Category Archives: exercise

10 Study Skills that Really Matter!

Effective study and lifestyle habits are the real factor in academic success, most often superseding economic, intellectual, or age factors.

Personally, I had to learn how to study effectively because I was not taught or required to study as a child. This list of recommendations is for everyone, young and old. It is based on my personal experiences as a student, teacher, caregiver, mother and grandmother.

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES– This is the first step to deciding your study strategies. Everyone has some challenges with studying. Most students have multiple challenges. Knowing your weaknesses and admitting them is the first step to getting your study habits into ship-shape so you don’t waste a single minute of your precious personal time studying in ineffective circles that not only rob you of fun, but also rob you of the best grades and opportunities that you deserve. By eliminating your time wasters and over-confidence when you actually need to increase study time, you will actually have better grades, more energy and have more time for the people and activities you love without those nagging feelings haunting you.

2. IF YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE– Set up a plan to reward yourself with personal time and activities only after you have finished your work or have studied enough to have a good command of materials. Study your most challenging subjects first when you have the most energy. Save easy study tasks like making flash cards last when you don’t need to think as deeply. Isn’t it interesting how it can be very difficult to study effectively at night when we are tired but we are never too tired to talk to our friends! Use this fact to your advantage.

3. IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRACTED– Create a private, comfortable and well-lit space with no distractions. Use earplugs or headphones if needed to reduce environmental distractions. Turn off any computer or phone notifications while studying. Notify your parents and friends when you are studying and tell them that you will return their calls/texts or requests when you are finished. Give yourself a 15-minute reward for personal/free time at the end of every hour of non-stop, focused studying. Make sure you get up and move around during this free time to bring the blood back into your brain that tends to become lodged in the bottom after sitting for long periods of time. (A walk around the block during study breaks can do wonders to energize you and increase your memory.)

4. WRITE CLEAR & DETAILED NOTES WHILE YOU ARE IN CLASS & STUDYING & ENSURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERYTHING DOWN NECESSARY –Do not fall into the “I will remember this” pattern. Back-tracking and searching for information later can be a huge time and energy waster! Tools such as highlighting, side notes on the page and colorful tabs can save time later on.

5. WRITE A STUDY LIST EVERY DAY & BREAK DOWN ASSIGNMENTS INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE TASKS – Do this right after school or first thing in the morning on non-school days. – This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from knowing where to begin. It also makes it easier to check off your priority list and block study sessions which increase the feeling and awareness of your real progress. If you tend to overlook and forget your assignments, check with your instructor after every class to make sure you have all assignments and notes down correctly and thoroughly.

6. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO STUDY IN YOUR BAG OR BACKPACK – Choose the items you are most challenged with so you can study whenever you can. Flash cards or reading assignments are the easiest things to have handy. Make a copy of a complex reading assignment and have in your bag to read and highlight. Whenever you have an unexpected delay or free moment, pull out your studies instead of your phone and you will have more free time to communicate with friends without stress at the end of the day!

7. ENSURE MAXIMUM COMPREHENSION OF ALL MATERIAL BY USING EFFICIENT TOOLS WHILE YOU READ– Before you read anything, understand, read or write down what it is you are supposed to know from reading the passage or chapter. Read the questions however, not the answer choices! Then as you read the first time, highlight any key points that fit your comprehension goals. If you are not able to highlight, write notes as you read, noting the paragraph or page number. If possible, copy the passage and highlight that. Next, re-read the questions and read the passage again, but this time as you read, write notes on what you think the answers or main points are to the assignment. Then go to the questions and see if any match your understanding of the material. If you need to write an essay, you will then have the best notes possible to create your outline!

8. DO NOT SKIP ANY STEPS OR QUESTIONS & UTILIZE ALL AVAILABLE STUDY RESOURCES UNTIL YOU KNOW A SUBJECT INSIDE AND OUTUnless you are repeating information with an “A” mastery level; not just until you think you have it. Mastery comes from repeating exercises, quizzing, re-reading, re-writing and explaining the subject to others. Much of the frustration of studying comes from the missing pieces of information we pretend we know or don’t need. Then we cannot operate with all of our potential and often struggle unnecessarily. Study resources include materials in all media forms such as audio, visual, study groups, tutors and whatever resources the instructor has recommended. Using all of your senses is extremely important, especially if you are challenged with a subject. The more senses that experience the information you are learning, the deeper the knowledge will go and the less likely you are to forget it because you have it understood in a multitude of layers. Remember that the most effective way to comprehend and remember material is to discuss it with others; hence the study group.

