5 Ways to Be Happier at Work

Stuck in a rut? These simple tips can help you perform better and feel more inspired in and out of the office

By Foundation7 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Foundation7 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The good old saying goes, “to each his own.” Whether it’s creating a playlist, overspending on a chai soy latte or sneaking in some online shopping, everyone has at least one way of making their work day a little more enjoyable. The fact is, however, is that there are several, easy ways that will not only get you through your day quicker, but may have you feeling happier (and even healthier) long after you leave office life in the dust. Try incorporating these simple tasks into your work week – after all – it is how you spend at least 40 hours of your time.

GET IT OVER WITH

Are there certain tasks to your day that you absolutely dread? Instead of putting off your least favorite responsibilities for after lunch, prioritize to tackle these duties first. That way, you’ll have more to look forward to for the rest of the day and won’t find yourself struggling to complete the more challenging assignments at the very last minute.  Studies also show that work productivity is at its best earlier in the day, so use this statistic to your advantage and remember to eat a balanced breakfast!

DESK FLAIR

For many, the office literally is home away from home. So why not make it feel that way? Surround yourself with framed pictures of loved ones, flowers, candles (as long as they’re not against your office’s policy) or anything else that gives you a warm, cozy feeling. Try sticking some fresh lavender in your pen jar- this miracle plant has amazing therapeutic benefits that can help keep you keep calm and cool as a cucumber throughout the day.

SNACK ON ALMONDS

Nobody likes a “hangry” person – that is—the product of being so hungry, you become angry. Keep raw almonds close by for snacking in between meals. They’ll not only curve your appetite and help you stay full, but also have tremendous nutritional value. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, almonds are even considered “brain food” according to a recent article by Dr. David B. Samadi. Their healthy levels of vitamin E have been shown to prevent cognitive decline, boost alertness and preserve memory longer.

STRETCH

Whether you’re constantly on your feet or stuck behind a computer, the power of some thorough stretching at least once a day can do wonders. You’ll release toxins from your muscles and improve blood flow, circulation and even your posture. Your newly relaxed muscles will be thankful for the much-needed attention!

SMILE MORE

We’ve saved the best for last, probably because it’s the most simple of tasks on our list. Even when you don’t think you could be having a worse day, many experts recommend smiling for at least ten seconds to help dissipate any negative thoughts or feelings. This will help trick your brain into thinking you’re happy, and a warm smile can help spread happiness to others in the process. We like to call this the smile effect.

Kelly Verdi is the Public Relations Manager at Spa Week Media Group. She loves dogs, 80 minute facials and a good blowout worth bragging about.

The Best Flowers By Astrological Sign

Lilacs_in_Moscow_2008

By Leonid Dzhepko (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What color flowers did you get your mom for Mother’s Day? What color do you wish a special someone would get YOU? Here’s the color each Astrological sign is supposedly drawn to. Your “power color,” if you will. Let us know if you agree or disagree with the flower choices below, based on the colors you’re said to be most compatible with:

Aries = Red. Classic long-stem red roses for you.

Taurus= Green. Maybe you’d prefer a plant to a bouquet, or something surrounded by ferns and greenery?

Gemini = Yellow. Do daisies make you happy?

Cancer = Silver/White. Classic white lilies or roses would be your best bouquet.

Virgo = Earth Tones. A potted plant, like an orchid, is the perfect present for a Virgo hostess.

Leo = Gold/Orange. Bright lilies match a Leo’s bold personality.

Libra = Blue. Iris? Hydrangea?

Scorpio = Red/Black. A dramatic red bouquet appeals to Scorpio’s fiery side.

Sagittarius = Purple. Liliacs and wildflowers would be a nice choice.

Capricorn = Brown/Green. Floral branches (get fake ones from Pier 1) in a pretty vase are the ideal way to dress up your living room.

Aquarius = Aqua. As a water sign, you like all sorts of bouquets, as long as they’re in water.

Pisces = Lilac/Sea Green. Lilacs look as good as they smell.

 

18 Tangible Ways to Kick Stress in The Butt, Starting NOW!

Self defense training

Stress is inevitable in our technology-ridden, lighting-paced, tornado-whirlwind lives. Heart Health Month is here to remind us – among many things – that stress also happens to be one of the leading causes of heart disease and heart attack. There are three types of stress: there’s Unavoidable Stress, which comes as a result of poor health, losing a job, or the tragic loss of a loved one. There’s Natural Stress, the kind we put on ourselves to be successful and meet our goals. And then there’s Avoidable Stress, such as running late, being disorganized and sweating the small stuff. Saying stress that many times just totally stressed me out.

