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Cope with Stress, Best 6 Methods

tips for reducing stress

In our society stress, anxiety, and depression are common and often related issues that affect more than 50 percent of adults. While certain levels of stress are part of life and can even be a positive force that motivates you to react quickly during emergencies, too much stress, too often is not. Additionally, research shows that firefighters have triple the risk of stress disorders. During an immediate crisis, you need the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to pump you up. However, that same response during non-emergency moments, such as being stuck in traffic, in a line at the bank, or while having dinner with your family can have detrimental effects on your health.

Often, stress in firefighters presents as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which occurs after repeated exposure to traumatic, dangerous, and potentially life-threatening events that come hand-in-hand with the work you do. Untreated, chronic stress or worry, anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD is shown to increase the risk of in heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, strokes, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insomnia, excessive fatigue, unwanted weight gain or weight loss, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, abdominal pain, substance abuse, alcoholism, and mortality.

Learning strategies to manage chronic stress and other stress disorders can decrease your risk of these symptoms and improve happiness, relaxation, and overall better health. Unfortunately, studies that look at firefighters and stress issues, also indicate that many don’t seek treatment because of concerns about stigma.

It’s not a happy picture. Think about what can happen when you put a car under an extreme amount of stress—if you drive an automobile long distances for excessive periods of time, in extreme temperatures without stopping, getting gas, changing the oil, or following other standard maintenance practices your car will break down earlier than it would if you gave it some TLC. Not just your body needs rest and care, so does your mind, especially when it comes to stress. Under excessive tension, you can overheat, run out of “fuel,” or burn up your own “engine.” It’s exhausting.

Negative Effect of Stress

  • Too much stress hurts your physical, emotional, and mental health.
  • Firefighters have 3 times the risk of stress issues compared to the general public.
  • You can lower your stress level by incorporating a social Mediterranean lifestyle.
  • Your stress response is naturally higher in the first half of the day, and decreases at night.
  • Healthy sleep, mindfulness, exercise, and diet can all help you to decrease stress.

How can I lower my stress level?

Thankfully, there are many simple strategies you can employ to reduce and treat stress and to bring your emotional health back into balance. Here’s how:

  • Live a Mediterranean Lifestyle: Studies of the people who live a Mediterranean lifestyle show that these leisure activities and social interactions reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The Mediterranean lifestyle can help. Why? Because it’s more than just a diet, it’s a way of life. These cultures prioritize and include a great deal of social interaction—most meals are shared with family and friends, people spend more time outdoors getting fresh air and sunshine, and they are more likely to leisurely walk or bike to the market or to attend to other errands.
  • Understand Your Stress Clock: Certain glands in your body are responsible for producing and releasing the stress hormones that help you to be alert, and also to respond to stressful experiences. These glands follow a schedule of a sort that is influenced or “set” by light, sleep, activity, diet, and stressful events. In the past, humans slept at night when it was dark and were active during the daylight hours. Your stress clock is made to work according to this natural schedule, but that’s no longer how we live. Today’s modern world, especially for a firefighter, regularly and repeatedly requires you to manage an atypical exposure to light. You are often awake during naturally dark hours (shift work), and stressful situations during these night time hours is harder on your body. Why? Cortisol and adrenaline are both naturally more responsive and active during the earlier part of the day, and less so at night (when you might need them). You can’t rest and recover if your stress hormones are elevated, but you might need your stress response at night if a call comes over the line. You can combat this disruption to your stress response by taking steps to get restful sleep for seven to nine hours at night whenever you are not at work.
  • Exercise: Doing any exercise for 30-minutes to an hour a day helps your body to better respond to and recover from stress without it hurting your mind or body.
  • Be Mindful: Being mindful is the ability to be—mentally and physically—to be fully conscious and aware in the present moment. What are you thinking about right now? It’s likely that you’re reviewing a scenario of something that already happened, or you’re busy creating a mental to-do list for what needs to be done in the future. To some extent, this is perfectly natural. Our minds are made to evaluate and plan. It’s one of the reasons the human animal has survived for so long. However, if you spend all your time in the past or future, you leave no space to check in with the now, and this both elevates stress and leaves you unaware of your emotional balance. Awareness of the stress you are experiencing is the first step to letting it go. Some cultures are better at cultivating this state of now-ness than others by encouraging meditation, and mind-body exercises such as yoga or tai chi are a regular daily activity. All of these activities have been shown to lower stress and improve mood. Our culture could take some lessons from these. You can reduce stress by learning to meditate, practicing relaxation techniques, and including mind/body practices.
  • Slow Down: “I’m too busy!” It’s the number one excuse that people give for not taking the time to get enough sleep, exercise, or to prepare healthy meals. On the flip side, prioritizing these activities gives you more time in your day because slumber, physical activity, and eating healthy lowers stress and increases energy while improving emotional balance and stability. On your days off incorporate a ritual of meditating or just breathing slowly and deeply—even 5 minutes can help you to reset your mindset and lower stress—then move on to prioritizing your sleep, exercise, and healthy eating.
  • Get Outside Help: Sharing your worries or concerns with family and friends helps you to lower stress, but that’s not all you can do. We go and get a physical from our doctor once a year—your mental health is just as important. If you are suffering from one or all of these conditions, and it is affecting your daily life, do consider checking out some cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s been shown to help address and reduce these symptoms.


8 Essential Healthy Eating Habits

8 tips for mindful eating

Sometimes the simplest way to define something is by stating what it is not. Food is fuel. The purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies and give them needed energy, both physically and mentally, to function each day. Using food as a way of altering, soothing, or suppressing feelings is not how your body was designed to use food. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that somewhere around, oh, ALL of us eat emotionally from time to time. Let’s face it, the majority of us do find pleasure in food, and there’s nothing wrong with this. Eating emotionally turns into the enemy when you use it as a regular coping strategy in your day-to-day life.

Why is this bad? Emotional or mind-less eating increases your risk of obesity and overweight, and with those two comes an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, chronic stress, stroked, and respiratory problems. So, if you eat to serve a purpose other than hunger, you can be reasonably confident that you are engaging in emotional eating. Both major and minor life events can trigger unconscious eating. Bored at work? Check. Going through a divorce? Check.