9. BE AT YOUR BEST BY ENSURING YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & NUTRITION NEEDS ARE BEING MET – Exercising daily will increase your memory, energize you, keep your immune system strong and prevent insomnia. Getting the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours/night) will also ensure you can think clearly while you are in class, studying and testing. Energy drinks, coffee, tea and/or drugs in the place of sleep, exercise or nourishing meals wear down your immune system, increase insomnia and fatigue, leaving you with less energy and more health problems in the long run. Contrary to popular thought, if you eat snacks with less sugar and/or carbohydrates and instead eat snacks with protein rich snacks, you will have more lasting energy and increased brain functions without experiencing the “carb-crash” which can affect your ability to study properly. A bag of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or jerky are great things to have on hand at all times.

10. RE-ASSESS YOUR STUDY HABITS AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AFTER EVERY TESTING OR GRADING PERIOD – Set yourself up for success, not for failure. It often takes about 1 ½ semesters to adopt effective study habits that become natural. Commit to your study plan if it is working but re-tool it if it is not. Ask your instructor how much you should be studying each day for each class and arrange your schedule around honesty about how much you need to study instead of denial about how much you need to study. Eliminate any extra activities until you are achieving the grades and knowledge mastery you desire. Remember that exercise, sleep, eating properly and an allotted amount of personal time to enjoy life are not extra-curricular activities but necessary for your health, well-being and good grades!

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Filed under children, Education, exercise, Families, Fathers, insomnia, media, mentor, mother, nutrition, prevention, teaching, technology, teenagers, Writing

The 25 Most Important Things

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The 25 Most Important Things To Pass On To My Children and Grandchildren:

1. Be honest and kind with yourself and others. You will save a lot of pain and suffering while attracting more honesty and kindness into your life.

2. Exercise often and as aerobically as you can because 4-6 days of exercise will:

  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Keep your immune system strong, thereby reducing sick days and health care costs
  • Prevent injuries
  • Increase your memory and learning capacity
  • Release stress from your body so it won’t impact your health
  • Keep you fit and healthy and toned
  • Increase your options in life and recreation with a working body
  • Decrease anger
  • Balance your hormones and best of all
  • It’s completely free if you need it to be!

3. Eat real food, especially veggies, legumes and whole grains and eat everything else in moderation. Remember that children’s tastes are developed by what is in the house and what they eat and drink in the first few years. Each food is designed perfectly balanced as nature intended to nourish our bodies. Each step from food’s original form is substandard and less nourishing for our bodies. Our bodies are our vehicles for everything we do and want to do in life so they deserve the best!

4. Develop an appreciation for reading because once you can read, you have the entire world and its history and cultures and fields of study at your fingertips.

5. Education is the key to giving yourself the best chance in life but you also have to give your best to get the full benefits. This means sacrificing personal time now, which you will get back later because then you won’t have to work as hard as a person without an education. Education also means experience. Make an effort to travel out of your home country to understand a little about how the rest of the world operates from direct experience, not heresay. Traveling is some of the most valuable education that you can experience.

6. Do at least 1 thing very well in your life! Devote enough time, even before you are an adult, to become an expert at something! When you are an expert at something, you will always have this expertise to fall back on, even if you don’t decide to make it a career.

7. Forgive yourself and others for anything in the past. It does not serve you to carry the weights of blame or regret around. Not only do they weigh you down, they can also make you physically ill. You will be closer to realizing your dreams and personal well-being when you learn to let go.

8. Visualize yourself doing what you dream to do and remind yourself of this vision frequently! Do not let others dictate your future or change your dreams. A delay or detour does not mean destruction; it may just mean a lesson you need to learn before you are prepared to soar!

9. Start small. Make small changes in yourself before uprooting everyone and your own life. Big changes = big risks. Each time you start over it costs in more ways than one. A person can never get ahead by starting over continuously.

10. Practice compassion with everyone, especially with people who aren’t like you. They may need even more than your friends and family. (Remember that compassion is different from enabling.)

11. Practice service to others as a necessary part of your spiritual fulfillment and soul requirements during your lifetime.

12. Express yourself creatively. Creative expression is a necessary part of each person but it is up to each person to find their own and commit to it, even as a hobby.

13. Addictions are the suffering of tortured souls. If you ever become tempted by an addiction or start suffering from an addiction, you may be suffering from a lack of #11 and/or #12. Start with those first for a deeply lasting solution.