Well, sadly there is no magic stress pill for any of it (at least not one that’s good for you), but there are some very specific things you can be doing NOW to relieve, manage and avoid it. Fight the beast with these 18 tangible things you can start doing right this second!

1. ACCEPT STRESS

Before we get started, hear me loud and clear: There will ALWAYS be stress in your life. Always! It will never be perfect; the most you can do is to not let it overwhelm you. YOU’RE in the driver’s seat, in control, and your goal is to keep stress packed in the trunk: You know it’s there and that you have to deal with it, but it isn’t screaming in the back seat for more Cheerios. Once you accept that stress is inevitable, you just have to learn to make the best of it. That’s where the rest of this list comes in.

2. CALL AN OLD FRIEND

This is therapeutic for so many reasons!  Creating and maintaining meaningful relationships will fulfill you and help you live joyfully. Expressing your feelings freely, like you can with an old friend, is a great way to relieve stress. It sure beats perusing photos of random people you went to high school with on Facebook.

3. LAUGH!

Carefree laughter is the OPPOSITE of stress, so you can quite literally turn a stressful situation around (temporarily, at least) by surrounding yourself with funny. Hit up a comedy club, call your funniest friend (which accomplishes #1 as well!), or resort to the world’s most ridiculous comedy parade on earth: YouTube. Start with THE FLIP SIDE – if you are a man or a woman, you MUST see this. And if you only have 8 seconds to spare… DARE YOU try to say this out loud.

4. PAUSE… THEN RESPOND

Things happen all the time that make us upset, annoyed and downright furious. BUT, next time something comes your way – PAUSE. Before reacting from the gut and letting your emotions fly, take a step back from the situation. Assemble your thoughts. This short moment of introspection could save you from a turning into your stress monster alter-ego.

5. CLEAN YOUR DESK

Papers everywhere, water bottles from god-knows-when, and twelve and half business cards laying around? I’m talking about my desk – and if I’m describing yours too, it’s time for an intervention. A cleaning tactic that’s worked for me lately is PRETEND CLEANING IS FUN. Smile! Put on music! Stretch in between paper piles! You’ll feel worlds better. Now on the count of three,  let’s both go get the Lysol. 1, 2…

6. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES

Yes, this one’s a little more complicated than watching a YouTube clip. Debt and money matters are the sources of so much stress in people’s lives, and reduced debt always equals reduced stress. Try LearnVest, a great resource geared toward women to help manage finances and “live your richest life.”

7. SLEEP PRETTY DARLING

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is not only great for your skin and weight management (yes!) a good night’s sleep is guaranteed to help you deal better with daily stresses. Any amount of sleep deprivation diminishes mental performance, and this includes your threshold for dealing with problems. And annoying people.

8. VOLUNTEER

What is it you’re passionate about? Helping people? Animals? The environment? Do some research on local communities – VolunteerSpot is a good resouce for parents – and get started! It’ll not only relax you, but helping a worthy cause could help you look at your own “stresses” in perspective. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan that followed 1,211 senior citizens for about seven years and found that those who volunteered just 40 hours a year lived longer than those who didn’t volunteer at all. See how some of our blogger friends give back.

9. FORGIVE SOMEONE

You can’t be fully calm while holding a grudge. It takes work and energy to stay angry at someone; energy that could be going towards volunteering, taking control of your finances, cleaning your desk… you get the picture. Cleanse yourself of negative energy by taking the healthy high road.

10. GET MOVING

You saw this one coming! Endorphins are your stress-free BFFs, and they are released from your pituitary gland every time you get moving. “Runner’s high,” which is the result of extreme endorphin release, has been known to create feelings of euphoria. You may not like the workout part, but you’ll always love the way you feel after it. It’ll not only reduce stress, exercising is your direct, high-speed highway to better heart health.

11. TEN-SECOND AROMATHERAPY

Take a whiff of a lemon, a mango, lavender, or a bouquet of flowers. It’s not just soothing; scientists in Japan have reported clinical evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels. Spas are really onto something with aromatherapy!

