Posts Tagged ‘Woman’s Day Magazine’

See surprising reasons why you may be feeling worried or anxious
By Sarah Jio

Got stress? Most of us do. And you’re probably already aware of the usual suspects, like money, kids, work, rocky relationships and your health. But maybe you haven’t considered the lesser-known stressors in your life. Without us even knowing it, there are plenty of unexpected causes of day-to-day worry and anxiety. Here, our experts discuss some sneaky sources of stress and exactly how to deal with them.

1. Your Doctor
You go to visit the doctor to feel better, right? But many women may find that certain doctors’ interpersonal skills and lack of “bedside manner” can leave them feeling agitated and anxious. In fact, many women may leave the doctor’s office feeling more stressed out than when they arrived. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to find a new physician, says Phyllis Goldberg, PhD, a family and relationship expert practicing in Marina Del Ray, California. “This is a partnership, and the relationship has to work for you,” she says. “So get in the driver’s seat—talk to your friends, look online, make a list of what you want and interview until you find the doctor that you know is right for you.”

2. Your Coworkers
Most people assume that in a work environment it’s the boss who will be the most anxiety-producing personality, but that’s not always the case, says Linnda Durré, PhD, a Florida-based psychotherapist. You spend the most time, she says, with your professional peers—and it may be that your stress at the office is more about your coworkers than your boss. Just because you’re at the same place in the office hierarchy doesn’t mean that you won’t clash on certain issues. In Dr. Durré’s new book Surviving the Toxic Workplace, she offers the following way to conquer coworker conflicts. “Use the ‘sandwich technique,’” she says. “Start out with a compliment about the person, then go directly to the problems. Be specific, give feedback, stating it clearly and giving examples of the toxic or faulty behavior and how you want it to change. Then end on a positive note with what you’d like to have happen.”

3. Your Dog
Rufus the dog or Fluffy the cat may be your loyal best friend, but pets are a source of stress, too. (Anyone who’s ever had to take their dog to the emergency animal hospital at 2 a.m. or has been awakened by their cat’s whining at 4 a.m. knows about that!) There is such a thing as pet-induced anxiety, says Rosemary Lichtman, PhD, a relationship and family expert in Marina Del Ray, California. If you find that your pet is interfering with your sleep, destroying your house and generally causing you anxiety—it’s time to take action, whether it’s hiring a dog trainer, speaking to your vet about your cat’s destructive habits or even finding your pooch a new home. Your pet should enhance your life, not make it worse. But Dr. Lichtman reminds us that, despite all the hard work, “the benefits do outweigh the costs.” She adds, “Studies have shown that people with pets are happier, have less stress and live longer. So keep that in mind during those midnight wakeup calls.”

4. Your Bedroom
It’s supposed to be the most restful, calming room in your house. Is that true of yours? If there’s unfolded laundry piled high on your bed and clutter on your bedside table, it may not only be interfering with your sleep—it could also be increasing your stress levels. Past studies have found a correlation between messy homes and unhappiness, mild depression and elevated anxiety. “With a busy life, things can pile up before you know it,” says Dr. Goldberg. “But you’re in charge here, and you really can get a handle on this. It’s hard to clean up a huge mess, so take it one step at a time. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can even bring in a professional organizer.”

5. Your Alarm Clock
Research has indicated that alarm clocks illuminated with blue light may interfere with circadian rhythms, possibly interrupting your sleep, which can sap you of energy and leave you underprepared to deal with daily stress. Alarm clocks with a loud, shrill pitch may also produce a jarring effect that can jolt the body with stress upon waking. While it’s not likely that the ring of your alarm clock will cause serious health problems, researchers have linked the morning hours to a higher incident of heart attacks, and some have questioned whether our bodies may be better suited to peaceful, slower wakeups. “Find an alarm clock with a soothing chime,” says Dr. Durré. Better yet, she adds: “Get a good night’s sleep so you don’t even need an alarm.”

6. Facebook
You love taking a midday break from work and finding out what your pals are up to, but could everyone else’s status updates be stressing you out? Maybe, says Dr. Lichtman. “Social networking, like any relationship, can have an impact on your emotions,” she says, adding that online news bites can sometimes, inadvertently, make others feel inadequate. (For instance: the status update from your old friend from high school who announced that she’s just met Prince Charming, who’s taking her on a two-week Mediterranean cruise, just as you’ve signed your divorce papers.) “Notice how you’re feeling when you spend time on Facebook and pay attention to why,” she says. “If it makes you feel bad, trust your instincts and log off. Call a friend, curl up with a good book, go for a walk—do something that genuinely brings you pleasure.”

7. Your Keys
Have you ever lost your keys? Your cell phone? Or—gasp—your wallet? Your heart probably started racing as stress hormones pumped through your body. This kind of stress is normal, but if you’re constantly losing your most important belongings, it may be time to make some changes. “When I was in graduate school, I used to lock myself out of my house and my car all the time because I wasn’t concentrating and was always rushed and in a hurry,” says Dr. Durré. “I bought a long neck chain and put one car key and one house key on it, and tucked it in the middle of my bra, so I was always protected from lockouts. It worked!” Try making a few duplicate house and car keys, she says. Also set your cell phone, keys, wallet and other essentials in one consistent place every day when you walk into your home.

8. Your Computer
If you take your work laptop home on the weekends, maybe you should reconsider—or at least designate one day during which you don’t think about work or feel tempted to turn on your computer. Here’s why: Studies have indicated that when people are in front of a computer they often exhibit stress responses, such as increased breathing rates and tense arms and shoulders. “Information overload is stressful and affects you physically,” says Dr. Goldberg. “You can break the habit and set boundaries for yourself. Limit your screen time, don’t check your e-mail so often and take frequent breaks.”

9. The Light in Your Bathroom
Is the light in your bathroom flattering, or does it illuminate every wrinkle, enlarged pore and blemish on your face? The answer is important, says Dr. Durré. How you see yourself when you start your day may play a role in your self-image and stress levels. “Research has shown that fluorescent lights increase ADD and ADHD symptoms in children because of how they affect their brain,” she says. While it’s not clear whether glaring fluorescent lights have a similar impact on adults, if the light in your house is bothering you, it may be time to make a change. A simple investment in a dimmer switch or a new bulb may be a small way to make you feel better about yourself each morning.