14. Time with family is important, things aren’t. “You can’t take it with you.” Be sure to balance your time with yourself and your loved ones and only have things that serve you in your life, not as items of worship.

15. Learn to listen to, understand and trust the real needs of your body and spirit and obey them. You will save yourself a lot of pain, suffering and money if your body does not have to be sick to rescue you from your own deafness. The more you listen and obey, the more you will develop trust in your own intuition to know what is best for you, thereby leading to more effectiveness.

16. With any new plan, life change or strategy, remember the 3-day, 2 week rule. The first 3 days are the hardest, but you should see some improvement by the end of the 3rd. day (or 3rd.time). The habit and adjustment will become a part of your life after 2 weeks of consistency. Do not deviate if you are experiencing positive results. It is often right when things seem toughest that the light of day is approaching, but we need to stick it out so we can reap the benefits. If you do something 3 times and you see no improvement or progress, move onto plan B. This may just mean a small adjustment or a total 360. It depends on the situation. Listen; really listen for the answers on this one.

17. Maintain your financial reputation, regardless of what you earn. Treat personal debts as seriously as others. You will hold your head higher and will have more opportunities to reach your goals when you are respected by others by keeping your word & commitments. Do not waste your precious dollars on unnecessary expenses like late fees, tickets, overdrafts, higher interest rates & deposits from bad credit, etc. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and you will have more for the things you really need and want, including an emergency fund.

18. Make sure you  get yourself into natural surroundings as frequently as possible. Oftentimes when we don’t feel right it is because we are out of balance. Nothing helps more than a day outside, especially surrounded by trees.

19. Be accountable for your life and ensure your children are accountable for theirs! If you find yourself blaming others and are angry at others for your situation, look in the mirror instead for the solution to your challenges! There is no better way to take back the control of your life than by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.

20. Clear your head of all responsibilities before you go to sleep at night to ensure a restful sleep & take time out for yourself every day. A neutral book is helpful here (and maybe a notepad to write things down so you can let go of them until morning).

21. Only buy what you need and avoid purchasing what you don’t. The benefits are many, but at the very least you will have more money and less clutter to contend with during your day.

22. Take care not to waste what you can prevent from using. We are the stewards of the earth and can get by with so much less. Remember that everything we buy or use requires energy and resources from somewhere and usually involves polluting the earth, water and sky. Any food thrown away has used precious resources (and money) for nothing.

23. When dealing with children, remember who is in charge and it is definitely not the child! Take care to phrase your language to make children accountable for themselves as soon as possible. Take care to phrase your language to make sure they know that you are in charge, not them (even if you have to fake it).

24. Respect all elders by speaking and treating them with kindness and interest for they have seen and experienced many things you may never see or experience. You too will be an elder someday and will deserve the same respect, regardless of your mental or physical limitations or personality.

25. Treat each of your family members and friends as if they won’t be here tomorrow. This will lead to no regrets if ever they are gone; it will make them feel loved by you because we can never have too much affection and caring from those we love!

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MY LIVING WISHES – PART 1

 fufMY LIVING WISHES FOR MY ELDER YEARS (Inspired and influenced by all of the precious elders in my life and those who have cared for them.)

TO ALL OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS,

There will be a day, when I may stop doing things for myself, but they will still be important for me to do.

Who will do them?

Who will make sure I carry them out?  

I will need you to help me do the things that are essential to my health and wellness and state of mind. I will need to be reminded to do them or even have you do them with me, so I can maintain a quality of life that all seniors deserve to have. If for some reason you are not taking care of your own needs, please don’t limit mine. Use my deep down (though not always stated) desire for quality of life to lift you up with me. This is what you did for me when you were a child. You motivated me to care better of myself and now is the time for me to return the favor.  Throughout my life I have also  worked to make sure all I care for have their core needs met for health, wellness and a joyful state of mind. Can you be there for me as well? 

Here is what I ask from you at the very least:

  • I NEED MY LOVED ONES TO HAVE ALL OF MY CONTACT INFORMATION ON DOCTORS, CAREGIVERS, NEIGHBORS, ETC. Perhaps a master list that gets sent to everyone in my family will be the best way to handle this! Also, please make sure I have a copy of this list myself in my wallet or purse and on my refrigerator. (If it can be laminated this is even better!) 

 

  • AS MUCH NATURAL LIGHT AS POSSIBLE. Even if I want to stay inside and close the blinds, don’t let me! Make sure I get outside in the daylight every day for at least ½ to 1 hour. If it is raining, make sure I have all of the blinds open so I get enough natural light! This will help my sleep cycles and other body functions to balance. I need exercise, fresh air and natural light to thrive!    

