Aletheia Hunn started her business, Founded Wellness, to bring the benefits of yoga, meditation, and other wellness tools into the workplace.
PHOTO BY FOUNDED WELLNESS.
It’s no surprise that workplace wellness is one of the sectors predicted to see the strongest future growth by the Global Wellness Institute. Given the number of hours spent at work during a lifetime—feeling good at work matters, and, it also has a flow-on effect to other areas of your life.
A CBI report late last year showed that “1.3 million people suffered from new or longstanding work-related illnesses” in the previous year and “up to 5 million workers are thought to suffer from a mental health condition each year”.
So, what’s missing to get people feeling good?
Aletheia Hunn, Founder, and Director of Founded Wellness believes that it’s all about having a greater understanding of the connection between your body and your mind. Nobody is exempt from well-being. It comes from an ability to be aware of what’s happening in a holistic way, in order to know how to navigate yourself back to balance.
Founder, Aletheia Hunn, believes working with both the body and the mind can bring about balance for individuals and their employers.
PHOTO BY FOUNDED WELLNESS.
Having started her wellness business two and a half years ago, she says she’s been wearing many different hats and has at times spread herself thin. However, it’s been the permission to take time out and the awareness of the ‘intelligence of her body’ she now has that allows her to keep coming back to center much quicker.
Staying stuck in a heightened stress cycle for too long leads to things like chronic anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and a suppressed your immune system. So having the awareness and tools to ‘come back to center’ quickly is critical to your long-term health and well-being—it’s not just about feeling good at the office.
Aletheia says that many people either don’t have access to that kind of ‘time out’ in their workplace, or rather, the idea of stopping in the first place just feels too challenging and uncomfortable, so it doesn’t happen. She says there needs to be more of a meeting in the middle for both employers and employees to “create a bit more lightness”.
Her own experience of wellness, particularly her yoga training, was born out of a desire to simply ‘feel better’ in her personal and professional life. At a time where she was in that “classic, slightly stressed London life”, she said her physical activity was much more ‘mindless’ and focused on driving the next ‘personal best’. Which meant both her body and her mind were constantly active.
Aletheia suggests that when we’re stressed or feeling the day to day pressures we’ve lost that sense of connection with our bodies (and minds). Bringing about balance is about understanding what it is you need most in those moments. Too often we keep pushing on, instead of acknowledging how we’re feeling. She believes there’s so much intelligence in our bodies to support us back to balance but we’re not giving ourselves permission to take notice.
Practices like yoga and meditation help to regulate those emotional responses in the body. And there are numerous studies showing the negative impacts on physical health when you don’t regulate, and instead, stay in heightened states of stress for too long.
Practices such as yoga and meditation can help regulate emotional responses that trigger stress.
PHOTO BY FOUNDED WELLNESS.
Which is why at Founded Wellness they’ve been focused on bringing the benefits of yoga, meditation, and other wellness activities out of studios and clinics and into the workplace.
We’re passionate about supporting the working population, those in great need of more attention and care for their wellbeing. Our ambition is simple, to improve how everyone lives and feels each day at work.
For Aletheia now, she’s much more mindful about knowing when and why she’d slow down to bring herself into balance. And this helps her spot her owns signs of stress too—anything from sleep being impacted to feeling like she’s not able to engage in anything fully—much more quickly.
And that’s really what it’s all about. When it comes to workplace wellness it’s all about giving people ways to spot their own signs of stress and imbalance faster, enabling them to bring more of that harmony into their lives which ultimately impacts their work too. A mentally happy workplace is interdependent with employee engagement, productivity and even profits.
Aletheia suggests that something as simple as a yoga class can bring that sense of inspiration into the workplace and create a bit more lightness for people to spark their own journeys back to connection.
Aletheia Hunn is one of eight UK ‘Women In Wellness’ I interviewed across different types and stages of business, to understand how they are growing successful businesses whilst bringing balance and well-being into their own lives. Business Coach and Founder of Welltodo, Lauren Armes, also talked about the importance of feeling good and doing what you love. The remaining articles will be published throughout March in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Raspberries are enjoyable all year long, whether they’re fresh or frozen. These gorgeous gems aren’t just delicious and versatile; they have an impressive nutritional profile that makes them one of the healthiest choices in the produce aisle. Here are 7 health benefits of raspberries, plus simple ways to include both fresh and frozen options into meals and snacks.
Raspberries have lots of nutrients
One cup of raspberries provides over 50% of the minimum daily target for vitamin C, which supports immunity and skin health and helps produce collagen. Raspberries also contain manganese and vitamin K, which both play a role in bone health. And they supply smaller amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium.
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They’re low in sugar
Raspberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, at just 5 grams per cup fresh, compared to about 20 grams in one medium apple. This makes them a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth who wants to minimize their overall sugar intake.
They’re rich in anti-aging antioxidants
Raspberries are antioxidant powerhouses. These health-protective compounds have been tied to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Raspberry antioxidants also help reduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging. The natural protective substances in raspberries are also linked to better DNA repair and blocking enzymes that trigger arthritis pain.
They can protect you from cancer
Raspberry antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are associated with cancer protection by reducing the reproduction of cancer cells. However, research also shows that the phytonutrients in raspberries, such as ellagitannins, may actually help kill cancer cells by signaling apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Raspberries are high in fiber
A cup of raspberries packs an impressive 8 grams of dietary fiber, a third of the daily minimum goal. This high-fiber content also reduces raspberries’ net carb content to about 7 grams per cup (since our bodies aren’t capable of digesting and absorbing fiber). That fiber also contributes to fullness, blunts blood sugar by slowing digestion, and supports good digestive health. Raspberry fiber also helps beneficial gut bacteria flourish. The latter are linked to stronger immunity and a more positive mood.