10. Celebrity Gossip
Sure, it can be fun to stay up to date on Brad and Angelina—and did you see Jennifer Aniston’s new house?! But experts have always warned that celebrity ogling may come at a cost to your happiness and stress levels. “Comparing yourself to celebrities and movie stars is difficult at best,” says Dr. Durré. “They have personal trainers, beauticians, housekeepers, maids, butlers, gardeners, chauffeurs, nannies and cooks.” Instead of fixating on such lifestyles, “accept yourself for who and what you are,” she adds. Try this: Only allow yourself to sink into celebrity gossip, whether it’s in print, on TV or on the Web, when you’re doing something to better your own health and happiness, like running on a treadmill or cooking a healthy meal.
Read more: Surprising Causes of Stress at WomansDay.com- Mental Health Tips – Woman’s Day

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Find out what guys know (and you don’t) about getting in shape
By Brynn Mannino

Not that we’re envious (actually, yes, we are), but guys seem to have a much easier time getting fit than women. Sure, their bodies are different, but what if there’s more to it? After looking at men’s traditional workout habits versus women’s, we found that they have a few tricks up their sleeves. For one thing, strength training burns way more calories than cardio alone, and post-workout protein shakes are more than just an excuse to drink a smoothie. But that’s not all! Read on to find out how you can improve your own fitness routine by taking a few tips from the boys.


1. They work multiple muscle groups at once. 

The more muscles you work at one time, the more calories you’ll burn at one time—not only at the gym but during the days following, as your muscles rebuild, says Myatt Murphy, coauthor of The Body You Want in the Time You Have. Compounding exercises, like squats, dead lifts and bench presses, will give you the most bang for your buck, as they engage multiple muscles in your upper or lower body simultaneously. Revamp your routine by including exercises that work more than one muscle group or combine two moves (like doing biceps curls on a stability ball) in order to make the most of your time spent at the gym.


2. They leave magazines out of it. 

Reading while on a cardio machine could not only stifle your workout by interfering with your form, but it might also shorten your workout as well. “Looking down can hinder the oxygen flow to your lungs,” says Murphy. “The less oxygen you breathe in, the quicker you’ll exhaust yourself.” If you need a little more mental stimulation than you get from logging miles on the treadmill, Lou Schuler, coauthor of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, suggests doing calisthenic-style exercises, which mix short bursts of cardio with strength training.


3. They get their sweat on. 

If there’s one place sweating is socially acceptable, it’s at the gym. Not only does getting a good sweat on mean your body is heating up and, consequently, expending energy (read: burning calories!), it also detoxifies your skin, says Monica Vazquez, personal trainer at New York Sports Clubs. So don’t be afraid to break a sweat and push yourself as hard as you can to ensure you’re burning the maximum amount of calories.


4. They flex their muscles.

“When you strength-train, you’re not building muscle—you’re breaking it down,” says Murphy. Contrary to popular belief, the building-back-up part happens over the next 48 hours, mostly while you sleep, he explains. Contracting (a.k.a. flexing) your muscles right after a weight-lifting set continues to break down the fibers, even if only slightly. And the more you break them down, the more they’ll build back up, Murphy says. “In other words, boosting your ego can boost your results!”


5. They eat after they exercise. 

After you’ve depleted your energy, it’s important to refuel, “especially after you exercise, when your body is desperate to replace the stored energy it just used and will pull it from wherever it can,” Murphy says. Ideally, you want the energy to come from your stored fat, but your body may also pull from the calorie-burning muscle. By eating a mix of protein and carbohydrates after you train (thus the protein shake!), you can prevent your body from turning on its muscle, since it looks to your stomach first for fuel.


6. They hone in on a different set of numbers. 

Rather than fixating on how many calories they’ve burned or how much weight they’ve lost, men tend to focus on how much of a certain task they’ve accomplished—and how much more they should do next time they hit the gym. According to Schuler, steadily increasing speed (cardio) or weight (strength training) in increments contributes to improved strength and energy, and consequently, more muscle and better workouts in the future. Focus on improving your exercise stats (reps, workout time, weight lifted, etc.), rather than the number on the scale. 


7. They focus on getting stronger—not thinner. 

If you’ve ever tried to compliment a man by telling him he looks slim only to have it backfire, then you know: Men tend to want to look “big,” which denotes strength, while women usually want to look slim, which suggests a low percentage of body fat. Why is the guys’ way more effective? Strength means more muscle; muscle not only burns calories, but shapes your whole body. “If you’re aiming to change the way you look, you must change the shape of your muscles,” says Vazquez.


8. They log their workouts. 

Because of the nature of weight lifting (you should consistently increase the weight you lift) it makes sense that men record their workouts. Frankly, it’s hard to remember all those numbers! But there are other advantages to writing down workout stats that everyone could benefit from, explains Vazquez. “Not only does it keep you honest about how much you’re really working out, but it makes your success tangible,” she says. Figure out a system that works for you, whether that means jotting things down in a small notebook or creating a cheat sheet on your mobile or portable audio device, so you can build upon your improvements each time you work out.

Read more: Fitness Tips – New Exercise Advice at WomansDay.com – Woman’s Day

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Learn how to get more work done in the office with less stress
By Alexandra Gekas

While your co-workers start every day enjoying a cup of coffee together in the break room, you’re barely able to find time to call your doctor. While they’re taking lunches, you’re rushing through another meal at your desk. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: This apparent discrepancy may not mean you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker. Instead, it may mean that they’ve mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t—until now. From prioritizing your workload to learning which projects don’t need to be perfect, read on to discover eight workplace habits that’ll boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.

1. They make it a point to take breaks.
Americans seem to think that constantly working is synonymous with being productive, but unless your brain is functioning at its maximum level, you may not be getting as much work done as you think. “[Taking breaks] is like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your ‘brain cache’ so you have room to refill it,” says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. First and foremost, she recommends taking lunch every day—and leaving your desk to do it. “When you have a ‘working lunch,’ it’s just not very efficient. At some point you’re going to lose attention,” she says. Ultimately, eating while you work will cause you to suffer on two fronts: you won’t be able to pay attention to your food—a surefire way to overeat—and you won’t be giving your work the proper attention it deserves. In addition to a “real” lunch break, Hohlbaum suggests allotting time for other breaks as well. She recommends taking five minutes in the morning, before starting work, and at least a 10- to 15-minute break in the afternoon. Whether you take a short walk, read a book or stare out of the window with a cup of tea, it’ll help you recharge and improve your overall productivity. “It’s really important to take time off because otherwise your brain will reach a saturation point,” Hohlbaum says, explaining that when this happens, it becomes hard to focus on even the simplest task. “At that point, you need to push away from your computer and take a break.”

2. They start their day off on the right foot.
According to a recent study at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, if an employee is in a bad mood when they arrive at work—whether because of familial problems or a stressful commute—it can decrease their productivity by as much as 10% that day. So unless you come in to the office every day in a great mood (and who does?), start your day with 5 to 10 minutes of time dedicated to decompressing. “Create a ritual. Maybe it’s meeting in the coffee break room or going around the office to greet everyone. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you foster a sense of connection [with your coworkers],” Says Holhbaum. “Swinging by to say ‘hi’ to your colleagues when you walk in gives you a sense of focus. When you feel you’re part of a bigger effort, you feel more connected to why you’re there and that can make all the difference in the world.” Re-focusing your mind at the beginning of the day will also create a sense of calm, helping you to disregard outside stressors and zero in on your daily tasks. “If we’re actually able to start the day centered, then we’ll have a longer tolerance period before we get off track,” Holhbaum says.

3. They make mindful food choices.
You are what you eat, and eating a heavy mid-day meal will often make you feel lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. “Consider what you’re eating at lunch. If you’re having that post-pasta slump at 2 p.m., and need java or cookies to pep back up, maybe you should try a salad or something a bit lighter so you won’t lag,” suggests Hohlbaum. The key is keeping your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, according to Kari Kooi, RD, corporate wellness dietician at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, who recommends three light meals and two snacks at regular intervals. “Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish because they require more energy to digest,” Kooi says. “[A quality lunch] will consist of a fiber-rich carbohydrate, like water-rich veggies, and a lean protein, like chicken or fish,” she says. And what does Kooi suggest you avoid? “A highly processed meal, like some of the frozen meals in the grocery store, will not give you the sustainable energy you need. The less processed the better when it comes to keeping your energy levels up.” When you hit that midday slump, Kooi suggests going for proteins like mixed nuts and fruit instead of the usual energy-zapping pretzels, cookies or candy, which cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop and may even make you hungrier, according to Kooi.

4. They keep a flexible to-do list.
Making a daily list of to-dos is a great way to stay on top of your work. However, there is one pitfall—it can make you inflexible. “A lot of people feel their day’s been wrecked if they have to change their plan, but the most effective people understand that’s part of the job,” says Vicki Milazzo, author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. “I always start my day with a plan, but by 9 a.m. I’ve busted that plan.” However, according to Paula Rizzo, a master list-maker and founder of ListProducer.com, it’s important to keep some form of a to-do list, no matter how much your day changes. For example, Rizzo begins her days with a master list, which she continually updates throughout the course of the day to note the items that haven’t been done or to add tasks as they crop up. Before leaving work, Rizzo will make a fresh list for the next day. The key, she says, is referencing the changing list throughout the day to keep herself on course. “Just putting a little extra work into it will keep you on track.”

5. They use technology with intent.
In today’s 24/7 all-access world, it’s hard to get a handle on technology use. While it’s impossible to avoid it altogether, you can be disciplined about how much time you spend perusing the Web. Set aside a specific time, say 15 minutes after lunch, to scroll through your social networking sites or other favorite websites—and stick to it. Or try something like Google Chrome’s website blocker, which allows you to set restrictions to your online time by either totally blocking your favorite websites or just restricting the timeframes within which you are allowed to check them. In addition to surfing the Internet, it’s important to watch your email habits. Whether you give yourself 15 to 30 minutes at a set time each day to check your personal email, or you allow yourself brief intervals between tasks, Holhbaum says the key is to be very mindful of the time you’re spending checking your non-work inbox. “Have a very clear distinction between what’s personal and what’s work. If that’s a part of your ‘OK I need to zone out for a little bit’ time, that’s fine. But you need to be clear and be mindful of what you’re doing.” Even work-related emails can become a distraction if not properly managed. Ask yourself if email is the best method of communication, or if you’re better off calling the person. ”Sending 100 emails isn’t [always] going to be the most productive thing. And as we know, emails beget emails. They’re like little rabbits,” Hohlbaum jokes. “If it’s a one-way communication, for example forwarding an airplane itinerary, you don’t need to have any answer [so email works]. But if you want detail or you know the person won’t respond right away by email, pick up the phone,” she says.

6. They balance their workload.
Different tasks require different levels of concentration, which you can use to your advantage. Start by identifying—and placing—the tasks you have into two categories: weeds and intensive work. Weeds are small, manageable things such as handling email, phone calls and minor organizational tasks. Intensive work is anything that requires an extended period of concentration, such as management tasks, preparing presentations, writing or editing. ”Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden; we all have them, and no matter how often we try to get rid of them, they never go away,” says Milazzo. ”Yet they do have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work.” Milazzo recommends splitting up long sessions of intensive work with regular 15- to 30-minute intervals of weed pulling. This way, you’ll accomplish a variety of tasks while not burning out on one type of work.

7. They put perfectionism in its place.
While turning in perfect work has been encouraged since kindergarten, that attitude can be counterproductive if it’s not managed. It’s important to pick your battles. “Women, by nature, are somewhat perfectionist,” says Milazzo. “So we need to distinguish what requires perfectionism,” she says. Of course you want to put your best foot forward in all situations, but if you’re strapped for time, prioritize. If, for example, you’re writing an informal memo or email to a co-worker, give it a quick look and spell-check it, but resist the urge to re-read it three times over. If, on the other hand, you’re creating a brochure for your company or preparing an important presentation, then that’s the time to put all of your perfectionist tendencies to good use.

8. They know how to say “no.”
It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed at work. But one of the secrets of highly productive people is that they learn when and how to say “no.” For starters, say “no” to whiners, complainers and distracting people. One way to do that, according to Rizzo, is by wearing headphones. “That sends the message that you’re busy and it drowns out the noise as well,” she says. When it comes time to say “no” to the boss, tread lightly but firmly. You don’t have to spell out n-o per se; rather, ask her to prioritize what’s most important given what’s on your plate. “When an employee does that, the boss usually comes to their senses and they get it,” Milazzo says. “You don’t want to make your boss the enemy; you want your boss to know you’re there for the company, and that you’re there for them. If they know that, they’re more likely to listen to what you say.”

Read more: Career Advice – How to be more productive at WomansDay.com – Woman’s Day

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I saw this article in Woman’s Day and found it to be useful:

Make yourself more memorable in any situation by applying these simple pointers.
By Brynn Mannino

You don’t have to be the smartest, wittiest or most attractive person in the room to make your mark. While some people naturally exude qualities that help them stand out in a crowd, making an impact on someone is a learnable skill. From lightening the mood to knowing when to duck out of a conversation, these eight tips will bring your networking skills to another level.

1. Be pleasant and full of praise.
Whether you’re making connections at a conference or meeting colleagues from other departments, one of the best ways to get people to remember you is to turn on the charm. “When you make someone laugh, feel happy or admired, they naturally reciprocate those feelings towards you,” says psychologist Anne Demarais, founder of behavioral coaching company, First Impressions. For example, when you give someone you’ve just met a genuine compliment, they’ll likely internalize those positive feelings towards you. But it’s not enough to just be flattering, you need to exude an affable aura in order to be perceived as sincere. “To inject feel-good vibes into a room or conversation, just use your best positivity-relaying attribute,” says executive coach, Gina Rudan, president of Genuine Insights Inc., a professional development practice. “That could be your smile, innate optimism or sense of humor,” she adds. However, don’t force it and try to be something you’re not—including funny. “Nothing leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths like an accidentally insulting joke or string of bad puns,” she adds. And remember, even if the food is bad or the weather is poor, don’t complain—you’ll only end up killing the mood and appearing as a Debbie Downer.

2. Have a balanced conversation. 
Anyone who’s been on the silent end of a one-sided conversation knows how unpleasant it is, so be sure not to monopolize things. “Avoid the data dump,” says Demarais. In other words, speak a little bit about yourself, then ask questions, being sure to give whoever you’re speaking to a chance to think and respond—without interrupting. The best conversations are a seamless back-and-forth banter because it creates the opportunity for mutual connections. “If someone wants to know more about your dog or exotic cooking habits, they can ask you questions,” Demarais notes.

3. Dress to make the right impression. 
Though a person’s opinion of you isn’t cemented the first time they see you (that usually happens at the end of a first interaction), “the way you’re dressed or made up certainly tells a story about you,” Demarais says. If you want your impression to end with a happy ending, express yourself through your clothing while also adhering to what’s appropriate for the situation. After all, not only can a bit of personal flair (in the form of, say, a statement-making scarf) be a great conversation starter, but displaying a hint of style can also affect how you carry yourself. “When you feel good about what you’re wearing, you’re less self-monitoring, which allows you to focus on making connections with others,” Demarais says. If you’re ever uncertain about what attire is suitable for an occasion, do a little research (for example, you can call a restaurant to inquire about the dress code or ask the bride what type of wedding she’s having), so the room will peg you as smart, creative and savvy before you’ve even said a word.

4. Convey interest.
An effective way to leave a good impression on someone you’ve just met is to ask them about themselves during the course of the conversation. “When you’re interested, you’re interesting,” says Jill Spiegel, author of How to Talk to Anyone About Anything! Showing someone that you care about what they’re saying by asking questions as well as displaying subtle signs that you’re interested in the response, such as nodding or indicating agreement, makes them feel admired, which in turn makes them admire you. Even better? Making it a two-way street by finding a common ground and sharing your own interests. “Speaking about your own passions quite literally brings out the best in you,” says Demarais. ”It will make you smile and exude excitement—traits that are naturally appealing to others.”

5. Get real in your introduction. 
The secret to a memorable introduction? Attach a “confessional-style” factoid when introducing yourself, suggests Spiegel, who explains that the admission should be something that conveys vulnerability. “The top quality that helps people connect with others is realness,” as it immediately wipes out any sense of competition, which can put people off, Spiegel explains. Something as simple as “Hi, I’m Liz—and I don’t know a single person here!” or “Hi, I’m Liz—have you tried the spinach dip? I can’t stop eating it” works because it relays to whomever you’re speaking that they, too, can be themselves. “Self-disclosure is a way of adding instant depth to a conversation,” says Demarais.

6. Contribute to the conversation.
“The goal is not to just be part of a room or conversation, but to add value to it,” says Rudan. When you take a conversation one step further—whether by adding an interesting factoid or elaborating on something that has already been touched upon—people will note that you truly understand the topic at hand, which signals that you are equals and that there is potential for you to learn from each other. “Think of every conversation as building something together,” Spiegel says. Another way to be of service is to actively try to make everybody around you more comfortable; try introducing people who haven’t previous met, or engage the person standing alone in the corner in a conversation. “Others will be in awe of your generosity and inspired by your leadership,” says Spiegel. Rudan adds: “This type of action pins you as a giver as opposed to a taker,” which is a quality most people appreciate.

7. Make eye contact.
No matter who you’re speaking to, eye contact is the key to keeping someone interested and engaged. “At least in American culture, research shows that making eye contact 70% to 80% of the time is considered normal and appropriate,” says Demarais, who also notes that going below that amount may make you appear insincere. This is especially relevant when giving a presentation, says speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall who suggests that, in this type of situation, you make eye contact at least 90% of the time. “Particularly at the beginning of a speech, many speakers are nervous so they tend to look for the reassuring faces—ones that are smiling, nodding and encouraging,” she says. Feel free to use this technique to ease your way in, but remember to include the entire audience as you move forward to avoid losing the room. If you have trouble making direct eye contact when speaking in public, Marshall suggests looking in between people. “The most important thing is that you face the crowd,” she says.

8. Know when the conversation is over. 
Whether you’re mingling at a party or flirting with a new love interest, knowing when to call it a wrap is crucial to leaving a positive impression. “Each person should expose just enough that they’ll both feel satisfied and look forward to more,” Rudan says. The best way to make sure you know when it’s time to go is to stay present—keep appropriate eye contact, listen carefully—so that you can pick up on the signals that the other person is ready to wind down the conversation, she explains. “If they start eye-surfing or summarizing the chat, which can often be subconscious, it may be time to move on.” If you miss the signs that the conversation has come to an end? “It could make you seem self-serving and disrespectful of someone’s time,” Rudan says. Equally as important as finishing up at the right moment is ending the conversation on a positive note. “Think of your farewell as the last verse or chord of a song—it sticks with you,” says Spiegel, who suggests concluding with a compliment.

Read more: How To Make a Good Impression – Networking Skills – Woman’s Day

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I’m not going to lie. I’m one lazy chick. But bikini season is upon us and I will not be stuck feeling blahh about my un-toned bod. So while I’m watching my favorite TV shows, Woman’s Day Magazine has some easy to do couch exercises that I can get working on. Now, I’ve just tried all of these, and I did break a sweat, but it was not too much for me. So c’mon ladies, let’s give it a go and try to do each of these exercises at least once a day! Beach time here we come!


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Calm your nerves when it comes to flying, public speaking and more.

By Tori Rodriguez Posted May 31, 2011 from WomansDay.com

Though stomach knots and sweaty palms are certainly no fun, anxiety is actually our ally, since it’s a warning system designed to alert us to potential danger. It only becomes a problem when our fear grows out of proportion to the actual threat. Even if your anxiety isn’t so extreme that it keeps you from doing things you want or need to do––like a full-blown phobia—it can still make certain situations tough. Fortunately, there are ways to cope. Below, find common anxiety-producing situations, plus tips from experts on how to deal with them. However, keep in mind that if your anxiety has started interfering with your daily life, such as impacting your job because you’re too anxious to make presentations, or causing you to drink excessively to cope with social anxiety, it’s time to seek help from a therapist.


