Friday, December 21, 2012

Are We Genetically Programmed to Fall in Love?

Are We Genetically Programmed to Fall in Love?
Valentine’s Day, love songs, romance novels—do they influence falling in love? On the surface it seems like they do, but scientific research suggests that there’s another cupid at work: instinct. Love, specifically the passionate variety, is an emotion that is almost beyond our control. Humans, it seems, are programmed to take this amorous tumble. Forget the roses and heart-shaped box of chocolates—it’s our genes that are on the hook for our addiction to love.

According to Elizabeth Pillsworth, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at California State University, passionate love has been around since the dawn of time. “It's hard to say with any great confidence when the emotion of love may have evolved,” says Pillsworth, “but given the fact that we haven't found any human populations in which it seems to be absent, either in modern or historical records, we can assume that [love] is characteristic of humans, like feeling compassion or shame.”

Love is one of our oldest emotions. Our hunting-and-gathering predecessors were just as consumed by it as we are today. Back then, passionate love brought people together for survival, safety and continuation of the species. Today, we might not need a partner to help us stay alive, feel secure, or even have babies, but at the heart of love, the need is the same: the desire to love someone and have that amorous feeling reciprocated. This emotion is universal. It crosses generations, cultures and geographical borders.
Why does love make us do crazy things?

So why does passionate love make us act like we do? Triggered by age-old instincts, modern love has a lot to answer for. "People literally describe spending upwards of 90 percent of their waking energy thinking about the object of their desire, planning ways to inadvertently ‘bump into’ him,” says Pillsworth. We dream about the moment when they tell us they love us back. Passionate love with its first flush of excitement is typically a brief condition. It’s normally restricted to the early stages of a relationship. On the plus side, it’s a very romantic phase, however, it’s also incredibly time-consuming and occasionally verges into obsessive territory—the lovesick behaviour called limerence. “Dorothy Tennov, a social psychologist, coined the term in her 1979 book, Love and Limerence,” says Pillsworth. “[It captured] that aspect of love characterized by intrusive thoughts, emotional roller coasters, desperate desire for deep emotional attachment, and even quasi-stalking behaviours.” Passionate love can make some of us do crazy things, but for the majority it’s a helpful tool.

Take the selection of a mate. Our instincts make us seek out certain traits in a potential significant other. Falling in passionate love is the first step in the process. “In looking for a long-term partner, both [sexes] are most anxious to find someone who is kind, mutually attracted to them, and has a good sense of humour,” says Pillsworth. “Beyond that, men place more emphasis on the physical attractiveness of a long-term partner than women do. Women place more emphasis on the resource-acquiring characteristics of a long-term partner.” These preferences date back to ancient times. Men searched for the curvy, “womanly” body type that signals a healthy mate for child-bearing, while the opposite was true for women. A virile, broad-shouldered male was ideal for a sexual conquest, but not necessarily for a life-long relationship. Women primarily sought providers. Falling in love was a good test to see if the person in question was up to scratch before any further commitment was established. Love today isn’t much different.
Is love meant to last forever?

When the bloom of this initial affection wilts and a strong, but less intense, love takes over, the relationship can hit a turning point. Will it spark a break up, or a lengthy monogamous union? Isn’t monogamy in our genes, too? Scientists remain mixed on the subject. Some research suggests that people in the midst of passionate love seem blind to other attractive individuals. They’re focused on that one potential partner, despite other enticing prospects nearby. Such findings fuel the monogamous point of view, but other studies differ. Contrary evidence indicates that men and women will explore extra sexual and relationship opportunities if given the chance, thus monogamy is just a passing phase. Science has been unable to support either theory completely. What is for certain is that we have an ability to use our instincts in conjunction with our own decision-making processes. “[We] have a highly flexible, responsive mating system,” says Pillsworth. “We take in information about our current circumstances: our age, attractiveness, cultural context, and behave accordingly.” Passionate love with all its benefits—and faults—may be driven more by our minds than our hearts, but at least we’re not alone in acting under its spell. We are all at the mercy of this crazy little thing called love.

Web exclusive, February 2011

Love your Life

The 3 Best Foods to Boost Sex Drive

The 3 Best Foods to Boost Sex Drive
1. Watermelon

This juicy red fruit could be the new sexual star. While watermelon is 92 percent water, the remaining eight percent contains the phytonutrient citrulline, which converts to arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, according to 2008 research from Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural sciences. Although not as organ-specific as drugs that treat men’s erectile dysfunction, watermelon may help improve blood flow to erectile tissue (present in the female clit¬oral area as well as the male penis), increasing arousal. Scientists at the university’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center are now working on increasing the fruit’s citrulline content.

But if you are trying to conceive, don’t overdo it! Watermelon, like tomatoes, contains the antioxidant lycopene, which is in the same family as carotene and therefore has the same beneficial antioxidant effects. On the one hand, that’s great since carotene, found in many brightly coloured foods, has been shown to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. But it is also anti-estrogenic, says Dr. Sony Sierra, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Toronto’s LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine, “so a very high volume may block estrogen and prevent the lining of the uterus from growing and the fertilized egg from implanting.” Some of Sierra’s patients have disordered eating habits and eat massive amounts of high-carotene foods such as carrots or kale. She advises clients to follow Canada’s Food Guide, which recommends a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, in seven or eight half-cup servings daily for women (up to 10 servings for men).

2. Saffron

Massimo Marcone, an associate professor of food science at the University of Guelph, used to dismiss aphrodisiacs as mere folklore. In 2011, in fact, he conducted a thorough scientific review of more than 200 international studies on consumable aphrodisiacs, and rejected almost all as invalid. But Marcone was shocked to find that a few studies on one particular spice—saffron—held up to close scrutiny.

“Not only does saffron appear to have aphrodisiac properties for both men and women,” Marcone says, “but it helps with anxiety, insomnia, PMS and insulin resistance.”

