Lifestyle Tips

22 Tips For Better Sleep

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Who doesn’t want a better sleep?  Whether you truly struggle with falling or staying asleep, or just want a half hour more of quality sleep, here are 22 ways to get it:
 

Minimize or Avoid Stimulants 

 
1.  Avoid alcohol (wine, beer and hard liquor) within 3 hours of bedtime. 
2.  Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2 pm; if sensitive to caffeine, avoid it after 12 (noon). These items include Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew; tea, coffee, lattes, and chocolate; coffee- or espresso-containing ice creams or desserts. Read the labels of everything you eat and drink! 
3.  Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines at night. 
4.  Some medications may have stimulating effects. Consult your pharmacist and doctor to determine whether any of them might be contributing to sleep problems. Do not discontinue them without permission from your doctor. 
5.  Complete any aerobic exercise before 6 pm (or at least 3 hours before bed- time). 

Nighttime Tension and Anxiety 

 
6. Avoid anxiety-provoking activities close to bedtime: 
7. Avoid reading or watching the news before going to bed. 
8. Schedule difficult conversations well before bedtime—preferably at least 3 hours before.  Avoid arguments right before bed.
 

Sleep Planning and Bedroom Preparation 

 
9.  Plan your sleep by putting it into your schedule; plan for 8.5 to 9 hours in bed. 
10.  As much as possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This will help train your biological clock. 
11.  Avoid getting in bed after midnight as late-hour sleep is not as helpful as earlier sleep. 
12 . Avoid large meals or spicy foods before bed. 
13.  Finish all eating 3 hours prior to going to sleep. 
14. Avoid drinking more than 4-8 ounces of fluid before going to bed. 
 

Strategies to Use with Trouble Falling Asleep or Staying Asleep 

 
15. Consider reading a good neutral book under low light to help with falling asleep. 
16. Don’t stay in bed more than 20-30 minutes trying to fall asleep. Leave your bedroom and go to a relaxing room other than the bedroom and read or do a relaxation technique (i.e., meditation.) 
17. If you awaken early because of light, put a dark covering over your eyes. 
18. If you awaken early because of recurrent thoughts, try writing them in a journal. If this does not help, consider counseling. Depression might be a factor. 
 

Bedroom Air Quality 

 
19. Keep your bedroom air clean, especially if you have nasal congestion or are prone to snoring. Use HEPA or other types of air purifiers/ filters to clean the air in your bedroom. Use the filter on a low setting at night if the noise is soothing. Otherwise use the filter on a medium setting for 4-6 hours during the day. 
20. If you see mold or have a musty smell in your bedroom, have it checked or cultured for mold with culture plates. If there is mold, have the house evaluated for water leaks and air quality issues to be fixed and see that the mold is cleaned appropriately. 
21. If your nose is blocked up and you have trouble breathing through it, take the above steps and consider using a saline spray before bed. Also consider Breathe-Easy strips on your nose. Make sure you read the instructions and t them over the lower third of your nose.
22. Consider replacing your pillows with hypoallergenic pillows. Use Ultra allergy pillow and mattress covers. 
 
 
Keep these tips in mind for you and your family. Consistent restful sleep is part of the foundation of good health.
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16 Tips to Getting Organized and Staying That Way

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Today we are excited to showcase a guest blog post by professiona organizer, Mélanie Higuchi, with Functional Spaces.
 
Many of you may recognize Mélanie as being a former staff member at Grassroots. Mélanie has since graduated on to starting her own professional organizing business, Functional Spaces. We know first-hand the mad organizing skills this lady has.
 
 
 
 
When it comes to organizing your space, whether it be your home, office or even your car, she points out, it's one thing to de-clutter and get organized but without the proper process or system in place, you'll be swimming in your organized chaos again in no time. 
She's joining us to today to give us some tips on getting organized.. and staying that way! 
 

1.  Commit to be organized

If you aren’t ready, it’s not the right time.
 

2.  Morning Counter Routine

Take 5-10 minutes each morning clearing your kitchen counter. This can happen in 1-2 minute spurts...while your smoothie is blending up, the kettle is boiling or tea is steeping. Once it`s tidied and clear, it`ll be easier to keep it that way.
 

