How To Live With Less Stuff

February 25, 2013 by  
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Most of us are surrounded by a ton of stuff. The problem is so rampant that there are numerous self-help books and even TV shows to show us how to organize all of it. But it is possible, even fulfilling, to let go of the mass-consumption mentality and make the change to a simpler and happier lifestyle. Here are some steps you can take toward a life with less stuff.

1. Need vs. want
Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if you really need that item, or if you just want it. How would your life be better long-term if you bought that item? Would it benefit anyone else, or just you? Can you afford it, or will you have to pay it off gradually? And even think – where am I going to put it!

2. Pay cash for everything
One way to curtail excessive spending is to commit to paying for everything up front – no loans, no credit cards, no “making payments” unless it’s an unavoidable emergency.  This is very hard for some people.  The best way to stop using the credit cards is to cut them up or, at least, leave them at home when you go out to shop.  Planning ahead is key.

3. Donate
There are many people who would love some of the items you have stored away. Ask your local charities or churches if there are any families in need, or donate to your local GoodWill, Salvation Army, etc.  Many organizations will even pick up your discards making it easy for you to give.

4. Keep things in perspective
It’s easy to get clingy with our things, but keeping our priorities straight and looking at the big picture can go a long way in helping you make the change. (Will it matter in 100 years if you have that DVD right now? Will it make you a better person to have that outfit or gadget?) Remember how pointless it is to keep an item from someone who really needs it when you hardly ever use it. Think about how happy that item will make someone else.

5. Find what makes you truly happy
Accumulating more stuff will not, ultimately, make you happier. It will make your life more complicated. Happiness needs to come from within, and if you can find out what makes your spirit content and peaceful, you will feel less of an inner void and won’t be tempted to fill that void with material things.

6. Entertain yourself
You don’t need to look to media, games, etc. to be entertained. Find out how to pass your “down time” creatively, and exercise your mind’s “muscle.” When you step away from mass media, you will find previously unknown resources within yourself.  Read a library book.  Take a nature walk.  Play games with your family.

7. Focus on others
Fulfillment can be found in interpersonal relationships, which have no price tag attached. Objects can not satisfy that need for interaction and intimacy. When we focus on other people, it’s a step toward breaking out of the “it’s all about me and what I want” mentality that gives rise to mass consumption.

7. Enjoy the added space
Relax and enjoy the simplicity of life with less stuff. You will probably find that you think more clearly and are less tense without all that stuff demanding your attention. Plus you’ll find that it’s a whole lot easier to dust!

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Why Laughter Is Good for the Soul

June 14, 2010 by  
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It’s been said that laughter is medicine for the soul. Researchers have now proven that this is not just a saying but the truth.

Laughter therapy has been shown to help people who are ill or facing tough physical challenges.

It’s true that our mood affects our health. Stress, feeling down, anxiety and depression can all lead to ill health in many ways. By contrast, laughter can help ease many medical conditions.

When we laugh our muscles relax and we release endorphins into our system. These endorphins (or happy hormones) make us feel good and relieve stress from our bodies. By relieving our bodies of stress and pent-up anxiety, we help boost our immunity and fight off a host of illnesses and conditions.

Did you know that optimists have been shown to live healthier lives? It’s true, and laughter is of course related to being an optimist. By being a person who always looks at the bright side of things and manages to laugh even when things get tough, you stand a chance of a longer, healthier life. Not to mention an improved quality of life as well.

So just how do you manage to laugh when the going gets tough?

Smile more – Smiling can have a similar effect to laughter. It’s the first step to feeling good and having a good laugh. Practice until you find that smiling becomes second nature. When you smile you change your internal physiology to reflect your feelings – in this case positive, good feelings.

Watch a funny movie – While television dramas and movies can be exciting to watch, too much can lead to damaging effects. By watching more funny movies and programs on TV, you ensure that you’ll be left with a good feeling once the television is turned off rather than feelings of anxiety or sadness. While this may seem like wrapping yourself in a bubble to a certain extent, it is important to limit our exposure to negative images and ideas. By simply watching more feelgood TV, you stand a better chance of feeling better overall.