The seductive spice, whose red-gold threads come from a type of crocus that is native to Mediterranean Europe and Southwest Asia (not the same variety that pokes its pretty head through Canadian snows in early spring), contains antioxidants including crocin, crocetin and safranal. These are believed to be responsible for increasing sexual desire and arousal, according to studies Marcone reviewed that measured blood flow to sexual organs and frequency of sexual encounters after consuming the spice.

The ancients knew saffron’s power: It’s said that Alexander the Great added it to his rice and tea, Cleopatra bathed in it before meeting her lovers, and Romans were known to sprinkle saffron on newlyweds’ beds.

Available in supermarket spice aisles and used in Spanish paella, Moroccan tajine, Italian risotto and many Persian/Iranian dishes, saffron is pricey, running from $50 to $300 an ounce. But a little—a tiny pinch—goes a very long way, says post-doctoral fellow Sanan Wang, who worked with Marcone on the review. ’

What about other spices in your kitchen? Nutmeg, cloves, garlic and ginger also look promising for sexual potency, Marcone says, but more research is needed. Don’t hold your breath, though; none of these natural products can be patented, so drug companies aren’t racing to sponsor such a study.

3. Oysters

Skeptics have dismissed the purported aphrodisiac benefits of eating oysters as purely psychological, based on their suggestive shape and slippery texture. But Gloria Tsang, a Vancouver registered dietitian and the founder of nutrition network, says there may be something to the belief. “A lot of shellfish—including oysters, clams, crabs, lobsters and mussels—are high in zinc, which can trigger a surge in the production of sex hormones.”

Tsang adds that these bivalve mollusks also contain two rare amino acids: D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate. Joint American-Italian research in 2005 at Barry University in Miami and the Laboratory of Neurobiology in Naples, Italy, found that giving these amino acids to rats increased testosterone in the males and progesterone in the females—both are hormones associated with greater sexual activity.

Love your Life

How Weight Affects Your Sex Life

How Weight Affects Your Sex Life
Sometimes what’s needed to boost libido isn’t a specific food, but sufficient calories. In a 2010 multi-centre study including the department of psychiatry at Toronto General Hospital and universities in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, two thirds of 242 young women age 18 to 32 who had eating disorders that restricted calories reported low sexual functioning. The study concluded that a low body weight is associated with sexual anxiety, a loss of libido and avoidance of sexual relationships.

Being too thin can also hinder fertility, says Sierra, by disturbing the delicate interplay of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries, preventing regular cycles. “It can also affect the synchrony involving signals to the uterine lining, so that even if you produce an egg, the lining won’t be getting enough nutrients to sustain a pregnancy.”

In general, she recommends a body mass index between 18 and 24, which is in line with Health Canada’s recommendations for men and women.

Since fat is needed for producing sex hormones, avoid an extremely low-fat diet, and stick to healthy types of fat such as olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts such as almonds or walnuts.

Being too heavy can impair your sexual functioning, too. Sierra says being overweight can cause hormonal imbalances and, if you’re trying to get pregnant, can disturb the growth of a healthy egg. In men, a big belly keeps the sperm too warm, affecting their quality and motility. Tsang adds that reaching a healthy weight often improves a person’s sex life. “My clients often say that when they lose excess weight, they’re happier in the bedroom.”

This article was originally titled "Lovin' spoonfuls" in the October 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience–and never miss an issue


Thursday, December 20, 2012

4 Signs You're an Internet Addict

4 Signs You're an Internet Addict
However, surfing the web can become an addiction for some people, says Linda Bell, CEO of Bellwood Health Services, an addiction-treatment centre in Toronto that offers both publicly funded and fee-for-service programs. “An Internet addiction is the same as any other addiction—you get [online] and you find that your behaviour becomes out of control,” she explains.

The U.S.-based Center for Online Addiction Recovery defines Internet addiction as a compulsive behaviour that dominates a person’s life. Though cyber sex and pornography use are the most common types of Internet addictions, people can also become addicted to online chatting, shopping, gambling and even website surfing. Here’s how to tell if it’s time to seek help for an Internet addiction.

1. You’re spending more time online than with family or friends
Internet addicts will choose to spend time online rather than participate in social activities, says Bell. “I did an interview recently with someone who was into gaming online. He would spend over eight hours a day after work gaming and it was interfering with his social life,” she describes.

If your Internet use is out of control, you may find that your family and friends question why you’re choosing the computer over them or express concern about the amount of time you’re spending online.

2. You’re neglecting yourself and your work
“We have clients who will be online for 15 hours at a time and don’t eat or wash,” says Jennifer Kotry, a therapist at Bellwood who treats individuals with Internet addictions.

You don’t have to spend more than half your day online to be suffering the symptoms of an Internet addiction—it’s the way your Internet use negatively affects your life that determines whether or not you have a problem, notes Kimberly Young, a psychologist and director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery. If you find that your Internet use is causing you to neglect your health, your chores and your work, it may be time to seek help.

3. You’re using the Internet to alter your mood

“Those who are depressed are three times more likely to become hooked on the [Internet], those who suffer from anxiety disorders are twice as likely, and those who suffer from an addiction to alcohol and drugs are twice as likely,” says Young.

Those that compulsively use the Internet may find that going online helps relieve the symptoms of a mood disorder—but the relief is short-lived. A study conducted by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society found that the more people used the Internet, the less time they spent in contact with real people, which could lead to loneliness and isolation.

4. You think about the Internet even when you’re not online
As with addictions to drugs or alcohol, Internet addicts are constantly searching for their next fix. If you’re preoccupied with your next purchase on eBay or tactics in an online game, you may have a problem.
How to find help

Internet addiction may be treated in a number of ways, including counseling, cognitive-behavioural therapy, group therapy and medication to treat underlying symptoms of anxiety or depression. Speak to your family doctor for advice or find a therapist who specializes in addiction treatment.

Web exclusive: November 2009 

10 Steps to Increasing Your Energy

10 Steps to Increasing Your Energy
1. Prioritize yourself daily
So much to do and so little time to do it. If you don't make an effort to put yourself on your daily to-do list you know you'll be overlooked...wait, you already have been overlooked haven't you? Well, it's time then to make that extra effort and carve out just a little bit of time each day where you do something just for you. Make up your mind!