They may help prevent diabetes
A new study from the Illinois Institute of Technology randomly assigned 32 adults between the ages of 20 and 60 to three breakfast meals. Each meal was similar in calories and macronutrients, but they had different portion sizes of frozen red raspberries: One meal contained no raspberries, the second included one cup, and the third provided two cups.
Researchers found that for those who were at risk of diabetes, eating more raspberries reduced the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels. In fact, blood sugar was lower in those who downed two cups of red raspberries compared to those who ate none.
Raspberries sharpen your brain and memory
Raspberries help counter oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to fight off their harmful effects. Because oxidative stress is a causative factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, raspberries are a top brain-supporting food. The flavonoids in berries have also been shown to help improve coordination, memory, and mood. And berries help with general brain “housekeeping” by clearing out toxic proteins tied to brain dysfunction.
How to add more raspberries to your meals
Raspberries make a beautiful and tasty addition to numerous dishes, and they work well in both sweet and savory meals. Add them to oatmeal or overnight oats, garden salads, whole grain side dishes, and desserts. Slightly mash them to make a colorful sauce for anything from two ingredient banana egg pancakes to broiled fish or oven roasted veggies. Whip frozen raspberries into smoothies, or thaw and use just like fresh.
I also love to warm frozen raspberries over low heat on the stovetop with fresh grated ginger root and cinnamon (and maybe a touch of pure maple syrup) as the base for a mock cobbler, topped with almond butter/rolled oat crumble, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or shaved dark chocolate. Frozen, thawed, or fresh raspberries also make a great snack, paired with nuts, pumpkin seeds, or a few dark chocolate squares, or drizzled with nut butter or spiced tahini.
Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
Every night of sleep is not created equal — even if you think you get eight hours of rest. If you’re having trouble getting deep sleep, you may not even know it. Sleep medicine experts know how to pinpoint the vague symptoms related to this issue, however, and can help you get back on track. Having a hard time getting adequate sleep is troubling enough, but it can be caused by a variety of underlying issues.
“There are several medical problems that make it difficult for people to maintain deep sleep at night,” Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, M.D., Chief Medical Liaison at health technology company Philips, tells Bustle. “According to Philips annual global sleep survey, three quarters of adults around the world experience at least one of the following conditions that impact their sleep: insomnia, snoring, shift work sleep disorder, chronic pain, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.” Both physical and mental health problems can make getting that deepest stage of sleep difficult, but since this all goes on at night, you may struggle pinpointing what’s going on.
Paying more attention to how you sleep at night, plus keeping an eye on whether you’re tired during the day, can give you a little more data to then help you try to work on your sleep cycle at home, or bring your concerns to a doctor. Everyone deserves a good night’s rest.
Here are seven signs your body doesn’t actually know how to maintain deep sleep.
1You Wake Up Easily
If you’re prone to waking up from every car that passes, every bump in the night, or even the slightest hint of sunlight out your bedroom window, then you may not be getting the deep sleep you need.
“If you’re a light sleeper, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep,” Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. “When your body is in deep sleep, it should be difficult for you to be woken. When this isn’t the case, a lack of deep sleep might be to blame.” If your constant waking up is causing you difficulties during the day, this is worth mentioning to a doctor.
2You Constantly Hit The Snooze Button
Feeling refreshed when you wake up in the morning may seem like a myth to you, but it doesn’t need to be. If you need to hit snooze every morning, then you may not be getting the deep sleep you need in the middle of the night.
“If you know you’re getting enough hours of sleep, but you just can’t stop hitting the snooze button and feel groggy in the morning, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep at night,” Backe says. If you find that even putting in an effort to break this habit doesn’t work, then you may want to examine what’s keeping you from getting deep into your sleep cycle at night.
3You Snore A Lot
When severe, snoring can be more than just an annoyance during the night. Your snoring may actually be preventing you from getting the deep sleep your body so desperately needs.
“Snoring is another common cause that impacts sleep with 29 percent of global adults reporting they experience this condition,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “[… And] snoring can be a manifestation of an underlying sleep apnea disorder.” So if you have an inkling that your snoring is causing you to have trouble breathing, or is severe in another way, then you should definitely bring it up to a doctor.
4You Need To Nap To Get Through The Day
Naps can be a really great occasional boost. But if you absolutely need them to get through the day, something more serious might be going on.
“If you find that you can’t get through the day without taking a nap, despite having the recommended six to eight hours sleep the night before, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep at night,” Backe says. Your daytime naps may actually be making it harder for you to get deep sleep at night, so trying to get yourself back onto a regular schedule may help.
5You Wake Up During The Night
If you get up multiple times every night, for whatever reason, that’s a strong sign of something underlying going on in the world of sleep medicine.
“Waking up throughout the night can indicate that you are not reaching a state of deep sleep,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “Deep sleep, or the final stage of non-REM sleep, is the time when your brain waves are at their lowest frequency and you are at your hardest to wake up.” Finding ways to improve your sleep environment, or talking to your doctor about this issue, may help improve things.
6You’re Tired Throughout The Day
Being sleepy during the day doesn’t have to be something you put up with willingly just because it’s common. Exhaustion — even when you feel you’ve slept an adequate number of hours — doesn’t need to be your norm.
