood particles in your coffee? Yeah, me either.

Carrageenan

This additive and preservative is technically “natural” because it comes from a type of moss (mmm!). But carrageenan has been linked to a bunch of health problems, from IBS and bloating to colon cancer and arthritis.

Why do companies use these weird ingredients if they’re so bad for you? Because they’re cheap. Some corporations are happy to make a profit whether it hurts you or not.


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What Are the Best Alternatives to Coffee Creamer?

Now for the good news. There are a lot of tasty, natural and healthy alternatives you can add to your joe. And the flavor is WAY better:

  • Milk: Simple, heathy and easy. Depending on whether you choose whole or 2%, milk isn’t as thick as other options, but it has less total fat and gives you calcium, vitamin D… the whole shebang.
  • Heavy cream: This has more fat than milk (1 tsp has 50 calories), but you also don’t need to use much. This is my favorite option for “treating myself” for the first cup of coffee in the day, but I don’t use it for other cups.
  • Almond milk: Tons of vitamin B12, a creamy texture and a nutty flavor make almond milk amazing for coffee.
  • Coconut oil: If you’re on a keto diet, coconut oil in your coffee is a must. It gives you a rush of energy, boosts your metabolism and provides healthy MCT oil for burning fat. This is how you make Bulletproof coffee at home.
  • Coconut milk: Some brands add a lot of sugar, but you can find coconut milk that is just pureed coconut and water. Trust me, this option is really creamy and it adds an irresistible aroma to your coffee.
  • Unsweetened nut milk: You don’t need to buy an artificial creamer to enjoy hazelnut, vanilla or macadamia nut in your coffee. Just go straight to the source. Macadamia nut milk has all that delicious flavor you want, and zero weird ingredients.

Some cheapskate companies still try to sneak in carrageenan into these natural alternatives, so look at the label before you buy. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy creamy coffee and stay healthy at the same time. Now I’m going to celebrate with … you know what!

5 Ways To Protect Your Eyes From Screen Glare

If you’re like me, you spend a LOT of time in front of the computer. I work, shop, chat with friends, watch videos and pay bills from the comfort of my desk. Is staring at a computer screen for a long time bad for your eyes?

Can Staring at a Screen Too Long Hurt Your Vision?

The good news is that using your laptop, tablet or smartphone isn’t going to hurt your eyes. You don’t have to worry about a screen ruining your vision or making you need a stronger prescription. Those are all myths.

It’s still important to take good care of your eyes, though. Bright screens can cause dry eyes. Many people experience eyestrain, or tired eyes, after a long workday. Some people even get headaches from this. There are times when my eyes feel like sore grapes!

Why Can Staring at a Screen Cause Eyestrain and Dryness?

One reason screens make your eyes feel uncomfortable is that they slow down your blinking. Blinking is essential for keeping your eyes hydrated and clean. Normally, you should blink at least 15–20 times per minute. But when you’re staring intently at a screen, you only blink half that much! This can make your eyes really dry, especially after using a computer for hours.

Bright screens can also make your eyes exhausted — literally. Whether you’re absorbed in a book or shopping online, the tiny muscles around your eyeballs are constantly moving. Your eyes have to focus over and over, similar to how a photographer adjusts a camera lens.

Like any other muscle, eye muscles can get tired, too. After a while, focusing gets harder and concentrating on words requires a ton of effort. That’s a sign you’ve pushed your eyes too far. They need a break, just like how your feet want to kick back and relax after standing all day.


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How Can You Prevent Eyestrain?

Follow these tips to protect your eyes:

  1. Avoid screen glare: Some newer screens have an anti-glare coating. For extra protection, you can buy a cheap ($10) matte screen filter for your computer. If you wear glasses, another option is to get an anti-reflective coating for your eyeglasses.
  2. Turn down screen brightness: A screen that’s too bright can tire your eyes out more quickly. Turn down brightness as much as possible while making sure reading is still comfortable.
  3. Increase the text size: Most apps let you adjust the size of words on the screen. Making text bigger doesn’t have anything to do with age. It’s about reducing eyestrain. Larger text is just more comfortable. Trust me, I kicked the settings up a few notches and it made a huge difference for my day.
  4. Take a break every 30 minutes: If possible, stop what you’re doing every 15–30 minutes so your eyes can rest and rehydrate. Get up, grab some water, eat a handful of almonds or check on your pot roast. Then, go back to writing your novel or working.
  5. Don’t sit too close: For a computer screen, position your chair so your eyes are about two feet away. For a tablet, hold it at the distance you would a book.

