Health & Lifestyle

How Establishing a Morning Routine Improves Your Health

A Morning Routine is More Beneficial Than You Think

Does your morning routine consist of multiple scheduled alarms going off every 10-30 minutes? Do you grab your phone and check social media first thing in the morning? Are you dreading your day before it starts? If you never feel on top of your game or as productive as you could be, it’s time to establish a morning routine.  

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work from home or an office, a student, or retired, there’s always something that needs to be accomplished in the day. 

Establishing a morning routine can help boost your productivity, keep you organized, and feel successful. 

Why Bother?

You’re the leader of your life. 

You deserve to start your morning with positivity and confidence. The goal of a morning routine isn’t about trying to accomplish as many tasks as possible. It’s about waking up with a focused mind and accomplishing one task at a time without feeling stressed or overwhelmed. 

Not all morning routines are equal. Don’t emulate or compare your morning routine to others. Set your intentions. What do you want out of your day? 

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Morning Routines Improves Mental Clarity

Waking knowing you have a lot to do but not knowing where to begin is daunting. As a result, you say, “I’ll do it later,” procrastinate throughout the day and suddenly feel like you’re playing catchup. A great solution is to plan your day the night before. List your goals in an order that’s do-able for you. The list doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated. You can start with something as small as making your bed. Having a list creates order and clarity of what you’re doing with your life at that moment. If you can set the pace the night before, your morning self will thank you. 

Your Physical Health Can Improve

With mental clarity comes less stress. Less stress means less muscle tension and aches. Incorporating a workout into your plan will elevate endorphins, improve your energy, mood, and help motivate you. Whether it’s cardio, yoga, pilates, or strength training, the ecstatic feeling after a workout is pure bliss.  

Establishing a Routine Boosts Your Productivity and Confidence

Your mind and body are connected, so when you’re mentally focused, energy flows to whatever the mind concentrates on. The energy you express plays a crucial role in your productivity. Productivity is not always about how much you get done but the quality at which you complete a task.

When you complete a task and proud of the quality, you build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. As you continue with your morning routine, your self-efficacy will improve making you feel more effective with time-management and productivity.

You’re Less Likely to Forget 

How many times have you had a mental checklist and forgot everything within 10 minutes only to have the list miraculously pay you a mental visit before bed? When you establish a morning routine, your priorities are visible.  According to a 2017 study, writing important details boosts overall memory and cognitive performance. So, maybe instead of typing your morning routine, whip out the trusty pen and paper. Place your daily list on the fridge, on your work desk, or any easily accessible location.  

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Tips to Get Started

Determine Core Tasks and What Makes You Happy

The beautiful thing about establishing a morning routine is it’s created by you, for you. 

We all have core tasks that need to be accomplished. Whether it’s getting the kids ready, taking the dog out for a walk, work, meal prepping, etc. Determine your daily responsibilities that can go undone. 

When it comes to what makes you happy, do you prefer to start your morning with an energizing workout? Do you want to write more? Would you like to take daily naps? Go for it! Keep in mind you may not be able to do everything that makes you happy, but sprinkling in activities that increases serotonin is never a bad idea.

Be Flexible and Consistent 

Life happens, so don’t be hard on yourself. Allow room to adapt and adjust. Do what’s right for you. The goal of establishing a morning routine is to create a fruitful day, not a stressful one. The most helpful habits keep you consistent. As with any new routine, it will feel natural over time. What once felt like an obligation will become something you look forward to. 

Create a Not-to-do List 

Whether it’s falling down the YouTube rabbit hole, we’ve all done it, mindlessly scrolling through social media for a long period, or exposing yourself to Debbie Downer news, keep your mind focused on productive activities. It’s alright to take breaks and chat with friends and family, but try not to let it transition into watching cat videos regardless of how adorable they are. 