 

  • PLEASE HELP ME EXERCISE EVERY DAY, especially if I am ever inside without the ability to take a walk. Have me use the stairs as much as possible; have me stretch and dance and do toning exercises. Take me wherever you can to get me walking briskly and move every part of my body in every way possible every day.  

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  • PLEASE MAKE SURE I GET PLENTY OF VEGGIES, FRESH AND COOKED. I need to eat a lot of whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits. I may get lazy and not want to cook for myself. I will need you to cook good food for me! I don’t want a lot of fattening foods or breads or pastas or sweets. Of course, I love these foods and will gladly eat them if they are served to me, but they will be so bad for me. I need for you to take the lead and make sure I am getting the best, especially that oatmeal every morning. A nice pot of homemade soup is something that will help me stay healthy too. P.S. Please don’t microwave the nutrients out of my food (once in a while is ok, but not every day).  nkn
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  • I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER OR BATH AT LEAST 2-3 TIMES A WEEK. If I get lazy and don’t want to bathe, make sure I do anyway! This is a big issue that I need for you to monitor. Don’t take my word for it! I need to have personal hygiene handled. (Check my fingernails and toenails and give me regular manicures and pedicures-at least every 2 weeks.)  
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  • I NEED MY SHEETS AND TOWELS AND CLOTHES WASHED ONCE A WEEK. Don’t take my word for it. (I may say I have handled things just to keep things easier for both of us.) Make sure my living space is clean and that I have fresh air and sunshine coming into my room.
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  • READ TO ME PLEASE! Because you know how much I hunger for a good story, please find out what my favorite stories are today so you can read them to me when I can’t read to myself!  I adore a clever and beautifully written sentence and find so much joy in hearing them! You can also read me my own writing and journals (or your writing). This may be fun for both of us. I love great movies of course, but I should never stop experiencing the value of good literature.

 

  • I NEED TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS ALWAYS. Get me out to museums, live performances, especially great singing and dancing! I love all kinds of new things that are happening from all walks of life. Take me to cultural activities and to neighborhoods for ethnic food and experiences so I can feel connected to the world’s people and feel like I am traveling again. If this is not possible, please let me watch movies set in other cultures. I am a child of the world and need to feel this always.

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE REMINDERS OF MY LOVED ONES. Show me pictures and videos of all of you children and grandchildren and future great-grandchildren. I want to see you as you were when you were babies and as you have grown. 

 

  • I NEED TO SEE AND HUG MY LOVED ONES. Please make sure I have contact with all of you, my loved ones, as much as is possible, even if it is not convenient for everyone! Families are never convenient, though they are necessary! You can just sit me in a corner to observe the goings on of the family and I will be happy if that is all I am capable of.  

  cvb

  • I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN THE STORIES OF MY LIFE. Ask me to tell you my stories for as long as I am able. I have so many to share and want to know you are curious about my life. I just may surprise you with one you haven’t heard before!   

 

  • I NEED PEOPLE AROUND ME TO HAVE A LOT OF PATIENCE WITH ME. Please, please, please humor me when I repeat myself.  If you really want to help me feel as normal as possible, pretend that whatever I say is the first time I have said it or asked it. I don’t need the humiliation that comes from realizing my memory is failing me.

 

  • PLEASE TREAT ME WITH RESPECT ALWAYS! Do not ridicule me, tease me, or show your frustrations about my shortcomings as I age. I want to feel that you respect me and do not look down on me for aging. I also want to know that you still respect me for all of the years I have on you, no matter how much I may not show it.

 

  • REMIND ME TO STAY POSITIVE, not pessimistic because we all know that attitude is everything! I may need to be coaxed at times to remember that everything is OK and that there is nothing to worry about.

 

  • MAKE ME LAUGH! Throw humor and laughter into my life whenever possible; even if it is a funny YouTube video or email someone writes.

 

  • I WANT TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE LITTLE PLEASURES IN LIFE. (in moderation of course) like a small piece of dark, dark chocolate or a buttery piece of anything! Oh how I hope I never have to stop enjoying the taste of a perfect cup of dark roast coffee or a perfect ½ glass of red wine. If for some reason I can’t have these things in the future, can you find other things that are almost as good so I can have those little pleasures please?