In fact, sometimes it is the mundane to-do lists that lead to the candy bars, not extreme emergencies. As you probably know, when you are responding to a high-intensity call you have no time to think about eating or being hungry. That’s because your brain and body have tapped into your fight/flight mode, which takes all your attention and leaves no room for noshing on the community donuts. But after it’s all over? Pass the hot wings and beer.

  • When you eat without paying attention you are much more likely to eat more than your body requires and to eat when you are not truly hungry. Both increase your risk for overweight and obesity.
  • Emotional or Stress eating leads to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
  • It’s easy to incorporate strategies for more mindful eating including distraction-free eating, trigger awareness, feeling feelings, and knowing how to H.A.L.T.

The other downside to emotional eating is that when you eat in response to stress, sadness, or anger, you don’t usually crave a salad or steamed veggies. People tend to seek high-calorie, high-fat foods when stressed—and major bummer—our bodies store more of the food we eat as fat when we are stressed, compared to when we are relaxed.

How to eat mindfully: People who eat mindfully, but not emotionally or when distracted, are less likely to overeat. Mindful eating has also been linked to better health, less stress, and improved mood. How do you do it? Here are a few simple strategies.

  • Ditch distractions. Avoid multitasking while you eat. That means getting away from your laptop, turning off the television, and even waiting until a stressful meeting ends (you know, the ones that come with a box of donuts). Pay attention to what you are about to eat. Remember to use the myCircadianClock app to take a picture of anything you eat or drink. Just this simple act will help you to be conscious of what you’re eating.
  • Sit down. And not in your car. Munching while you cook dinner or make the kids’ lunches for tomorrow is a great recipe for overeating. It’s easy to unconsciously graze without noting when you have had enough to eat and this can cause eating too many calories overall. Sitting down at a table away from screens (smartphones included) allows you to feel the subtle shift between being stated over being stuffed. Plus, it takes around 20 minutes for an empty stomach to register food, so eat slowly as well.
  • Be Social. The Mediterranean diet includes a social lifestyle. That means enjoying at least one meal a day with other people. Having a chance to discuss your day or your plans for the day is a great way to relieve stress, and less stress means less overeating. Just be sure to save emotionally triggering conversations for after dinner.
  • Know Your Triggers. Many cultures and families express love and caring with food and eating. The first step to breaking a bad habit is to know the cues that cause it in the first place. Once you can pinpoint the fact that you always overeat at the In-Laws, you can make other arrangements. Maybe suggest a walk instead of a dinner. Or volunteer to be the dishwasher or server for an evening. Keep your hands busy doing non-food activities.
  • Incorporate Non-Food Pleasures. Mindful eating is not a diet. It is the intention of eating with awareness. With that in mind, make sure that you incorporate non-food activities you enjoy. As children, we all naturally know that we need to play, but we lose this instinct as adults. It is just as important. This harkens to the “be social” tip above and takes it a step further. Can you remember the last time you laughed with another person? Create a “play date” at least once a week with a friend or friends to do something unnecessary and fun. Play catch. Walk the dog. Go see a standup comedian.
  • Feel Your Feelings. Don’t feed your feelings. There is a difference between feeling emotionally down or “empty” and being truly hungry. This is a subtle signal, and one that many of us have lost because we’ve been taught to eat at set times of the day, or all day, rather than listen to hungry signals that our bodies give off when they need food. The good news is that you can turn the sound back up on these alarm clocks by simply tuning in to hunger and fullness. Before you put a morsel in your mouth, pause and ask yourself how you are feeling. If the answer is anything other than calm or serene, take it a step further and check in with your hunger. When is the last time you ate? How did you sleep last night? Are you just coming off of a stressful event? Are you nearing the end of a mundane day of paperwork? Know your triggers. Awareness is usually the first step in breaking the pattern of emotional eating.
  • Love Yourself. I know, hippy-dippy, but it is true that when we are feeling down about ourselves, we are much more likely to reach for unhealthy food or to eat when we are not hungry. Remember H.A.L.T. which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. In recovery groups, this is a popular acronym that you can use to spot check your level of emotional balance. If you are feeling an extreme of any of these, try to address it (or at the very least, acknowledge it)-don’t feed it.
  • Don’t Get Too Hangry. After all that, last but not least is that you don’t want to let yourself starve. Just like the H.A.L.T. acronym above alludes to, getting into any extreme one of these situations can make you “hangry.” And you and your partner, and those who love you, do not want you to be Hangry.

Love Your Liver to Live Longer

healthy food for liver

You can’t live without your liver and if you don’t keep it healthy you put yourself at an increased risk for liver diseases that can affect your entire body and life with symptoms that include abdominal pain and swelling, swelling of the legs and ankles, itchy skin, chronic fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and the tendency to bruise easily. More severe symptoms include excessive sleepiness, mental confusion, coma, and death. Thankfully, your liver can repair and regenerate itself, and there are many lifestyle strategies you can incorporate to improve liver health. At around three pounds, the liver is the second largest organ inside your body (your skin is number one).

What does the liver do?

This football-sized organ sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen and is responsible for many essential functions in your body. These include:

  • Removing toxins from the blood.
  • Helping to digest and filter foods, beverages, vitamins, minerals, and medications.
  • Storing fuel in the form of sugar (glycogen) and fat.
  • Producing bile needed for digestion.
  • Assisting with blood clotting.

While liver disease can have many causes, it usually starts as inflammation of the liver that can be caused by poor diet, toxins, chemicals, viruses, bacterial infections, and parasites. All forms of inflammation will disrupt and limit normal liver function. Usually, people associate liver disease with excessive alcohol consumption, but the most significant risk for liver disease today may be the epidemic of diabetes and obesity. When you continuously and excessively drink alcohol or overeat, fat builds up in your liver, called Alcoholic fatty liver disease and Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD) respectively. It’s estimated that as many as 25 percent of American adults have some degree of fatty liver disease. Those who are obese or diabetic are 70 to 90 percent likely to suffer from the condition, which occurs when your liver accumulates too many fat cells and causes inflammation. Untreated, both types of fatty liver disease can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.