12. CREATE A NEW PINTEREST BOARD

Blogging, tweeting, tumbling, stumbling… all these social media activities are designed to be fun, relaxing and self-expressing… thus stress-reducing. The hottest new player in town, Pinterest, is arguably the most fun and therapeutic of them all. We’re obsessed (follow us!), so if you haven’t started yet, close out this blog post right now (well, maybe wait till you’re finished reading), create an account, and get pinning (de-stressing) 5 minutes ago.

13. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE FOR AN HOUR

Alas, there’s the flipside of social media. Being connected all day long CAN be work – especially when it’s your job. Ahem. As soon as you feel like social media is starting to take over, power down your technology and take a breather.

14. ARRIVE EARLY

One of the unnecessary daily stresses we encounter is that time period where you’re running late. You’re angry at traffic, you’re running down the sidewalk in heels like a lunatic (my M.O.), and the ONLY thing you can think about is how bad it is that you’re going to be late. Remove this stress from your life entirely by planning to get somewhere 15 minutes, even a half hour early. What better time to finish up those last few chapters of Hunger Games before the movie comes out?

15. DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT

Because how stressful is that? If you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you’ll be constantly feeling like a failure. You don’t NEED to meet your husband in the next six months, get straight A’s, or go the gym every day in 2012. Let life take its course at YOUR pace. Don’t follow commandments – follow happiness.

16. CARB AWAY THE STRESS

You read that right. Complex carbohydrates such as oats, fruit, whole grains and brown rice can stimulate your body to produce stress-busting, soporific hormones in a stressful situation, and also balance blood sugar levels. On the other hand, carbs like sugar, white flour, breads, pasta and pastries causes a blood sugar spike, leading to stress. Choose the right carbs as your stress-fighting ally!

17. JUST BREATHE

For five minutes every day, sit by yourself – eyes closed and a smile on your face – and breathe consciously. This can be done as a morning ritual or to regroup in a stressful situation. As Elena Brower put it in her Daily Breathing Health Challenge: “Just sit and listen to your inner talk, and bring more breathing to those five minutes, without judgement. This is the most grounding, healing practice any of us can do.”

18. GO TO THE SPA!

Ahhhh, yes! The stress-buster you’ve been waiting for! There’s no better way to reduce stress than a trip to the spa – and it’s not just for the relaxation benefits. The healing touch of a massage or body treatment stimulates circulation and benefits long-term heart health.

10 Ways to Glam Up and Zen Out Your Place On The Cheap

I’m on the verge of a move! In just two weeks I’ll be settling into a three bedroom apartment a few blocks east with my first-ever exposed brick wall. It’s a beauty! And the last thing I want to do is ruin it with all my decorative clutter. You know, if you pamper your palace it’ll pamper you back. My first goal is minimalizing my collection of all-too-excessive trinkets and decor, and after that, it’s adding the perfect select pieces to finish it off. With a small budget, and keeping in mind that we plan to be entertaining a lot (hello ugly sweater party!), it’s important to have a strategy. Interior design guru Michael Craig, founder of dinette.com, shares his budget-friendly tips on how to glam up your place with just a few strategic moves, along with my picks, all under strong consideration for purchase!

1.  First thing’s first… LESS. IS. MORE. Take away unnecessary items that distract the eye from the Main Event. Take notes from your favorite zen spa ambiance: de-clutter, ladies!

2.  Jazzy pillows. Add some to spice up your boring sofa. Also, make sure they are comfortable for your guests to relax. My pick: Add a patchwork safari touch from Urban Outfitters for conversational comfort- $36

3. Orchids. Orchids always add sophistication to any space – make sure to water accordingly and watch them blossom.

4.  Add a shiny bowl to your tabletop – nuts look great in a glitzy silver bowl. Editor’s pick: A giant spoon! From Z Gallerie – $29.95


5.  Put a runner on your tabletop.  Not only does it protect against nail polish remover spills (the worst!) but it will add charm and style. Editor’s pick: Opt for an unusual shape – who said runners need to be straight-edged? This red flamenco flower runners from Pier 1 will pop, even under 2 tons of turkey and potatoes. $29.95

6.  Candles. Not only do they provide great lighting but can fill the room with relaxing aromas. Go easy on the strong scents! Editor’s pick: get in the holiday spirit with a little luxury from Diptyque’s new Joie de Vivre collection, a pine and candied plum scent. Visit diptyqueparis.com – Starting at $32

7.  Edit your framed pictures. Too much is too much! We don’t need to see a 100 pictures of your baby. We already did on Facebook. On a similar note, here’s an idea for a very cool use of picture frames!

