Tips for a Good Night’s Rest

A productive day begins with a great positive mood, but to even achieve that starts with a good night’s rest. I get it, after a long day of work and adulting, your body can still be “on the go” mode and it can be difficult to relax your mind and body completely. Keep in mind, patterns of bad sleep can result in other prolonged sleep disorders and sleep deprivation.

The National Sleep Foundation shows studies of progressive bad sleep can contribute to hypertension, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, depression, and possibly other chronic diseases. It was researched that 50 to 70 million Americans were tested positive in showing signs of chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems.

Pills are an easy solution to sleep problems versus organic alternatives to healthy sleep. Pill usage, to fall asleep, is on the rise. The Addiction Center announces that between 2006 to 2011 a sleeping pill, Ambien, had approximately 38 million prescriptions. Though sleeping pills can be a great short-term fix to treating disorders like insomnia, there are some possible risks, such as dependency.

I know it sounds intimidating, but of course, this can be all hypothetical when finding sleep aids that can work for you. Here are a few tips to incorporate into your night routine or to even create a new one.

  1. Develop a routine, and stick to it!  Try to go to bed at the same time, every night, and wake up at the same time.  As routine progresses, our body’s systems naturally prepare for and anticipate events. Eventually, your body will recognize when it is time to relax and become sleepy prior to bedtime and become more alert in the morning.
  2. Take a hot shower before bed. This will relax your muscles so you sleep without the fatigue from your busy day.
  3. Aroma Therapy. Scents such as, commonly used, lavender serves a purpose to reduce stress, anxiety, generate calmness and wellness.
  4. Avoid drinks before bed. About an hour or two before bed, don’t intake any liquids. This way you can avoid or limit your trips to the bathroom during the night. Just in case, keep a small light in the bathroom.
  5. Adjust room temperature. Making sure your sleep environment is comfortable and cool will be effective, especially if you get hot and restless during the night.
  6. Minimize electronics. The usage of electronic devices can alter or delay your body’s internal clock. Your alertness at bedtime is going up when it should be reducing. Which means your release of melatonin is being suppressed, making it hard to fall asleep.
  7. Limit noise. The less noise during the night, the higher the chances your sleep not being disturbed.
  8. Keep your sleeping space dark. Melatonin is a chemical released to the body to allow us to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. So, even the slightest amount of light can interrupt this production.
  9. Don’t go to bed hungry. Who enjoys the feeling and hearing their stomach growl through the night?  Your sleep is enhanced when your stomach is satisfied.
  10. Exercise. Exercise increases body temperature, so your post-exercise temperature drop can trigger falling asleep faster. Exercise can even relieve symptoms of insomnia such as anxiety and depression.
  11. Possibly, see a doctor. After trials and errors trying to find the perfect way to sleep peacefully, reach out to doctor assistance in figuring out what could be keeping you up at night.

Houston Astros elite pitcher, Justin Verlander, gives his sleep expertise with the New York Times giving away his secret that more sleep is the key to a successful day. His methods include making sure he uses blackout blinds and preventing any cell phone distractions before bed.  “I just kinda do what makes me feel good,” Verlander says.  “Your body will tell you what to do.”

As your sleep improves, so can your days. Soon your work-place may start to get friendlier, your energy a little brighter, the sky looking quite clearer, and your heart feeling a lot happier.

Are Video Games Bad?

There’s been a back and forth debate on whether video games are bad for you. One of the most common arguments includes whether or not violent video games, like shooter games, cause aggressive or anti-social behavior. Well in a study conducted by the LA Times “There isn’t a lot of evidence to support theories that video games, particularly violent video games, foster anti-social or violent tendencies in young people.”

However, there is a slight chance that people may develop violent tendencies, but the sample size is too small to shoulder the blame on games. There are other factors that lead to violent behavior.

Even though video games do have their fair share of health issues, they also have many benefits, starting with stress relief.

Sometimes life can be stressful and can throw many unexpected curveballs. It’s important to let your mind breathe and relax. One of the best ways to relieve your stress is to sit down for a few hours and play one of your favorite video games. This will allow you to shift your focus elsewhere and allow enjoyment for the levels you are trying to complete.

Video games work your brain just as much as your hands. It takes comprehension and intelligence to complete difficult levels. Your brain is a muscle and you have to exercise it to make it stronger. Video games can help your brain grow as iD Tech writes “playing video games increases grey matter (basically, the size of your brain) and helps refine learned and hardwired skills.” Who said video games make you dumb? Now that just sounds silly.