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE MY BRAIN STIMULATED. Involve me in playing games when you can. I love them so and love to keep my mind active.  Even the simplest game will be okay but don’t dumb me down because I may be able to handle more than you think. Be creative with me please!    dnf

  

  • I WANT TO BE REMINDED OF WHAT I HAVE CREATED IN MY LIFE. Show me the things I have created in my life, like family projects, accomplishments, crafts, structures, writing, etc.

 

  • I WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO FRIENDS (even if I can’t do it by myself or pretend I don’t want to) I may be afraid of making a fool of myself because I have changed but don’t let that stop me! (Maybe you can keep me connected to everyone on my Facebook page for me if I am not able and show me photos.)

 

  • I WANT TO KNOW THAT MY BELONGINGS WILL GO TO PEOPLE THAT APPRECIATE THEM. If I get close to death and no one in the family wants my precious things, please find someone who will appreciate them who understands me.

 

  • IF I AM ABLE TO TRAVEL, GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE ONCE IN A WHILE. Take me to travel with you when you can. I really am a good travel partner and may still be so when I am older.  I love ‘good’ anything, wherever it may be and whatever it may be (that could even mean rap music or the latest music or dance craze or performance art craze)!  

 

  • DON’T LET ME ISOLATE MYSELF! I will always need to be around people on a regular basis; even those who are my age! I may act or say that I don’t, but deep down, I do. Help me with this.      cgh

 

  • HAVE ME WRITE WHENEVER POSSIBLE BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT! Have me write in my journal for as long as I can hold a pen and write anything!!!!! It will help me keep my mind alive and create a record of my life up to the very end.

 

  • I NEED TO SEE THE DOCTOR FOR REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Please make sure that they check everything.  However, if a doctor prescribes any medication or treatment for me, ask them if it is necessary and if there is another option. If you don’t like what they say, get a second opinion. I do not believe that God’s plan is that we should automatically be medicated in our old age and I need you to advocate for me to be without medication if at all possible and to find other solutions based on the cause of my ills, not just the symptoms!

 

  • DON’T DOPE ME UP ON MEDICATION JUST TO MAKE ME EASIER TO BE AROUND! In the long run, you may end up dealing with the side effects of the medication that are even worse than me being without medication.

 

  • ENSURE I HAVE BEAUTY IN MY LIFE. Bring me to see things of beauty: flowers, trees, nature.  I need to stay in touch with life in order to connect with my own will to live.  

 

  • I NEED TO FEEL USEFUL for as long as I am able. Give me things to do so I feel like I am contributing, but don’t work me too much! Even the littlest task can make me feel useful. sdc

 

  • RESPECT MY WISHES FOR DEATH, funeral, burial, belongings and any monetary distribution!

 

  • SHARE MY CARE WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF PERSONAL TIME SO YOU HAVE MORE PATIENCE WITH ME!

 

  • THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LOT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY WHAT YOU NEED TOO, SO HOPEFULLY AS YOU MAINTAIN MY QUALITY OF LIFE, YOU WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOURSELF!

Thank you loved ones for caring for me and being patient with me to the very end! I know it may be taxing, so once again, remember to divide up the duties so not one of you takes it all on! Remember that the ones who are doing the caregiving have their own needs too and that they need a break. That is where each one of you come in! I love you all and so appreciate who you are to me. I hope you will do the same for me!   PART 2- HOW I WANT TO BE TREATED- THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAILS (Coming Soon).

 Love, Mom, Christie, Grandma, Granny Pants

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Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

This Personal & Home Hygiene Guide is for anyone who may need a little more encouragement to ensure they are maintaining a healthy environment. Feel free to copy and print as needed.

 

Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

  • Proper Personal and Home Hygiene is not only good for our health, it also helps others be more comfortable around us, especially in a public or work environment. Proper hygiene helps reduce illness, infection and the spread of disease. Neglect of personal hygiene can interfere with our lives in ways we may not even be aware of. Please review the points below to ensure you are following the best practices for personal and home hygiene.
  • Bathe– At least 2-3 times a week. Take care to clean all of the cracks with soapy water: behind the ears, inside ears, under arms, between toes and entire genital area & anus. The body is continually sloughing off dead skin. Moisture can linger in those cracks, giving bacteria the perfect warm, wet environment to grow. Any foul odor usually signals bacteria. A good soap and water cleaning and drying should eliminate odor. If odor persists after proper, regular cleaning, consult a physician.
  • Wash hair at least every two to three days and ensure hair is combed out because matted hair can house small insects like fleas and lice.
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot.
  • Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. The bacteria that builds up, causing gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain healthy teeth, visit the dentist every six-months for checkups and cleanings.
  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available. If you have an open cut or area of broken skin on your hands, clean and cover with a band-aid and/or use rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself and others when cleaning or when preparing food.
  • When using the bathroom if you have trouble cleaning thoroughly after a bowel movement, you can use wet wipes to make sure you have cleaned entire area thoroughly. Again, any foul odors signal the presence of bacteria that can lead to infections and spread bacteria to others.
  • Wash towels, wash cloths, clothing & bedding regularly. Towels (in kitchen and bath), wash cloths, sheets & clothing should be washed at least once a week. Socks and underwear should be changed with clean pairs daily. Blankets should be cleaned every six months or sooner if stains or smells are noticeable.
  • Shampoo carpets regularly. Ideally, carpets should be shampooed every six months if there are children or animals present and every year for general cleaning to prevent bacteria, odor and/or insects or bugs from getting too comfortable.
  • Mop floors & clean toilet and sink areas. This should be done once a week or more frequently as needed. When cleaning toilet, remember to clean outside of toilet and floor around toilet. If there is ever a urine smell present, cleaning is needed with an anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach or ammonia or disinfectants). *Never use bleach and ammonia products together because the chemical reaction can create a poisonous gas.
  • Keep all countertop areas and surfaces clean & corners free from clutter. All surfaces where food is prepared and/or served should be wiped down thoroughly every day. Take care to store food items in sealed containers to prevent the attraction of bugs and rodents. Put any lose particle of food in trash immediately as well.
  • Remove household trash from inside home to an outside, sealed area. This should be done at least every few days or daily if there is highly odorous food like meats and fish. These foods in the trash will attract flies if not removed from inside the house on a daily basis.
  • Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system.
  • Get sunlight, fresh air & exercise every day. Exercise keeps the immune system strong, muscles toned and organs supplied with oxygen. Sunshine also strengthens the immune system and the bones and helps regulate sleep cycles.
  • Open blinds & curtains to let natural light into your home. Certain bugs and dust mites can only live in a dark environment so letting the sun and natural light in is not only good for your brain, it is good for your home health too!
  • Eat a variety of fresh foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains support organ and digestive health and strengthen immune systems. A healthy body will reduce health challenges.

If you have any additions or suggestions for improving this list, please comment below. I will be using it for an independent living program for people with mild disabilities. It is based on my experiences in the areas where the needs for proper hygiene are the greatest and because I could not find a resource like this anywhere. I will be happy to provide a PDF if you request it.   Granny Pants

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STAY AT HOME DADS- UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

Today, our fathers are more important than ever! We are grateful they are taking on these new roles in caregiving, providing our children with an awesome opportunity for the first time in American history! Yet, with these economic driven changes taking place, there are also some current considerations.

In my profession, I observe diverse family systems, the changes they go through, and the effects these changes have on children. It doesn’t matter whether the children are in the United States, Finland, Mexico, or an other country I have experienced.  Children all have the same basic needs and when these needs are not met, they communicate this imbalance to us in a variety of ways. Imbalance expresses itself differently for each child. It may look like withdrawal from the world in one child or acting out in another. It may show up in the form of insomnia in one or stomach aches in another. Because of all of these different “shouts for help” coming from our children, there is one new need that children will be suffering from in the future that we should all be aware of and work towards handling so we don’t see a new form of preventable childhood problems.

My focus has always been on the preventive. It is more cost-effective and harmonious for all concerned to prevent a problem rather than ending up with a host of problems that not only torture all involved, but also become very costly to treat.  I urge you to keep this in mind when I communicate the following:

bnbWith the new trend of Stay At Home Dads, largely in part due to our current economic downturn and high rates of unemployment, many Dads are embracing unemployment as a gifted opportunity they never had before. Children are also benefitting from having their fathers more present in their daily lives than any other previous generation in the U.S. (Though many European countries already recognize the importance of Paternal Leave.)

As we witness this beautiful evolution in our fathers, which I see on a daily basis, and most personally, with my own son-in-law right now, many fathers are showing themselves as capable caregivers, and in some respects, even better housekeepers than their wives. I say Hallelujah for this!  When the mother does not have the burden of working, cooking, shopping, caregiving, and housework entirely on her shoulders, she will be more balanced in her own life, and perhaps even more available emotionally and physically to her husband!

However,  just as unplanned suburban sprawl has created numerous unintended consequences to our culture and planet such as isolation, over-consumption of resources and energy, obesity, and addictions, we need to prevent unintended consequences from this current trend in Stay At Home Fathering. We need to have a plan and consider all ramifications before we have a spiraling out-of-control situation that we did not foresee or know how to stop.