“Six in 10 global adults experience daytime sleepiness at least twice per week,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “People who do not obtain optimal deep sleep at night often feel tried throughout the day, which may impact their energy levels and productivity.” If this applies to you, then you may want to try working on your sleep hygiene to improve the amount of deep sleep you achieve.
7You Wake Up Before Your Alarm Goes Off
Waking up before your alarm occasionally can be a good thing — especially if it is slightly before your alarm and at a regular time. But if you wake up way before your alarm goes off, then your sleep cycle may be off.
“If you wake up too early and never return back to sleep, this might influence your time in deep sleep and REM sleep,” Vikas Jain, MD, sleep medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells Bustle. Staying in bed and trying to rest for those final few hours may help.
Not getting adequate deep sleep could end up being as detrimental as staying up too late or waking up too early. So if you realize you may not be getting deep enough sleep throughout the night, you may want to either find ways to adjust your routine, or visit the doctor to get to the bottom of it.
A cursory check of the factors utilized by Bloomberg’s Healthiest Country Index, make it hard to be bemused by America not quite making the cut. Obesity, tobacco use and life expectancy were just some of the contributory things that officially crowned Spain as the healthiest country in the world.The U.S. came in at 35th, down one spot from 2017. Here were the other top contenders:
The Top 10 healthiest nations
This comes as little surprise, considering how much of a new life the Mediterranean diet experienced this year. In addition to the already documented benefits to heart health, weight loss, and cognitive decline prevention, Ladders recently reported on the effect the diet has on mental health and cancer prevention. The study found that incidences of cancer are much lower in Mediterranean counties compared to the U.S.
Among European countries, Spain has the highest life expectancy at birth. The fact that primary care is both focused on preventive measures and typically administered by public providers is suspected to play a part in steadily declining instances of cardiovascular disease and fatal cancer diagnosis. The medical Journal Lancetpredicts Spain’s life expectancy to rise to 85.8 years by the year 2040.
So why didn’t the U.S. make the cut? Life expectancy has dropped quite a bit due to an increase in “deaths of despair” (defined as suicides, drug and alcohol overdoses, and diseases from chronic alcoholism.) Plus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that close to 40% of American adults are obese.
Check out the rest of the rankings below.
Roughly 93.3 million adults are currently obese in America, which costs us some serious penalty points. Moreover, our emphasis on treating and diagnosing as opposed to preemptive tactics has negatively impacted our mortality rates.
Italy, which ranked just below Spain, on balance adheres to very similar dietary traditions. Lots of fruits, vegetables, poultry, grains, with very little red meat. A large bulk of the items mentioned have been independently linked to lower fatality rates for many chronic illnesses.
Iceland which previously ranked number two, secured the third spot this year. Still, clean water, low levels of smoking and a great healthcare system, soars its health index score to 91.21.
Japan was named the healthiest Asian nation, coming in at number four overall. The country boasts an obesity rate of 3.5% and is ranked 48th in cancer rates. Smaller portions and a national obsession with walking certainly didn’t hurt.
Switzerland, which rounds at the top five, can likely thank the disparity of fast food chains, markets that don’t remain open for twenty-four hours and a general shunning of the concept of snacking.
Spain just surpassed Italy as the world’s healthiest nation. That’s according to this year’s edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 countries based on factors that contribute to overall health.
Six of the top 10 countries were in Europe, with Italy ranking second. In contrast, the United States didn’t even break into the top 30, ranking at number 35, one notch worse than last year.
The top 10 healthiest nations, according to the report, were:
To come up with the rankings, Bloomberg researchers graded nations based on several factors including life expectancy, while giving penalties for health risks such as obesity and tobacco use. Environmental factors like access to clean water and sanitation were also taken into account.
The results mirror other research that came out last fall looking at future life expectancies in 195 countries and territories around the world. In that study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, Spain also ranked first, with a projected life expectancy of 85.8 years by 2040. The United States ranked 64th.
Experts say the eating habits of the Mediterranean diet may provide clues for why Spain and Italy enjoy such good health. This heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, along with healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados.
A number of studies have shown the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and may have numerous other health benefits, including reduction of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, as well as a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. One study published in British Journal of Nutrition found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 25 percent lower chance of death from any cause.
People in Spain also benefit from a national health system focused on preventative care, according to a review by The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, which praised its “principles of universality, free access, equity and financial fairness.”
One of the main reasons the U.S. ranks so poorly compared to other developed nations is the obesity epidemic, which shows little sign of letting up. The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate nearly 40 percent of American adults — equivalent to 93.3 million people — are obese.
If you were to stop and think about what features constitute a truly “healthy” person from a psychological perspective, what would be your criteria? Is it necessary to be happy to be healthy? Do you have to be able to roll with the punches that life throws your way? Do you need to be in a good relationship? Does your record of truth-telling have to be squeaky clean? Should you steer clear of arguments? Try coming up with your own set of criteria and jot them down, or just list them in your head right now. Hold on to your answers before you read further.
University of California, Davis psychologist Wiebke Bleidorn teamed up with a distinguished group of personality psychologists from around the U.S. and Germany to investigate exactly this question. It would seem to take a massive effort to get even two people to agree on what constitutes “health” from a psychological perspective. After all, would the criteria you listed to yourself agree with the ones you believe your own partner would generate? Making matters worse, there isn’t even 100-percent consensus among psychologists about the qualities that make up “personality.” However, if you are willing to take a leap of faith on that second question, perhaps the jobisn’t as impossible as it might seem at first glance.