3.  The 1-in-1-out Rule

This applies to EVERYTHING. For example,if you buy a new piece of clothing, donate an old one.
 

4.  Acquire less things.  

Buy only what you need.
 

5.  Two question to ask yourself when de-cluttering

Ask yourself this:  Do I really NEED this item?  When is the last time I ACTUALLY used this?
 

6.  The One-Month Challenge.

Apply a ribbon/string to each hanger of clothing when you use it. At the end of the month, you will see what clothes you ACTUALLY wear.  Now you can decide what you can part with or donate.

7.  Organizing HACK: Bed Linens

Store folded flat and fitted sheets inside the matching pillow case.  This not only creates a tidy way of stacking, but you will always have the entire bed linen set together.  Never again will you be looking for missing pillow cases etc…
 

8.  Create a keepsake box/bin for kids crafts.  

Whatever fits in the box you can keep.  If it doesn’t fit, something has to go.  Involve the kids in this process.
 

9.  Pair down like items all at once.  

For example, tackle all of your handbags at once.  If they are in three different closets, bring them ALL into one room to decide which your favorites to keep are.  Then apply Tip #5 above. :)
 

10.  Organizing HACK:  Computer cords

Use binder clips to get cords off the floor behind your desk.  Clip them to the back of the desk.
 

11.  Put your clothes away, right away.  

No more clothes piles on the floor!
 

12.  Be creative when organizing.  

Use items you already have to keep you organized.  Ie:  use a mason jar as a pen holder.  
 

13.  Organizing HACK: Labelling cords

Got a mess of cords behind your computer desk or entertainment unit? Use those little plastic clips from your bread bag to label cords.  
 

14.  Get a laundry sorter!  

Laundry day becomes that much easier when items are pre-sorted.
 

15.  Organize your fridge!  

I know, who thinks of that.  Store things “Like with Like”.  (ie:  sauces together, veggies together, fruits together etc..)

 

16.  Avoid storing bulk pantry items in plastic bags.  

Using clear jars/containers and a nifty label maker, your pantry will soon be Pinterest workth. Plus, your items will last longer.

Mélanie can be reached at melanie@functionalspaces.ca for all of your organizing needs! You can also check her out on her Facebook page here.

 

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12 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress

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Breathing exercises are a simple and accessible way to help you reduce your stress. Most of us don't even realize how shallow we breathe when we are stressed or caught up in our day-to-day flurry. We take our breathing for granted... something that just happens without us even thinking about it. But did you know that changing your breathing pattern can make immediate changes in your heartrate, blood pressure and your stress hormones?

Take a few moments for yourself. Pause. And focus on your breath and try these breathing exercises. Find out which works best for you!

1. Triangle breathing

Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out through your nose for a count of four.  Repeat.
 

2. Square breathing

Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out through your nose for a count of four, pause for a count of four.  Repeat.
 

3. Balloon breathing

Imagine you have 2 balloons in your chest and you inflate them with your inhale through your nose.  When you're able to fully inflate the 2 balloons, imagine you have 4.  Continue increasing the number of balloons after you have fully inflated them.
 

4. Count to 10

Take a deep breath through your nose as you count to 10.
 

5. FIve-second breathing

Watch a clock and inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds.  Continue for 1 minute then go back to normal breathing.
 

6. Count down from 10

Take a full belly breath in through your nose and after you exhale, count 10. Count backwards from 10 with each exhalation.
 

7.  Extended exhale breathing

Inhale through your nose for a count of four seconds, hold for a count of four and exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight seconds.
 

8. Bhramari breathing

Take a deep breath in through the nose and breathe out while humming so you sound  like a bumble bee.
 

9. Alternate nostril breathing  

Cover your left nostril with your left thumb and breathe in through your right nostril.  Cover your right nostril with your left ring finger and release your thumb as you exhale through your left nostril.  Inhale through your left nostril.  Cover your left nostril with your left thumb and  release your ring finger as you exhale through your right nostril.  Repeat several times.
 

10. Light imagery breathing

Imagine yourself bathed in a white, healing light.  As you inhale, imagine your body fill with this white light.  As you exhale, imagine all your negative thoughts, emotions, pain etc seep out of your body and be washed away by the light.
 