2. Move your body every day
Since you know that physical activity is so important for health, energy, weight management and longevity, today find a way to get to it, even if you lack desire or don't believe you have the time. Exercise energizes, and once you make it a regular part of your day, even in small increments, excuses like lack of time, energy or motivation will no longer be an issue.
If your busy schedule restricts you to less exercise than you're used to, don't wait for more time, start with less. Incorporate at least ten minutes of purposeful physical activity into every day.

At work:
• Walk 15 minutes to a meeting instead of driving.
• Take the stairs part way instead of the elevator.
• Get off the bus or subway a few stops earlier and walk.
• Drive part way to work and cycle the rest of the way.

At home:
• Do crunches on all the commercial breaks while you watch your favourite show.
• Go for a walk after dinner.
• Do jumping jacks as you wait for the kettle to boil.
• If you already walk your dog, add hills.
• Do walking lunges down the hallway.
• Run up the stairs. Chase your kids if you have to.

3. Make healthy food choices most of the time
If you want better energy, choose to make a few smart changes with your eating habits every day. Even if you hold on to some of your favourite foods, you can make big strides through bite-sized improvements.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• If eating out is hard to avoid, pack healthy snacks for between meals.
• Down-size your full-whip super large mocha to a medium non-fat latte with chocolate sprinkles.
• Cut your portion sizes just a bit.
• Eat breakfast – even just a few days of the week.
• Be cautious of the little nibbles you sneak here and there.
• Choose healthy late night snacks.
• Skip the vending machine.
• Add in fruits and veggies.
• Trim the fat.

Food is fuel for functionality. Regular, healthful eating helps you think clearly through the day, keeps energy levels up and even assists with weight management and health issues. Learn to enjoy your food, and know that healthful eating can still be delicious and satisfying.

4. Stay hydrated!
Why is water so darn important? Did you know your body is made up of approximately 50 percent of the stuff? Your body needs fluids to help with the digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients as well as elimination of waste products. Fluids also act as a coolant for maintaining body temperature and lubricating joints, eyes and air passages. If you consider that 75 percent of North Americans are chronically dehydrated, then the simple act of drinking more water will make a big, big difference to your energy.

Drink water regularly to satisfy your thirst. Be sure to drink more water in hot weather or when you are very active. Besides water, you can count other fluids such as juice, milk and tea toward your daily fluid intake, but be aware of the extra calories as you do.

5. Get enough rest
Since when did sleep become a luxury? While you sleep, your body restores itself and repairs from the stress of the day. Inadequate rest impairs your ability to think, to handle stress, to maintain a healthy immune system and to moderate your emotions. Most of us aren't getting enough of it and we've become a nation of working tired holding on for dear life, hoping to make it to the weekend. Why not make your rest a priority for a few weeks and see how you feel?

Here's how:
• Get to bed 30 minutes earlier at least three times a week.
• Wind down your busy work at least two hours before bed.
• Before bed, avoid computer, television, video games and work related phone calls that stimulate the mind and make it difficult to relax.
• Do your best to stick to the same sleep schedule.
• If you have trouble getting to sleep, try slow, deep breathing or relaxation techniques like stretching or meditation to calm your mind.

6. Stress less for success
In the early 70s when stress expert Eli Bay opened the Relaxation Response Institute in Toronto, Canada, he said that if you looked in the yellow pages under stress all you found were engineering companies. At the time the concept of physical and psychological stress was in its infancy.

Today, if you were to do a simple Internet search with the word stress you'd get in excess of 540 million hits all related to stress management the way we understand it today.

Times have changed. We're connected 24/7, we work longer hours with less sleep and physical activity, we don't eat as well and it's taking its toll on our stress levels and overall health.

Stress is something that we're so used to that it doesn't occur to us that we could live without it, or at least live with less. If stress is present even in small does, it will negatively impact your energy and eventually affect your health. Of course stress is usually the result of a busy life and if you're busy you probably don't have time to deal with your stress.

7. Seek happiness
Happiness has a direct link to a rich source of energy that no amount of exercise or healthy eating can match. It's true! Happiness is a big part of staying energized.

It seems like such a simple thing, but when life gets busy we sometimes just cruise along and accept what is handed us and then one day we wake up and think: this is not what I signed on for.

Do you like your work? Do you love the people you spend time with? Do you wake up and look forward to launching into the day? If any part of your life makes you unhappy, you'll expend unnecessary energy dealing with that pain–energy that could be used to advance your health, career and overall satisfaction.

Face up to things in your life that make you unhappy. It's not always easy and the fix may not be quick, but the results will be very worthwhile.

8. Be kind to others
Imagine a world where everyone is just a little kinder. When you're trying to merge into traffic, someone lets you in. When shopping, you allow a person in a hurry to go ahead of you in the checkout line. You get back to your car and find someone has put money in the parking meter.

Rushing breakneck through our day, we so often forget that how we relate to ourselves and others is much more important than the things we do. Much of the time we hurry through activities so focused on the outcome that we miss the life-affirming interactions along the way. Begin your own kindness campaign by engaging in one small intentional act of kindness every day.

Why? Research shows kindness makes us happier and healthier. People who perform random acts of kindness report being happier, and when the acts are varied—holding the door open for a stranger, helping someone with directions, doing a roommate's dishes—those happy feelings last longer than if you were to perform one act of kindness repeatedly.

Beyond happy feelings, kindness is good for your health. Those who regularly help people have better mental health and lower rates of depression, and tend to have better immune systems. Kindness can also help regulate emotions, which has a positive impact on our health.

Go through your day with an openness to kindness. Walk with your head up and eyes open. Connect with people. Look for opportunities to engage and help. One small kind act a day is good for your health!

9. Embrace your passionEnergy comes from doing things you love. Hours pass like minutes when you’re engaged in tasks you’re passionate about. What ?res you up? Artistic pursuits, sports, outdoor activities, time spent with family and friends, travel, photography, building things? What does it for you?