Your Liver and Digestion: One critical liver function is with the digestive system. When blood comes to the liver from your digestive organs, it carries the nutrients, medications, and toxic substances you have consumed. In the liver, substances are processed, saved, transformed, cleansed, removed, and/or absorbed. Once your liver has discerned what needs to go where, it either returns the materials to your blood or the liver will release the waste to your intestines to be eliminated. Each macronutrient is handled differently:

  • Fats: Your body needs bile (a brown, green digestive liquid that’s produced by your liver) to break down and absorb the fats you eat.
  • Carbs: Eating carbs signals the hormone insulin, which ushers sugar into your cells. Your liver stores excess sugar that is not used by cells as glycogen. Excess sugar will be made into fat that is then stored in other cells of your body.
  • Proteins: Your liver changes amino acids into energy your body can use, or it transforms them into carbs or fats. Ammonia is a harmful byproduct of amino acids. A healthy liver converts ammonia into urea, which is then released as waste in your urine.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Your liver stores vitamins and minerals and releases them into your blood when your body needs them.

How can I improve the health of my liver?

  • Eat Healthy: You can protect and repair your liver with a healthy diet. Follow the Mediterranean way of eating and living, which includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil, nuts and seeds, fish, and whole grains. Avoid trans fats, overly processed, and high sugar foods.
  • Limit Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation (one drink a day for women, two for men).
  • Follow Medication Directions: Take medication as prescribed and talk to your doctor about herbal remedies (some can damage your liver). Taking too much prescription or nonprescription drugs overloads the liver. Don’t mix medicines with alcohol.
  • Get Moving: Include exercise, which can help you lose weight and reduce fat in your liver. If you want suggestions for putting together an entire training regimen you can find some great ideas at the Seattle Fire Department website, at FireFit Program, at 555 Fitness, or for some extra motivation consider joining a challenge designed for firefighters.

Types of Fasting: Definition, Methods & Benefits


Over the past few years, the popularity of fasting has greatly increased.  Certain types of fasting such as intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating have become frequently discussed in the mainstream media. 

There are many reasons that people choose to fast, such as weight loss, improving circadian rhythm, a longer and healthier life, or even spiritual benefits. 

However, before trying a fasting schedule, it is important to be aware of the different types of fasting, and what the risks and benefits are. 

What is fasting? 

Fasting means going without food for a certain period of time. One popular method of fasting is intermittent fasting, which involves alternating between periods of abstaining from food and eating normally.

What can I eat while fasting?

Generally only water and zero-calorie beverages such as tea and coffee without sugar or milk are permitted during a fasting period. However, some fasting diets allow low-calorie meals to be consumed, as long as the total calorie intake for the day remains low. 

When you are outside the fasting period, there are generally no restrictions to what you can eat, because intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat. That said, it is recommended that you avoid high calorie foods and highly processed foods, as these can reduce the benefits of the fast. 

Types of intermittent fasting 

There are various types of methods of intermittent fasting, which have been developed by medical researchers and nutritionists. The ‘best’ type of fasting is not known, as research into the benefits of different types of fasting protocols is ongoing. 

The various types of fasting differ based on the length of the eating window and fasting period, how often the fast is performed, and whether low-calorie meals are allowed on fasting days or not. Several common types of intermittent fasting include: 

  • Time-restricted eating
  • Circadian rhythm fasting
  • Alternate-day fasting
  • 5-day fasting
  • Eat Stop Eat
  • The 5:2 diet

These types of fasting are described in more detail below. 

Time-restricted eating

Time-restricted eating is one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting, as it is relatively simple and involves following the same eating pattern each day of the week. With time-restricted eating, you choose an eating window of 8-12 hours per day, and then fast for 12-16 hours, each 24-hour period. Two common types of time-restricted eating are listed below:

16/8 method

One popular method of time-restricted eating is the 16/8 method, in which you eat all of your calories within an 8-hour window, and then fast for 16 hours. For example, you could eat your first meal of the day at 10 a.m., and finish your last meal by 6 p.m. each day. Alternatively, you could skip breakfast and eat your first meal at 12 p.m., and your last meal by 8 p.m.. 

Overnight method

A simpler type of time-restricted eating is overnight fasting, in which you only fast for 12 hours each 24-hour period. For example, you could eat breakfast at 7 a.m., then finish eating dinner by 7 p.m.. Although the benefits may be less than a 16-hour fast, a 12-hour fast may be easier to maintain in the long term. 

Circadian rhythm fasting

Circadian rhythms refer to the mental and physical changes that occur in your body over a 24-hour period. Circadian rhythm fasting was popularized by Dr Satchin Panda in his book, The Circadian Code

Circadian rhythm fasting is a type of time-restricted eating pattern with a strong emphasis on eating earlier in the day. The idea behind this type of fasting is to align your eating pattern with the daylight and nighttime hours of the day, to ensure your body’s internal clock is synced with the environment.

With circadian rhythm fasting, all of your meals are consumed within a 8-12 hour period during the day. With this eating pattern, your first meal should be consumed at least 1 hour after waking up, and you should finish eating at least 2-3 hours before you plan to sleep. For example, if you wake up at 7 a.m. and sleep at 11 p.m., you would eat your first meal at 8 a.m., and your last meal at 8 p.m..

Researchers propose that circadian rhythm may help to extend the healthy period of lifespan

Alternate-day fasting 

Alternate-day fasting was made popular by nutrition Professor Krista Vardy. The method involves doing a low-calorie ‘fast’, in which you eat only 25% of your daily calorie needs, every other day, and eating normally on non-fasting days. 

This fasting method is designed for weight loss, and has been shown to be effective for fat loss across several studies. For example, one study showed that participants lost approximately 5 kg (11 lbs) of body weight over 12 weeks while following alternate-day fasting. Another study in non-obese subjects showed that alternate-day fasting resulted in a 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) decrease in body weight over 22 days. 

5-Day Fast 

The 5-day fast or fasting mimicking diet is a longer fast that was popularized by the book, The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo from the University of Southern California. The author recommends eating a healthy pesco-vegetarian diet throughout the year, and 4 times per year adopting a 5-day fast.

The 5-day fast may be done as a strict water-only fast, or a low-calorie fast with a total of 1-2 meals per day totaling no more than 800 calories. The idea behind the relatively long fast is that some benefits of fasting may require a fast of at least 48-72 hours.

