Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for March 5, 2013

5 Super Simple Ways to Be More Productive

5 Super Simple Ways to Be More Productive


Sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get  everything done. And while that may be true to a certain extent, for many of us,  what it really boils down to is that we just aren’t using the time we have as  productively as we could. Luckily, there are several small and painless ways to  get around that. Click through for simple strategies to boost your productivity.  Share your own tips in the comments!



1. Take a Power Nap.

Several studies have championed the power of the mid-afternoon nap. A 15-20  minute power nap will help you recharge and refocus your energy, as well as  improve your ability to learn and remember information. (The Power Nap: Tips & Benefits)


2. Eat Right.

They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothing! Skipping  breakfast negatively impacts your focus, productivity, and memory. Keeping your  body fueled throughout the day is important, too. Load up on fresh fruits and  veggies, whole grains, nuts, and even the occasional dark chocolate to keep your  brain at full working capacity. Be sure to drink plenty of water, too!


3. Take a Walk… Or a Shower.

In our hyper-connected  world, there are fewer and fewer times in our day when we can just take time to  clear our thoughts. Which is unfortunate, because, often times, this is when our  best ideas come to light. If you’re stuck in a rut, go out for a quick stroll  around the block or, if you can, hop in the shower. You’ll recharge, refresh and  benefit nicely from a change of pace — one study showed a huge jumps in  creativity and productivity when workers took shower breaks during the  day


4. Change Lighting & Temperature.

It’s not just habits that can boost your productivity — it’s also your  environment. One Department of Energy study, for instance, found that workers in  offices with exposure to daylight had better health, fewer absences, and, yes,  increased productivity, than workers who were not exposed to daylight.  Temperature plays a role here, too. Rooms that varied too much far from 77  degrees will hinder your ability to get stuff done. Use a fan or an air  conditioner in the summer, and a space heater or a sweater in the winter, to  keep your body at an optimal temperature.


5. Look at Photos of  Cute Things.

Don’t mind if I do! Researchers in Japan found that, after viewing pictures  of adorable animals, babies, and other cute things, participants’ concentration  shot up by a whopping 44%. Why, exactly? Well, researchers think it connects to  our natural urge to nurture and protect adorable, harmless creatures — a task  that requires plenty of concentration.

By Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A  Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives  in Oakland, California.


11 Common Dream Symbols & Their Meanings

11 Common Dream Symbols & Their Meanings


There are dreams that our conscious minds never register. There are dreams  that seem clear when we first wake up but are forgotten as the day goes on. And  then there are dreams so strange and jumbled that they stick with us for days  and even years at a time. These are the ones full of objects and odd occurrences  that practically demand interpretation (or an appointment with a therapist).  Dream dictionaries claim to unlock the meaning behind our sleep sagas. But,  based on the sheer multitude of entries, it’s clear that everything we dream  about is ripe for symbolism. And often, our dreams allude to emotions or  situations we need to confront in our waking hours.


Babies in dreams are symbols of purity, rebirth, and vulnerability. Again,  it’s important to recognize what’s happening with the baby to figure out how it  relates to your life. A crying or abandoned baby could mean that you’re not  paying enough attention to your own needs. Perhaps you feel especially needy and  vulnerable right now, or you might have doubts about being able to take care of  someone other than yourself.


Who hasn’t had dreams about working? Dreams about your job suggest that  certain work habits need fixing–either not being on-task enough or working too  much. When worries about job performance leak into our subconscious, there’s a  lack of balance somewhere, either in effectiveness or in leisure time.


Creepy-crawlies are the manifestation of problems that we’re not facing. Bugs  on your skin mean an unsettling change is taking place in your life. The more  bugs you encounter in your dream, the greater your problems and unconscious  anxieties.


If the candle is aflame, that might mean good luck’s coming your way, or at  least that there’s a reason to be hopeful. If it’s not lit, the candle could  represent a lack of initiative or not living up to one’s promise. A candle  that’s blown out has to do with leaving something behind, which could be good or  bad.


This makes for a sad dream, but death isn’t as ominous a theme as you’d  think–it’s more about change on the horizon. If someone you know dies in a dream  you have, think about your connection to that person. Is there an aspect of your  relationship that needs changing? Or is there something about the person’s life  that you’d like to see manifesting itself in your own? Death-related dreams  might also be about incoming change or the dreamer’s need to change.


Mirrors in dreams reflect our inner qualities–both how others perceive us and  how we see ourselves. If the mirror is foggy or clouded, however, that means  we’re not seeing things accurately and need to figure out why. Shattering a  mirror is allegedly bad luck in real life, but in the dream world, it represents  breaking away from the inner self.


Would you guess the people we encounter in dreams are variations on  ourselves? Pay close attention to these figures, because they represent  personality traits we don’t acknowledge, either because they’re hidden or  because they’re negative. When the person’s a stranger, it usually means the  former; when he or she is familiar, it tends to signify the latter, although it  could also mean that you should take a closer look at the ways in which you  interact with that person in real life, and perhaps change your behavior toward  him or her.