If you’re not spending at least part of your week in the pursuit of your passions, you’re missing out on a limitless energy source. Begin by thinking back to the things you used to do that brought you joy. Next, think about the things you look forward to doing down the line when you have more time and energy. In this instant take a few small steps toward bringing past and future to the present.

10. Exercise good judgement every day
Change is challenging. And in the busy day-to-day rollercoaster ride that is life, the status quo — or what we already know — is vastly easier to wrap our heads around. When fatigue and stress are high we default to what is familiar out of habit or laziness or lack of awareness. When fatigued we more likely default to the sofa instead of the gym. When we’re stressed we most often default to comfort foods over healthier options. When work gets busy we regularly default to task management over business or career development.

In the new plan, next time is now. Be aware of every in-an-instant decision you make that will bring you closer to more energy now. Start today. Keep at it! Do it for yourself!

Excerpted from Energy Now! Small Steps to an Energetic Life, Michelle Cederberg 

How to Save Money on Gift Giving

How to Save Money on Gift Giving
I’m a sucker for the holidays. Heading into the season last year, I was more determined than ever to make it count: It would be my first Christmas in our new home, and my first as a new mom. I could have rationalized why this was the year I should make a splash, despite all the spending restraint I had displayed during the rest of the year. Luckily, I remembered a simple mantra: The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.

Before I got financially responsible along with my circle of close friends (we eventually became the Smart Cookies), I would spend about $1,500 for holiday gifts—money I didn’t have. But last November, my husband and I set a gift budget of $250. Then we drew names with our family and friends, rather than having to buy for everyone—a stark contrast from past years spent frantically buying for a laundry list of people.
Use credit card points

In my family, I drew my dad’s name, and enjoyed deliberating over ideas. He’s a keen cook, and I’m proud to say I got him an incredible Japanese knife that he still talks about and uses almost daily. I got this for him through rewards points attached to my American Express charge card. Yes, there are downfalls to reward-heavy credit cards; I believe if you carry a balance on your credit card, the benefit of “earning points” does not compensate for the interest you’ll pay. However, it’s estimated more than two million Canadians have access to a card that offers a redeemable reward. So why not use them—wisely? My charge card has one of the best rewards programs I’ve seen. By charging most of my household expenses (gas, groceries, etc.) to it and paying it off monthly, I have some $500 worth of gifts I can redeem by the end of the year. This was how I was able to get my husband an iPad for free.

As for my circle of friends, I drew the name of one who loves unique jewellery. I found her a beautiful, custom-made necklace for $35 on The rest of my shopping was for my baby daughter, though I didn’t spend much on her—a cardboard box still keeps her entertained—and a few small items for colleagues and hosts.
Use online budgeting tools

When it comes to budgeting for the season, don’t bother creating spreadsheets you’ll never use again. But you should create a budget. Try an online tool; my husband and I monitor our spending through a free one at It can aggregate all the cards and accounts you use, and categorize where your money is going.

Mint can also text and email you when your spending reaches its maximum in various categories. We were impressed at how helpful these were in keeping us to our $250 gift budget.
Create homemade gifts

This is a social season, and showing up empty-handed to a party just doesn’t feel right. My new go-to gift is a $9 bottle of Hardy’s Gewürztraminer-Riesling, which I personalize by covering the label and writing on it a festive message—for example, “’Tis the Season for Riesling—Love, the Reiachs” (Reiach is my married name). I accompany this with some framed homemade art. I find images of vintage bicycles, Ferris wheels or birds online and print them onto a heavy paper stock.

I ended up spending just $230 on gifts, not $250. I felt less stressed, and more empowered and delighted by the memories we made than in years past. Here’s wishing you a memorable holiday season that is free of a spending hangover.
source : googling

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

1. Stop comparing your body to other people’s, as most of us have been doing since childhood. There’s nobody with a sharper perception than a person in their midlife—not only about what they look like, but what everyone else looks like compared to them, says Dr. Jean Marmoreo, a Toronto physician and the author of The New Middle Ages: Women in Midlife.

If you work out regularly, you’ll discover a more affirming comparison. What can you do today that wasn’t possible a few months ago?

2. Combine fitness with friendship. Whether you’re power walking in the park or slogging on an elliptical machine, conversation elevates your workout from a necessary chore to a highlight of your day. As you grow stronger together, you’ll empower each other.

3. Learn to love the locker room. You’ll see people of all ages who feel comfortable with their nakedness despite varicose veins and surgery scars. I’ll never forget a 70-something locker mate who said proudly as she powdered her ample belly, “Everyone here looks so good.” She and her friends had been coming to the Y for decades. What a role model!

4. Cultivate mindfulness. Marmoreo recommends yoga for the peace and acceptance that it fosters on days when “you haven’t the capacity to bust out and burn up calories.” Through yoga, you can learn to let your body guide you instead of pushing it to make the grade.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Heart Disease?

Heart DiseaseThe basic mechanism of heart disease is a buildup of cholesterol-laden plaque (a fatty deposit) inside the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque narrows the inner channel of the vessels and makes them less flexible. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. As normal blood flow to your heart is restricted, you may experience angina (chest pain). If a clot forms or lodges inside a narrowed artery, it can completely cut off blood flow and cause a heart attack. Heart disease is often “silent”—producing no symptoms—until it causes a heart attack.

Who is at risk for heart disease?

Both your genes and your lifestyle habits contribute to heart disease. To calculate your risk, give yourself 1 point for each of the following risk factors:

What you can't control
  • Age. Over age 55 for women.
  • Gender. Men are more vulnerable to heart disease than women.
  • Postmenopausal status. Women’s risk increases sharply after menopause.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • Personal history of a heart attack.
  • Ethnicity – people of African, Latin American, or Asian descent.

What you can control
  • Smoking or regular exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (“bad” cholesterol), above 4.2 mmol/L.
  • High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, below 0.9 mmol/L.
  • High blood pressure (over 140/90 mmHg).
  • High triglyceride level (over 5.2 mmol/L).
  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic stress or depression.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Obesity.
  • High intake of saturated fat.
  • Low intake of heart-smart foods.