Eat Stop Eat

Eat Stop Eat is a type of fasting that was popularized by the book, Eat Stop Eat: The Shocking Truth that Makes Weight Loss Simple Again by Brad Pilon, and encourages a flexible approach to fasting during the week. The diet involves fasting for a 24-hour period, once or twice per week, and following a regular eating pattern on other days. The calorie intake on non-fasting days may be slightly higher than usual, to make up for the deficit of the fasts. The author also recommends engaging in a weight-training program to complement the benefits of the fasting diet for fat loss. 

The 5:2 Diet 

This method was popularized by the bestselling book, The FastDiet by Dr Michael Mosley. The weekly diet involves eating normally for 5 days, then restricting food consumption to 500-600 calories for 2 days. The idea is that reducing calories for 2 days per week may be psychologically easier than a daily fasting schedule that lasts the entire week. 

Benefits of intermittent fasting 

There are numerous benefits of intermittent fasting, such as weight loss and improved metabolism. These benefits are listed below: 

1. Weight loss 

One of the most popular reasons for fasting is weight loss. Fasting means abstaining from food consumption, which often puts your body into a caloric deficit. In this state, your body has fewer calories than it requires to maintain its current weight, leading to weight loss as stored fat is metabolized as an energy source.

Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting is associated with weight loss. One study showed that participants who followed a 16/8 time-restricted eating pattern lost more weight than those who followed a consistent meal timing approach. Another study in which participants followed an intermittent fasting schedule similar to the 16/8 method resulted in a 3% reduction in body weight over 8 week. A review of studies showed that intermittent fasting was effective at reducing body weight by between 3-7% over 3-12 weeks. 

One study evaluating the 5:2 diet showed that this diet was associated with more than 5% reduction in body weight in 15% of participants. However, this level of weight loss was roughly the same weight loss as the control group that received standard weight management advice.

Fasting may help with weight loss by reducing feelings of hunger and increasing feelings of satiety (fullness). This means that after the fasting period, you may not eat as many calories as you normally would. 


2. Improved metabolic health 

Meal timing has been shown to impact metabolism, that is, the bodily processes that convert food into energy. Studies have shown that fasting may be associated with many benefits to metabolic health, such as:

  • Improved insulin signaling and blood sugar control
  • Enhanced absorption of nutrients from the intestines
  • Increased thermal effect of food (the body uses more energy to break down food)


3. Longevity benefits 

Research has shown that restricting total calorie consumption extends the lifespan in several organisms such as worms, mice and flies. However, calorie restriction is difficult for humans to maintain over the long-term long-term. Luckily, intermittent fasting has been shown also extends lifespan in animal models, and is speculated to increase human lifespan, too. 

There are several processes that are improved by intermittent fasting that may lead to improved longevity in humans, such as:

  • Promoting autophagy, a kind of ‘cellular cleaning’ that removes debris from the cells and improves the health of mitochondria in the cells.
  • Improving fat cell metabolism and optimize glucose function, both of which are linked to a longer lifespan
  • Promoting weight loss, which may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of a heart disease
  • Reducing inflammation, which is known to drive the aging process

The above processes are thought to be important factors that impact a person’s biological aging process, and his or her expected healthy lifespan. 


Challenges of intermittent fasting 

Intermittent fasting will likely take some adjusting to, as there are a few challenges that many people face when starting an intermittent fasting diet, such as: 

1. Hunger

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you may experience feelings of hunger if you are new to intermittent fasting. Even if you are only fasting for 12 hours, you may go to bed hungry, and have to endure periods of hunger in order to follow the prescribed fasting schedule. Some level of hunger and perhaps frustration are normal when starting an intermittent fasting regime.

Luckily, the hunger feelings often decrease over time. Research suggests that your feelings of hunger may decline once your body has adjusted to the fasting process. One study showed that after 3 weeks of fasting, 93% of people had adapted to the process and no longer experienced the hunger feeling. 


2. Mood changes 

If you try intermittent fasting, you may become more cranky and notice your mood is less stable. This is because in addition to increased hunger levels, fasting often results in low blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms of anxiety and irritability.
In addition, fasting may be associated with side effects such as headaches, sleep disturbances and fatigue which could also affect your mood. However, negative changes in mood may not last, as one study showed that fasting over a 3-week period led to overall improvements in emotional wellbeing.

3. Adherence 

Intermittent fasting requires discipline and planning to adhere to. For some people, sticking to a fasting regime may be fairly easy, whereas for others it may be difficult. If you generally rely on intuition to determine when to eat, you may have to change your relationship with eating in order to follow a fasting schedule. Building an eating schedule that is compatible with your weekly schedule may be a good option to maintain intermittent fasting in the long term. 

Who should avoid fasting? 

If carefully planned and supervised by a medical health practitioner, fasting is generally safe for most people.

However, some groups of people should avoid fasting, as it may negatively impact their overall health, such as:


Fasting involves giving up food consumption for a period of time. Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of fasting and normal eating, and there are several different patterns of fasting. The most common types of fasting include time-restricted eating, circadian rhythm fasting, alternate-day fasting, the 5:2 diet, 5-day fasts, and Eat Stop Eat. 

The potential benefits of intermittent fasting include weight loss, favorable metabolic changes, and healthy longevity. If you plan to try intermittent fasting, make sure to speak with your healthcare provider first.


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Sleep Debt: What it is and 6 Ultimate Sleep Tips

sleep debt

By Jack Harley, MSc, University of Oxford 

We all know how important sleep is for our overall health, and the detrimental effects of losing sleep. In fact, losing sleep on a regular basis can lead to accumulating sleep debt. This is the difference between how much sleep you need and how much you actually get. 

Sleep debt adds up over time, and can negatively impact your health. However, by improving your sleep habits, you can reduce your sleep debt and improve your health.

What is sleep debt?

Sleep debt is the difference between how much sleep you need, and how much sleep you actually get. Sleep debt builds from one day to the next, and is cumulative. 

For example, if you get 4 hours of sleep per night when your body needs 7, you will have a sleep debt of 3 hours. If you follow this pattern each night for a week, you will have accumulated 21 hours of sleep debt. 