The solution to dry eyes and eyestrain isn’t to use eyedrops constantly. That's actually a bad idea. Prevent CVS instead by making life easier on your eyes. You can still use your laptop or tablet whenever you want; just remember to blink more and take more (healthy) snack breaks!

Can a Healthy Gut Really Help With Arthritis, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Do you have problems with inflammation, anxiety or depression? Do you get sick a lot? It turns out that the real solution is to fix your gut, not to take endless pills.

Your Body Has a “Second Brain” — And It’s in Your Gut!

The expression “going with your gut” is more accurate than scientists ever suspected. Your digestive system has a staggering network of over 100 million nerve cells! This “second brain” is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it surrounds your entire gastrointestinal tract.

The ENS doesn’t help you play chess or calculate your taxes, but it does play a large role in emotional health. If something makes your digestive system feel bad, scientists believe the ENS triggers mood changes, such as depression, anxiety or irritability.

This is a huge discovery; it explains why so many people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also have depression. Protecting your gut health may go a long way towards helping you feel happier, and lowering stress may help you avoid digestive problems.

The Key to a Stronger Immune System? That’s Right — Excellent Gut Health!

Have you ever thought of taking probiotics to boost your immune system? That’s exactly what you should be doing, according to many experts.

Healthy gut bacteria can improve immune cells throughout the body, increasing the amount of natural antibodies you have and strengthening mucus membranes that help trap invaders. One study found that Lactobacillus, a type of probiotic found in yogurt, helped reduce the amount of respiratory infections in children by almost 20%!


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There’s a new science-backed, all-you-can-eat soup diet that has folks losing 7, 10, even 12 pounds in a single week.

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The Connection Between a "Leaky Gut" and Inflammation

In a healthy gut, positive microorganisms form a kind of protective wall over the lining of your GI tract. This helps in two big ways: lowering levels of inflammation-causing bacteria and preventing them from getting into your blood stream.

When your gut is out of whack — sometimes called “leaky gut syndrome” — unhealthy bacteria travel places they shouldn’t, provoking your immune system to attack. The problem appears to be even worse for people who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. The combination makes inflammation much more severe than normal.

The opposite is also true. A balanced gut microbiome is good for fighting inflammation. It can make arthritis less painful and give you back a lot of your flexibility and mobility. And for the rest of us, good digestive health reduces the number of aches and pains we wake up with in the morning.

Your Shopping List for Amazing Gut Health

How can you take good care of your gut microbiome? The secret is to increase the amount of probiotics and prebiotics in your diet.

Probiotics are good bacteria. Probiotics add soldiers directly to your gut’s army of healthy microbes. Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods have lots of probiotics. I like to take probiotic supplements, too, especially after finishing any kind of antibiotics.

Prebiotics are plant fibers that help good bacteria grow. They support your intestinal soldiers, promoting good digestion and providing food for hungry microbes. My favorite prebiotics are apples, bananas, leafy greens and whole grains.

A healthy gut helps you fight off harmful bacteria, viruses and allergies. It can help you get sick less often, and make symptoms less severe when you do catch a bug. Probiotics may even make vaccines more effective. Make great gut health a priority!

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11387176/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection

Considering the Pros and Cons of a Bidet Before Purchase

How often do you change your bathroom routine? For most people, bathroom habits don’t change much from their early years, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Recently, there has been a significant rise in interest for the bidet, a bathroom accessory with several variations and benefits.

Understanding Bidet Designs

A bidet is a sanitation tool for personal cleaning. Rather than using toilet paper, a person uses the stream of water produced by the bidet to clean their hindquarters. The bidet comes in three iterations: standalone, modern, and shower.

The standalone bidet resembles a second toilet in the bathroom but without a toilet seat. Also, a traditional design includes a faucet, so a more accurate depiction is a sink toilet. Facing toward or away from the tap, you straddle the bidet and rinse your rear.

Modern bidets are attachments to your existing toilet. You will have several buttons on the side of the seat, and when pressed, a wand will emerge from under the seat to spray your hiney.