Assume, for the moment, that you can define personality. According to the Five-Factor Model, the approach that has received the most rigorous empirical treatment, personality consists of a set of 30 facets that form five basic dimensions. As defined in this way, your personality consists of relatively consistent ways of approaching the experiences you encounter in your life. Additionally, the Five-Factor Model proposes that your behaviors reflect your personality. As a result, not only can you describe your own personality qualities if asked to do so on a questionnaire, but other people will be able to describe you with a fair degree of accuracy. The people who know you the best, in particular, can rate you on qualities such as attentionto detail, willingness to try new things, ability to handle adversity, and general “niceness.” The qualities that make up the Five-Factor Model include such characteristics.
Traits may not tell the whole story, because they don’t apply to the deeper motivations that influence your behavior, nor do they specifically apply to emotions, but in terms of describing your basic personality, they can do a reasonably good job. The authors believe that “existing personality trait models are a viable avenue for describing the healthy personality . . . [they] capture both normative and extreme patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and . . . multidimensional trait models seemingly capture most of the important variation in human personality.”
Bleidorn and her collaborators go on to note that the Five-Factor Model is viewed as a useful perspective for understandingpersonality disorders. Why not, they propose, flip things around and see what the model can do for shedding light on the qualities that make up the desirable personality? The authors recognize that the healthy personality might be a moving target, but it can at least be a target that experts can generate, making it possible to compare their criteria with those that the ordinary individual can agree are also part of the equation. Together, the expert and lay perspectives can provide a road map for defining, once and for all, what it means to have psychological health.
Before describing their own trait-based approach to defining the healthy personality, the authors took into account diverse perspectives in psychology, ranging from Freud, who defined health as the ability to “loveand work,” to Maslow, who believed psychological health is synonymous with “self-actualization.” Rogers, for his part, theorized that psychological healthy people are “fully functioning,” and Frankl proposed that healthy people are able to find meaning in their lives. Across these diverse perspectives, though, Bleidorn et al. believe that they all propose the existence of a “specific personality prototype” that has certain characteristics, including the ability to love, to hold an optimistic view of the world, to be rational, have self-awareness, be able to take responsibility, be open to creative ideas. Positive psychology, they suggest, further emphasizes the good that healthy people are capable of doing.
The first step in the approach the researchers used was to ask personality experts to provide their own ratings of which of the 30 qualities in the Five-Factor Model comprise the healthy personality. Scholars outside the trait tradition, namely from the area of positive psychology, also provided their own ratings as did undergraduate students, who, presumably, are not personality experts, at least as yet. After obtaining these ratings, Bleidorn et al. then went on to test the statistical qualities of these composite ratings. Going into the process, the authors expected the healthy personality to be low in the facets of Neuroticism (N), and high on scales measuring Agreeableness (A), Extraversion (E), Conscientiousness (C), and Openness to Experience (O).
Using listservs of two professional associations that focus on personality, the authors requested that anyone interested profile the healthy personality using the 30 traits incorporated into the full Five-Factor Model (five traits X six facets within each). The sample of experts included 137 psychologists averaging 38 years old, with 60 percent identifying as female, 54 percent having a doctoral degree, and 71 percent involved with research. The other experts included 77 researchers working within the positive psychology tradition (average age of 49 with a similar profile as the first expert rating group). Student raters were drawn from campuses affiliated with two of the study authors, but both in the U.S. There were slightly over 500 students in these samples, with an average age of 21 years (76 percent female).
From experts to college students, the rating task provided strong convergence in the healthy personality qualities. The profiles they generated included low scores on all facets of N, and high scores on Openness to Feelings (part of O), Positive Emotions (a facet of E), and Straightforwardness (a facet of A). The only difference between lay people (i.e., students) and the experts involved Gregariousness and Excitement-Seeking (facets of E); students weighted these more heavily than did the experts in constructing the healthy personality profile. The second set of studies tested the healthy personality profile for stability over a two-week period and then, using a longitudinal data set from Germany, examined stability over the far longer period of five years. They also took advantage of data from the German study to examine the extent of agreement between identical twins as an assessment of the potential heritability of the healthy personality qualities. The results extended the findings from the first study to show that the high stability (and even heritability) of the healthy personality profile.
Extending from showing the existence of, and stability of, the healthy personality profile, the research team then went on to examine how adaptive to adjustment people high in these qualities would be. As expected, people whose own personalities closely matched the healthy profile were positively adjusted, as indicated by high self-esteem, positive self-concept, a clear sense of self, and high levels of optimism. They showed considerable self-control and had low scores on measures of aggression. Although overall narcissism scores didn’t relate to the healthy personality profile, there was a tendency for those at the healthy end of the scale to be somewhat grandiose and self-sufficient. They did not, unlike people who fit the narcissism personality disorder definition, have high scores on exploitativeness. In the psychopathy domain, on the two qualities considered “adaptive” (boldness and stress immunity), healthy people had higher scores, but they had low scores in the maladaptive areas of blame externalization and lack of control.
From a developmental standpoint, the authors maintain that in contrast to what midlife crisis theory would imply, “the healthy profile indicated that experts consider those traits as particularly healthy that tend to be most pronounced in middle adulthood.” If you don’t have a healthy personality now, the findings imply, you can still work on gaining qualities that will help you get there.
To sum up, the process of achieving fulfillment is one that you can work on over time if your personality doesn’t meet the profile of optimum health. With the knowledge that being emotionally stable, open to creative ideas, straightforward, and responsible all contribute to psychological health, working toward this fulfillment may very well be an achievable life goal.