Even if you only lose 20 minutes of sleep per night, it can quickly add up over time. Therefore, it is important to go to ensure you get enough rest each night, to ensure you are not losing sleep. 

Do you feel tired if you have sleep debt?

Just because you have sleep debt, doesn’t necessarily mean you feel tired. Studies have shown that your brain adapts to chronic sleep deprivation, to prevent you from feeling sleepy. This means that you may have sleep debt without feeling physically or mentally tired, but still have the physical and mental effects of sleep debt. 

Consequences of sleep debt

Sleep is vital for health, and sleep debt can result in a range of consequences that may impair your ability to function during daily activities. Some of the long-term impacts of sleep debt are listed below: 

Mental fatigue and cognitive impairment

Sleep is crucial for allowing us to feel rested and able to concentrate during the day, and is also important for our cognitive functioning. Significant sleep debt may lead cognitive problems such as:

  • Fatigue and drowsiness during the day
  • Loss of productivity at work or school
  • Cognitive decline including impaired memory 

Chronic disease

During sleep, the body undergoes repair processes which keep you healthy. Ongoing sleep deprivation associated with sleep debt may also increase the risk of a range of chronic health conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease 

Psychological problems

In addition to the physical health conditions, chronic sleep deprivation has also been shown to increase the risk of psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Luckily, getting enough sleep to repay your sleep debt, and avoiding more sleep debt can help reverse the risk of these diseases. 


Avoiding sleep debt

To ensure optimal health and wellbeing, It is best to try and establish healthy sleep habits to avoid sleep debt. Avoiding sleep debt requires knowing how much sleep your body needs per night, and improving your sleep habits to get this amount regularly. 

Several tips can help to reduce sleep debt, such as: 

  1. Find out how much sleep you need
    To determine how much sleep you need, note how you feel after different lengths of sleep.
    The amount of sleep you need per night varies from person to person, though adults generally require at least 7 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers require 8 or more hours. Children are recommended to get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Record how much sleep you get
    Record how much sleep you get per night, so you can ensure you are getting the amount you need. This can be done by noting the number of hours you slept. Apps such as OnTimeHealth allow you to track your sleep conveniently on a regular basis.
    It is important to note that sleep is not a uniform process. Many of the most important stages of sleep occur later in the night, such as REM sleep, meaning it is not only important to get enough sleep, but to ensure you are getting high quality sleep. Too little time spent in REM sleep or deep sleep can leave you tired the next day, even if you get a full 8 hours of sleep.
    Alternatively, you can use a wearable sleep tracking device such as an Apple Watch or an Oura ring to automatically record how much sleep you are getting. These devices often allow you to track the amount of time you spend in each stage of sleep, so you can ensure you are getting quality rest.
  3. Build a bedtime routine
    To ensure you can quickly fall asleep after getting into bed, try and build a maintain a bedtime routine. This is a series of actions that you take on a regular basis at night to prepare your body for sleep. A bedtime routine could include turning off electronic devices, dimming the lights in your home, and taking a shower. Research has shown that a bedtime routine can improve sleep quality.
  4. Optimize your circadian rhythm
    Circadian rhythm refers to the bodily and psychological changes that occur over a 24-hour period. Circadian rhythm controls the sleep-wake cycle, and is affected by signals such as light and food intake.
    Try to align your body’s natural clock with the rising and setting of the sun to ensure you sleep well each night. The following tips can help to improve circadian rhythm:
    – Try to get sunlight exposure early in the day. Generally, at least 30 minutes of daylight as soon as you can after waking up is recommended
    – Avoid consuming caffeine after 2 p.m. in the afternoon
    – Exercise during the day to help you sleep better at night, but avoid exercising within 2 hours of when you plan to sleep as this can make it harder to sleep
    – Try to eat all of your food for the day within the same 8 to 12-hour period each day. This is known as intermittent fasting.
  5. Go to bed at the right time
    Figure out what time you will need to go to sleep each night to get your required amount of sleep. Then, go to sleep 15 minutes earlier each night until you are regularly sleeping at your desired bedtime. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, and avoid the temptation to sleep in on the weekends, as this can
    interfere with your circadian rhythm.
  6. Set up your bedroom for sleep
    Make necessary changes to your bedroom so that it is properly set up for a good nights’ sleep. This includes:
    – Removing any electronic devices that emit lights during the night. Even low levels of light have been shown to interfere with sleep quality.
    – Ensure the room is as dark as possible, by using blackout blinds
    – Make sure your room is the appropriate temperature for sleep.
    – Ensure you have comfortable, soft bedding, including pillows, sheets and a mattress

Benefits of getting more sleep

There are several benefits of catching up on lost sleep. While it may seem like a waste of time, sleep is a crucial activity that allows your mind and body to perform at their best. Therefore, repaying your sleep debt can help you become healthier, fitter and more productive at work and is almost always worth doing. 

Cognitive performance 

Improving your sleep can improve cognitive performance. Research has shown that getting a full night’s sleep is associated with benefits to memory and attention. This in turn can allow you to be more focused and productive at work or school. 

Health and longevity 

In addition, regularly getting a good night’s sleep can help your body to stay healthy. It helps your blood pressure low, appetite properly regulated, and hormone levels in check. Adequate sleep also helps to boost your immune system and repair cells and tissues in the body

Over the long-term, getting quality sleep may also improve your longevity, that is, how long you live. 

Dealing with sleep debt

Losing sleep is often unavoidable if you lead a busy life. However, the only way to get rid of sleep debt is to sleep more. If you have accumulated a lot of sleep debt, paying it back may be a long-term process, and you may need to rely on napping in the short-term. 


In the short-term, you may need to improve your ability to function by taking naps, if you have built up a lot of sleep debt. Consider taking 15-20 minute naps during the day to help you pay off your sleep debt. Naps can help you feel more refreshed and able to handle activities during the day. 

Research has shown numerous benefits associated with naps in people with sleep debt, such as:

  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved cognitive performance

When napping you should avoid napping for longer than 20 minutes, as you may enter deeper stages of sleep which may leave you feeling groggy and impact your nighttime sleep. 

Repaying Sleep Debt

It is important to try and repay your sleep debt, as much as realistically possible, by sleeping more. You should try to make up for your sleep debt by improving sleep hygiene and changing your relationship with sleep if necessary. 