8.  Live plants. Putting a live plant in your home is never wrong – but proportional size is key. Editor’s pick: Bring the desert home with these small and very low maintence little cacti plants from Home Depot. 3-pack for $23.96

9. Rugs and runners.  Add a runner or rug to give warmth to your space. It keeps your toes from touching the cold surface. Editor’s pick: Dare to go furry and white for a cozy elegant touch. Crazy, you say? Actually – my friend has one just like this, and surprisingly it has remained unstained and looking brand new for over a year! Not recommended if you have kids… and keep Drunk Uncle Bob in the other room. On overstock for $290.

10.  Dimmers are key. This one takes a little more planning, but mood lighting always helps control the ambiance and allows you to drift off to your happy place.


Fight Pollution: Adopt a Super Plant

If you’re like me, Earth Day always reminds you of all the horrible things you are doing to the planet. I always feel so guilty when this beloved holiday comes around. I know I should be putting more effort into conservation. Isn’t there an easy way to make up for all of the paper I’ve wasted and Styrofoam cups I’ve tossed? Can I cancel out pollution?

Thanks to StumbleUpon, I learned you can cancel out (mollify) some airborne toxins by adopting a plant!  There are 3 toxins that are commonly found in the air we breathe everyday: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde and Benzene. Over a dozen different plants have the ability to combat these harmful gasses. Find out where these gaseous pollutants come from and which plant is best equipped to naturally fight for your health!

Trichloroethylene:

Side Effects: Can cause affects similar to alcohol poisoning: headache and dizziness, with long-term damage to the liver and kidneys. Common Sources: Varnishes (6), Inks (4), Paints (19), Lacquers (1), Dry Cleaning (5), Adhesives (1). If you ever find yourself pouring varnish and paint on your ex-boyfriend’s dry cleaning while you write him a break-up letter in fancy ink and glue it to his suit; your ex may not be the only thing affecting your brain and liver.

Super Plant: Werneckei (6), Chrysanthemum (4), Peace Lily (19), Marginata (1), Gerbera Daisy (5)

 

Formaldehyde:

Side Effects: A very common indoor pollutant; can cause headaches, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing and is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA2; aka cancer causing!
Common Sources: Plywood (8), Clothes (9), Carpet (10), Particle Board (11), Paper Goods (12), Furniture (13), Foam Insulation (14), Water Repellent (15) and Household Cleaners (4). Basically, avoid elementary schools at all costs.

Super Plant: Dieffenbachia (8), Spider Plant (9), Golden Pathos (10), Philodendron (11), Corn Plant (12), Bamboo Palm (13), Azalea (14), Poinsettia (15) Chrysanthemum (4).

Benzene:

Side Effects: Can cause drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting and unconsciousness; has a pleasant smell, which is why it used to be a common ingredient in aftershave.3
Common Sources: Gasoline (1), Synthetic Fibers (2), Detergents (3), Plastics (4), Tobacco Smoke (7), and Oils (6). Heading over to Grandpa’s?  Make sure he puts out his pipe, stops doing the laundry full of ugly poly-blend Christmas sweaters and move the recycling in the garage with his collection of oil cans. (Anyone else’s Grand Pop a hoarder?)

Super Plant: Peace Lily (3), Jenny Craig (2), Chrysanthemum (4), Werneckei (6), English Ivy (7), and Marginata (1).

I don’t have a green thumb, but I’m pretty inspired by these 15 clever plants taking on some heavy duty poisons. Look for these plants next time you visit the spa/salon. Many products found in hair salons can contain traces of formaldehyde or benzene (like the popular Brazilian Blowout and other frizz eliminating treatments). Traditionally, spas aren’t known for harmful airborne chemicals, but they do use lots of paper goods like gauze and treatment table covers to stay sanitary between clients. Spas are also known for their beautiful decoration, like synthetic fabric curtains and drapes, fancy rugs and elegant furniture. Be aware of potential hazards. Don’t feel hopeless if you don’t see any green at your favorite spa or salon; make a suggestion to the owner to spruce up the place (pun intended).  Share your newly learned plant knowledge and I’m sure they will thank you for the suggestion. Happy Earth Day!


Sources 1, 2, 3 and plant guide courtesy of www.good.is.