As children, many of us were taught to think positively. Parentsand teachers may have told us to “always look on the bright side” or “keep a positive attitude.” Many self-help books even instruct that optimism is the secret to a healthy and successful life.
There’s no doubting that optimism is a powerful force. According to hundreds of studies, people high in optimism are happier, experience lower depression and anxiety, achieve their goals more often, show greater persistence in the face of setbacks, and even cope with physical illness better than their less optimistic counterparts. Optimism is clearly a good thing.
But, those same well-meaning parents and teachers who encouraged us to think positively may also have offered us the opposite advice: “Don’t get your hopes up or you’ll jinx it.”
So, which is it? Is optimism good for us or not?
According to research, the answer is “both,” depending on the circumstances. While being a positive person in general is a good thing, optimism can backfire when it strays too far from reality. In particular, too much optimism can lead people to believe they are less vulnerable to common problems than they actually are.
Known as the optimism bias, most us occasionally fall prey to this tendency. Next time you’re at a dinner party, try the following experiment: Ask people to raise their hands to indicate whether they believe they’re at greater risk, equal risk, or less risk than the average person of their same age, gender, and background for virtually any common negative event, from having a heart attack to being mugged. Defying the statistical odds, most people will say they’re at less risk.
This is exactly what psychologist Neil Weinstein found in his first study on the phenomenon in 1980. He listed out more than 20 negative events ranging from relatively small (your car turns out to be a lemon) to catastrophic (developing cancer), and asked college students to estimate their risk for each. For nearly all of the events, four times as many students thought they were safer than average than thought they were at greater risk than average.
The optimism bias may even make people more likely to text while driving. Sending text messages while behind the wheel is unequivocally dangerous, increasing the likelihood of accidents and near-accidents by twenty-three times. Nonetheless, people often dramatically underestimate their personal risk. In a national survey of more than a thousands drivers in New Zealand, only 41 percent of people said they thought texting while driving was “very unsafe,” while 30 percent even said they thought texting while driving was either “very safe” or at least “moderately safe.” So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of people said they regularly read or send text messages while driving.
Unfortunately, unrealistic optimism isn’t as easy to remedy as you might think. Education alone doesn’t seem to help. In a study appearing in the journal Health Psychology, researchers approached people in public places on the campus of Rutgers University, asking them to fill out an anonymous survey about their perceived risk of heart disease and alcoholism. Just before completing the questionnaire, some participants were given information about the risk factors for developing these conditions. The researchers hoped that this information would help participants come to realistic conclusions about their actual risk. Unfortunately, no differences were found between those provided with this information and those not. Both groups underestimated their risk.
As gloomy as this might sound, it doesn’t mean the optimism bias is unshakable. People aren’t unrealistically optimistic at all times or for all events. For instance, people are less likely to be unrealistically optimistic about things they perceive to be beyond their control. That’s because, when people perceive control over an outcome, they tend to base their predictions of risk on their intentions. If someone intends to go on a diet or start exercising, then that person may perceive his or her risk of heart disease to be lower. The problem is, of course, that most of us don’t follow though on all of our good intentions.
And perhaps that’s the most important lesson to be learned from this research: What often separates realistic optimism from unrealistic optimism is whether we actually act on our intentions. If all of us would follow through on our plans to eat healthier, exercise regularly, or pay an occasional visit to the doctor, perhaps our unrealistic expectations wouldn’t be so unrealistic after all.
The carbohydrates in nonfat popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain, where it’s used to make a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Since eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, popcorn (just 93 calories in three cups popped) is a great late-night snack. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with some curry powder or any of these other tricked out popcorn toppings.
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Halibut is packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6, and when it comes to seafood, halibut has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky fish eaters. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and eggs.
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Packed with antioxidants, protein, and vitamins, this treat satisfies your creamy, sweet craving as well as ice cream—without the sugar bomb.
BTW, a lassi is basically a smoothie, but it’s always made with yogurt. To make a mango lassi: cut up one fresh, peeled mango and put it in a blender. Add a handful of ice, a small scoop of plain Greek yogurt (go with full-fat dairy for all its health benefits) and a splash of water or milk. Add a dash of stevia for extra sweetness if desired.
Don’t like mangoes? Substitute frozen berries or watermelon.
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Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
High-fiber garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding garbanzo beans to salads, soups, and stews when you need sleep.
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This herbal drink lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and it has a calming effect on the body. Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you feel cozy and ready to hit the sheets.
A rise in blood sugar can reduce the production of orexin in the brain. Orexin is a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s been linked to wakefulness. Try drizzling a small amount of honey in your chamomile tea for a touch of sweet without a full-down sugar rush.
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Dried Tart Cherries
A handful of dried cherries not only provides the requisite serotonin-boosting carbs, but it’s also one of the few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag. Plus, tart cherries are packed with antioxidants.
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The reason behind your epic post-Thanksgiving feast nap is also the secret to helping you sleep better. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is known to help calm you down and naturally get you to sleep.
Frozen bananas make the perfect base for healthy, vegan “nice cream”. and the potassium in them will not only help you fall asleep faster but can prevent those awful cramps (AKA Charlie horses) that wake you up. All you need is the proper blending technique. The trick is to keep blending for several minutes. At first, they’ll just look slimy, but then air works its magic and before you know it frozen bananas morph into a creamy, light treat. Add a handful of chopped nuts for a sweet and salty treat.
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Don’t knock these roasted green “chips” until you’ve tried them. The hefty dose of vitamin K helps repair and build muscles while you sleep. Simply chop up a bunch of kale, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and spread out and bake at 350 degrees until crispy.