Be Realistic

If you’re used to waking up around 7 am, don’t suddenly decide to wake up at 4 am the next morning. If you have a specific time you wish to awaken, set your alarm 30 mins earlier each day until you comfortably reach your desired goal. Several professionals are team 4:30 am, but if you prefer to not rise before the sun, choosing a different time is perfectly alright. If you aren’t a morning person, adjust your routine according to your schedule. If you wake up at 10 am, start your routine at that time.

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Get Your Workout Fix with YouTube Workouts

At the moment, non-essential businesses are closed including gyms. I’ve never been a gym person, but I know quite a few people who lived at their local gym and don’t have the proper equipment at home. I prefer to workout at home and happily wear my raggediest clothes to sweat in. No shame.

Many people may not think of going to YouTube for workout videos, but there are a plethora of workouts for every body type and needs. Search for what you’re looking for at the moment, and you’ll find it. My tip, look for vids with a runtime of 20+ minutes. There are a lot of “clip” workouts that won’t give you the workout you need. Here are some workouts in my playlist.

I love LesMills Combat workouts because I’ve always preferred martial arts style fitness. I have a couple more workouts on my hard drive that aren’t on YouTube. I mix those workouts with P90X2 and P90X3 workouts.

Whether you’re on a fitness journey or just love working out, I hope these and other YouTube vids keep you motivated and active during this time.

 

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It’s hard to combat stress and anxiety in a world that can drive you insane. It’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about situations that make you feel frustrated, nervous and uneasy. When it starts interfering with your daily life, that may indicate a more serious issue.

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Eat a Well Balanced Diet
When it comes to appetite, stress and anxiety can either make you eat more or less. When I’m stressed, all I want to do is eat and sleep the day away. It may be difficult, but you have to continue to fuel your body with a well-balanced diet. Never skip a meal, eat energy-boosting foods and drink plenty of water.

Discover Your Triggers
Something in your life is triggering your stress or anxiety. Family, work, school, relationships, or friends may be the cause. Keep track of when you feel fine and when you become irritable, nervous or experience any other physical symptoms. Try to avoid stressors if possible. Writing in a diary and keeping track of your emotions will also help.

Exercise
Exercise helps increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Physical activity allows you to focus on getting through your workout which results in a better mood. For me, it is hard to feel motivated enough to work out, but once I force myself to get up and start moving, the workout takes over and I’m proud I did it.

Talk to Someone
Keeping in feelings is never a good thing. Open up to friends or family that you trust. Simply expressing yourself can relieve stress. Talking to someone can also lead to advice you can utilize. I find this difficult to do for myself because I feel like I’m going to be judged or my feelings will be tossed to the side. Choose who you talk to carefully. Don’t talk to those who are self-centered and wouldn’t care about your thoughts. Choose someone who is empathetic.

Sleep
Stress and anxiety are exhausting on the body. Getting at least eight hours of sleep is important for your body to properly get rest.

Time-Out
Listen to music, go to the movies, take a hot bath, meditate, do yoga or simply go for a walk alone. Do something for yourself! Step away from the stressful moment to mentally breathe and clear your head.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoid the “I need a drink” mentality. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system. This can result in a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Sipping on a little alcohol may seem nice, but alcohol stimulates the production of the same hormones that produce stress. A study at the University of Chicago revealed alcohol and stress feed each other.

Keep a Positive Mindset 
If the only thoughts running through your head are negative, your outlook on life will be negative. Our minds can generate so many negative thoughts and scenarios. Positive thinking just means approaching situations in a more positive and productive manner. Self-talk, the little voice in your head, is the most damaging of all. Learning how to shift your thoughts will allow you to cope with stressful situations.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Many times stress and anxiety are caused by an individual trying to be perfect or live up to certain expectations. Everyone is different and being perfect isn’t possible. We live in a social media world where everyone only shows the good in life causing a false image of their lifestyle. This causes envy or jealousy. Be the best you can be. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone is struggling with something regardless of how pretty that picture is.