Volunteer to a child-related service – Children have a way of putting a smile on our faces. Their energy and enthusiasm is often contagious. A good way to increase laughter is to volunteer at your local school or child care facility. You’ll not only feel good about helping out, but you’ll have a great time and find laughter comes a lot easier!

Exercise – Exercise is now prescribed as a treatment to anxiety and mild depression. It not only helps your body feel good, it helps your mind too. Regular exercise will release endorphins into your system which will make you feel good. Laughter will soon follow after, because if you feel good then you have a reason to smile and laugh more.

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The Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder Explained

January 14, 2010 by  
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It’s not unusual for people to feel a little down at one point or another, but some are consistently depressed when the summer ends and shorter days begin. Is this depression due to circumstances or do they have SAD? Having the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) explained will help determine if their problem is simply a down day or something more serious.

A type of depression, SAD is often characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness as well as losing interest in normal activities. The symptoms increase as the year progresses from sunny, longer days to those which are colder and shorter.

Symptoms generally include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Sleepiness or fatigue – This is common among people suffering from SAD; in fact, they may desire to sleep ten or more hours per day during the winter. Unfortunately, most people experiencing SAD don’t feel rested no matter how much they sleep.

* Concentration problems – Since SAD is a form of depression, those with this disorder often experience difficulty with concentration, quality of memory, and the ability to speak. It is quite common for people with SAD to have problems remembering names, dates, and appointments.

* Irritability and anger – Also common in those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder is having fits of anger. One recent study found 40% of the people with SAD had anger episodes which were deemed inappropriate compared with only 29% of people without SAD. They also have these bouts of anger nineteen or more times per month.

* Increased appetite – Many people with general depression will stop eating; however, some people with SAD often experience an increase in appetite. 65% of those having SAD state they’re actually hungrier during the darker months. This increase in appetite may be due to lower levels of serotonin which controls appetite and mood.

* Carbohydrate cravings – When SAD sufferers do eat more during colder months, they most likely crave carbohydrates such as pasta and bread. Some doctors think the desire for carbs is caused by the increase of tryptophan which then increases the serotonin levels. They may be using carbs in place of medicine to increase their moods but will result in gaining weight during the winter months.

* Withdrawal from normal activities – Depression sufferers often feel like secluding themselves, but this is particularly true for those with SAD.

These symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may vary in severity in each person. Visiting a physician will enable them to correctly diagnose and recommend treatment if you are found to have SAD.

Click HERE to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and one way to help combat it and other related symptoms

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Food Dos and Don’ts to Beat Winter Blues

December 13, 2009 by  
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People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) tend to put on weight because they tend to sleep more, are less active, and eat more than during the longer spring and summer months. They may crave carbohydrates and sweets to the point where they eat little else. Understanding these food dos and don’ts to beat winter blues may help you keep the extra pounds at bay while enabling you to feel better.

SAD is a type of depression which affects millions of people in the United States and around the world. While most of the people affected are women, men also suffer from this sometimes debilitating disorder. As stated above, people with SAD often crave carbohydrates and sugary treats because their body needs serotonin which helps regulate hunger and affects mood-enhancing chemicals. Unfortunately, when anyone eats too many sweets, extra pounds also creep onto the body.

Things to do:

* Eat complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables. Choosing the most colorful vegetables and fruits will not only help you avoid simple carbs, but they may actually help brighten your day with their colors. Some dieticians suggest their patients with SAD eat as many as four cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables a day.

* Eat three servings of protein a day. The protein helps fill you up, gives you energy, and helps build muscle.

* You may want to keep the following foods on hand for when you feel you need a mid-afternoon snack: oatmeal, nuts, peanut butter, prewashed vegetables, air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers or bread, turkey, fruit, or cottage cheese.

* Bananas are a good choice if you want something sweet. Not only do they curb the appetite for sugar, they also can help enhance your mood because they contain both dopamine and serotonin.