Subtract 1 point if you have high levels of HDL cholesterol (over 0.9 mmol/L). Then add up your total score. A score of 0 to 2 points puts you at low to moderate risk of heart disease. A score of 3 or more points means you’re at high risk. See your doctor now for an evaluation. And start making some lifestyle changes. 

source : besthealthmag

Reasons Why Chocolate is Healthy

Reasons Why Chocolate is Healthy

1. It’s loaded with antioxidants
Dark chocolate contains hefty amounts of disease-fighting flavenoids, antioxidants also found in red wine and many fruits and vegetables. In fact, it appears to have more flavenoids than any other food.

2. It helps you through PMS
“There’s a reason we crave certain foods, such as chocolate, at that time of the month,” says Toronto-based raw foods coach Nathalie Lussier. “Chocolate releases calming endorphins that reduce anxiety. Plus, it’s high in magnesium,” which lifts moods and reduces water retention. But overindulging in sugar, salt and caffeine can backfire, causing bloating and fluid retention (not to mention weight gain). Try one of these recipes to get your chocolate fix the healthy way:
• Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
• Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Bites
• Spicy Chocolate Energy Bars

3. It may lower cholesterol
A small study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that daily consumption of cocoa flavanol-containing dark chocolate lowered cholesterol and improved blood pressure. While the reasearch was funded by chocolate manufacturer Mars, Inc., the study was double-blinded and peer reviewed.

4. It may prevent pregnancy complications
A new study reports that a chemical (theobromine) found in chocolate may reduce preeclampsia, a major pregnancy complication. The darker the chocolate, the better. Preeclampsia is primarily noted for raising blood pressure in pregnant women, and eating chocolate helps to lower this risk by up to 69 percent. The study of nearly 2,300 women established greater benefits to those who ate five or more servings per week, especially in their third trimester. Despite the results from this study, researchers have said that further studies are needed to prove the direct link between chocolate and preeclampsia.

5. It helps prevent heart disease
A recent study shows that people who regularly consume 70% dark chocolate (about 20 g per day) show a marked improvement in blood flow, while no improvement is observed in those who eat “processed” chocolate, which contains very little cocoa paste. It seems that the positive effect of dark chocolate is linked to a property in its polyphenols that releases a chemical messenger, nitric oxide, which increases arterial dilatation, at the same time improving blood flow and reducing platelet aggregation.
However, it is important to note that previous studies have shown that milk prevents the absorption of dark chocolate’s polyphenols, thereby neutralizing its beneficial effects. Milk contains large amounts of casein, a protein that interacts with polyphenols and prevents them from being efficiently absorbed by the intestine. It is therefore always preferable to consume dark chocolate unaccompanied by milk.

6. It may improve your skin
Researchers at Germany’s Heinrich Heine University exposed chocolate eaters to ultraviolet light and found that after six weeks, they had 15 percent less skin reddening than those who didn’t eat it. “We believe the compounds in chocolate act as UV filters,” says study leader Wilhelm Stahl. After 12 weeks, the chocolate eaters’ skin was 16 percent denser and 42 percent less scaly. Concerned about it causing acne? Researchers at Australia’s University of Newcastle reviewed the evidence and found nothing to suggest that chocolate triggers blemishes.

7. It may reduce pain
A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that rats don’t respond as quickly to pain while they’re eating chocolate. While this might explain why nothing in the world could drag you away from your Hershy’s Kisses, the study’s researchers say this pain-killing effect could be detrimental to humans as it could contribute to obesity. So remember to enjoy chocolate’s soothing properties in moderation. Also interesting to note: The study also found that drinking water also reduced pain.

Source : googling

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tips to Fight Fatigue

Tips to Fight Fatigue
Many cases of unexplained tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. Use these self-help tips to restore your energy levels.

Eat often: a good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than a large meal less often.

Get exercise: you might feel too tired to exercise, but regular exercise will make you feel less tired in the long run and you’ll have more energy. Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.

Start with a small amount of exercise. Build up your physical activity gradually over weeks and months until you reach the recommended goal of two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

Lose weight: if your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic. Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight is to be more active and do more exercise.

Get enough sleep: it sounds obvious, but two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people don’t get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. The Royal College of Psychiatrists' advice on getting a good night’s sleep is to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time everyday; avoid naps through the day, and have a hot bath before bed (as hot as you can bear without scalding you) for at least 20 minutes.

Reduce stress: stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day. This could be working out at the gym, or a gentler option such as listening to music, reading or spending time with friends. Whatever relaxes you will improve your energy.

Talk about it: there’s some evidence that talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. See your GP for a referral for talking treatment on the NHS or for advice on seeing a private therapist.

Cut out caffeine: The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. It says the best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (and that includes coffee and tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less tired without it.

You may find that stopping caffeine gives you headaches. If this happens, cut down more slowly on the amount of caffeine that you drink.

Drink less alcohol: although a few glasses of wine in the evening helps you fall asleep, you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol. The next day you’ll be tired even if you sleep a full eight hours.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy. The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day. Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day. ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.

Drink more water: sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.

source : google

Low Mood and Depression

Low Mood and Depression
Many difficult events and experiences can leave us in low spirits or cause depression – relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying, illness, and pain being just a few. Changes to hormones, such as during puberty, after childbirth and during the menopause can also have an effect on your emotional and mental health.

However, sometimes it's possible to feel down, without there being an obvious reason.
What is the difference between low mood and depression?

A general low mood can include:
  • sadness
  • an anxious feeling
  • worry
  • tiredness
  • low self-esteem
  • frustration
  • anger

However, a low mood will tend to improve after a short time. Making some small changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation or talking about your problems and getting more sleep, can improve your mood. A low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression.

Symptoms of depression can include the following:
  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
  • feeling anxious or worried

Love your Life
source : googling

Struggling with stress?

Struggling with stressStress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.

Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do. Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.

Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called "fight or flight" response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you're constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.