You Can’t Control Everything
Being able to accept things that are out of your control will help you manage stress. There are times when you have to stop resisting and embrace the lesson. There are times when you can’t change things and that’s OK. It’s hard, but it needs to be done. Put things into perspective by asking yourself, is it as bad as it could be?

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” ~Arthur Rubinstein

Though you can use these tips for stress management on your own, if you feel as though your stress and anxiety is unmanageable, please seek professional help or ask others to help you find the support you need.

Utilize the helpful tips above to live a happy and stress-free life that you deserve.

10 Stress Busters to Live a Better Life

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World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day!

There are so many individuals with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders that remain silent about their struggles. When they do open up, they’re often told they’re overthinking or “it’s all in your head.” With responses like this, people with mental health disorders retreat further within themselves. As a result, they are afraid to talk to anyone or self-medicate.

Let’s all be aware of the people in our lives. Reach out to them and ask if they’re alright. Give them an ear or a shoulder to cry on. Don’t dismiss their feelings.

This is also a time for those who feel overwhelmed and mentally exhausted to stop and take a break. Cleanse your mind by doing something you love. Even if it’s for an hour, the mental stimulation will be worth it.

Always remember to take care of yourself.

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Appreciating the Little Things

It’s 7 am. The sunlight enters the bedroom window naturally waking a woman from her slumber. After a quick yawn and stretch, she heads to her bathroom to empty her bladder. Still physically and mentally waking up, she turns on the hot and cold water to create a comfortable temperature to wash her hands, face, and brush her teeth. 

Squinting from the abundance of sunshine beaming through her opened blinds, she walks into her living room towards her computer to boot it up. The desktop starts up immediately allowing her to hop on the internet and play the latest news vids. While catching up on what’s happening in the world, she opens her fridge to grab filtered water to prepare coffee. She scouts her selection of food deciding what will compliment her coffee. She chooses a bagel and cream cheese. 

As she awaits her bagel to toast, she sips on freshly brewed coffee while stepping onto her balcony to get some fresh air. The street is quiet with an occasional car or passerby. Her neighbors have unique schedules. Some have already left for work while others are still preparing for the day.

She hears the toaster oven beep notifying her the bagel is ready. Honey walnut cream cheese is slathered on the toasted bagel causing a sweet aroma to fill the kitchen. She grabs her hot breakfast and walks over to her computer desk. The day isn’t planned. There’s nothing on the schedule. She has the entire day to do whatever she chooses. Online shopping, laundry, write, head out with someone, exercise, or do absolutely nothing. The choice is hers. All she knows is it’s her day off, she doesn’t have to get out of her pajamas, and the coffee is truly hitting the spot. 

If you made it this far, this is what I do the first hour of waking up on my day off. You may be wondering what does my morning routine has to do with appreciating the little things. It has everything to do with the title. 

  1. I appreciate waking up in my bed with a roof over my head.
  2. I appreciate having a bathroom with clean running water.
  3. I appreciate seeing the sunlight beaming through my windows.
  4. I appreciate being able to afford the internet and a computer.
  5. I appreciate having food in my fridge and the option to choose what to eat.
  6. I appreciate preparing breakfast.
  7. I appreciate having a job that includes having a day off. 😀

You get the point. 

I didn’t want to do a simple list of things you should appreciate. I decided to go a different route. I guess I’m trying to be unique.

We’re so busy with our lives that we forget to appreciate the little things that are part of our daily routine, but ignored because of bigger things on our mind. The next time you wake up in the morning, have a day to yourself, or when you have a peaceful moment, pay attention to what you do and your surrounds. Appreciate the basics.

What are some small things you appreciate?

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The Difficulty, Yet Necessity, of Positive Thinking

Why is it so difficult to think positive yet extremely easy to be negative? Is it because we live in a negative world? One that constantly tells us we’re not good enough regardless of how hard we try. A society that constantly compares us to the next person and is quick to point out our flaws. What about our own internal struggles? We put ourselves down on a regular basis regardless of if the people who love us say the opposite.

