Category Archives: Health

When others are counting on you, take time to replenish your emotional strength

Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I read a chapter of tips out of this book every few days or weeks, whenever I have time. It’s just a book with 365 short ideas, (usually a sentence or two,) about how to improve yourself and your actions to make more money. The tips also relate well to life and emotional intelligence in general, so I often find them inspiring in more ways that one.

Today the quote that got me thinking is:

Remember to regularly nurture yourself. You cannot sustain or increase your productivity without replenishing yourself. Otherwise, you will run on empty and your productivity will suffer.

This is good advice for business, but life in general–relationships, parenting, chores, hobbies, and more.

My last job was extremely demanding, but I had so many options to work overtime and make more money. Every time I was offered the opportunity to work extra, I took it. How could I turn down work that would double my normal paycheck? Pretty soon, I was working 50-80 hour weeks. I kept telling myself “I can do this,” and I was excited about the financial benefits, but I was burned out. I burned out so badly, I finally quit the job. If I had worked in moderation, I might not have had all the extra pay, but I wouldn’t have become unemployed, so I probably would have made more in the long run. I pushed myself so hard for months and never took a bit of time to nurture myself. Since I am a single mom, I came home from my long days of work and then devoted every thing I had to two little toddlers. There was absolutely nothing for me. And yet I felt selfish for even considering doing something for myself.

Specifically when it comes to parenting, many of us have been trained to believe that the kids are a 24/7 commitment and we are selfish to take a break from them. I’ve had people tell me this, and I’ve seen people berate others for wanting a break. That is not helpful at all. As women and mothers, we should not feel guilty for needing to replenish ourselves–physically, mentally and emotionally! Of course you don’t want to leave your children with a baby-sitter every day, but it is not wrong to take a break even for a few hours a week. In fact, it’s the best way to be a good mother. When we devote so much of our time to nurturing others, we need to recuperate a little to build up our own reserves so we can give some more.

What about sick or aging family members or marriages or friendships that need a little extra TLC? When we give everything we have to meet our obligations, we often wear ourselves down so that we aren’t really able to give our best any longer. It’s important not to let work or life take so much of you that you lose the energy and stamina to keep going. Take the time to rest and recover so you can go after your commitments, goals and life with renewed energy!

Ecopsychology and enjoying green spaces for stress reduction

Green Spaces reduce stress levels

Green Spaces reduce stress levels

I was flipping through a magazine earlier and found a little blip about using the outdoors for stress reduction. In the Real Simple March 2015 issue, on page 146, they quote “a 2014 study published in Ecopsychology discovered that group walks in green spaces…lead to less stress and enhanced well-being.” I had read about the importance of greenery and outdoor time for mental health before, but this little blip inspired me to read more about ecopsychology.

I found this web article that gives more information on the field of ecopsychology as an alternative to traditional psychology. The article starts out explaining some of the history of ecopsychology and states that the field is turning towards standard psychological studies and research to learn about the benefits of spending time outside. They claim that “even subtle interactions with nature provide a range of cognitive benefits, including elevated mood, enhanced memory, and decreased stress.” Sounds good to me! Furthermore, they state that “research demonstrates that walking through the city can tax our attention, whereas a park restores our concentration and can even improve our performance on tests of memory.” Initially ecopsychology studies were not as strict as regular psychological studies, but they are using more and more standard scientific research. So far, studies show that green spaces improve moods and mental health, but they don’t 100% prove that manmade structures and technology are bad for our emotional health.

One recent study took a group of stressed people and had them look at either directly at a nature scene, a blank wall, or a television showing the nature scene in real time. The people who looked directly at the nature scene calmed down and relaxed more easily while the people who looked at the TV or the blank wall showed no difference. The TV wasn’t even more relaxing than staring at the wall even though it showed the same nature scene that the other group was watching in person!