Things not to do:

* Avoid consuming too much caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to suppress serotonin levels, so you’re actually compounding the problem when drinking coffee. If you must drink it, wait until after the mid-day meal so there is still plenty of daylight left to keep you from getting too tired.

* Avoid sweet treats and simple carbohydrates. This would include white bread and rice. Eating too many simple carbs raises your blood sugar level and then drops it just as quickly, which leads to the afternoon slump many people feel.

* Don’t skip meals as a general rule, not only during the winter months. The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you will be. You will also notice a dip in concentration and more of a tendency to make poor food choices.

Following these food dos and don’ts to beat winter blues will help improve the way you feel as well, as help you avoid putting on extra pounds. When the winter months are over, you can feel better about the way you dealt with SAD this year and feel good about not having extra weight to lose before summer months arrive.

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The Benefits of SAM-e to Combat Winter Blues

December 7, 2009 by  
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You may have heard recently that SAM-e (S-adenosyl-methionine) is a good supplement for those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAM-e isn’t an herb as such, but is a substance found in plant, animal, and human cells. While the body does produce SAM-e, many people may notice the benefit of taking SAM-e as a supplement.

SAM-e has been used in the United States to treat depression which is characterized by pessimism, loss of motivation, an increase in sleep and appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and thoughts of suicide in some cases. Rather than using synthetic drugs which often have serious adverse side effects, many people are choosing to use natural alternatives such as SAM-e, St. John’s Wort, and kava kava.

Many people consider SAM-e to be one of the most effective natural antidepressants; it is also considered to be extremely safe. SAM-e increases the action of dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, which are neurotransmitters required to regulate people’s mood.

SAM-e has been prescribed to effectively treat mild depression in Europe for many years. It has been shown to have the following benefits, not all associated with depression or SAD:

* Joint and connective tissue pain associated with osteoarthritis is reduced
* Produces an energizing effect for those taking the supplement
* Better focus when using the supplement than when not taking it
* Positive improvement in their mood while taking it
* May lower homocysteine levels which may reduce cardiovascular disease
* Is an antioxidant which helps fight free radicals
* Does not cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction in users, which is a problem with some prescribed antidepressants

Besides helping improve the symptoms of depression and SAD, there are other health benefits associated with taking SAM-e. Quite often people suffering from depression experience pain similar to arthritis. If a person does have arthritis pain, SAM-e may help alleviate some of this pain. SAM-e has also been shown to have a positive effect on fibromyalgia and liver disease, along with arthritis pain and depression.

Most often, people will take 400 milligrams of SAM-e on an empty stomach for up to two weeks. This should be sufficient for mild depression symptoms. If the depression lingers or gets worse, someone may take up to 600 milligrams a day. However, if depression symptoms last longer than two weeks, it is best to seek professional help. Those diagnosed with bipolar depression particularly should speak with their health provider before taking SAM-e or any other antidepressant.

The benefits of SAM-e to combat winter blues are reported in the United States and Europe. You may have considered using SAM-e yourself. If this is the case, you can find it in drug stores, health food stores, and general discount stores. SAM-e may well help alleviate some of your symptoms of winter blues, but you may find the cost more than you would prefer.

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Help for moms! Don’t Blow a Gasket

October 4, 2009 by  
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Life can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. You may be wondering how to turn down the pressure and learn to de-stress. Why not try one or more of these ten tips to de-stress and watch your pressure level drop.

Full-body breathing

Deep breathing, or full-body breathing, is considered to be one of the best ways to lower stress. Breathing deeply sends oxygen throughout your body and encourages the brain to calm which allows the body to relax. This is a great way to de-stress that won’t cost more than a little bit of time and effort on your part to master.

Stop your temper from flaring up

Failure to control anger can be detrimental to emotional and physical health. In fact, anger can result in additional stress you may not want, whilst controlling your anger can help you de-stress and relax. Learning to not take things personally can help anyone control their anger which will result in their being less stressed.