I’ve noticed, in this supercharged political time, something as basic as a video of a cat playing with a ball of yarn can turn political in the comments. How can something so innocent and non-threatening make people think about politics? It’s as if some people look for the negative in everything or receive pleasure in triggering others to join their negative space.

How about we try to be more positive?

Take some time out of your day and think about the positive things in your life. If you have a hard time, start with the basics.

  1. You woke up.
  2. You have clean running water to wash your body and brush your teeth with.
  3. When you look in the mirror, compliment yourself as if you’re Johnny Bravo.

If you need some more ways to start thinking positive, here are 11 Ways to Boost Positive Thinking.

Let’s start the new week on a positive note!

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Virtual reality and pain relief
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Virtual Reality Pain Management – Can It Alleviate Pain?

Virtual reality pain management may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to chronic pain. Virtual reality is no longer just for gamers and other forms of entertainment. This type of pain management may seem odd, but completely effective according to test studies.

We’ve mentioned in previous articles how effective distractors can be when it comes to temporarily alleviate chronic pain. Virtual reality is one of those distractors. Virtual reality pain management is still working its way into the medical field. You may not find many VR sets at your local hospital or physician’s office because a headset and program can be quite pricey. A pain control game called Snow World cost $35,000 during a pain relief study. There are cheaper alternatives including Samsung’s Gear VR, HTC’s Vive and Oculus Rift. With these cheaper alternatives, you may begin to see more virtual reality sets in hospitals.

Virtual reality pain management doesn’t always include playing a video game. There are a number of virtual reality pain management applications specifically to distract patients from their pain. One application called COOL!, by DeepStream VR Inc., focuses on immersing pain patients into a soothing virtual reality world. In COOL!, patients can play with wildlife in a beautiful landscape.

One particular study used the Oculus Rift headset to run COOL! on 30 participants, male and female, ranging between 35-79 years of age. Participants had a variety of chronic pain disorders. Prior to their virtual reality pain management session, participants were asked to rate their pain between 0-10. Participants rated their pain as a 5.7. During the session, they rated their pain a 2.6. Post-session, they rated their pain a 4.1. The average change in pain rating between pre-session and post-session was 33 percent.

When asked to rate their engagement in the virtual world between 0-10, the average rating was 8.4. Participants were asked if they experienced any dizziness, headaches or nausea. No participants experienced dizziness or headaches, but one participant rated her nausea as a 3. She did note she had a long history of nausea with video games but mentioned COOL! was better than past video games that triggered her nausea.

We do have to note more studies need to be done on virtual reality pain management. This type of pain management may not be effective for everyone.

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How to Help People Overcome Chronic Pain And Suicidal Thoughts

Chronic pain and suicidal thoughts are more common than many realize. Chronic pain sufferers describe a sense of feeling completely hopeless due to agonizing pain. Individuals with chronic pain often can’t perform daily routines. Shifting to a limited lifestyle due to pain can cause depression and suicidal thoughts.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as RSD, is a debilitating nerve disorder affecting millions of people in the United States. Neuro-autoimmune disease is also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD/CRPS is often referred to as the “suicide disease” due to the high percentage of deaths associated with its symptoms. RSD is a progressive neurological condition that can disturb all extremities of the body. It starts in one area but is likely to travel throughout the body during its progression.

RSD/CRPS causes so much pain that patients are at a higher risk of taking their life. RSD/CRPS remains grossly undertreated in most patients. There is a lack of knowledge among both health professionals and consumers and many patients have a fear of becoming addicted to opioid treatments. This causes many to go undiagnosed or not get the proper treatment needed.