There are two specific  issues I am bringing up with this post to consider, regarding this modern day phenomenon:

#1. When fathers are not trained as caregivers from birth as mothers are from generations of gender stereotyping, experience, and role-modeling, it is important they have had good role modeling, and/or training and support in basic healthy practices and effective child rearing methods in order to prevent the further deterioration of our children’s nutritional, emotional, and cognitive states, especially in the U.S. Granted, our children have a  host of problem these days, regardless of who their caregivers have been. However, since most fathers are not known for their focus on nutrition and vegetable consumption, we have the potential of a back slide from the current consciousness we need in this country to get our children back on track with the health, academic, and social skills they need for success in life. We need fathers to adopt and support a set of nutritional standards for their children so their daily care is actually strengthening our bnbj children’s physical health and immune systems.  How about: No foods purchased with sugar and high fructose corn syrup to start with. (Though nothing can replace the fun and satisfaction of a once in a while batch of homemade cookies.) How about focusing on more vegetables in meals. We all know that a large percentage of men, husbands, are not so keen on vegetables. In fact, it is usually a major issue of contention in many families and has affected the family’s nutritional state for generations. So, what will the effect be if our fathers today are the primary caregivers and meal makers, if they lower the vegetable intake of our households when we should be increasing this intake for our overall health.

Of course, there are many Dads who are doing a great job providing the best for their children, but aren’t they the minority? Prove me wrong please, and then I won’t take issue with this point. What I am saying is that if a father is now responsible for the nutritional standards and meals of a household, shouldn’t they be trained and committed to ensuring their children are getting their nutritional needs met? This is yet another case for a return to required Home Economics for all students in the U.S.!

The other consideration of point #1 is boundaries, limits, respect, emotional maturity, and physical exercise (instead of TV, movies, the internet, or video games). I know I am being very general about many things in this post and there are exceptions to every one of my points, but as a rule, we need to look at the majority of households, which will have the largest future impact to society, regardless of exceptions. When a father is caring for his own children all of the above considerations now become his responsibility to provide, along with the other daily needs of his children and household. To do it right, to ensure children have the best chance at success and happiness in life, all caregivers must be more, not less conscious of these aspects of caregiving.  Now is the time for all parents in America to step up; we cannot afford to push back the issues of our children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive health because life has thrown us changes!

Fathers bring many assets to provide our children with these needs. From my experiences, I have seen many fathers actually provide more hands-on opportunities and be more adamant about getting outdoor exercise than some mothers, which I personally believe comes from some genetic intuitiveness. The firmness (not cruelty) that some fathers bring to the table is probably a good thing for most of our children because they need a better foundation of respect for others and more limits to foster their emotional maturity. In this respect and numerous others, children need and benefit from more of their father’s influences, especially if it is firm, loving and infused with clear limits and consequences.

However, when some (not all) current popular father bloggers seek and succeed at high ratings from their witty, clever posts that boast poor parenting practices (Messed-Up Parenting Tips), we see the influences of popular internet culture becoming convoluted and potentially harmful to the future of our children and the idea of Stay At Home Dads, unless we have louder voices of common sense and consciousness prevailing, like the great father blogs like Natural Papa! Of course, I like my own Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips, which always considers the present and future of the child over popular or market-driven trends.

We are stepping into new territory. Child rearing has not been very successful in the U.S. in the last several decades for a variety of reasons. Marketing pressures have influenced parents to choose convenience over what is best. Our current trend of kids raised on TV, DVD’s and video games has led to a country filled with hyperactive, physically unfit, obese, disrespectful, illiterate, depressed, and often violent children. Fathers who are at home with our children now have a new responsibility to embrace the preventive strategies to combat these challenges.

We cannot cvb afford to slip back into a nation of sheep, unconsciously allowing our children to self-medicate through TV, computers, movies and video games. We need fathers to take a stand and ensure they are not a part of the problem. We need fathers to disconnect those DVD players in your SUV! They are making our kids grow up illiterate and unable to communicate with their own parents or others! Their creativity is being extinguished because they have no time to listen to their own inner processes and expand their experience. They are constantly plugged into someone else’s creativity, not developing their own. We need all parents to kick them outside, teach them how to build, garden, paint, hike, explore, swim, care for animals, etc….

And, please teach them respect for others, all life, and compassion!