There are also many features gaming consoles have to offer. From streaming Hulu to surfing the internet, gaming consoles are mostly known for keeping communication with your peers. It’s essential to partner up and strategize with your friends to take down an enemy. However, the main reason why the party chat feature is so great is that you’re allowed to your closest friends or to people all over the world. Playing a video game alone is satisfactory, but there’s no other feeling than playing with other people. A healthy communication among peers defeats depression and loneliness. BBC News writes “being part of a team and making new friends is claimed to help with depression.”

Creative minds are able to think of unusual solutions and tend to think outside the box. Playing video games can be challenging and sometimes there isn’t an easy route to defeat the last boss. You have to rely on out of the box tactics or tricks. This can too apply to real-world situations. Playing video games can stretch your imagination beyond its limit. Think of how we evolved from Tetris to VR gaming. It’s incredible how far we’ve come and that’s thanks to people who strive to be game designers to innovate the playing field.

Video games aren’t all bad as some try to make it seem. Whether it’s Tetris or call of duty, pick up your phone or controller and escape from the world. Just like in a video game, there are levels to complete in life too.

Seven Ways to Improve Workmate Relationships

A major factor that plays a role in your happiness at your job is the environment. Establishing a good relationship with your colleagues can help ease the troubles you may find yourself at work. It can also lead to better production as MindTools states, “if people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.” If you’re shy or not a people’s person, here are 7 ways to improve your relationship with your fellow employees.

  • Start with small talk – Forget the high and bye that goes on passing through the hallway. Make an effort and engage in conversation with someone. However, make sure to do that when they’re on break or not busy. If you’re trying to start a conversation while they are hard at work can have the opposite effect.
  • Eat together during breaks – Instead of sitting alone in your office or cubicle, continue to build up steam. After you have engaged in some small talk, make the effort to it together during lunch breaks. The lunch break is a great opportunity to get to know each other. Try to talk about things you would have in common with him/her.
  • Improve your listening skills – paying attention to someone goes a long way because it shows that genuinely enjoy having a conversation with this person. One of the biggest turn offs is not paying attention to someone while talking to you.
  • Avoid gossip – It’s sad that once a high school activity still takes place in the work place. Keep it professional. Don’t engage in childish acts because it is one of the quickest ways to have a bad reputation. Instead of being a bystander, stand up for the individual who is the target of gossip. This shows respect and loyalty for the individual and others around the work place.
  • Positive energy – Nobody likes a negative Nancy, so smile often, stand up straight with your chest out, and develop a cheery tone. People are gravitated by those who have positive energy and it can help by getting a lot of recognition. You can also engage in positive topics that will help bring up the mood for other people. If you express negative energy, then people will be wary of you and will most likely try to avoid you.
  • Don’t be too compelling – You want to maintain the relationship, not ruin it. It’s okay to give some space here and there. Sometimes people will need their space and it’s okay to allow that. Work can be hectic at times, so trying to start a conversation while they’re working hard can become a nuisance and just get in the way.
  • Appreciate your colleagues – Appreciating your fellow workmates can say a lot about ones character. Remembering their birthdays, brining donuts in the morning, or buying them coffee when it’s going to be a busy day is a great way to show how much you respect them. The little things you do can come with a big reward.

 

It can be hard making friends at your job and sometimes you won’t get the results you expect. Some people are who they are and you must respect their feelings. However, it doesn’t mean you stop trying. So put yourself out there and make some friends with familiar faces.

Returning to Work After Vacation

Mid way through the summer and the warmer weather also calls for vacation! Going on vacation and having a few days off is always an exciting time. You can go someplace new and unwind without the stressors of daily life.

Although taking a few days off for vacation sounds amazing, returning to work after a vacation can be daunting, whether you were only gone for a few days or you took an extended trip. Regardless if you went out of town or you simply use your off days to stay at home and decompress, the first day back at work after some time off can be a little rough. Here are some tips for productivity and so that you can make the transition back a little less difficult.

Before you leave:

  • Make a list of projects and/or assignments.
  • Make sure your area is organized – get rid of unnecessary clutter and organize your desk/cubicle drawers.
  • Delegate tasks to others. Give some tasks that you might normally do to other people. This will help so that your responsibilities aren’t totally being neglected while you’re gone, and you don’t feel as swamped when you come back.
  • Let your co-workers know that you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back. Even though you may have let your supervisor know and you formally requested the time off, your coworkers might not be aware. Let them know so that they can coordinate with you.
  • Do extra work before you leave. If you do more assignments before you leave, you can get ahead so that when you get back, you can have a somewhat light workload for the first few days back.
  • Turn on auto-response messages on your e-mail informing people that you will not be in the office. Set your voicemail to explain that you are on vacation and make sure you let people know when you will be back.
  • Pre-vacation. If your schedule permits, give yourself a full day in between your last day of work and the day before you are scheduled to leave for vacation. Try to stay off your electronic devices and not think about what’s going on in the office.

During vacation:

  • Unplug. Try to avoid looking at your emails and messaging your co-workers.
  • Enjoy your time away and relax! It’s important to use this time for its intended purpose. Going on vacation does a lot to keep you healthy, both physically and mentally.
  • Adjust your sleep schedule. Make sure you go to sleep at the same time as when you know you have to work the next morning. If you’re not on vacation for very long, make sure your sleep schedule doesn’t get too off-track.

When you come back:

  • Come home early – Give yourself a few days to adjust to your normal routine. Try to dedicate a day to personal errands alone, whether that’s grocery shopping and cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, or just sleeping the whole day.
  • First day back at work – come in early, if you can, and catch up. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes to an hour to check emails, voicemails, and figure out what problems happened while you were away. From there, you can make a list of what you need to do, starting from most to least important.
  • Take it easy. If you throw yourself in full-force, it will cause you to be overly stressed, which will hurt the quality of your work.
  • Catch up on emails. Check in with your supervisor and colleagues as soon as you can. Find out what you missed while you were away.

You don’t have to feel flustered the minute you go back to work. With some planning and a positive attitude, it won’t take you long to get back into your normal routine.

 

Written my Dami Falade

Why Working Out Before Work is Beneficial

Waking up early and getting ready for work is a hassle. So why should you wake up even earlier to get a thirty minute to an hour workout? The answer is simple; it’s to improve your overall health, but there are many other benefits aside from health that will improve. Here are some of the pros of why you should start working out before clocking in.

For starters, it wakes you up

Exercising early in the morning can help jump start your brain and increase dopamine levels. Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain and is often referred to as the “feel good” hormone. By working out, you can increase the level of dopamine which will then allow you to feel motivated and awake. By achieving this, you are prepared to start the workday with a clear mind and high energy.

Sets a routine

The morning would be a great time to establish a routine. Usually there aren’t many distractions before work compared to after work, so this will allow you to have some free time to prepare and concentrate on the schedule ahead of you. Once you finish your exercise routine, you can then move on to eating a healthy breakfast and make your way to your job. Once you’re off, you can focus on dinner and getting ready for bed to start the day all over again.

Eliminates stress

According to HelpGuide, excessive stress can interfere with productivity and performance in the work place. It can also affect life outside of work such as friends and family. Starting off the day with a workout will contribute to decreasing stress and an improve work productivity. One can achieve this by going to the gym or running around in the neighborhood. No matter what the workout is, any physical engagement for thirty minutes to an hour will successfully reduce stress.

Positive mentality

The feeling of enduring an exhausting workout can lead to a brighter day. By completing rigorous trainings, you’ll gain more confidence which will then reflect your work. This can also lead to creating or maintaining relationships among the work place. Better relationships leads to constructive teamwork and a healthy work environment. Exercising also helps eliminate the sluggish attitude that is typical in the morning. Eliminating any type of negative energy is guaranteed to elevate work efficiency.

Even though it’s tough to wake up even earlier to work out, it has many perks that will positively affect your lifestyle. Exercising before work can lead to both health and work improvement. For those who are looking to get back into shape or change their lifestyle, this would be a great step to doing so.

 

 

Written by Julien Gonzalez

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle on Vacation

Summer is in full swing! Summer signifies warmer weather, and the warmer weather calls for vacation. Going on vacation and having a few days off is always a fun time. You get to go someplace new and unwind without the stressors of daily life.

When on vacation, it’s easy to get out of your normal routine and do things that you normally wouldn’t do. Staying healthy is more difficult when you’re in an unfamiliar environment and under stressful conditions. However, you don’t have to break your habits completely and overindulge. Here are some tips that will help you.

  • Stay hydrated. Bring your own water bottle, if possible. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake so that you can avoid dehydration while traveling. Dehydration leads to headaches and tiredness, so if you start to feel sluggish, drink some water.
  • Sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night. Make sure you’re sleeping enough at least three days before you travel so that when you go on vacation, your body has time to get used to the time difference (if any).
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet. Have a side of fruit with your breakfast and a salad filled with greens on the side of your dinner. Avoid eating large meals.
  • Eat smaller portions. Cut your portion size by sharing your meal or dessert, or even take it to-go so you can eat it the next day.
  • Make time for exercise. Rather than driving or taking public transportation, explore the new location by walking around. Be sure to pack comfortable tennis shoes.
  • Pack your own travel snacks. Whether you decide to fly or driver, having non-perishable snacks on hand is a healthy alternative as opposed to processed food on the road. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits will give you plenty of energy when you don’t have that many food options.
  • Avoid eating large meals before you go to sleep. Not only can this lead to indigestion, eating late at night may result in less hunger the next day.
  • Plan ahead – limit dining out. If you’re driving to your destination and your hotel has a refrigerator, cook some food to take with you before you leave and put it in an insulated cooler.
  • Bring your own gear – proper running shoes, yoga matt, and/or workout clothes.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Pack sunscreen, antihistamines, bug spray, band-aids/first aid kit, and hand sanitizer. You never know what can happen and it’s better to have these essentials on hand in the case that you need it.

Give yourself a break when you get home. When a great vacation is over, there is usually tiredness from the travel and excitement. Take a day, if possible, to get back to your normal routine and run errands, whether that is doing laundry, grocery shopping/cooking, or even taking the whole day to sleep.

Eating healthy and having a healthy attitude while on vacation is challenging, but it’s also not impossible. By having these tips in mind, you will feel more satisfied, both physically and mentally while you are enjoying your time away from home.

Written by Dami Falade

Surviving the Night Shift

If your job involves working the night shift, (late at night until early in the morning) then you probably know how difficult it can be to maintain and take care of your health. According to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans are working the night shift.

Our bodies are designed to be active during the day and resting at night. Many functions of your body, including digestion and heart rate, are dependent on your circadian rhythm. When you work the night shift, your body’s circadian rhythm can be disturbed, causing it to become out of sync. Here are some tips that will help you get through working the night shift.

  • Manage your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant. When used carefully, your daily dose of coffee can help you to remain alert throughout a shift. However, improper use of caffeine can cause gastrointestinal upsets and muscle shakes.
  • Take a hot shower before and after your shift. This will wake you up and help relax your muscles.
  • Sleep as much as you can before. If you are someone who usually wakes up early, try to nap for at least 3 hours to reduce your drowsiness at work. Be aware that if you sleep for more than 30 – 40 minutes, your body will enter deep sleep mode. It can take around an hour to feel fully alert afterward, so set aside time for that as well.
  • Stop unhealthy snacking. If you don’t feel like eating a huge meal or if you don’t have time, eat healthy snacks such as nuts and raw fruits or vegetables. Snacks that are high in sugar may help you initially when consumed, but you’ll more than likely end up feeling moody and “crashing” later, which will induce drowsiness.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. Have something to eat and drink before you go to sleep. If not, then you will wake up feeling hungry and thirsty.
  • Spend your off days wisely. Once your body is on a schedule, it could take some time for it to completely switch routine. Stick to a routine. Even on days you don’t work, try to stay awake at night and sleep during the day.
  • Exercise regularly and when you can. If you’re someone who feels exhausted after finishing your night shift, try to schedule your workouts before your shift, or exercise on your off days.
  • If you’re used to falling asleep with the TV on or with your phone in your hand, you should definitely “unplug” before going to sleep. Take advantage of any time you have to sleep and try to make it uninterrupted. Sleep experts recommend turning off all of your devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Try to set aside 7 to 9 hours of sleep after getting home from your night shift. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electric fans are great for keeping air circulating throughout the room and it is helpful and neutral background noise.
  • Bond with your colleagues. It’s good to have a support system at work of other coworkers who are working the night shift as well. Be honest with them about how you are feeling.

Working the night shift can be difficult, but sticking to a routine, eating healthy, and improving your sleep patterns can make the adjustment smoother. If you’re struggling, see a doctor. Discuss your problems with them so that they can help you come up with a solution.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Battling Fatigue at Work

If you’re like many people, you may spend time at work battling fatigue. One minute you’re feeling wide awake and productive, and the next you start yawning and feel your body progressively getting more tired. Fatigue is a common problem that affects many people in the workplace – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults are not getting enough sleep each night.

If you’re someone who doesn’t get enough sleep at night, the drowsiness might hit you sooner as opposed to someone who is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night (at least seven hours). Here are some techniques you can utilize to stay awake so that you’re not falling asleep on the job.

  • Take breaks. Short breaks will help you sustain your focus and energy levels. If your eyes are tired from strain and your muscles are aching, it’s time to get up and walk around. You will feel better and be more productive if you walk around, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Drink more water and less caffeine. Dehydration causes fatigue – it can reduce blood flow to your organs, which slows down your brain. Keep water in your work area and condition yourself to drink 8 cups of water a day, which is the recommended amount. Caffeinated drinks will wake you up temporarily, but later on, you will feel jittery and eventually “crash.”
  • Get moving – take a walk. Physical activity stimulates blood flow to the brain. If you are feeling drowsy, take a walk or stretch to increase your level of alertness. If you are doing a task where you aren’t able to move around much, stretch.
  • Go outside. Exposure to the sunlight outside will improve your mood and concentration, and it can even boost your levels of Vitamin D.
  • Breathe. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a big, deep breath. There are many breathing exercises you can do while at work.