Hair in our sleep life has multiple meanings, including sensuality,  self-image, and strength. If you’re cutting your hair, that symbolizes taking  power over your life and letting go of unnecessary burdens. Brushing or fixing  your hair alludes to heightened self-consciousness. Hair falling out has to do  with fear of getting old and/or physical weakness.


If you’re crying in a dream, you’re likely grappling with a pent-up emotion  that you’re not letting go of in real life, and it’s a way for your subconscious  to provide you with the emotional outlet you deny yourself otherwise. If someone  else is crying in your dream, it could be a message to you to be mindful of the  thoughts and feelings of those around you.


Traveling down a road during a dream is like traveling down the path to your  goals in life. Sometimes it’s windy or full of potholes, which means you have  hardships to overcome. If it’s smooth, you’re making good choices and feel  confident about your future success. And if the road ahead looks dark and  looming, it might indicate that you’re making choices along the way without all  the information you need, which could produce difficult outcomes.


Whether it’s a rushing river or a calm ocean, water represents our emotional  state. Calm, clear water means that we’re generally content and peaceful at the  moment. Murky, rough water suggests we’re feeling overwhelmed by negative  thoughts and not making choices that support our emotional well-being.

By Megan, selected from DivineCaroline


5 Hidden Food Allergens (That Are More Common Than You Think)

5 Hidden Food Allergens (That Are More Common Than You Think)


When it comes to food allergies, U.S. ingredient lists offer a false sense of  security. While eight major foods (milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, tree nuts,  peanuts, wheat, and soy) are estimated to account for 90% of all allergic  reactions, some food additives have become so common that they’re beginning to  account for more and more food allergies.

Many of these don’t need to be clearly labeled at all, and some of them are  simply so difficult to identify that you may not even know what to look for when  reading ingredient lists. Here are four food allergies that are becoming  increasingly common, so much so that you may not be able to protect yourself  from simply by reading food labels.

1. Spices – Spice allergies are estimated to account for  about 2% food allergies — although some allergists believe the  difficulty of diagnosing this condition means the real numbers are higher.  People can react to just about any spice used in cooking, including kitchen  staples like garlic, coriander, cumin, and paprika. Unfortunately, in many  prepared and packaged foods, specific spices aren’t listed as ingredients — and  many restaurants won’t list spices on the menu.

The kitchen isn’t the only place you need to watch out if you have a spice  allergy; many cosmetics, particularly natural cosmetics, use botanical  ingredients which can cause skin reactions as well. In fact, for this reason,  spice allergies are more often seen in women than in men. They often have had  more lifetime exposure to potential allergens.

2. Corn –  No one is sure exactly how many people  suffer from corn allergy, but one study of self-reported reactions estimates it  may be has high as 2%. Corn allergies are notoriously difficult to manage due to  the fact that corn derivatives are used in many packaged foods — and can be labeled with some pretty confusing names. Corn products are also widely used  in prescription and OTC drugs as a filler or binder and are increasingly being  used in biofuels and bioplastics.

3. Seeds – While still not considered a major allergen in the U.S., reactions  to sesame, poppy, sunflower and even mustard seeds are on the rise. Sesame is  actually considered one of the top allergens in several other countries,  including Canada, Israel and parts of Europe. The risk of seed allergies is heightened in people who already have an  existing allergy to tree nuts. Sesame in particular can be found in many  unexpected places, like cosmetics and in many foods.

4. Preservatives – It’s also possible to be allergic to  common preservatives found in packaged foods. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult  to test for reactions to preservatives. Usually the culprit is  identified through a process of elimination — for instance, when the same food  prepared fresh at home causes no problems, but a reaction occurs eating the same  dish from a restaurant. If an allergist can’t identify the specific allergen,  the only solution may be to avoid processed foods entirely. (Even some fresh,  unpackaged foods may be exposed to preservatives to extend their shelf life.)  Current research suggests that about 1% of adults and 2% of children are  allergic to common food preservatives. One class of preservatives, sulfites  (which occur in wine, cured meats, and some dried fruits), is also known to exacerbate  asthma symptoms in some people.

5. Food Coloring – Another increasingly common allergy is to  the dyes used in packaged food. The dyes tartrazine, carmine, annatto, and saffron have all been  reported as causes of severe allergic reactions in some people. Many other food  colorings may also be potential allergens, although the ones I’ve listed are the  most common. Natural food coloring seems to be just as potentially allergenic as artificial dyes.

If you find yourself having unexplained reactions to packaged or prepared  foods (but no issues with food made from scratch), you may have an allergy or  intolerance to one of these common food additives. Talk to your doctor about  testing to uncover which of these common substances may be giving you  trouble.


Photo credit: Pink  Sherbet Photography via Flickr

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: