Healthy Living: 8 Steps to Take Today
Healthy living starts right now. Experts tell you how.
Healthy Living Step No. 5: Manage stress. continued...
Williams also shares three other stress management tips that you can start
Check your perspective. Ask yourself, "Will this matter to me a
year from now?" If not, why are you getting so wound up?
Volunteer. Helping to meet other peoples' needs may make your own
problems seem smaller.
Keep a gratitude journal. Write down the positive people, events,
and things that you're thankful for. "It really switches the focus to,
'Wow, look how much I have," Williams says. "Most stress is caused by
wishing things were different than they are now."
Breathe. One of the breathing exercises that Williams recommends is
to count your breaths for a minute, and then try to cut that number of breaths
in half for the next minute.
Healthy Living StepNo. 6: Sleep better.
If you have trouble sleeping, try these tips from sleep medicine specialist
Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston,
No TV or computer two hours before bedtime. It's not just because
the TV and computer are stimulating; it's also because of their light.
"We're very sensitive to the cue that light gives you that it's time to be
up and about," Shives says. She recommends light, calming reading lit by a
lamp that doesn't shine directly into your eyes.
No heavy exercise close to bedtime. Light stretching is OK, but vigorous
activity will heat up your body's core temperature, which makes it harder to
sleep. "If you're working up a sweat, you're working too hard right before
bed," Shives says.
Take a hot bath. That will heat up your core body temperature, but
when you get out of the bath, your core temperature will fall, which may help
you get to sleep. Plus, the bath "relaxes you mentally," Shives says.
She adds that having a hot, noncaffeinated drink, such as chamomile tea, may
Set a regular sleep schedule. When Shives treats insomnia patients, she tells
them that although they can't make themselves fall asleep, they can make
themselves get up at a certain time the next morning. And though they may be
tired at first, if they don't nap, they may start sleeping better during the
following nights. "We're going to get nowhere if they take big naps during
the day and keep a very erratic sleep schedule; it's chaos then," Shives
Don't count on weekend catch-up sleep. If you have chronic sleep
problems, you probably can't make up for that on the weekends. But if you
generally sleep well and have a rough week, go ahead and sleep in on the
weekend. "I actually think that's good for the body," Shives says.
Don't ignore chronic sleep problems. "Don't let sleep troubles
linger for months or years. Get to a sleep specialist earlier rather than
later, before bad habits set in," Shives says.
Prioritize good sleep. "This is as important as diet and
exercise," Shives says. She says that in our society, "we disdain
sleep, we admire energy and hard work and [have] this notion that sleep is just
something that gets in the way."