  1. Change your relationship to sleep
    In order to stop accumulating sleep debt, you may need to change how you think about sleep. Rather than thinking of sleep as a chore, try to think of it as an investment in your health. Remember, sleep is critically important for physical and mental health, and can impact many areas of life. Making the conscious decision to prioritize sleep is often the first step to improving the quality of your nightly rest. 
  2. Improve your sleep hygiene
    In order to repay your sleep debt, you should aim to get more sleep each night. One way to do this is by improving your sleep hygiene, which refers to the habits and behaviors that help you get a good night’s sleep. 

There are several practices you can take up to improve your sleep hygiene, such as:

  • Building a bedtime routine 
  • Keeping light and noise levels low in your bedroom
  • Minimizing the use of electronic devices at least 2 hours before you plan to sleep
  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends
  • Keeping your bedroom only for sleep and sex 


It is often tempting to sleep less in order to be more productive during the day. However, regularly depriving yourself of sleep can lead to the accumulation of sleep debt. 

Sleep debt refers to the deficit between the amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you actually get. The more sleep debt you accumulate, the greater your risk of negative health complications. 

Fortunately, sleep debt can be repaid by sleeping additional hours. By making changes to your daytime and nighttime routines, you can improve your circadian rhythm and begin repaying your sleep debt.


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Insightful Excerpt from The Circadian Diabetes Code by Satchin Panda, PhD

photo 1501959915551 4e8d30928317 food resized


If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in ten Americans has diabetes, and one in three is likely to have prediabetes right now. Just by reading this book, you are taking a very important step forward in managing your health.

Having a doctor tell you that you have prediabetes, or Type 2 diabetes is almost like running a temperature greater than 100.4°F. It’s a sign that some aspect of your health is off balance, and if you don’t pay attention, it can become much worse, potentially leading to life-threatening complications. Not only is diabetes linked to other chronic health conditions like obesity, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, but it is also one of the most devastating underlying conditions related to intensifying infectious diseases.

Yet we know that even with diabetes, some days we feel better than other days. When we stop to think about it, those better days are typically the ones when we have slept well, ate nutritious foods, and even exercised. In the very same way, with these very same tools, anyone can learn how to control their diabetes, and possibly even reverse a diagnosis.

I’m on the forefront of circadian rhythm research, which is the science of our biological clocks. In my first book, The Circadian Code, I showed readers all over the world how every cell in the human body has a clock and keeps a schedule of when it is the optimal time for it to function. My research has fueled a whole new way of eating, which I call time-restricted eating (TRE), and is more commonly known as intermittent fasting (IF). Basically, my research shows that when it comes to weight loss, it’s not only what you eat that makes a difference.

To lose weight, it’s equally important to make good decisions about when you eat. My protocol not only works for weight loss; it also optimizes every cell in the body, including those that monitor blood glucose. If we nurture our circadian rhythm, it in turn nurtures our health. If you can control when you eat, you can reverse your prediabetes, manage your long-term or recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, and lose weight along the way. By doing so, you can also enhance every other aspect of your health.
How do I know all this? Just ask my mother.

Meet Mrs. Panda

I am lucky enough not to have prediabetes or diabetes—yet. However, I know that I have a high risk for developing diabetes and heart disease just by being from South Asia. For the past eight years, I have adopted an intermittent fasting lifestyle in which I try to eat within a fixed 10-hour window most days. This has helped me shed some extra weight. But the best results from intermittent fasting have been with my mother.

Seven years ago, my mother noticed the blood sugar numbers on her annual physical exams were creeping up. Over the next two years, her exams showed that her blood sugar was continuing to rise; in other words, she was approaching a diabetic state. Even though her doctor wasn’t really worried, she panicked because she knows the damage diabetes can cause. She had seen too many friends and relatives who ignored the early signs of the disease, and even after taking daily medications for years, they slowly developed heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and even dementia. My mother was also less than thrilled about the idea of living with diabetes, having to carefully monitor what she ate at every single meal.

When she first told me the news, we talked about her daily diet and exercise routine, because it is well known that the foods you eat and the amount you exercise can influence your blood sugar levels. Yet even though she was already doing everything right, the results weren’t adding up. As a vegetarian, she would eat more than the recommended portions of fruits and vegetables every day, and she would take a daily walk in the evenings. She was also fasting at least once a week for religious reasons, while on other days she ate dinner by 8:00 p.m. But I noticed occasionally, at least two or three times a week, she would have a cup of tea with sugar and milk around 9:00 p.m. if she visited any of our relatives; it was difficult for her to decline a late-night snack.

I knew from my previous research that by eliminating this occasional and seemingly benign late-night snacking, she may be able to see some improvements in her blood glucose. When I first told her this, she laughed at me. Besides, her doctor and other health professionals could not be convinced that these small late-night meals were the culprit, pushing her toward diabetes.

A few months later I convinced her to visit me in the United States. When she lived with me for the next several months, she adopted my stricter rule of no food after 6:00 p.m. In the morning, she ate her breakfast around 9:00 a.m. That pattern created a daily eating window of 9 hours. Over the next several weeks, she told me that she had never felt better. And when she returned to India and continued eating this way, her blood sugar levels declined to below a prediabetic level. After five months, her fasting blood glucose was hovering near a healthy range. Best of all, for the past five years, she’s been able to stay healthy and off all medications—just by keeping to the protocol.

Since then, I have repeated this experiment in more than a dozen clinical trials. My group has worked not only with patients who have prediabetes but also those suffering from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. We always find that those who can follow a 10-hour IF can substantially improve their health.

Let Your Clock Control Your Blood Sugar

Now it’s time to try this experiment together. You can be in complete control of your blood sugar by living in alignment with your circadian rhythm. Not only is it easy, but also every aspect of your health will get better. In this book, you’ll learn when to eat, when to exercise, when to sleep, when to work, and when to take your medications, if necessary. If this program sounds simple, that’s because it is.

Your doctor may tell you to eat less, exercise more, and stay away from sugar and carbohydrates. There is sufficient research to substantiate these recommendations. However, the problem is in the compliance. Experts know that to follow these recommendations, you have to count calories for every meal you eat, track and avoid the foods that are known to raise your blood sugar, and count how many miles you walk or run. If you can do this, great; many people with prediabetes or diabetes begin this type of program and see some benefits within a month or two. But more often than not, the regimen becomes too difficult to sustain for a long time. Even though these are good habits to form, they are too arduous. This is where my research on circadian rhythm and time-restricted eating is opening new avenues for treating diabetes.

Research on circadian rhythm has shown that blood glucose regulation is more complex than we had known before. When we eat, when we exercise, and how much or when we sleep have a big impact on our blood glucose. By following this program, you may achieve your goals without counting a single calorie.

Excerpted from The Circadian Diabetes Code by Satchin Panda, PhD. Copyright © 2021 by Satchin Panda, PhD. All rights reserved.

Exercise and Your Immune System

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• Exercise boosts immunity: With each bout of exercise, studies show that you’ll improve the antipathogen (disease-fighting) activity in your tissues, you’ll reduce inflammation, and enhance your overall immunity.
Protection while you rest: Studies show that after exercise, the cells inside our muscle produce increased amounts of immunity-protecting molecules.
• Sitting equals sickness: The most sedentary people have the highest risk of getting sick with colds and flu and are also at a much higher risk of suffering from many chronic diseases. Multiple studies show that when adults regularly workout, they cut their chances of getting sick.
• When exercise hurts immunity: The general rule is that if you have symptoms that are primarily above the neck—stuffed or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat—exercise is okay. However, if you have body-wide symptoms, then rest is best.
• Exercise after an illness: Make sure that you no longer have a fever. Easy does it, listen to your body, and start back gradually.

As with many things having to do with your health, “balance” is the word when it comes to using physical activity to boost your immunity. In many respects, actively moving is both good for what ails you, or what would like to ail you—big and small. Studies show that those who exercise regularly are at a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, improved mental health, sleep, stronger bones and muscles, and a longer life than those who live sedentary lives. When it comes to other infections and viruses such as colds and flu of all sorts, physical activity also seems to help your body’s disease-fighting system and recovery process.
Your body is constantly being bombarded by pathogens. Comprised of a complex network of cells, organs, and chemicals, your immune system (if healthy) can recognize and destroy threats that would otherwise make you sick. This is a never-ending job for our immune systems. You can help or hurt your body’s disease-fighting, health-protecting system by your choices and habits with diet, sleep, daily stressors, and emotions. When it comes to physical activity, the correct amount of exercise enhances your body’s ability to fight infections and to heal you after injury or illness. And while you probably know that too little activity isn’t good, you may not know that neither is too much. Knowing the difference is essential.
Pushing yourself to keep up with an intense regimen of fitness while you are fighting the flu, strep throat, or bronchitis, for example—probably won’t help, and it could hurt. When your immune system is busy fighting bacterial or viral infections, rest might be best. It’s important to listen to your body. If you feel up to it, a gentle walk might be okay, but if you have a fever, body aches, a flaming throat, or trouble breathing, then exercising could put you out of commission for longer than staying in bed. Let’s examine how exercise works to protect and enhance your immune response:

Protect with Regular and Frequent Exercise: Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s—you name it, and chances are that fitness lowers your risk compared to being sedentary. Overall, being active reduces the risk of all chronic disease and lessens your chances of getting sick or being injured. Regular exercise also helps to enhance your immune system in many indirect pathways. Improvements in muscle strength, bone health, motor coordination, gut function, sleep, and mood all help to support and build a healthy immunity. With each bout of exercise, studies show that you’ll improve the antipathogen (disease-fighting) activity in your tissues, you’ll reduce inflammation, and enhance overall immunity. Aim to get 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Add to that two bouts of strength training and some flexibility sessions, and you’ll be good to go.

The After-Exercise Immunity Benefits: Studies show that after exercise, the cells inside our muscles produce several molecules that protect immune responses in the body. One of them is interleukin-15 (IL-15), which improves bone health and sleep, and also helps your immune cells respond to microbial invaders and parasites. Another benefit to those who exercise is the increased production of irisin, a molecule linked to reduced obesity and sleep apnea, both markers of weakened immunity. Finally, regular exercise increases the level of the enzyme heme, an essential iron-containing molecule that carries oxygen to all our tissues. Heme activates immune cells to destroy disease in the body.

The More You Sit—The Sicker You’ll Get: It’s true. The most sedentary people are at the highest risk of getting sick with colds and flu and have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, even Alzheimer’s, and more. The good news? You can reap benefits by starting with as little as 10 to 15 minutes of easy walking. Even light activities such as gardening, walking, and housework lower inflammatory markers in the body that are associated with illness and disease.

Exercising Lowers Colds and Flu Risk: The trick with exercise is to do it before you get sick. Multiple studies show that when adults regularly workout, they cut their chances of getting sick. Plus, when exercisers do get sick, the illness tends to be milder and recovery faster than non-exercisers. There is evidence that regular activity strengthens the antibodies that fight colds and flu. Even if you aren’t currently following a regular exercise routine, getting active right now (as long as you aren’t already sick) can lower your chances of illness, chronic disease, and will strengthen your immunity.

The Rare Case of Too Much Exercise: An overuse injury can happen by taking on too much or too intense of an exercise too quickly, or by not taking a rest when your body tells you it needs one. Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons can all get strained or torn in these cases. While your body often sends signals in the form of pain, you’ve got to be “listening” carefully to pick up the difference between a pain that indicates normal muscle soreness from a good workout, and pain that signifies overuse. Know the symptoms of too much exercise. Harmless achiness after a workout usually presents as stiffness, soreness, fatigue, or even burning. More severe injuries tend to present as pain that is stabbing, sharp, or deep in an area that doesn’t usually hurt. Symptoms of overuse don’t always mean that you need to stop all activity but do take care and possibly switch to a less intense form of exercise for a few days.

How do I know when I am too sick to exercise? With a mild illness such as a cold, you may benefit from moderate to easy exercise. There is some evidence that it may help to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. The general rule is that if you have symptoms that are primarily above the neck—stuffed or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat—exercise is okay. However, if you have body-wide symptoms such as fever, aches, chest congestion, stomach distress, diarrhea—then it is best to rest. Some studies show that the immune system is depressed during intense physical exertion, so no marathon training with a fever. If you still insist on exercising, modify your intensity or duration. Walk for 15 to 30 minutes instead of running for an hour.