It shouldn’t take a holiday like Valentine’s Day to remind you to pause and reflect on the relationships you value in your life. Whether it be with colleagues, friends, lovers, or a spouse, you can always benefit from taking a step back, appreciating the love you have in your life and making the time to show others you care about them.
When you are mindful of the love in your life you open yoursel up to the opportunity for love to grow. And not just romantic love, but self-love, and loving friendships as well.
START WITH SELF-LOVE
To connect more deeply with others, you must face the one person that you keep on the shortest leash: yourself. We often reject other people’s care or attention when we believe we don’t deserve it—but there’s nothing special you must do to deserve love. As Sharon Salzberg reminds us, it is simply because you exist. Follow this fifteen-minute guided meditation to open your heart toward giving and receiving love.
Try this practice from Sharon Salzberg to learn how to open your heart to love and compassion:
A Practice for Opening Your Heart:
A Meditation for Opening the Heart
Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg offers a brief meditation for cultivating compassion.
1) Imagine you’re encircled by people who love you. Sit with your eyes closed, breathing normally, imagining yourself in the center of a circle made up of the most loving beings you’ve ever met.
2) Receive the love of those who love you. Experience yourself as the recipient of the energy, attention, care, and regard of all of these beings in your circle of love. Send love to yourself by giving yourself this message: May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy. May I live with ease of heart.
3) Notice how you feel when you receive love.Whatever emotions may arise, you just let them wash through you. And repeat to yourself: May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy. May I live with ease of heart.
4) Open yourself up to receiving love. Imagine that your skin is porous and this warm, loving energy is coming in. There’s nothing special that you need to do or be in order to deserve this kind of loving care. It’s simply because you exist.
5) Send loving care to the people in your circle. You can allow that quality of loving kindness and compassion and care you feel coming toward you to flow right back out to the circle and then toward all beings everywhere, so that what you receive, you transform into giving. May we all be safe, May we all be happy, May we all be healthy. May we all live with ease of heart.
Leading experts on mindful self-compassion Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer share how self-kindness, recognition of our humanity, and mindfulness give us the strength to thrive. Read More
LEARN TO CONNECT WITH THOSE YOU LOVE
In movies, people often gaze into the eyes of the person they love—but in reality, we spend more time gazing into the glowing screens of our smartphones. It’s a damaging habit that can distract us from in-person conversations and real-world experiences with people we care about. Here are 11 simple ways to build real relationships with the people you care about most:
11 Ways to Connect with Care
1. Really see each other
Making eye contact with someone activates what psychologist Stephen Porges calls our Social Nervous System, which can relieve stress and create a deeper sense of connection. It is hard not to feel intimate and vulnerable when looking into the eyes of another person—even a stranger. Try it! It may feel funny at first, but you will find a softening in your heart and a sensation of love flowing before you know it.
2. Listen with all of your senses
There’s a difference between hearing someone and actively listening to someone. The next time you’re having an in-person conversation, notice the posture and body language of the other person. Tune into the tone of their voice, and absorb the meaning of their words. See if it’s possible to put aside your own response while listening to them speak. When we feel listened to, we feel cared about and this increases a sense of mutual love and connection.
3. Reach out and touch someone
As mammals, physical contact is essential to our well-being. American psychologist Harry Harlow’s famous study on maternal deprivation with rhesus monkeys demonstrated that touch provides a crucial psychological and emotional resource in our development. Touch is also a primary way we communicate, feel safe, soothe our nervous systems, trust one another, and convey love and compassion. Take a day to experiment with actively reaching out to your loved ones with small touches (on the hand, shoulder, knee, or arm) and see what you notice—perhaps it’s a greater sense of connection, increased compassion, or an open heart.
4. Hug like you mean it
Very few things feel better than a good hug. Science shows that hugging can reduce blood pressure, alleviate fear, soothe anxiety, and release the “love” hormone oxytocin. Psychologist Stan Tatkin suggests that in order to align nervous systems, prevent arguments, and feel more connected people hug until both bodies feel relaxed. Who can you hug today?
5. Be interested
The late rabbi and social activist Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine, and routine is resistance to wonder.” One of the essential attitudes of mindfulness is curiosity, and we can bring this into our relationships to foster warmth and trust. Our minds often tell us that we “know” someone so well that we can predict their behaviors and responses. While this may be true some of the time, it also stops us from clearly seeing the person in front of us—instead we just see our “idea” of that person. See if you can be open, curious, and interested in those close to you as if you are getting to know them for the first time. You might be surprised what you find.
6. Make plans and keep them
Nothing breaks a bond like flaking on plans. And yet there are often reasons why we don’t follow through on commitments. Sometimes we’re overextended, saying “yes” to plans or responsibilities when we mean “no.” Be honest with yourself, and only take on what you can handle. Identify the people in your life who bring you down, and those who nourish and energize you. And then figure out if, and how, you can work with your relationships to those people to foster mutual trust, respect, and appreciation. Our connections flourish when we take time to get to know ourselves, and others, better.
7. Communicate your needs and feelings
Most of us have been guilty at one time or another of not being clear about what we really need or want in the moment. This indirect form of communication rarely yields the outcome we want. In our program Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness (CALM), we emphasize the importance of Non-Violent Communication, which assumes that we all share the same basic needs and that our actions (knowingly or unknowingly) are attempts to get those satisfied. When we learn how to identify and express our own needs clearly, we naturally move toward greater understanding, compassion, and connection with the people in our lives.