If you are still battling persistent fatigue even after making small lifestyle changes, you may have an underlying medical condition. See a doctor for help so that they can come up with a treatment plan for you.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Effects of Stress on Your Health

Stress is the body’s reaction to unfamiliar situations. Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and so is our response to it. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to protect yourself. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight”, or the stress response. During this process, your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, your muscles start to tighten, and your blood pressure rises.

Some causes of internal and external stress include major life changes (pregnancy, getting married, or a new job), relationship problems, financial responsibilities, and academic pressure as well. Stress may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

The effects of stress on your emotional wellbeing are:

  • Constant worrying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability (agitated behavior – twiddling your fingers, clenched jaw, grinding teeth)
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal – decreased contact with family and friends
  • Overeating or undereating

The most common physical symptoms of chronic stress are:

  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Digestion issues – nausea or constipation
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight gain

Here are some coping mechanisms and ways you can manage your stress better.

  • Identify what’s causing your stress. Ask yourself about your feelings and the problems that you’re having. Is it something that you can control or is it always going to be an issue?
  • Exercise on a regular basis. It’s important to make time to exercise at least 3 times a week if your schedule permits.
  • Utilize techniques for physical relaxation. Activities such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation will make a huge difference in your overall outlook and help you to relax.
  • Socialize with family and friends. Talk to someone close to you about what’s on your mind. You’ll feel much better when your feelings are out in the open, instead of just bottling them up.
  • Find a hobby that you can enjoy. Read a book, draw, or listen to your favorite music.
  • Journal your thoughts. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, writing down your feelings is a great way to get it out of your system.
  • Sleep! Getting enough sleep is key. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your mood. Make sure you are sleeping at least 6 -7 hours per night.

Stress is inevitable. It’s always important to have a plan so that your stress levels aren’t getting too out of control. Finding stress-reducing routines that work well for you is the first and most important step of increasing side effects of stress, both emotional and physical. Learning how to manage your stress takes time and practice.

However, if you have tried all above steps and your stress becomes more difficult to manage, or if you start to develop more serious symptoms (chest pain, difficulty breathing, or irregular menstrual cycle) it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

 

Written by Dami Falade

What to Do in a Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment can be described as an environment where one’s workplace is toxic and unwelcoming to the point where it’s almost impossible for them to get their job done. This also includes being repeatedly singled out from the group, constantly being berated for minuscule things, or always being the subject of a cruel joke. The harasser can be a supervisor, a fellow colleague, or even a visitor who doesn’t work for the company.

Being in a hostile work environment can be detrimental to one’s health. According to a 2017 Study from the Workplace Bullying Institute, 60.4 Million Americans are affected by workplace bullying. Those who are or have been bullied can experience high levels of stress, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and trouble sleeping – just to name a few. If there have been attempts made to confront the harasser about their offending actions and the behavior persists, here are some options to choose from so that one doesn’t feel completely stuck.

  • Consider your allies. If you have a trusted friend in the workplace, talk to them. There is a chance that your fellow colleague could be experiencing the same thing that you are. Not only is it important to know that you are not completely alone, but it’s also good to know that someone else has been made aware of what’s going on, in the case that the situation escalates.
  • Keep yourself safe. Along with having an ally, it’s also important to be conscious of the circumstances. If the harasser is your immediate supervisor or even a colleague, try to avoid situations where you might be alone with them. If they invite you out to lunch, politely decline. If they keep persisting, tell them that you brought lunch from home, or that you’re just not hungry. Even though there’s a chance that nothing will happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Steer clear of situations where you’re not completely comfortable.
  • If you’ve followed all three previous steps and nothing has changed, the only thing left to do is to possibly look for an escape. If you have a human resources department in your company or organization, you might want to utilize that and make them aware of the situation. However, if you simply cannot tolerate the behavior anymore, you can consider resigning. Perhaps start looking for positions elsewhere. If the opportunity arises and you do get another job somewhere else, give your supervisor your 2 weeks’ notice. Explain to them that you found another position elsewhere and that you are leaving. It is important to note that you should make a peaceful exit. You never know when you’ll need a recommendation letter, or there is a chance you could end up working for the company again in the future.