Depression, Chronic Pain, and Suicidal Thoughts

Researchers found that a group of neurons responsible for negative emotions became heightened within days after an injury. This triggered a drop in dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Depression can make chronic pain worse and vice versa. The pain can become so severe that people may believe suicide is the only way it can stop.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

  • Increased alcohol, smoking or drug consumption
  • Openly threatening suicide
  • Experiencing mental or emotional problems
  • Lack of sleep
  • Explosive mood swings or anger
  • Isolation
  • Extremely depressive mood
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Self-loathing
  • Increased risky behaviors
  • Unexpectedly getting affairs in order
  • Changes in personality
  • Severe anxiety and agitation

The Do’s to Help People with Chronic Pain and Suicidal Thoughts

  • Take them seriously. Suicidal thoughts are a cry for help. Take it as such.
  • Let them know you care about them and would be devastated to lose them.
  • Allow them to vent and listen to their pain.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Communicate with them frequently to check-in.
  • Assist them in finding an expert for treating their chronic pain.
  • Assist with finding a mental health expert.
  • Support them during the treatment.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Don’ts for Helping People with Chronic Pain and Suicidal Thoughts

  • Don’t leave them alone. Detoxify the area of the means if possible.
  • Don’t argue with them.
  • Don’t dismiss their suicidal thoughts as a joke.
  • Don’t criticize them.
  • Don’t talk about negative news or death while in their presence.
  • Don’t ignore them.
  • Don’t gossip about their situation.

Treatment for RSD/CRPS

  • Topical Pain Relievers and Topical Analgesics
  • Antidepressants and Anticonvulsants
  • Corticosteroid
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking medications
  • Intravenous Ketamine
  • Physical Therapy
  • Biofeedback Therapy and Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy

If you have suicidal thoughts, please do not suffer in silence. Seek help from a close friend, relative or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You are not alone in this fight.

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Open Your Heart

We unknowingly go through life closed off to people, the environment, and social situations. Yes, we interact with people on a daily basis, but are you truly yourself 100 percent of the time?

Life is constantly tossing us challenges and the results will often change us, for the better or worse. Happiness is a state of mind and a choice. Regardless of what challenges you’ve had, it is time to choose happiness. Yes, it can be hard, but it starts with opening your heart.

Opening your heart starts from within. It will allow you to eliminate sadness and unforgiving thoughts of others and ourselves. Absorbing positivity will generate a sense of mental freedom and clarity.

Appreciate who you are and be yourself. Many people wander the earth without knowing who they are. Do you? Are you simply going through the paces of life like a robot? Stop and take a moment to discover your true self.

Be open to receiving anything and everything. It’s great to be independent, but even the most independent person needs help. Instead of rejecting help, take it. Take some of the weight off of your shoulders. Accepting help will not devalue your independence or strength.

Open your heart to past mistakes, accept them, learn from them and move into the future with newfound knowledge. The past can eat at us. Don’t lose sight of who you are now and how you can better yourself.

Do something you love every day. For me, it’s writing. It is sometimes hard for me to organize my thoughts because my brain is constantly churning. Writing helps me focus my thoughts and express myself. Sometimes, reading my own words is therapeutic.

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The Power of Sharing and Generosity

Sharing or generosity is an undervalued attribute in society. We live in a world where people feel as if sharing will minimize their opportunities, time or money. Some people will only give when the opportunity suits them or when they want something in return. What happened to genuinely wanting to share?

When you’re open to sharing, materialism will have less of a grip on your life. You will be able to shift your focus from yourself to the object of your generosity. You won’t be the center of attention for that moment and that’s OK. Even a meager dose of generosity can change someone’s life.

Studies have shown that people who are generous, feel happier, more fulfilled and confident. This psychological change helps people to discover their purpose and can lower their sense of selfishness.

The mindset of competition in everything we do is a false premise. If you are a successful artist, business person, musician, or any other form of expert and have the knowledge to help someone else, share it. People who are truly generous know that life is short and they only have a small amount of time to leave an imprint on this earth.

When you genuinely share, people will recognize you as a helpful resource. Let’s face it, this can be negative and positive. You do have to be careful with people who are grateful for your help but will try to take advantage of your generosity down the road. Hopefully, you’ll encounter more people who will never forget the generosity you provided and will be there for you in your time of need without asking.

This world needs more generous people!

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person?

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