Fear of Flying

“While you may rationally know that you’re much safer flying on a plane than driving in a car, it’s the complete lack of control that can overwhelm people,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of A Happy You. Instead of imagining the worst-case scenario, Laura Pagano, PhD, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in Roswell, Georgia, suggests visualizing a happy ending in advance––like exiting the plane after a smooth, pleasant flight––that you can call on when your anxiety arises. “Should the fears surface, change the channel in your mind to the positive scenario you’ve conjured up.” Also, since it’s not physiologically possible to be both anxious and relaxed at the same time, Richard Kneip, PhD, clinical psychologist in private practice in Clarkston, Michigan and director of Great Lakes Psychology Group, recommends that you try calming your body (and thus your mind) with progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) by contracting and releasing each muscle in the body one at a time. Most anxiety-prone people don’t realize how much tension they hold in their muscles, and PMR can teach you what it feels like when your muscles are truly relaxed. To do it, first close your eyes and focus on the rhythm of your breath. Then, starting with your feet, clench each muscle as tightly as possible, feeling the tension in the muscle before you relax it, then noting the release of tension. Repeat this process for each muscle––calves, thighs, buttocks, back, stomach, arms, shoulders and neck, all the way up to your head. Photo: Shutterstock

Mild Claustrophobia

Discomfort about being confined to a small space, like an elevator or MRI machine, often stems from the fear that you’ll get stuck and be helpless, explains Dr. Lombardo. Deep breathing (breathing in and out for six counts each) will help calm you down in the moment, but for a longer-term fix, Dr. Kneip recommends systematic desensitization, which gradually exposes you to anxiety-provoking situations. “Research has shown that individuals prone to this anxiety can learn to overcome it by pairing relaxation techniques with imagining themselves, or better yet, observing others in scenes from TV shows or movies, in increasingly confined spaces.” The key is to progress in small steps, advises Dr. Kneip, who says that it is generally best to start with the least anxiety-provoking images, objects or situations and gradually increase the intensity as you are able to successfully manage each along the way. For example, to combat anxiety about elevators, while practicing deep breathing, you might first imagine yourself walking down the hall toward an elevator. Once that thought no longer makes you anxious, move on to imagery of yourself waiting for an elevator door to open. Eventually, you should work up to picturing yourself actually being in the elevator for the duration of the ride. Photo: Shutterstock

Fear of Public Speaking

According to research from Emory University, the fear of public speaking is prevalent in up to 34 percent of the general population. Nick Titov, PhD, associate psychology professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who has extensively studied treatments for phobias, notes that most good speakers have spent years practicing the skill, which is essential for minimizing anxiety since it helps desensitize you to the actual experience. First, do all you can to address factors you can control, like having handouts prepared in advance and timing your speech as you practice. Dr. Titov also suggests that you use cue cards with notes and focus on perfecting the beginning of your speech; if you have a smooth start, your anxiety will ease up once you get further into the presentation. And whenever possible, work in anecdotes about topics you’re passionate about, he suggests, since “most of us love to hear about what inspires others, and it’s much easier to talk about things we enjoy.” Finally, in the time leading up to the day of your speech, try to identify any irrational thoughts driving your anxiety. Dr. Kneip says that you can reduce your sense of vulnerability by confronting these fears with rational rebuttals. If, for example, you’re worried that everyone will think you’re stupid if you make a mistake, he suggests countering with, “If I make a mistake it might be embarrassing, but it certainly doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” Photo: Comstock/Thinkstock

Social Anxiety

Social situations can cause anxiety because we worry that others will think negatively of us, or that we won’t know what to say. To prevent that, Dr. Lombardo suggests keeping things in perspective: Most people are worried more about themselves than they are about you. And instead of dwelling on how others might be viewing you, focus on being truly present. “Really listen to, think about and direct all of your attention to the other person and the conversation at hand,” she says. “It will help reduce your anxiety and enhance the perception the other person has of you.” If you’re worried about not having anything to talk about, she recommends keeping some topics in your “back pocket” in case you need them. “Asking questions about the other person (without it seeming like an interview) can be great too, since it moves the focus from you to them.” Some examples she suggests are “Have you tried that new restaurant yet?” and “Did you watch American Idol last night? What did you think?” You could also ask topic-specific questions: For instance, at a cocktail benefit, ask someone if he or she is involved with the cause. Photo: Shutterstock

Job Interviews

Because there is a real risk here––of not getting a job and therefore not being able to support yourself––this situation often triggers a great deal of anxiety, says Dr. Titov. To lessen pre-interview jitters, he recommends doing research to learn as much as you can about the position and company to give you an idea of what they’re looking for. He also suggests preparing responses to likely questions and having practice interviews with friends or colleagues. Counter self-doubt by writing down ways that you’re qualified for the position. To keep your anxiety in check during the actual interview, Dr. Lombardo says that in addition to taking deep breaths, you should “remind yourself of a specific success you have had in the past where you felt proud of yourself, and use those feelings to propel yourself during the interview.” And focus on the interviewer, making sure to listen closely to what he or she is saying rather than just focusing on what you want to say. “Being truly mindful and present will help boost how the interviewer views you,” she says. Photo: iStockphoto

Visit to the Doctor or Dentist

There are a couple of reasons this can cause anxiety. For instance, you could be engaging in “what-if” thinking and dreading the worst-case scenario, says Dr. Lombardo, such as “What if the doctor finds a tumor?” She recommends keeping your fear in check by being diligent about regular checkups and cleanings, and “keeping in mind the difference between possibility and probability; just because your headaches could be a brain tumor, it’s overwhelmingly more likely that there’s something more innocuous causing them, like stress, fatigue or dehydration.” On the other hand, some people have really had a painful experience during a visit to the doctor or dentist, causing anxiety about future appointments. Systematic desensitization can be helpful here, too: At first, you might use relaxation strategies like deep breathing or PMR while imagining entering the dentist’s office. Once you’re no longer anxious about this step, advises Dr. Kneip, repeat the process while “imagining yourself sitting in the dentist’s chair, and then the dentist inserting dental instruments into the mouth, etc.” He says this approach is highly successful because it uses baby steps that don’t overwhelm people struggling with anxiety. Photo: Shutterstock

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Find out how to get back into your wellness routine—and stick with it
By Amanda Greene Posted February 23, 2011 from WomansDay.com


You’ve probably heard of "January joiners"—those eager gym-goers who sign up to get in shape at the beginning of the year, only to fall off the wagon by February. There’s a reason it’s such a common phenomenon: Sticking to health resolutions is difficult, especially when your ambitions are too high or not measurable. So we spoke to the experts to find out about common goal-setting mistakes and how to recommit to more obtainable aims. Read on to learn eight ways to revisit your wellness resolutions––and make them stick this time around.


1. Shrink your goals.

One of the most common reasons people fail at keeping their resolutions is because they bite off more than they can chew. "I find that my clients make New Year’s resolutions that aren’t really realistic," says Cristina Rivera, RD, president of Nutrition in Motion, PC. "They’re great for about a week, but people can’t keep them up forever." For example, one of her clients made a goal to give up soda, her favorite beverage. She went cold turkey and lasted about two weeks, then caved when the cravings hit. Rivera coached her to minimize her portions—a mini-can of Coke or a no-calorie Diet Coke––instead of cutting out the drink entirely. Photo: Thinkstock

2. Make your resolutions concrete.

Not only will setting a goal that’s too big derail you, so will making a resolution that’s too vague. "Saying ‘I will eat more healthfully’ isn’t a concrete goal," says Junelle Lupiani, RD, nutritionist at Miraval, a wellness spa outside Tucson, Arizona. "Instead, say something like, ‘I will replace my afternoon coffee and cookie snack with a piece of fruit, some nuts and green tea.’ Being sure that your resolutions are measurable can help you assess on a daily basis if you’re on track or not." Other specific—and doable––health promises that Lupiani recommends are vowing to eat a large salad every day or committing to starting each day with a whole grain and some fresh fruit. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Don’t wait to get motivated.

Many people assume they can’t tackle their goals without motivation. So they wait and wait for that push to get them to the gym, but it never comes. "We have the belief that motivation has to come before action—’I felt motivated so I went,’" says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, "when in fact motivation often follows action." Take the gym, for example. Most people can attest to feeling extremely motivated after a sweaty workout, instead of before. To get yourself to exercise, Dr. Rego recommends giving yourself permission to leave the gym after five minutes if you want. Chances are, once you get moving on the treadmill, your motivation will have kicked in and you won’t want to stop. Photo: Thinkstock

4. Get some sleep!

That’s right—the experts actually recommend hitting the hay in order to accomplish your goals. Why? Because a good night’s sleep can help you achieve virtually any goal on your New Year’s resolution list, says Pete Bils, vice president of Sleep Innovation and Clinical Research for Select Comfort. "Losing weight, exercising or learning a new skill are not human instincts; we have to work at them. You could call a sleepy brain a lazy brain—the human ability of resolve or willpower has been proven to be diminished without adequate sleep," he says. But it’s not just about willpower; the amount of sleep you get affects bodily functions, too. As Bils explains, without enough sleep, ghrelin (the hormone responsible for regulating appetite) is elevated, while leptin (the hormone connected with satiety) is diminished. So, even if you consume enough calories, when you haven’t gotten enough zzz’s, your body will still send signals that it’s hungry, which will likely lead you to overeat. Photo: Thinkstock

5. Set yourself up for success.

Sure, it’s easy enough to resolve to eat more healthfully, but if you don’t implement the necessary lifestyle changes you won’t be able to succeed. "If you’re going to have oatmeal for breakfast instead of your usual doughnut, you have to give yourself five extra minutes to boil those oats on the stovetop each morning, plus more time to eat at home since it’s not a portable food," says Cherylanne Skolnicki, wellness coach and owner of Nourish wellness consultants. "Resolutions are really about finding out how you’re going to integrate new behaviors into your life." So don’t join a gym that you have to drive out of your way to get to—choose one that’s on your route to and from the office. Or if you’re trying to drink more water, invest in a reusable bottle so that you always have it on hand. Photo: Thinkstock

6. Be patient.

"When you’re integrating a new exercise routine, your fitness levels will always change more quickly than your body composition. Fixate on how you feel and how you perform before you freak out about your weight and waistline," says Andrew Wolf, exercise physiologist at Miraval. As Rivera notes, healthy weight loss is only between one and two pounds per week, so give yourself reasonable time to make progress instead of giving up. Finally, Wolf advises implementing ways to monitor your progress that don’t involve a scale or your skinny jeans. Keep track of how many crunches you can do or measure your heart rate while you’re on the elliptical machine to prove to yourself that you’re getting stronger and more fit. Photo: Thinkstock

7. Think outside the box.

Don’t throw in the towel on getting in shape just because you hate the gym. Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to join a fitness club. There are plenty of ways to exercise outdoors—find a hiking trail or take your bike out for a ride, for example. Rivera is a fan of alternative forms of exercise, like Zumba classes. "If you have an active job, wear a pedometer and see how many steps per day you can log; if you hit 10,000 steps in a day, that’s like walking four miles," she says. "Knowing how much you’re walking could motivate you to push yourself even harder the next day." Photo: Thinkstock

8. Find a buddy.

The easiest way to make yourself accountable? Enlist a friend to help keep you on track with your goals. "I’d rather see you walk every day with a partner than run every six days by yourself," says Skolnicki. "If you can, find someone to meet you, whether it’s at the gym or outside your front door. People’s success rates go up dramatically [with a workout buddy]." Plus, she adds, working out in tandem is a great way for busy women to multitask: Not only will you get in a sweat session, but you’ll also have the time to catch up with a friend. Photo: Thinkstock

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Find a treat that comes in at 100 calories or less
By SparkPeople.com Posted January 25, 2011 from SparkPeople.com

Are you jonesing for a treat after dinner? Dying for a snack in the middle of the afternoon? Check out these 10 treats: Each is 100 calories or less!

Chocolate with a Conscience
Top 4 ounces of sugar-free chocolate pudding (made with skim milk) with a 2 tablespoon dollup of fat-free whipped topping: 75 calories

Berry-riffic Boost
Mix 1/4 cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt with 1/2 a cup of blueberries and raspberries: 90 calories

Italian Delicacy
Chop an ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese and 6 fresh basil leaves, then eat with a cup of cherry tomatoes: 100 calories

Filling and Fiber-Rich
Fill 5 ribs of celery with one tablespoon of peanut butter: 100 calories

Morning Perk
Enjoy an 8-ounce skim milk latte: 85 calories

Protein-Packed Pleasure
Wrap 1.5 ounces of low-sodium turkey deli meat around one small sliced apple: 100 calories

Movie Night Necessity
Sprinkle a tablespoon of parmesan cheese over 2 cups of air-popped popcorn: 85 calories

Midday Munchies
Top half a medium apple with a 1-ounce slice of low-fat extra sharp cheddar cheese: 90 calories

Sweet and Savory
Top 2 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese with one medium peach, sliced: 80 calories

Irresistible Luxury
Top 8 ounces of sugar-free hot chocolate with 2 tablespoons of fat-free whipped topping: 95 calories

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Change how you think about a situation in order to deal with it in a more positive way
By Tori Rodriguez Posted January 18, 2011 from WomansDay.com

Even though you can’t always control what happens, you can productively deal with what life throws your way. Whether you tend to fall prey to faulty logic or interpret situations in pessimistic ways, by recognizing your own knee-jerk reactions, you can shift your state of mind from negative to positive. We spoke with mental health experts to get their advice on the best ways to handle the most common negative mindsets and learned that a little tweak in attitude can make a big difference in outcome.

Situation #1: Your boss points out a mistake you made on a report and you’re instantly gripped with fear that you’re going to be fired, even though you’re a top performer.

To overcome this type of attentional bias, in which you over-focus on the negative despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of the bestselling book A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, suggests the following approach: “Remember that everyone makes mistakes. They provide an opportunity for you to learn and do even better next time.” Add balance to your perspective by mentally reviewing some of your work-related successes, she advises. Then address the error, quickly refocus and move on. And keep in mind that assuming the worst only makes you anxious, which increases the likelihood that you’ll…make mistakes! Photo: Thinkstock

Situation #2: You’re making dinner plans with a friend, and even though you don’t like any of her restaurant suggestions, you go with one of her picks and resent it later.

Often, we’re hesitant to give our input because we’re not sure if it’s worthy or whether others will be receptive. But that’s the whole point of communication; think of it as a chance to explore ideas, not as a performance or a battle of wills. You have every right to have your say, and your point of view is just as valid as anyone else’s, but don’t expect people to guess what you want or badger you for your preferences. Instead, offer some suggestions of your own, in a clear and friendly way (“I do like that place, but would you be open to trying…?”). And remember, if she’s not wild about your idea, then it’s her responsibility to say so. Photo: Shutterstock

Situation #3: Even though you were able to cross off 11 of the 16 items on your to-do list, you still feel unproductive because you wanted to finish all the tasks.

Negative perfectionism is linked to anger and rumination, such as obsessing about thoughts of inadequacy, according to a study published in the December 2010 issue of the International Journal of Psychology. With positive perfectionism, however, you do your best but allow for flexibility. To switch sides, keep in mind that a goal is meant to guide you, not measure your self-worth. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect to be acceptable, says Stephen Howard, MD, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Think back to when you may have learned otherwise and try to counter negative thoughts with: “I’m doing the best I can, and that’s pretty good,” Dr. Howard advises. For example, instead of criticizing yourself for not finishing all your chores, commend yourself for the accomplishments you did make, and take a crack at the rest of them the next day. And, if you’re consistently not accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, you may be aiming unrealistically high. Next time, take a few to-dos off the list. Photo: Thinkstock

Situation #4: You’re feeling more anxious than usual today and assume this must mean that something bad is going to happen.

Steer clear of emotional reasoning, which means you’re confusing feeling with fact. Try to pinpoint what might be stressing you out—lack of sleep, too much caffeine, an argument with your brother—and deal with the problem as best as you can. Try doing a few exercises or stretching for more energy, clear the air with your bro or take a nap (especially if PMS is the source of your stress: One study found that a 30-minute afternoon nap helped improve participants’ moods during that time of month). If you can’t figure out the cause of your anxiety and it continues to bother you, consult a therapist or physician for help. Photo: Shutterstock

Situation #5: You resolve to get in shape to look your best for your sweetie, but by the third session of your new boot camp program, you’d rather do anything but work out.

Studies show that intrinsic motivation—doing something for you, not someone else—is correlated with long-term exercise habits and better health outcomes. Instead of getting fit for your partner, think about the reasons that you want to improve your health, maybe to gain energy or improve your mood for example, and commit to being kind to yourself by taking steps toward those goals. Dr. Lombardo recommends making a list of your reasons and reading them out loud at least twice a day to keep them at the forefront of your mind. Photo: Shutterstock

Situation #6: You’re awaiting the lab results from a routine checkup and it occurs to you that something might come back abnormal, so you assume that must be true.

A close cousin of emotional reasoning, overimportance of thoughts is a cognitive error that leads us to believe that the mere presence of a thought means something. Instead, observe your thoughts as they arise, and don’t rush to assign meaning to them—especially if there’s no supporting evidence for your worries. Next time, don’t expect your doctor to contact you with bad news. Rather, reassure yourself that there’s no cause for concern and that just thinking something doesn’t make it so. Photo: Thinkstock

Situation #7: You approach your boss with a new idea, but she tells you it doesn’t fit with the company’s goals, so you slink back to your desk and chide yourself for even making the suggestion.

“Rather than viewing this as a failure, consider it to be data regarding what happened and why, so that you can be empowered,” and use the information to your advantage in the future, advises Dr. Lombardo. Even though you’re disappointed, don’t take her decision personally or assume your ideas aren’t good enough. If you believe you’ll never have success, then you won’t try, which will certainly bring failure. “And let your brain keep brainstorming,” Dr. Lombardo adds. “Creativity, regardless of what happens to the ideas, is an important part of bringing more happiness into your life.” Photo: Thinkstock

Situation #8: You recently recommitted to getting healthy, but that slice of cake you ate was so good, you just had to have a second slice…and then you spiraled into an all-day junk fest.

"Stop the all-or-nothing thinking (which has been linked to mental health issues and weight gain), and refrain from depriving yourself,” recommends Dr. Lombardo. When you do opt for the not-so-nutritious picks, try to eat mindfully to enjoy every bite. Then lick your lips, resume eating healthfully and get on with your day. “So often we feel guilty for ‘giving in,’ which raises our level of stress. And when stress levels are high, it’s hard to think and act rationally,” she explains. So cut yourself some slack and learn to accept the small bumps that occur along the road of life. Photo: Thinkstock

Situation #9: Your significant other is often moody, despite your best efforts to cheer him up, so you assume the problem must be you.

First, be aware of how your past relationships affect your present ones. For example, if you used to tiptoe around your father to try to keep him happy, that experience—and the thoughts and feelings it evoked—are likely shading your reactions to your partner now, explains Dr. Howard. Don’t take someone else’s moods personally or make it your job to change them. Instead, remind yourself that these are his moods, and you can get on with your life and invite him to join you, Dr. Howard suggests. “Each of us has to be responsible for our own happiness." Photo: Thinkstock

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Learn how to get some shut-eye without prescription medications

By Sarah Jio Posted November 11, 2010 from WomansDay.com

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night but dread the idea of taking sleeping pills and dealing with potential side effects? If you’re looking for alternate ways to induce the zzz’s, here are some natural remedies that can help lull you into dreamland.