Finally, a shower bidet is a toilet attachment resembling a shower wand. Once you do your business, you take the wand down from its wall mount and clean yourself.


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Benefits of Using Bidets

Records exist about the bidet as far back as 1726, but despite the history, many people are unfamiliar or feel icky thinking about the device. However, there are several advantages to using a bidet, some that extend the personal experience.

  • Hygiene:

Bidets are undeniably more sanitary than toilet paper or wipes. Even the most hygienic person will likely leave behind particles or bits that can lead to odor, infection, or irritation. A bidet sprays the area, washing away any remnants, making it a fantastic tool for older people or those who do not have the flexibility to clean themselves effectively.

  • Environment:

Over 36 billion rolls of toilet paper go to waste every year. Using a bidet can reduce that number significantly. Bidets limit the number of rolls needed and thereby the number of trees used for creating a product responsible for eliminating an estimated 27,000 trees daily.

  • Plumbing:

If you use a bidet correctly, the device rinses away the waste. Using toilet paper to dry your hind parts is unnecessary; instead, use small cloth towels and put them in the hamper after each use. By eliminating toilet paper usage, you limit environmental impact, and you ensure you have clear and clear pipes in your home.

Negatives of Using Bidets

Bidets have several pros, but that does not mean they are without any cons. Several negatives of using a bidet include:

  • Infections:

For the females out there, wiping is not a willy-nilly process. Cleaning yourself involves limiting exposure to certain sensitive and vulnerable areas. Unfortunately, if a bidet is not measured correctly, it can lead to overspray and the spread of fecal matter, which can lead to feminine infections.

  • Installation:

While some modern bidets install quickly without significant required changes to your existing bathroom or plumbing, others might need a renovation or bathroom overhaul, especially if looking for a standalone system. Make sure your budget can afford the potential costs.

  • Learning curve:

While the bidet is a straightforward and simplistic device, it still requires practice and patience. Bidet noobs will probably experience overspray and wet clothes. The only advice is to practice and have a spare pair of underwear and pants nearby.

The bidet is a useful and, in some respects, a traditional bathroom tool. However, despite its age, not everyone will enjoy the pressure washing of their rear. What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Good for Whitening Teeth?

I’ll be the first to say that charcoal toothpaste looks kind of cool. After all, it’s as jet black as wearing a pair of sunglasses at night. Before you squeeze this supposedly miraculous toothpaste onto your toothbrush, however, it’s smart to learn more. Does charcoal toothpaste actually whiten teeth? Does it damage tooth enamel?

What’s With All the Hype Around Activated Charcoal Toothpaste?

These days, activated charcoal is being used in everything from beauty creams to digestive cleanses. It’s a great absorbent, so the theory is that it acts like a magnet that captures bacteria, germs, toxins and other contaminants. At least in part, there is scientific support for this idea since activated charcoal is used in hospital emergency rooms to treat problems such as drug overdose.

Where things get a little shady (no pun intended) is that charcoal toothpaste manufacturers claim it can have the same effect on tooth stains. They say charcoal whitening toothpastes “absorb” stains and leave your teeth sparkling white.

Does Charcoal Toothpaste Really Whiten Your Teeth?

Activated charcoal can help remove surface stains from teeth. This is all about the abrasion. Charcoal toothpaste can scrub away the dark film left by coffee stains, tobacco stains and other stains outside the teeth.

What charcoal whitening toothpaste can’t do is change the color of your actual teeth. If you have naturally darker teeth or age-related staining, charcoal won’t change a thing. For that, you would need a professional bleaching solution for teeth whitening.


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Does Charcoal Toothpaste Hurt Your Teeth?