Head massage

If you’re stressed you may end up with a pounding headache. Although many people instinctively rub their temples to reduce tension and eyestrain, learning more about head massage or finding someone trained to give them may be one way to turn down pressure in your life.

Think positive

You may have been instructed to “think positive” on occasion. Positive thoughts and self-talk can actually reduce stress by focusing on good things rather than bad. Some researchers claim optimists will live longer, have better health, and have less stress. Try it today and see if it’s true for you.

Get some exercise

Exercise is a tried and true method to reduce stress. Not only is exercise good for you physically, it also releases endorphins which will improve your mood and outlook. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to do your body good – a daily walk outside can do wonders to relieve stress and help you feel better.

Find something to laugh about

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, and it seems science has proven this fact. Laughter reduces stress and exercises the internal organs. The effects of laughter can also remain after you’ve stopped laughing. Find a silly movie and laugh away; it does your body good.

Keep a journal

Writing out things that frustrate you helps reduce stress as well as give you clarity of thought. If you’re able to see a situation clearly, you’ll feel less stressed about it. Grab a pen, some paper, or your computer, and feel the stress ease away.

Meditate

Meditation has long been used to combat stress. It also helps with physical pain and enables you to feel more peaceful. Spending fifteen minutes in meditation can calm the mind and help you re-focus when you have to return to your normal day.

Take a bubble bath

Women have this relaxation technique mastered, but the benefit of bubble baths isn’t only for women. If you’re overtired and stressed, time in bubbles can do wonders to restore peace to your mind and reduce the effects of stress on your body.

Get plenty of rest

If you’re not sleeping well, it’s not unusual to feel stressed. Lack of sleep can also lead to a short temper, lack of concentration, and physical tiredness. Sleeping will help reduce stress, and re-charge your mind and body for what the day holds in store.

Life can be stressful, but there’s no reason you can’t use these ten tips to turn down the pressure. You can use them individually or in combination for added stress-reducing benefits.

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How to Help Children Deal with Stress

August 15, 2009 by  
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Stress is a normal part of life. How we choose to deal with it, however, is an entirely different subject. As a parent or grandparent, it’s important to know how to help your children deal with stress effectively.

Today it’s unusual to see a child simply relaxing and playing. There are expectations from family, teachers, and friends, as well as technology and activities to keep them busy. Some studies suggest a third of all children suffer from undue stress. In fact, even young children are beginning to show signs of chronic stress in ever-increasing numbers, enough to concern health professionals.

Listen to the child in your life and learn to recognize the symptoms of being overly stressed. They may act out, whine incessantly, or try to isolate themselves if they’re not verbal yet. Older children may show a lack of patience, become stubborn, or have trouble concentrating. They may also express physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach-aches, or lack of energy. Pay attention to the symptoms and try to determine if they’re caused by stress or if they’re simply misbehaving.

Teach your child to recognize the difference between being relaxed and being stressed. Explain how stress might make them feel tense or stiff like a piece of wood. Help them learn to relax by tensing their muscles and the letting the tension go. When they can tense and release their muscles at will, they’ll be able to learn to relax more efficiently.

Be available for them. Perhaps part of your child’s stress is caused by everyone in the family being too busy. Your child needs to know they can find you if they need you. You might want to reduce the number of activities your family is involved in so you’re more available for them. Take time to spend alone with them if you notice them starting to become apprehensive.

Try to be patient with them. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” can be applied to your child learning to deal with stress as well. Learning to deal with stress takes time and your child needs you to be patient with them while they learn.

Have some fun with your child. There is little that can beat laughter for reducing stress in children and in adults. Play games with them, watch silly movies, or just enjoy listening to their goofy jokes. You’ll both feel better and less stressed.

It’s important to remember that stress is common to nearly everyone. And while adults have years of experience dealing with stress, that’s not so for the children in their lives. Your child depends on you to help them learn how to deal with stress. This can begin at an early age and continue until they are in their teens. By the time they’re adults and able to better understand stress, they’ll have mastered dealing with it effectively.

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