Sleep Care is the New Self-Care

Everywhere you turn there is a new self-care trend. A new cream to smooth wrinkles, dietary supplements to improve digestion, workout regiments to lose weight, and the list goes on.But often neglected is the importance of sleep. And not just any sleep, but the deep, undisturbed sleep our bodies and minds need to perform at our peak during the day. Sleep is the foundation from which our overall health stems from. Without quality sleep, nearly every other self-care technique will suffer. Just how important is good sleep? According to Dr. Stacy Sampson, sleep deprivation can lead to:AccidentsWeight gainDiabetes riskMood swingsLow sex driveMemory issuesHigh blood pressureRisk of heart diseaseWeakening immunityLack of concentration As a society, we are too fast to seek out a quick-fix solution to the myriad of perceived health and beauty flaws. A desire to lose weight may lead someone to unhealthy dietary supplements or the want to reduce the effects of aging resulting in the use of chemical-laden lotions. Making sure you get a good night’s sleep a priority in your self-care routine will have enormous positive impacts to your overall health including: More energyHealthier heartFaster recoveryImproved moodWeight stabilizationStronger immune systemSteadier blood sugar levels So how do you make sure you get all the ZZZs you need? Start with establishing an evening routine and set some pre-bedtime rules. For example: Avoid blue light – The blue light emitting from our cell phones and tablets prevents melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, from being released. Avoid certain TV entertainment – Watching intense dramas, horror films, or exciting sports right before bedtime can make it difficult for your mind to calm itself. Darken your sleep space – No matter where you catch your ZZZs, make sure the room is dark enough to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in the flow. Use a sleep mask – If where you are sleeping isn’t dark enough (especially when traveling) use a sleep mask to provide the darkness you need. Listen to music or white noise – Soft, relaxing music or white noise can help your mind calm itself and allows you to drift into a quiet sleep. Avoid alcohol – While drinking alcohol may make feel sleepy, your body must work hard to process and remove the poison from your body. Avoid caffeine – This tip should be obvious as caffeine is a stimulant. But still be aware as caffeine often sneaks into foods and beverages unbeknownst to us. Meditate – Letting your mind free itself of the information it has collected throughout the day can be exactly what it needs to lead you into a deep, rejuvenating sleep. Your list for the perfect pre-bedtime routine needs to be as unique as you are. Everyone has their own preferences, but once you’ve found yours, you will find many more positive changes in your life than just not nodding off during the day!

Best nutrition apps

Your smartphone is a valuable tool that can help you track calories, monitor your intake, and follow a diet targeted to your specific needs. Eating well and exercising regularly are two of the best things you can do to extend your life. Staying active throughout your senior years reduces the risk of many common health conditions including heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s. Stay on top of your health and improve your diet with these helpful nutrition apps! Shopwell Meal-planning saves you money and helps you reach your fitness goals; the next time you go to the grocery store, you will be able to buy the freshest ingredients for healthy recipes thanks to the Shopwell app. Scan the barcode of items and you’ll receive a breakdown of its nutritional content. After you checkout, you can take a photo of your receipt to get a full breakdown of how your purchase ties into your overall diet. You Ate If you’re keeping careful track of your diet, it can be a hassle writing down everything. Simplify the process with You Ate by snapping a photo of your plate. Fitness goals become tied to your mental health and emotional wellbeing through a journaling feature. This app is also helpful if you tend to skip meals or forget to eat. FODMAP If you have IBS or another gastrointestinal condition, FODMAP is a valuable tool. The FODMAP plan involves avoiding foods with certain carbohydrates to reduce irritation and inflammation. In addition to listing different food ingredients with their FODMAP rating, the app also provides healthy recipes and a journal. Live Up! Are you a vegan or interested in following a vegan diet? This app will help! Live Up! is packed full of yummy plant-based recipes that are also perfect for people who are gluten-free or lactose intolerant. Plant-based diets are renowned for being the healthiest, and they have even been shown to improve symptoms of major depression. Following a healthy diet has never been easier or more fun thanks to technology. Keep these apps on your phone to follow through with your fitness goals and stay motivated.​

Why Gardening is Good for Your Health​

Gardens have been used in therapy at hospitals for thousands of years. In the early to mid-1800’s, Florence Nightingale, considered to be the founder of modern nursing, strongly supported green space to improve the surroundings for visitors, patients, and staff at English hospitals. As urbanization began to consume more and more green space, the benefits of community gardens seem to disappear along with the flowers they contained. However, as healthcare systems swell beyond capacity worldwide, new attention has been focused on gardens and the act of gardening as a way to improve individual health. Today, gardens can be grown in small, outdoor spaces. For individuals who live in city centers, community gardens are becoming popular. In fact, there almost isn’t anywhere you cannot grow a garden and reap the following benefits: Build self-esteem – Growing a garden provides a sense of accomplishment. All your hard work pays off with beautiful blooming flowers or a delicious bounty of fruits and vegetables. Reduce stress levels – Gardening requires some degree of focus and concentration. This helps shift your mind from stressful thoughts reducing pent up tensions both mentally and physically. Improve your mood – Did you know there is a healthy bacteria in soil called M. vaccae that, when inhaled, increases levels of serotonin, which increases happiness and reduces anxiety. Strengthen the heart – Digging holes and pulling weeds burns calories and when we burn calories, our heart works just a bit harder, strengthening one of your body’s most important muscles. Grow your own food – Fresh fruits or vegetables from your own garden are nutrient rich without the herbicides or pesticides found on store bought produce.  Protect your memory – Physicians know exercise improves cognitive brain function with new evidence showing gardening also can spur growth in memory nerves in the brain. Boost vitamin D levels – Vitamin D increases calcium levels, which in turn supports strong bones and immune systems. The idea of gardening for health has recently caught the attention of the Royal College of Physicians. In a recent publication, evidence has been gathered suggesting exposure to plants and green space is beneficial to both mental and physical health. By improving a population’s overall health through gardening, healthcare systems become less stressed. In summary, not only is gardening good for you, it’s good for your community!​

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