8. Be kind
Kindness is like a magnet. People like to be around others who are kind because they feel cared about and safe with them. The age-old Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you” still rings true today. It’s also reciprocal. When we practice kindness, not only do we feel better, but we help others feel good, too. And this just increases opportunities for positive connections throughout our day, which, in turn, contributes to our own health and well-being.
9. THINK before you speak
We’ve all been guilty of saying or doing something we wished we hadn’t. It happens. But we can certainly make more of an effort to be thoughtful with our words and actions. Try this experiment for a week: Before speaking to someone, consider the following: Is it True, is it Helpful, am I the best one to say it, is it Necessary, is it Kind? See how your interactions change.
We might even imagine what the world would be like if everyone practiced this a little more.
10. Practice “Just like me”
DNA research has revealed that regardless of gender, ethnicity, or race, humans are 99.9% the same. If you want to foster a greater sense of connection in your life, as you go through your day and encounter someone who you think is different from you, silently say, “Just like me,” and see what comes up. You may just experience the awareness that each of us wants the same things: to feel cared for and understood, and to experience a sense of belonging.
11. Experience joy for others
Be on the lookout for moments when you notice that others are taking care of themselves, experiencing a success or accomplishment, or even just having a good day, and see if you can be happy for them. Sometimes this joy for another’s happiness naturally arises, and other times it’s something we can intentionally foster. If you feel so bold, tell them, “Good job” or “I’m so happy for you.” Not only can this create or strengthen your connection, but it can amplify your own good feelings.
A mindful relationship with our phones is the key to balancing in-person interactions and online activity. Here are six ways to limit screen time in order to be more present in our real-world relationships. Read More
BRING MINDFUL AWARENESS TO THE WAY YOU COMMUNICATE
Bringing awareness to the way we communicate with others has both practical and profound applications. In the middle of a painful argument with our partner, we can train ourselves to recognize when the channel of communication has shut down. We can train ourselves to remain silent instead of blurting out something we’ll later regret. We can notice when we’re over-reacting and take a time-out.
We begin practicing mindful communication by simply paying attention to how we open up when we feel emotionally safe, and how we shut down when we feel afraid. Just noticing these patterns without judging them starts to cultivate mindfulness in our communications. Noticing how we open and close puts us in greater control of our conversations.
Notice These 3 Phases of Communication
A great metaphor for this is the changing traffic light: We imagine that when the channel of communication closes down, the light has turned red. When communication feels open again, we say the light has turned green. When communication feels in-between, or on the verge of closing down, we say the light has turned yellow. The changing traffic light imagery helps us to identify our various states of communication, and to recognize the consequences of each.
The Red Light: Defensive Reactions
When the red light is on we are defensive and closed down. When we react to fear by shutting down the channel of communication, we’ve put up a defensive barrier dividing us from the world. We justify our defensiveness by holding on to unexamined opinions about how right we are. We tell ourselves that relationships are not that important. We undervalue other people and put our self-interest first. In short, our values shift to “me-first.” Closed communication patterns are controlling and mistrustful. Others become static objects only important to us if they meet our needs.
To make matters worse, when we’re closed and defensive, we feel emotionally hungry. We look to others to rescue us from aloneness. We might try to manipulate and control them to get what we need. Because these strategies never really work, we inevitably become disappointed with people. We suffer, and we cause others to suffer.
When we close down and become defensive—for a few minutes, a few days, a few months, or even a lifetime—we’re cutting ourselves off not only from others, but also from our natural ability to communicate. Mindful communication trains us to notice when we’ve stopped using our innate communication wisdom—the red light.
Openness also has the magic ingredient that enables us to fall in love, to feel empathy and courage.
The Green Light: Openness
Paying attention to our communication patterns helps us realize the value of openness. Generally, we associate open people as trustworthy, as in touch with themselves and others. But openness also has the magic ingredient that enables us to fall in love, to feel empathy and courage. When we’re open, we let go of our opinions and enter a larger mind, which gives us the power to trust our instincts.
When we’re open, we don’t see our individual needs opposing the needs of others. We experience a “we-first” state of mind, because we appreciate that our personal survival depends on the well-being of our relationships. We express this connectedness to others through open communication patterns. Open communication tunes us in to whatever is going on in the present moment, whether comfortable or not. Openness is heartfelt, willing to share the joy and pain of others. Because we’re not blocked by our own opinions, our conversations with others explore new worlds of experience. We learn, change, and expand.
The Yellow Light: In-Between
In practicing mindful communication, eventually we ask ourselves: What exactly causes me to switch from open to closed and then open again? We begin to discover the state of mind that exists in-between open and closed—symbolized by the yellow light. In-between is a place we normally don’t want to enter. We find ourselves there when the ground falls out from beneath our feet, when we feel surprised, embarrassed, disappointed—on the verge of shutting down. We might feel a sudden loss of trust, an unexpected flash of self-consciousness. Learning to hold steady and be curious at this juncture is critical to the practice of mindful conversation.
Small acts of kindness that are either shared or withheld when the yellow light is flashing can make or break a relationship.
A yellow-light transition can appear at any time. We can switch from closed to open via the yellow light, if we’re willing to enter into curiosity, or accepting that we don’t know the answer. The in-between state of mind is a critical time for bringing peace into our homes and workplaces. Small acts of kindness that are either shared or withheld when the yellow light is flashing can make or break a relationship. Once we’re in the red zone, it’s too late to engage in acts of kindness—we’re too mistrustful. I’ve seen this over and again working with couples—they reach a critical point when they can save their relationship by switching from me-first to we-first thinking. They can think about their children, pets, or anything that brings a larger picture to mind. Acts of kindness at this point shift them into a temporary mood of gratitude. Feeling gratitude makes them more interested in moving forward.