11. Pulsed breathing

Inhale through the nose and exhale through pursed lips in bursts following the rhythm short, short, long.  Repeat.
 

12. Hands on abdomen

Place your hands on your tummy with your finger tips pointing towards each other and just touching at your centre line.  As you inhale, notice your hands expand apart as your belly lifts them up and out.  As you exhale, notice your hands come back together.

You will find different breathing exercises will suit different times of day. Hands on abdomen breathing is a great one to incorporate into your bedtime routine. If you suffer from indigestion and tend to eat fairly quickly, try the five-second breathing exercise a few times before you start eating. 

 
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11 Must-Haves for a Healthy Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is an amazing and dynamic time in a woman’s life. Many symptoms of pregnancy can be managed effectively with Naturopathic Medicine; it is amazing how well clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy can safely optimize health in the pregnancy, labour and delivery, and postnatal periods. Fill up your education tool box with a few tricks and ideas to getting started on the exciting path of a healthy pregnancy
 

1. An awesome prenatal vitamin


Choosing a prenatal with proper mineral and vitamin composition, correct dosages, and great bioavailability offers a great nutritional base for two changing bodies. One with no additives, waxes, artificial colours or fillers offers a clean and absorbable product.
 

2. Glass water bottle


Staying hydrated is so important during pregnancy, invest in a glass water bottle that can travel with you throughout the day. Add lemons, cucumber, mint, or chlorophyll to keep it interesting.  Pick up a set of mason jar glasses, or a decorated glass water bottle from a health food store.
 

3. Adequate protein


During pregnancy your dietary protein requirements increase dramatically. Striving for adequate protein can be a challenge for some mamas. Increasing protein at breakfast time with a green smoothie with added hemp hearts, vegan protein powder and almond milk, or a delish Spanish omelette. Match protein with snacks and meals throughout the day to assure balanced blood glucose levels.
 

4. Body pillow


Sleep during pregnancy is ESSENTIAL. A pregnant belly can be an obstacle to getting comfortable – check out body pillows to help find a good fit to get the rest and rejuvenation your body needs.
 

5. Red raspberry leaf tea


Starting in late second trimester or early third trimester, this yummy tea helps “tonify” your uterine muscle. Botanical medicine at it’s best!
 
 

6. The book: Ina May Gaskin – Guide to Childbirth

 
It celebrates the pregnancy goddess in each and every one of us! This empowering book strives to ease fears and remember that our bodies where made for this beautiful, intense event.
 
 

7. Prenatal yoga


Breathe, stretch, connect with your baby, your body and other pregnant mamas. Get your body ready for the marathon than is childbirth.
 

8. Super foods


Everyday, try to turbo-charge your diet with fresh, whole-food, colorful and organic super foods. Reach for antioxidant-rich berries, pomegranate, grapes, red and pinto beans, brightly colored veggies like yam, peppers, red cabbage. Nutrient packed nuts and seeds, like walnut, pecan, pumpkin seed, almonds can complement fresh salads with dark leafy greens. Healthy oils are great, alternating olive oil, avocados, and clean salmon, coconut oil to boost our bodies and brains.
 

9. Self care


Book that massage (with a licensed registered massage therapist), have a mani/pedi, rebalance your Qi with acupuncture.  Get some fresh air, have a bath, drink some tea, grab your fav book and light a few candles….looking after yourself and bringing your health and well-being to the forefront is pivotal in maintaining health, happiness, and preparing for labour and delivery.
 

10. Labour preparation acupuncture


For the whole of the pregnancy, until late third trimester, your body is doing it’s best to keep the babe snug and happy in the uterus. The big switch, both hormonally and energetically, needs to happen when baby is full term to give the signal it is time for the body to let go and babe to make its way into the world. Supporting the body with the gentle, downward-encouraging energetics starting around 37 weeks can help both the mother’s body, and the babe, to come on time. Naturopathic doctors and traditional Chinese doctors / Acupuncturists can all help during the home stretch.  
 

11. Support


It comes in many forms: partner, family, friends, OB, midwife, doula, family doctor, or naturopath. Whoever your team is, at the end of the day – this is all you really need. 
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