Since people have only really started using activated charcoal in toothpastes fairly recently, the jury is still out on what it may do to teeth. As a mom, however, there a few things about charcoal toothpaste that make me nervous:

  • Charcoal toothpaste is aggressive: You know how exfoliating soaps have a gritty feel to them? Toothpaste with activated charcoal is the same. The small charcoal particles can slowly wear down the enamel of teeth as your brush, potentially leaving your teeth more sensitive and vulnerable than normal.
  • Charcoal toothpaste doesn’t usually have any fluoride: Your teeth have fluoride, a mineral that helps to strengthen the hard enamel layer that protects them. Fluoride is good for your teeth, which is why it’s usually added to toothpastes. Unfortunately, many charcoal toothpastes don’t contain this important mineral.
  • Charcoal toothpaste can make it easier for cavities to appear: When you combine the harshness of activated charcoal with the loss of fluoride your teeth need, the result can be more tooth decay. I wouldn’t recommend that as a mom, and I really don’t want to visit the dentist more often for my own teeth either.
  • Charcoal particles can make some teeth look darker: Tiny charcoal particles can be difficult to remove completely. This can leave a black or gray outline around the edges of teeth. If your teeth have any tiny cracks, charcoal can get stuck inside, making the area more noticeable.
  • Activated charcoal can irritate your gums: If you have sensitive gums, you may not be happy to hear that charcoal can make them sore. What can happen is that the tiny particles can get stuck underneath your gums, repeatedly scratching them and triggering inflammation.

If you do decide to use charcoal toothpaste (hopefully a brand that does contain fluoride), don’t use it for everyday brushing. Only use it when you think your teeth need a deep cleaning. Try not to brush too aggressively. That way you can take good care of your precious enamel.

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.


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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?

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.


Soup’s On!

There’s a new science-backed, all-you-can-eat soup diet that has folks losing 7, 10, even 12 pounds in a single week.

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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.

New Year, New You: How to Use Resolutions to Become a Morning Person

Woman Waking Up

Be honest: would you say you're a morning person? If the answer is a resounding no, you're not alone.
Lots of people dread waking up early or can't function until they have at least two cups of coffee coursing through their veins. While molding yourself into a chipper and cheerful morning person may seem unlikely, it's absolutely possible.

With a new year comes a renewed commitment to health, wellness, and personal goals. Like everything else, you just need to tease out those bad habits and develop a strategy for eliminating them. Here are a few great tips to help you beat the morning blues and attack every day with everything you got.

Alarm Clock

Say No to the Snooze Button

The snooze button is an evil temptress. You tell yourself "just a few more minutes", only to find that an hour has passed, and now you're late for work. While it's best to not use the snooze button at all, it can be difficult to go cold turkey completely. Once again, technology comes to the rescue. Smart alarm apps offer creative ways to snooze, including math problems that must be solved before you can secure that ten extra minutes. If you're not a math person, don't fret. The act of working out a problem can help wake up your brain, even if you don't get the correct answer.

Glass of water

Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking

It's true that coffee is associated with a quick pick-me-up in the morning, but water is a better choice of beverage. Water rehydrates the body, fuels the brain, and gives you the burst of energy you need to function optimally in the early hours. For an even greater rejuvenating effect, make the first beverage you drink in the morning a chilly glass of ice water.

Good night


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Establish a Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule gets your body in tune with waking up early each morning. Additionally, your schedule should extend to the weekends as well, meaning if you get up at 7 am for work during the week, you should get up at the same time Saturday and Sunday. If you have problems falling asleep at a reasonable hour, develop a bedtime ritual. Avoid exercise, digital screens, and caffeine at least two hours before bedtime. Make your bedroom a work-free zone, meaning no laptops, no emails, and no texting. Try reading or taking a relaxing bath to get you in the mood for sleep.

Morning Yoga

Exercise Right After Waking Up

Much like math problems help wake up your brain, exercise helps wake up your body. Now, that doesn't mean you should pop out of bed and go run a half-marathon every morning. Something simple and low-key, like yoga or stretching exercises, should be enough to get you up and moving. There are plenty of free videos online featuring quick and easy exercises you can do each day. Fair warning, the first morning of exercise will probably be difficult. Stick to it, and you'll find each day getting easier and easier.

Cup of coffee

Invest in a Wake-Up Alarm

A bit of sunlight is just the thing to get you up in the morning. When your bedroom lacks strategically placed windows, or you're faced with a gloomy morning, a wake-up alarm is the next best thing. Also known as sunrise lamps, these devices gradually illuminate to mimic sunrise. This signals to your body that it's time to wake up, which is a more comforting process than being roused out of sleep by a blaring alarm.

Anyone can be a morning person when properly motivated. Using one or more of the above techniques can change your perspective, and your life. With the right attitude, you'll be greeting mornings with a smile before you even know it.