1. The First Step to Coping with Stress

    July 27, 2013

    coping with stress

    by Andy LaPointe

    The first step to coping with stress is to better manage your sleep cycle. According to a survey conducted for Targeted Medical Pharma, 83% of Americans do not get enough sleep. This means only 17% of the entire U.S. population feels rested and ready to conquer the day when they awake. The results of this survey was revealed at the Sleep 2013 conference in June.

    So how does getting a poor night’s sleep affect an individual’s ability to cope with the stress of daily life? When dealing with a stressful situation, either real or perceived, your body immediately goes into the primal “fight or flight” mode. Stress does cause physical changes in your body including shallow breath, heightened sense of awareness and the release of adrenaline. All of these changes are preparing your body to immediately run from danger or face the threat head on. Unlike days gone past, when stress was usually caused by being confronted by a predator or other physically harmful situation, today the majority of stress is caused more by non-physical confrontations liking missing a deadline at work or arguing with the kids.

    However, since physically fighting or running away with co-workers or your kids wouldn’t be appropriate in today’s modern world, your body still reacts the same way. Thus, if your body’s stress is triggered several times per day and you don’t resolve it, you may end up with chronic stress. Chronic stress is where your body is continually in a “stress-out” state. This makes dealing with simple everyday situations (traffic jams, being late for an appointment, car repair issues, etc.) difficult to deal with and more complex issues, (relationship conflicts, work-related issues, etc.) nearly impossible.

    As time passes and stress continues to build, the individual may soon find it difficult to relax. Since relaxation is vital to enjoying a restful night’s sleep, falling asleep and staying asleep becomes more difficult. “Losing sleep” over a real or perceived situation not only makes it difficult to fall back to sleep but an individual may also find themselves waking up several times during the night.

    Strategies to Getting a More Restful Night’s Sleep 

    Several simple strategies are available to get a more restful night’s sleep naturally. The first strategy is to create pre-sleep meditation or night-time rituals. For example, avoid watching television and using electronics (computers, iPad, iPhone, etc.) at least an hour before bed. Electronic devices stimulates brain activity and prevents your mind from slowing down and relaxing, which is vital to falling and remaining asleep. The second strategy would be read a non-business related book to slow the mind prior to going to bed. In addition, avoid alcohol within a few hours of going to sleep.

    According the published research in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research drinking alcohol prior to going to sleep increases your chance of waking up during the night. In addition, it has been long known alcohol also reduces REM sleep, thus lowering the overall quality of sleep.

    Finally, drink a glass of tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherries are Mother Nature’s top source of naturally occurring melatonin. One ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with seven ounces of water delivers over 130ng (nanograms) of melatonin. According to Dr. Russell Reiter from the

    University of Texas, to date no other fruit or vegetable has been discovered that provide more melatonin than tart cherries.  Dr. Russell Reiter is often referred to as the “Dean of Melatonin” by his peers.

    In addition to Dr. Reiter’s work on tart cherries, in 2010 Dr. Wilfred Pigeon a researcher at the University of Rochester conducted sleep research with tart cherry juice, too. The results of the research showed the participants who drank the cherry juice, slept an average of 17 minutes more. According to Dr. Pigeon, ‘Given the side-effects of some medications, it is encouraging to have a natural alternative.’

    So the next time stress and anxiety are preventing you from getting a better night’s sleep, create a nightly ritual, avoid drinking alcohol and enjoy a glass of tart cherry juice each night before turning in.

    Image Credit: Jöshua Barnett

  2. How to Ensure Relaxing Sleep Using Feng Shui

    July 9, 2013

    relaxing dreams

    by Emilie Whitmore

    Is your home a relaxed haven or a cluttered prison? Your home should be your sanctuary, the place where you go at the end of your long working day to relax, unwind and recharge your batteries. For some though, their house is a burden, a place where they feel trapped and confined, struggling under a mountain of clutter and chores – But it doesn’t have to be that way, and in this article we are going to discuss some great tips to help declutter your home and create Feng Shui to induce relaxation and encourage positive energy.