Mela…what? This natural hormone, which is made by the body’s pineal gland, is available over the counter, and many health experts say it can safely help you get drowsy before bed (it may even have immune-stimulating and antioxidant benefits, too). But, as with all herbal and natural remedies, it’s best to get your doctor’s OK first. “High levels of melatonin may raise the level of another hormone, prolactin, aggravating the risk of depression or infertility,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist and the author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! “Although I don’t know of any danger yet from using melatonin in higher doses, I would only use a dose higher than a half-milligram under close supervision of your doctor.”

Awareness Breathing
Does your mind race with thoughts and worries in bed? Your play-by-play of the day’s activities may increase anxiety and fuel insomnia. Instead, try simmering your mind down, focusing on each breath and how it travels through your body. As it turns out, this type of conscious or awareness breathing may help you get to sleep faster, say experts. “Breathing techniques help turn off the mental chatter,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “Focusing on breathing is relaxing and a good way to disconnect from the stresses of life.” How does it work? By following the air as it moves in and out of your lungs, your mind, which generally can only focus on one thing at a time, will be occupied with your breath—not your anxieties. And it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Simply take slow and steady—deep—breaths, focusing your thought on the natural inhale-exhale rhythm, and watch as your body and mind calm down.

What can a few downward-facing dogs do for your sleep quality? A lot, say researchers. Past studies have found a correlation between yoga practice and decreased symptoms of insomnia, including one study from Harvard Medical School researchers, who found that daily 30- to 45-minute yoga sessions significantly improved symptoms for those suffering from chronic insomnia. In another recent University of Rochester study looking at cancer survivors, a demographic that frequently reports sleep disturbances, researchers found that the movement, breathing and mindfulness of yoga significantly improved the quality of the study participants’ sleep.

This exotic-sounding herbal supplement is commonly used throughout South America for help with sleep and relaxation—it’s even found in some sodas. “A number of studies support its calming effect,” says Dr. Teitelbaum, who also points to evidence that the herb may have pain-relieving qualities, helping to control muscle spasms, and even menstrual pains. Passionflower (also known as passiflora) is available over the counter at most health food and drug stores that carry herbal supplements. Dr. Teitelbaum recommends taking 90 to 360 mg of the extract at bedtime to help with insomnia.

Total Darkness
Of course you turn off the lights before dozing off (you do, right?). But if there’s still a flicker of light in your bedroom, from streetlights outside, your husband’s book light, the dim hue of the television, and so on, it may be time to make some changes. Researchers have long known that too much light can affect your sleep cycles, disrupting restful sleep. But now a new study from researchers at Ohio State University reports that too much light can disrupt your body’s natural clock so much that even the dimmest light in the bedroom may lead to weight gain. Banish excessive light in your bedroom by turning off the TV; try to avoid falling asleep with lamps or even bright nightlights on; and consider investing in blackout shades (purchased inexpensively at any department store), which can eliminate outside lights better than blinds or curtains.

When counting sheep won’t work, maybe meditation will. Meditation—defined as simply focusing on a calming, peaceful image or thought—may help you get sleepy fast. Here’s why, says Dr. Teitelbaum: It stimulates “alpha brainwave activity followed by theta brainwave activity. In effect, this is slowing down the frequency of your brainwaves, the same process that occurs when one moves from waking to light and then to deep sleep.” New to meditation? It’s a cinch! Just get comfortable, take deep breaths through your nose, and let your mind go quiet for a while. After a few moments, your mind may start becoming distracted (thinking of things that happened during the day) and when it does, focus on each breath to draw you back to a place of peace and calm.

You’ve heard of Valium, a powerful sedative, but how about the herbal supplement known as valerian? “Valerian’s effectiveness has been compared to a Valium family medication (oxazepam), without the ‘hung-over’ feeling present with most Valium medications,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “It is commonly used as a remedy for insomnia, and a number of studies show numerous benefits, including an improvement in deep sleep, speed of falling asleep and quality of sleep without next-day sedation.” In these studies, the benefits were most pronounced when people used valerian for extended periods of time, as opposed to simply taking it for one night. Dr. Teitelbaum also adds that in about 10 percent of people, valerian may have an energizing effect. How much is safe? Dr. Teitelbaum suggests taking 200 to 800 mg of the extract before bedtime. “Most studies suggest that it is more effective when used continuously rather than as an acute sleep aid. It has a calming effect and can be used during the day for anxiety as well.” As with any alternative medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before using.

Could the secret to great sleep be in what you…smell? “Many essentials oils not only help you fall asleep quickly, they also induce a higher quality of sleep,” says Cher Kore, a Boston-based professional aromatherapist and instructor. “If you wake during the night due to noise or a full bladder, many scents may lull you back to sleep.” Her top picks? Roman chamomile, which has a bright, apple-like scent; clary sage, with its rich, sweet scent; and the floral notes of geranium and lavender (all available inexpensively at most health food stores). “The best method is to put two to three drops of essential oils on your pillow, under the pillowcase,” she says. Refresh the drops on your pillow every few days to once a week—about as often as you wash your sheets.

Warm Bath
Don’t forget about the power of a simple pre-bedtime bath to get you in a groggy state. “A bath causes your muscles to relax,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. But it’s what a bath does for your nervous system that may really help. “There are two main parts of our nervous system,” he explains, “the sympathetic nervous system, which is the adrenaline part described as the ‘fight or flight reaction,’ and the parasympathetic nervous system, described as ‘the old man after dinner.’ Shifting from the adrenaline to the relaxed part of the nervous system is critical for entering into sleep, and a hot bath shifts your brain into sleep mode.” It’s best to take a bath before bedtime but give yourself about a half-hour before hitting the hay for your body’s natural thermostat to cool. “Your body has to then cool down to go into deep sleep,” notes Dr. Teitelbaum. Setting the thermostat in your bedroom no higher than 65 degrees can also help.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
You’re lying in bed wide awake, staring at the digits changing on your alarm clock…now what? Try something called progressive muscle relaxation, suggests Dr. Teitelbaum, a practice that involves using the mind and body simultaneously to induce sleep. Here’s how to do it: “Starting with the muscles in your feet and slowly moving up to your calves, thighs, pelvis, abdomen, chest, neck, head and face muscles, relax the muscles in each area, one group at a time,” he says. “People find that they can induce a very deep state of relaxation using this approach, and often fall asleep in the middle of the process.” You can practice this technique in any sleep position; the key is to pick one you are most comfortable in, then relax your muscle groups from there.

Sarah Jio is the health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com. Visit her blog, Vitamin G.

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