How do I get back to exercising after being sick? You are feeling better. So, how do you get back to your exercise schedule? Make sure that you no longer have a fever. Easy does it, listen to your body, and start back gradually. If you have been fever-free for a full 24 hours and feel better, give it a try. Go for an easy walk. Take longer than you usually would to warm up, and if you begin to feel sick or overly fatigued, cut your session short. Ditto for overuse injuries.

Recharge Your Health

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Create a habit with a plan that will make “healthy” automatic.
Track your progress by hand, on your smartphone, or online to see better results.
It’s easy to say, but not always easy to do. If you feel like you’ve been following all the “rules” of healthy living but aren’t seeing the results you’d hoped for—the scale isn’t moving, your six-pack still looks like a loaf of bread, or your blood pressure hasn’t dropped—it’s time for a review of your health habits. Maybe you started off strong, but lately, not so much. This is normal. Diets and fitness plans usually 1
start off with you feeling revved up and full of motivation, but life can get in the way. Taking a vacation, family events, holidays, busy work schedules, and no time to prep and cook. In any case, the first thing to do is to stop and take an inventory. Grab a pen and notebook to take stock of where you are now, and to write out a plan for how you’ll proceed. Writing everything out will help you pinpoint where you’ve been off track, where you are doing great, and it gives you a place to acknowledge what could be improved, revamped, or revved up.
As you take stock, some sticking points might be obvious, such as overdoing it at a buffet or holiday dinner, snacking while you make dinner, or skipping one too many workouts. On the other hand, you may very well have been doing everything right—eating healthy, exercising, sleeping, and have a balanced mood—but aren’t seeing results. In this case, a little more digging can help. A detailed self-evaluation and self-reflection can help to lead you to some new angles, strategies, and actions to get you moving toward your goals again.
To that end, here is a guide to reviewing the four pillars of health and strategies to remind, enlighten, and illuminate how you can once more get moving toward being healthier and happier.
Eating: There are countless methods, books, websites, and magazines that tout “the best” way to eat, and many do work—for a short time. However, a Mediterranean diet seems to be one of the healthiest and easiest to follow long term. Before you begin, do a review of what you have been eating and drinking.
First, write down exactly what you remember eating and drinking yesterday. Here be as detailed as possible.
Then do a brief review of how and what you ate or drank over the previous week. This part doesn’t have to be as detailed but do take note of the big offenders—the calorie-filled, sugary and alcoholic drinks; processed or fast foods, huge portions, and refined flours and sugars. These are often the perpetrators of plateaus.
Examine your portions. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they are eating healthy foods, it means that they don’t have to pay attention to amounts. Not true. All meals come with calories, and calories do count, even healthy ones. Make sure that you are eating appropriate amounts for your age, gender, weight, and activity level.
Now, examine a sample Mediterranean meal plan or a diet that works for you and write out what you will eat and drink today, or if you are writing this in the evening, then plan for tomorrow. Take it one day at a time, but aim to avoid processed foods and stick with real whole foods, lots of veggies and fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats—all portion-sized for you.
Exercise: The basic guidelines for exercise state that you should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Here, you’ll want to review the following.
How many minutes of exercise did you get last week? Was it moderate or vigorous? Here, you are striving to participate in continuous physical activity that gets your heart beating faster and you breathing harder. If you are averaging a decent amount of aerobic exercise, it might be time to increase your time. For example, if you are walking for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, increase to 40 minutes or add some bursts of very fast walking intermittently during your workout. Alternatively, add some variety. If you primarily walk, try swimming or cycling. If you are underperforming, start wherever you are. A 10-minute walk around the block is a great begin
ning. You can gradually add on until you are up to the recommended minutes.
Are you doing any strength training? As we age, it is especially important to preserve and build muscle. This helps you maintain a healthy weight and improves other health markers. Consider incorporating two days a week of strength training. The Mayo Clinic’s website offers numerous strength-building how-to videos for all levels of fitness.
How about flexibility? How many times did you stretch out your muscles last week? It’s a good idea to do a few stretches when you wake up and after a workout. Stretching is also a great way to relax before bed.
Sleep: You need seven to nine hours of sleep during each 24-hour day. Period. Sleep protects your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep causes an increase in heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Write down:
How many hours you slept last night. How many hours you averaged over the last week.
If you are having trouble hitting your quota, check your sleep hygiene. There are several simple strategies you can create to help you better. Where are you getting snagged? Make sure your
bedroom is quiet, dark, and screen-free. Cut out caffeine after 1 pm and alcohol before bedtime.
Choose and write down a bedtime and a wake time you will follow for the next three nights (hint, choose a duration of seven to nine hours).
Emotional Health: How you feel can influence your thoughts, and your thoughts and feelings tend to direct your actions and behavior. Thankfully, we humans can steer our thinking toward a more positive outlook, but it does take effort. Complaining, gossiping, being critical, feeling helpless, feeling less than, or more than others, feeling stressed, anxious, fatigued, or depressed. The fix?
Start by making a commitment to text a friend or family member each morning three things for which you are grateful. Finding things to be thankful for (food in the fridge; a bed to sleep on; a beating heart, etc.) improves mood, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. Do this each day.
Check your social life. It’s vital to have people to talk to about how daily life is going, and it’s even more important to remember to call and see how others are doing. Make a commitment to call (not text) one friend each day.
If you are feeling down, overly anxious, or depressed, get help. You can find a certified psychol ogist at the American Psychological Association. Also, thanks to our modern technology, you can now find and work with therapists online, just be sure to do your homework.
Now that you’ve reviewed the four pillars to stellar health, you are ready to get back to work and start seeing results. The final step is to have a system to track your progress. You can do this with plain old paper and pen in a notebook. Just write down when and what you eat, how you feel, what you are grateful for, and what your exercise was for that day. It will keep you accountable. If you’d rather keep track on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, there are plenty of to help you track your food, fitness, sleep, and emotional health. Any way you choose to do it, logging your daily happenings will keep you accountable to your health.