The yellow light points to those miraculous moments when we can open up, wag our tails, and play. We break the spell of our own personal agendas and awaken to genuine relationship. Such abrupt shifts seem to come out of nowhere in the middle of our most ego-crunching experiences—such as admitting that we’ve made a mistake.
A successful relationship is the result of thousands of small flashes of the yellow light, where we were able to transform disappointments and arguments into opportunities for unmasking, intimacy, and joy.
Healthy Relationships Include “Healthy” Arguments
If you are in any sort of relationship with a human, chances are you’ve had disastrous fights spring up out of nowhere. Somehow in the midst of reaching for the person you love, your communications take a hard left turn, veer off course and dump you both in a ditch… leaving you dazed and confused.
What would it look like if instead of getting triggered by our partner’s behaviors (and making up stories about why they are doing what they are doing) we could take a deep breath and share our own feelings about their behavior in a heart-centered way? And then listen to their feelings without the need to prove that we are right and they are wrong? Ooof. It’s a tall order but there are three things you can do to help you fight “mindfully.”
Three Tools for Mindful Fights
1. Breathe. Breath is an essential component of meditation. It’s a pause button. When your partner says or does something that sparks an unexpectedly strong emotion, take a breathinstead of reacting, and notice what sensations are arising. Frustration? Anger? With breath as the focus of your attention, you can observe these sensations instead of reacting to them.
2. Center. Breath allows us to become centered and present in our body. When we are centered and present, we can listen to our own feelings and expand our capacity for considering other’s feelings.
3. Connect. When we are centered, we can connect to others in a more authentic and heartfelt way. Our communications become less judgmental and more curious. In this less reactive state, we can communicate our feelings and listen to the feelings of others without needing to act or blame.
It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t take years of a formal meditation practice to apply these techniques in your relationship. It just takes a breath, a pause button, and a willingness to fight the urge to react in a way that will disconnect you from your partner, when what you really want to do is connect. It won’t always work, but even if it works some of the time, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Learning to express anger in a healthy way will help couples resolve conflicts, instead of letting them simmer. Read More
PRACTICE DEEP LISTENING
How often do you feel really listened to? How often do you really listen to others? (Be honest.)
We know we’re in the presence of a good listener when we get that sweet, affirming feeling of really being heard. But sadly it occurs all too rarely. We can’t force others to listen, but we can improve our own listening, and perhaps inspire others by doing so.
Good listening means mindful listening. Like mindfulness itself, listening takes a combination of intention and attention. The intention part is having a genuine interest in the other person—their experiences, views, feelings, and needs. The attention part is being able to stay present, open, and unbiased as we receive the other’s words—even when they don’t line up with our own ideas or desires.
Paradoxically, being good at listening to others requires the ability to listen to yourself. If you can’t recognize your own beliefs and opinions, needs and fears, you won’t have enough inner space to really hear anyone else. So the foundation for mindful listening is self-awareness.
Here are some tips to be a good listener to yourself so you can be a good listener for others.
How to Really Listen
1. Check inside: “How am I feeling just now? Is there anything getting in the way of being present for the other person?” If something is in the way, decide if it needs to be addressed first or can wait till later.
2. Feeling your own sense of presence, extend it to the other person with the intention to listen fully and openly, with interest, empathy, and mindfulness.
3. Silently note your own reactions as they arise—thoughts, feelings, judgments, memories. Then return your full attention to the speaker.
4. Reflect back what you are hearing, using the speaker’s own words when possible, paraphrasing or summarizing the main point. Help the other person feel heard.
5. Use friendly, open-ended questions to clarify your understanding and probe for more. Affirm before you differ. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view—acknowledging is not agreeing!—before introducing your own ideas, feelings, or requests.
When we think we already know what there is to hear, we are simply moving a little too fast to really listen—That’s where meditation comes in.Read More PRACTICE MINDFUL LOVING
Remember, “love” is a verb. Are you so busy that you forget to prioritize romance? Be honest. How strong is your current love connection on a scale from zero to 10? If it’s less than 10, read on. Here’s how you can slow down and show up for love, over and over again.
Tips for Mindful Loving
1) Remember why you love them
Take each sighting of cheap chocolates or drooping roses as a cue to take a mindful breath. Then connect with your heart. Recall special moments the two of you have shared—your first kiss, what they wore on your wedding day, the most outrageous place you’ve made love. Later, share those memories with your sweetie and celebrate some of the moments that led you along the path to now.
2) Commit to date your mate
Give the gift of interest and time, and book non-negotiable weekly dates. Try recreating your first date, but tell each other what you were privately thinking and feeling during that life-changing encounter. Plan occasional adventures—research shows that novelty and excitement heighten sexual attraction, so skip the movie and head for a climbing wall, an erotic massage class, or a spot for skinny dipping.
In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jack Canfield talks about some of the small tweaks in your morning that can lead to more success.
A few habits successful people to each morning may sound familiar to you: meditation, exercise and something uplifting.
Another habit Canfield emphasizes is the tendecy of being an early riser. Canfield mentions that many successful business leaders wake up before the sun rises, mainly to get ahead of their days or begin diving into reading early. This habit feeds into Canfield’s personal habit of a morning power hour. Canfield explains that this slice of time has drastically improved his mental health, as well as empowered him to make better decisions.
Canfield ends with this: Small changes in your routine can have a big impact on your daily results.
Click the video to hear more about the optimal morning routine.