Managing stress in daily life
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn't addressed. It's important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking. Spotting the early signs of stress will also help prevent it getting worse and potentially causing serious complications, such as high blood pressure.

There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.

Recognising your stress triggers
If you're not sure what's causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.

Things you might want to write down include:
  • the date, time and place of a stressful episode
  • what you were doing
  • who you were with
  • how you felt emotionally
  • what you were thinking
  • what you started doing
  • how you felt physically
  • a stress rating (0-10 where 10 is the most stressed you could ever feel)

You can use the diary to:
  • work out what triggers your stress
  • work out how you operate under pressure
  • develop better coping mechanisms

Doctors sometimes recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose stress.

Take action to tackle stress
There's no quick-fix cure for stress, and no single method will work for everyone. However, there are simple things you can do to change the common life problems that can cause stress or make stress a problem. These include relaxation techniques, exercise and talking the issues through.

Get stress support
Because talking through the issues is one of the key ways to tackle stress, you may find it useful to attend a stress management groups or class. These are sometimes run in doctors’ surgeries or community centres. The classes help people identify the cause of their stress and develop effective coping techniques.

Ask your GP for more information if you're interested in attending a stress support group. You can also use the search directory to find emotional support services in your area.

source : googling

How to Relax Your Mind

How to Relax Your Mind
In today’s world, it’s hard to avoid feeling stressed. Life is fast-paced, and it’s more important than ever to slow down and make time for yourself. Relaxation techniques can make you feel calmer, happier and more productive. Try these five easy steps to relax your mind and improve your mental well-being.

Step 1: Find a relaxing space
Before you start to relax, it’s important to choose the right environment — a place perfectly tuned to your unique needs. Turn off your phone, step away from your computer and commit to relaxing in your favorite quiet space. Some people like to relax outside, but your relaxation zone can simply be a room or corner in your house. You might want to listen to gentle music while others prefer only the sound of the natural world.

Step 2: Get comfortable
It’s important to feel physically comfortable before your mind can truly relax. If you know yoga, the Lotus Pose is an excellent relaxation position, but if you’re not feeling too flexible, just sit on the floor or on a chair with your back straight and your hands on your thighs. Don’t let your body slump or slouch; you should feel comfortable, poised and in control.

Step 3: Concentrate on your breathing

Even small changes to how you breathe can be really useful in mental relaxation.
  • Sitting in your comfort position, breathe in slowly from the abdomen.
  • As you breathe in, you should feel your abdomen expand as your lungs fill up with air from the bottom to the top.
  • Inhale as much as you can without feeling too full, then push the air all the way out and repeat.

Step 4: Clear your mind

It’s important to clear your mind of all worries and background noise. Some people like to repeat words or phrases in their mind, like the traditional Buddhist mantra “Om mani padme hum,” or a mantra of their choosing. But if mantras don’t appeal to you, just concentrating on your breathing will have the same relaxing effect.

Step 5: Try a yoga routine
Once you’ve had some practice at relaxation and can bring yourself easily into a relaxed state, you might like to try a gentle yoga routine. Check out Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners DVD if you need some inspiration. If you avoid vigorous poses, then a short yoga routine can improve your deep breathing and help push the stress out of your mind. Just remember that mind relaxation, like everything else, takes some practice, but if you take it slow and think positively, you’ll be well on your way to restoring your inner peace.

source : googling

Why Women Are So Complicated

Why Women Are So Complicated
Women are often labeled as ‘complicated’. It is often said that the mysteries of their heart are as deep and unfathomable as the depths of an ocean. But what exactly make women so complicated?

Here’s a list of 10 reasons that may provide an explanation:

1. They experience a lot of biological changes

Biologically, women undergo so many changes within a month. With the end of each menstrual cycle to the ovulation period and then again to the start of next menstrual cycle, a woman’s body experiences so many hormonal and biological changes that it is bound to have an effect on them. Under the effect of such hormones, they often behave differently, thus making their behavior ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ to others.

2. They think with their hearts

A lot of complications come from the fact that women tend to ‘think’ with their hearts rather than with their minds. They tend to become emotional very fast. Emotions make women more complicated.

3. They are forever multi-tasking

Women are often juggling so many personal and professional responsibilities. They are at many places at one time. They are performing the multiple roles of wife, mother, daughter, sister, professional and so on. This constant multi-tasking adds complexity to their behavior.

4. Women give a lot of priority to ‘trivial’ issues

It’s in the nature of women to give priority to trivial issues. Little things matter a lot to them which may mean nothing to men. That’s why when they have a problem or an issue, often men find that it’s ‘nothing’ and they end up calling them as ‘complicated’.

5. Women can’t let go of past

The past keeps coming back to haunt them and interfere with their present and future, making their behavior complex to men who find it difficult to connect the past conflicts to the present escalations.

6. Women are forever comparing

Be it themselves or their spouses, they are forever comparing and judging. This adds a lot of complexity to their daily interactions and behavior.

7. Women are extremely self-critical

Believe it or not, but women are very self-critical. They are very harsh on themselves, from physical looks to emotional temperament. This makes them very difficult and complicated.

8. Women often make their world go round their boyfriend/husband/family

They give a lot of priority to relationships and easily get hurt when others don’t respond in the same way. Little things can tick them off, thereby leaving the other person confused about what happened.

9. There’s never a right answer for them!

If they ask men, “Am I looking fat?” and if he says no then the man is termed liar and if he says yes, then they give “Are you kidding me?” expression! These often display why women are complicated.

10. They expect a lot

Since women do a lot, they tend to expect a lot too. But often those expectations are not met, especially the ones concerning with emotional needs. This hurts them but they often expect that others should understand. So they don’t directly say what is wrong. The man is left wondering what is wrong and ends up simply labeling women as ‘complicated’.

Every complication has a way around to make it simple, so is the case with women. Men should try to understand them, then every woman will seem a bit ‘less complicated’. Why Women Are So Complicated?

source : googling

Link Between Anger and Anxiety

Link Between Anger and Anxiety
A new study suggests anger is a powerful emotion that intensifies anxiety and compromises therapy leading to serious health consequences.

Researchers from Concordia University discovered anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that affects millions of individuals.

Sonya Deschênes investigated the subject after conducting a literature review for her Ph.D. research. In her review of published studies she realized that anger and anxiety were linked, yet poorly understood.

“This was surprising to me because irritability, which is part of the anger family, is a diagnostic feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” she explains.

GAD is a serious affliction characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday things.

It often interferes with a person’s ability to function normally. Individuals suffering from GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday issues, such as health, money, and relationships.

Deschênes and her colleagues reviewed how specific components of anger — hostility, physical and verbal aggression, anger expression and anger control — contribute to GAD.

To do this, the team assessed more than 380 participants for GAD symptoms and their tendency to respond to anger-inducing scenarios.

Researcher’s assessed individual response to statements as, “I strike out at whatever infuriates me” and “I boil inside, but I don’t show it.”

The study, which was recently published in the journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, found that in the 131 participants who exhibited GAD symptoms, higher levels of anger and its various dimensions were associated with worry and anxiety.

Furthermore, hostility and internalized anger contributed to the severity of their GAD symptoms.

Experts believe this suggests that anger and anxiety go hand in hand, and that heightened levels of anger are uniquely related to GAD status.

Even more, internalized anger expression — boiling inside without showing it — is a stronger predictor of GAD than other forms of anger.

Deschênes acknowledges that more research is needed to understand why anger and anxiety tend to co-occur.

Researchers believe a possible explanation for the associated between anger and anxiety link is that, “when a situation is ambiguous, such that the outcome could be good or bad, anxious individuals tend to assume the worst.

“That often results in heightened anxiety. There is also evidence of that same thought process in individuals who are easily angered. Therefore, anger and GAD may be two manifestations of the same biased thought process.”

Deschênes also argues that symptoms of anger could get in the way of the treatment for anxiety, which often employs cognitive-behavioral therapy.

“If anger and hostility are contributing to the maintenance of symptoms, and these are not targeted during treatment, these people may not be benefiting as much from that treatment,” Deschênes said.

“It’s my hope that, by furthering our understanding of the role of anger in GAD, we can improve treatment outcomes for individuals with this disorder.”
Link Between Anger and Anxiety
Source: Concordia University

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why Sex So Complicated

Sex can lead to fun, fights, babies, break-ups, make-ups and sometimes even disease. Why is a basic biological behavior like sex so complicated for humans?  Is that just part of our nature?

Why Sex So Complicated

Well, yes and no. Sex is complicated for nearly all organisms that engage in it, but “sex” in humans is not exactly the same as sex in other organisms. For humans sex is not confined to genitals or even to purely physical contact.  Human sex can be had in conversation, over the phone, while dancing, over a well cooked meal, in one’s mind, as well as physically between two (or more) people. For humans sex is a seriously complicated and totally biocultural act. It is never just about biological processes, ever. 

A bit of evolutionary and anthropological context helps us get a better handle on why sex is so complicated for humans.

Our basic mammalian biology drives us to have sex of some form so we encounter all of the problems (and benefits) other animals have with sex. Our primate history of social sex shows us that we have all the complexities of other organisms coupled with the fact that much of our sexual activity pulls double or triple duty as being a core part of the way we get along (and don’t get along) with each other. But, humans can talk about sex, we can use our big brains to reason through it--does this make it easier to navigate and negotiate?  No, but it makes it much more interesting.  

The word “sex” at the most basic level just refers to the process wherein two organisms exchange gametes (sperm and egg) for reproduction to occur. But even for the simplest of critters, sex is always more than the tradeoff of gametes. To get to the point where you can exchange gametes you have to begin some form of negotiation. An organism has to navigate the local ecology to find a potential mate, convince the mate to exchange gametes and then, once the exchange is made, it does the best it can to set up another exchange or move along and find another potential mate. All this is done while trying to ensure that  searching for, and engaging in, sex does not also make one more likely to be eaten or less likely to find food, encounter dangerous diseases, or expend so much energy such that one keels over after (or during ) the sex itself. 

So, even for the simplest animals, sex is more than an act, it is a series of events and negotiations with hard to predict results. However, it’s also a very good system for producing and maintaining biological variation, the stuff organisms need to keep them in the game of evolution. So in spite of the complications and unpredictability, evolutionary processes have generated a number of physiological systems that ensure that organisms keep seeking sex, even when it seems a little precarious to do so.

Since we are naturally interested in humans, we can move along to the other primates as a comparison closer to home (in an evolutionary sense).  It turns out that in many primates sex is not only complicated, it is also frequently not associated with reproduction.  Many primate species (especially our closer relatives, the apes) use sexual activity as part of their social repertoire.  Social sex can make friends, break friends, end fights, start fights, all in addition to the fact that sometimes it also ends up in reproduction. Social sex is an important part of being a primate.  It is no wonder that primates have more sexually transmitted infections than most other mammals…they have more sex.

But does this tell us anything about ourselves?  About our nature?  Yes, it tells us that because we are primates and amongst the most social of the primates, we are evolutionarily saddled with a complicated social system in which sex, beyond the exchange of gametes, is a central part. But wait, it gets even more complex.

The fact that sex can result in offspring is a central feature of our biology, but humans have known how to wiggle around that aspect of sex for a long time… reproduction underlies the physiology of sex, but by no means is it the main influence in most human sexual activity.

Sex for human beings, in addition to being biological and social, is deeply cultural and thus extremely psychological. Every human brings with her or him a suite of embodied experiences to every sexual encounter and even to every thought, consideration, or fantasy about sexual encounters.  At a minimal level this includes one’s gender, the current gender expectations of his/her society and all the subdivisions in that society s/he belongs to, personal life history and past experiences and exposure to sexual activity, sexual orientation, and age, health, body image, religion, politics, economics, computer access, etc…

With all of this mess it is amazing we continue participate in, and enjoy, sexual activities…but we most certainly do. This tells us something about human nature: sex is really important in spite of its complexity and potential for social and physiological danger. Why? Because human nature is all about social intercourse, about connection and interaction between people, exchanges of thoughts and feelings, and sex is a central part of this system. Humans have a distinctively complicated, messy and elaborately cognitive way of having sex and that is part of what makes us one of the most adept, complex, and interesting critters on the planet.

Narcissism vs Authentic Self-Esteem

Narcissism vs Authentic Self-Esteem

You may have heard about two studies last year on self-esteem in college students. A New York Times article reported that, when given the choice, most college students prefer to receive a boost to their self-esteem in the form of a compliment or good grade over eating a favorite food such as pizza or having sex.  The article begins with the following question: "Are young people addicted to feeling good about themselves?"

At first, I found this question idiotic. I am sick and tired of how our culture has adapted the language of addiction to describe everything. The more I thought about it, however, it did make a (limited) kind of sense to me, especially if you consider addiction to actual drugs as a means to avoid some other experience or to seek an inappropriate remedy for a very real problem. As I've written elsewhere, narcissistic people crave attention and admiration in order to ward off feelings of shame and to disguise a sense of inner defect. In other words, they have no authentic self-esteem and look to others to provide a substitute for it.

The problem with external sources of self-esteem, as with all drugs, is that they wear off and you have to secure more of it to feed your habit. As a result, those individuals without genuine self-esteem have an insatiable need for their their egos to be bolstered by the people around them. In this sense, I suppose it makes sense to talk about them as addicts, even if "addicted to self-esteem" sounds ridiculous. Besides, receiving a compliment has nothing to do with authentic self-esteem.

In my experience, you can't obtain real self-esteem from the outside. Yes, it's important that our parents praise and encourage us as we grow up. We internalize their values and standards, and those of our teachers and other significant figures; then, once they've become a part of us, we must live up to those standards if we're to feel good about ourselves. I'm not referring to perfectionistic and overly harsh standards, impossible to meet. I mean our own ideas and expectations, evolved from the disparate influences of family, peer group and culture, about what it means to be and behave like a person we would respect.

Once in my own therapy, many years ago, I was telling my therapist about a social encounter the night before which involved too much alcohol, some poor choices and promiscuous behavior on my part. I don't remember what he said, exactly, but I responded in a very defensive way and told him I felt as if he disapproved of me. He may then have said, "I think you feel that you deserve disapproval." Or maybe, "I think it's you who disapproves of yourself." I can't recall but the effect upon me was stunning in the way I always used to feel when he delivered a particularly accurate interpretation. All at once, I had to "own" my projections and realize that I felt very bad about myself indeed. I knew better than to behave the way I did; at that social event, I knew I was making poor choices but like a rebellious kid, I refused to acknowledge the probable bad result of my actions and did what felt good in the moment. I could have done better.

To this day, I say similar things to my own clients when it seems appropriate. I might tell them, "Maybe there's a good reason why you feel bad about yourself today." I don't in any way mean this to be harsh and I never feel judgmental about it. Rather, it's my way of making clear that self-esteem is something that is earned. Maybe self-respect would be a better way of talking about the issue. All respect has to be earned, including self-respect. In this connection, I think that "self-confidence" is another useful concept, if you consider "confidence" in its secondary meaning, something confided or entrusted. I believe that authentic self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem grow out of knowing yourself very well -- confiding in yourself, as it were -- and behaving in ways that you respect by meeting your own standards.

Think back to a recent event you can't quite put to rest, an incident where you may have behaved inappropriately, or about which other people have criticized you; maybe you're still justifying yourself in the privacy of your thoughts. This may be a place where you can see this process at work.

Try to step back from the incident and look at it objectively; you don't have to accept or assign blame at this point. What are the issues and values at the heart of the experience? Sensitivity to other people's feelings? How to balance your needs and wishes with those of your loved ones? Division of responsibilities within your primary relationship? Maybe there are ethical issues involved with something that happened at work. You might have betrayed a confidence or said more than you should on a sensitive issue. If possible, look at the situation as if it involved somebody other than you and decide what are the standards and values that apply.

Then evaluate your behavior and see if you lived up to those standards. Pay careful attention to the ways in which you may want to justify a breach -- a sure sign that you feel in the wrong. Angry defensiveness is another indication that you're trying to ward off guilt or other bad feelings. I usually find that giving up the fight and simply owning up to error makes me feel better -- not completely better, of course, but somehow all that energy spent in trying to defend my innocence only makes me feel worse about myself on another level, leading to more defensiveness, etc.

Small Things to Make Your Life Happier

You can add more happiness and light to your life, by doing some small, simple acts everyday. Though small and simple, these acts will improve your feeling and make your day more enjoyable. Even if you are under pressure and strain, or if you have problems and difficulties, there are many little, and sometimes not so significant actions that can make you feel happy. This happiness might not be strong and deep, and often is of short duration, but it certainly can improve the way you feel.

Small Things to Make Your Life Happier

Below you will find a few suggestions for bringing small moments of happiness into your daily life. With some creative thinking you can find more ideas, which might be more suitable to your life and circumstances.
  1. Wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning, and go stand by the window or go out to the yard or garden, if you have one. Look around you, and enjoy the quietness and splendor of the morning.
  2. Get up 10 minutes earlier, and make yourself a cup of coffee. Even if you drink coffee each morning, by getting up earlier you will be able to sip it leisurely.
  3. Eat something you enjoy eating.
  4. Call up a friend you like, which you haven’t talked with for a long time.
  5. Buy yourself flowers.
  6. Buy yourself a book.
  7. Buy yourself a magazine.
  8. Have a nap in the afternoon
  9. Do something you like doing, but which you usually don’t have the time to do.
  10. Take some time out when busy and read a few pages of a book.
  11. Close your eyes and rest your body and mind, just for a few moments, even when you are very busy.
  12. Take a break and go out to walk, even if it is only for ten minutes.

Do you have more suggestions? What do you do to bring happiness into your life? You are welcome to comment.

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