The article goes on to share another study that showed people remembered information better when walking through nature instead of through a city. It describes the ways that the idea of ecopsychology is gaining more legitimacy by using stricter, more traditional scientific study. And it’s still showing the health benefits of getting out into nature. I thought that was exciting news! Now that spring is coming to my part of the world, I can’t wait to get out in the woods and de-stress! πŸ™‚

Here are some more articles about the power of green spaces to help with stress reduction:

Green Spaces Reduce Stress Levels of the Unemployed
Living near trees, green spaces reduces stress, study showsGreen Spaces Reduce Stress Levels

The health benefits of friendship

Since I posted yesterday about the importance of strong relationships for a long life span, I thought this post from would tie in nicely!

They have a pretty long article to go with the photos and charts, so I’ll just share the parts that stood out to me:

A gathering of 148 research studies found that people with strong friendships had better survival rates than those with weak relationships–50% better!

There are two main theories about why friendships help: 1. You have help and support with stressful situations and 2. when you are part of a crowd, you might be more likely to follow the group in taking care of yourself

People with quality friendships have better health–specifically heart health, while those with little support are more likely to have health problems.

The article points out that quality matters. Having a bunch of superficial fake friends is not as helpful as having true, close friends.

I’ll let the photos show you the rest!


The importance of a good support system for your mental health

Click here to purchase Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t
I am currently reading this book, and while I haven’t finished yet, (and I still want to review the book when I get done,) I specifically wanted to share an interesting section I read last night. In chapter five, the authors discuss the relation between certain medical issues that often relate to stress in one’s life. This includes: chronic headaches, stomach problems, poor immunity and weight issues. I am familiar with a lot of information and studies related to this issue, but the authors shared an fascinating example that stood out to me.

There is a town in Pennsylvania called Roseto that was known for people having especially high life expectancy for many years. Research showed that they ate and exercised like the rest of the United States, but the reason for their long lives was their strong relationships. The town was originally built by immigrants who were very close-knit and interconnected. According to the book, “friendships lasted through generations” because the families were so close and their connections and loyalty were so strong. Very impressive!

The town was re-studied in the 1990s, and things had changed. The close relationships had drifted apart as new people moved in and old families moved away. Neighbors didn’t all know each other like they had in the past. Now their life expectancies are no different from the rest of the country.

I think this is an excellent example of how important a good support system and connections with positive people are. We need loving, caring, listening people in our lives to help us cope and thrive with others around us. This inspires me to get out and work on my good friendships!

Here are some more research articles about Roseto:
This article shows that heart attack rates were low, but then rose as relationships fell apart. It compares Roseto with another town called Bangor.

Here is an outline tracing Roseto’s history for a college class.

This article includes other studies that show that people who are alone tend to have shorter life spans.

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

As we get into the winter season here in the United States, many people face seasonal problems such as wintertime blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder and recurring colds or flus. It’s not always the happiest or healthiest time of the year, but there are things we can do to raise our moods and boost our immune systems.

One thing we can do is eat or take more Vitamin D. We all know that a well-balanced diet with good nutrition is important, but there are multiple studies showing that Vitamin D in particular has many important benefits–especially in the winter. For example, getting more Vitamin D can help improve seasonal depression, ward off colds and improve blood pressure.

This study found that depressed people who took Vitamin D supplements recovered better than people using light therapy. (Another related study showed that infants who received higher levels of Vitamin D were less likely to develop schizophrenia and people with other mental health problems had lower levels of Vitamin D.) Multiple studies found lower levels of Vitamin D in depressed people; however, for happier people who were not Vitamin D deficient to begin with, extra Vitamin D didn’t make a difference.

Another study reminds us that Vitamin D is great for bone health, but it also regulates the immune system. Vitamin D in cod liver oil has even been used for tuberculosis infections! One study found that people with low levels of Vitamin D were more likely to become sick and another found that people who took extra Vitamin D were less likely to catch the flu.

This article shows even more benefits of Vitamin D:
Regulating high blood pressure, reduced pre-cancerous polyps, lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis and more!

Some studies show that at least 25% of people are deficient in Vitamin D, and these are the people who are more at risk for developing a variety of illnesses. Especially during the winter, it is important to get more sunlight, (getting sun through a window is less effective,) and maybe take a supplement to protect your mood and health.

Five science-based ways to lift your mood quickly!



1. Take five minutes outside to exercise. This study found that just five minutes exercising outside helps lift your mood. It works even better if you are near water.





2. Listen to upbeat music. Many studies have shown that music can improve your mood.



3. Cuddle with your cat or dog. There are many health benefits to caring for a pet.



4. Take a bath…and wash your worries away according to this study.



5. Watch a funny movie, read some jokes, have some fun. Laughter is proven to reduce stress and improve your health.

Night light colors may affect your mood

Color therapy!

Color therapy!

Years ago, I had an unusual doctor who treated me in the typical way as far as giving prescriptions, etc…, but she also gave advice about alternative treatment. For example, she recommended using aromatherapy products to brighten my mood or reduce stress and she recommended color therapy as well. She asked me what kinds of colors I liked to wear, and what colors I used to decorate my house. I told her I used a lot of earthy colors like green and brown, and she pointed out that I didn’t have a lot of reds or oranges in my life. That is true. She gave me a maroon-colored silk sample and suggested I just enjoy the color of it, as well as trying to add more reds in my life. She thought it would help me feel less depressed and more energetic. I’m not sure how true this is, but I liked the idea of adding more variety in my life, so I’ve kept her advice in mind. When I buy decorations for my home, I try to find things that match my colors but also have reddish highlights. If nothing else, they are pretty, right?

Tonight I was reading through some psychology studies and found this article. Now, this is a study based on hamsters, so the article warns that it might not work for humans, but it does give us something to think about. The article found that at night, it’s best to have total darkness, but if you do like a night light, you maybe best off using a red night light instead of clear or blue. Hamsters that had red night lights at night were less depressed. The researchers concluded that people who work third shift may benefit from red-based lighting instead of white lights.

Of course there is a stigma to using a red light πŸ˜‰ but reading this study reminded me of the maroon silk sample my old doctor gave me. It’s interesting advice to use red-colored items to avoid depression. Maybe there is something to color therapy….

Long Lasting Therapy to Treat Depression

I read this article today and found it really exciting and interesting. A few years ago, I had read a number of studies indicating that long-term depression can be better treated by changing one’s thoughts because the results lasted longer than the effects of anti-depressants. (This is not an anti-medication post–just some information about the benefits of therapy.) One article I read even suggested that while learning to use more positive thinking, the chemical make-up of the brain “corrected” itself with the decrease in stress hormones. I really love the idea that we can heal our minds after horrible things have happened to us.

Click here to purchase The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program

This article is a really long one, but I’ll sum up some of my favorite parts:
First of all, it focuses on a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which seeks to teach patients new ways of thinking. Many therapists believe that our thoughts direct our feelings and our moods, so if we focus on positive and productive thoughts, we can raise our levels of satisfaction and increase good feelings. This study indicates that, while anti-depressants can help, the effects often wear off when the patient stops using them, whereas the benefits of CBT continue and patients who use CBT are less likely to relapse.

To quote the article:

“‘CBT encompasses a range of psychotherapies, all based on the premise that people with depression have excessively negative, and often inaccurate, beliefs about themselves and the world. It is designed to equip patients with the skills they need to β€œbecome their own therapists’, says Strunk, by critically examining those negative beliefs. Correct a person’s way of thinking, and the depression will lift, according to the theory.”

For example, if a person is feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings, CBT would suggest that they stop and really question if their negative fears are accurate before they become snowballed with negativity and anxiety. You want to stop those negative thoughts and try to take a more clear view of your life.

This study shares that people’s brain scans can even change after using CBT. During stress and depression, the more primitive parts of the brain–the parts that regulate our instincts for “fight or flight–“take over, but after CBT, brain scans show more regulation.

It is interesting to note that researchers have found that, while CBT can be very beneficial, it doesn’t work for everyone. The article states that they are trying to understand why this is so they can better help depressed patients.