    Feng Shui improves your quality of life by encouraging positive qi, (positive energy). Feng Shui says that unused and unloved items collect bad energy and advises decluttering and arranging your possessions in a particular way which can improve your life by encouraging a more positive energy flow. Now who are we to argue! Feng Shui is based on the dynamics of Yin and Yang, these are the forces of energy around us constantly, Yin (feminine) soft, slow, relaxed and silent and Yang (masculine) aggressive, solid and fiery. You need a balance of both energies and they must exist and flow harmoniously throughout your home – but if you are struggling to relax in your home perhaps you need to encourage more of the relaxing and calming Yin and create less of the Yang.

    Relaxing sleep is the most important for your psychological health, so we are going to explore the use of Feng Shui techniques in your bedroom, an often overlooked but prime place to start your Feng Shui project as it is, or perhaps it should be, the most relaxing part of your home whereas in other parts such as in the kitchen you want a more invigorating and stimulating environment.

    Furniture positioning:

    The position of furniture is an important aspect of Feng Shui. You bed is your prime piece of furniture in your bedroom, according to these principals the ideal position of your bed is where you can see the door while laying in bed without being directly in front or in line with it. It is also always advisable to have a good supporting wall behind your head, or a strong headboard, grounding and balance across the room and no sharp angles pointing towards you. To create balance, have two bedside tables instead of 1, and reframe from pushing your bed up against the wall. These concepts make great sense as they promote a sense of safety while you rest which is conducive to relaxation and sleep; these are really instinctive safety measures, as only when you are truly safe can you feel 100% relaxed.


    Mirrors you might think are great for reflecting light and for creating the illusion of space in your home – but according to Feng Shui placing a mirror opposite the bed is a big mistake! A mirror opposite your bed drains your energy when you need it most when you are sleeping and relaxing. Mirrors reflect you – thus multiplying your energy, amplify tensions or worry. There is also the argument that a mirror opposite the bed creates the allusion of a third person in the bed and promotes infidelity!


    We mentioned the bedroom door but you do not want your bed in line with any of the doors in your bedroom such as en suite bathroom door, balcony door, any door! This is firstly because traditional Chinese feng shui masters say that a bed aligned with a door resembles a coffin that is always taken away feet first – Not the best image when trying to relax! But also because doors have an energy pull towards them and this is not what you want when trying to relax in bed.

    Head space:

    Whilst in bed you do not want to put anything hanging above it – again to promote the feeling of safety. Leave nothing hanging above your head. Beams, a ceiling fan or chandelier above the bed are all bad Feng Shui. Anything above the weight than a piece of soft fabric will create oppressive/heavy energy which is not ideal for inducing relaxing sleep.


    According to Feng Shui, clutter can block the flow of chi leading to stagnation, disturbed sleep and generally prevent your life from moving forward – basically it’s weighing you down and holding you back – this if nothing else is bound to cause you stress and worry.

    The space under your bed shouldn’t be used for storage, it should be kept as clear as possible and wardrobes and draws should be kept clean and tidy – so the methodology of out of sight out of mind by bunging everything under the bed or in the wardrobe is really not an option. Streamline as much as possible or use some storage for excess possessions that you have no room for.

    Use your bedroom only as a bedroom; keep out any televisions, computers, and other distracting equipment that promote energy expulsion and brain power such as files and paperwork.

    Fresh air: Open windows and let in fresh air full of oxygen. If this is not always possible one of the easiest ways is to decorate your space with top air purifying plants such as the Areca Palm which is particularly easy to care for and leaves your space with a fresh feel reduced of toxins.

    Lighting: Use candles in the evening for natural soft lighting or use a dimmer switch.

    Colour palette: Decorate your bedroom with neutral/skin tone colours which are more relaxing. Use fewer Yang like, strong vibrant colours that are energy zapping and too stimulating for the bedroom environment.

    Whilst it may seem a mean feat to incorporate all these techniques into your bedroom why not try a few tactics and see if this induces the relaxing Yin energy flow into your home and encourages you to truly relax.

    Image Credit: marketing-deluxe @ Flickr