Overall, I find this information and empowering! It’s just another way YOU can take charge of your own life and determine your own future. πŸ™‚

Light Therapy for Seasonal Depression and Sleep Disorders

Click here to purchase the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp

Winter time is coming…and in the middle of winter, I always start craving a sun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, I can’t just pick up and take a vacation to lay in the sun all winter! I also find myself having a hard time waking up in the dark. My body simply does not enjoy early mornings. So, I started reading about light therapy to regulate sleep schedules. The information I found was very interesting and convincing–especially for treating seasonal depression. For example, I read that “Researchers at more than 15 medical centers and clinics in both the U.S. and abroad have had much success with light therapy in patients with clear histories of SAD for at least several years. Marked improvement is usually observed within a week, if not sooner, and symptoms usually return in about the same amount of time when the lights are withdrawn. ” (from this site hosted by Columbia University.)

I took the plunge and invested in a light therapy lamp and I bought this one about five years ago, (it was over $100 back then, so it looks like prices are really coming down!) From the first time I used this light, I felt great. Maybe it was just my expectations or a placebo effect, but I sat next to it and felt like real sunshine was warming my face. The light is very different from a normal light bulb. It’s not so bright that it would blind you, but it has a warm, full-spectrum quality that feels more like daylight than a regular light bulb.

This lamp also has ion therapy, and I hadn’t really heard about that, so I researched it and it sounded pretty promising as well. This published medical study showed that high-density ion therapy is very effective in treating depression. Interesting!

Since I was specifically using the light for sleep issues, my instructions were to use it every morning when I woke up to help my body get ready for the day like it would if the sun was coming up. I found that I really did feel brighter and more awake while using it. The assistance with season depression was a nice bonus!

There are a bunch more medical studies out there as well as more information about using light therapy for sleep disorders. They tend to support the idea that these lamps are beneficial, and I found that mine was a life-saver in the winter. I really looked forward to turning it on every morning πŸ™‚

Dealing with a loose stomach or diastsis recti after pregnancy

Lose Your Mummy Tummy: Flatten Your Stomach NOW Using the Groundbreaking Tupler Technique by Julie Tupler, R.N. with Jodie Gould

Click here to purchase Lose Your Mummy Tummy

When it comes to healing “mummy tummy” better known as diastasis recti, the Tupler Technique is pretty much the only promising option outside of surgery. Diastasis Recti occurs when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy but don’t come back together post-partum. It’s what causes a poochy belly and the loss of an “innie” belly button. A woman can be her ideal weight and still have a diastasis recti making her tummy look sloppy. We typically think that sit-ups and crunches are the answer for a flat stomach, but when you have a diastasis, traditional abdominal exercises make the split worse. You can literally see your insides bulging through the split when you do a sit-up! It’s unattractive and it can also become painful. Tupler offers a simple solution and she calls it the “Tupler Technique.” She tells us about all the benefits as well as the evidence supporting her program’s efficacy and it’s very tempting! From what I can find by researching online, there is scientific evidence that her program works.

The exercises are simple and most of them can be done while breastfeeding or sitting in a chair. (Kegels are part of the routine.) Tupler gives easy-to-follow directions and includes detailed photos. I’m terrible with exercises and coordination, but I can do these! I admit, I’m also bad at following through, so I never actually stay dedicated to the program; however, I can definitely tell a difference even when I’m not keeping up as I should. I’m sure if I really stayed on track, I’d see all the results Tupler promises. She includes the basic Tupler Technique as well as a longer program that incorporates the full body.

Here are the chapter titles:
1. What Is a Mummy Tummy?
2. Using the Tupler Technique in the First Two Postpartum Weeks
3. Using the Tuper Technique When Recovering from C-Sections, Episiotomies, and Other Physical Traumas
4. Using the Tupler Technique to Care For Other Achy Parts
5. The Day-to-Day Stuff: Incorporating the Tupler Technique to Protect Yourself From Injury
6. Getting Your Life Back: Protecting Your Newly Reduced Mummy Tummy When Doing Other Exercises
7. The Thirty-Minute Tupler Workout
8. Post(partum) Script

« Older Entries