#2.  This next issue is something I have been pondering for a while. I am not really clear about what the solutions are, but I have some ideas, which are worth considering. Many of my approaches throughout the years, though seemingly radical at the time to others, have slowly become what are recognized as valid and proven preventives through numerous studies. I am heartened by knowing that common sense and pragmatism is seeping back into American culture, however slow it may be.

Have you ever had something you never knew you would like and then you had it, like a chocolate milkshake? (This reminds me of the story The Fonz told Richie when he was explaining to him how divorce’s were used to having sex all of the time because they had been married with easy access.)

This is the potential situation our kids will be in when fathers return to work. There are already fathers that have returned to work and already children dealing with this withdrawal feeling. They may not have been used to having Dad around, then they got used to it, then he left again!

So, how do we handle this emotional void for both Father and Child? We do it consciously. We do it by conversing with children about it, by carving out some very focused father/child time together every week, no matter how busy a schedule may get. With Skype, we can ensure regular communication during long absences, like military families and traveling business people have been using. We also do it by watching for the signs that our children are suffering these losses as in the ones I listed at the beginning of the post.

By all means, it is best for parents not to let guilt drive their responses to a child who is missing him/her.  Guilt is an unhealthy emotion that can lead to permissiveness, especially in inappropriate situations, where structure and limits are needed. Children pick up on and run with a parent’s guilt if they sense it, which can serve to drive even more symptomatic behavior and create a perspective of victimization.  Guilt and blame do not empower a child to deal with a situation. Whether it comes from the absent parent or the parent at home, what children need is adult maturity in these moments.

Honest conversations about changes and feelings are important, expressing that the adults too are missing their children. Working together as a family on healthy responses and solutions teaches a child emotional maturity and resiliency, not victimization.  Adults seeking solutions while expressing empathy are what children need to learn to deal with any loss, change or challenge.

Because a new position or career change can take off like a jet plane, leaving everything else behind, it is extremely important we acknowledge this reality while also acknowledging the need to maintain the investment in our children’s emotional security and maturity so we don’t lose the investments these fathers have already made if and when the family decides that the father take on an outside employment position!

Many baby boomer children and beyond look back and wish they could have had their own fathers more present and active in their lives. Today, so many fathers are realizing this awesome opportunity to do just that. Yet, because we have an unprecedented situation, we need to create a realistic and thoughtful plan. We need to go beyond market driven decisions and popular culture that throws fix-it remedies at parents like a pitcher to a batter. Most remedies strike out for the long haul because they are profit driven and do not consider the future of the child.

AND, many Dads already foresee their own heartache at returning to work and have considered the full-time stay at home alternative. We are at a precipice, a defining moment  in American family life. Let’s have the conversation on these important and valid points. When I see my whiny grandson missing his father, now that he is gone 3 weeks this last trip after months of being at home, when I remember a former employer and his son who used to act out frequently as a result of his father traveling, after seeing his Dad day after day and traveling with him for months, and when I have witnessed hundreds of fatherless children firsthand with their numerous behavioral and emotional problems, I can see the situation repeating from this completely different situation: The Stay At Home Dad Who Was Here Today & Gone Tomorrow

It really is all the same when a child is suffering loss. And toys and gifts and food and money thrown at a kid to soften this absence never fill the emotional void. It takes a conscious father to recognize the needs of his children and himself to make up that time by being present, even for 20 minutes a day or during a weekend excursion. Absolute 100% focused time with a child is 100% appreciated by every child!

What I am saying to all of the fathers out there is “Please don’t let life take over again, leaving your kids on the sidelines.”

And, for mothers and other caregivers, perhaps more hugs, more Mommy time, some male teachers, nannies, or relatives to fill that male void while Dad is gone, and maybe a little more tussle and outdoor play time is also in order!!!!!

For the Dads who choose to stay at home, please recognize this awesome responsibility and find support for making the best choices for your children! Recognize the powerful marketing influences of pop culture and steer clear for your kids sake as well as for your pocketbook! This 5 minute video is worth pondering: (Consuming Kids

Do you have any exemplary or despicable Stay At Home Dad stories to entertain us with? Please share them here with other readers in the comment section!

Are you a Stay At Home Dad by choice or necessity? Will choose to stay at home for a while or will you leave for a better paying position? Why do you enjoy staying home with your kids? 

Granny Pants

http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

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10 Things You Need to Know But Probably Don’t Want to Hear!

OF COURSE YOU ARE TOO BUSY TO READ THIS WHOLE POST!   

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Empowering Healthy, Capable Kids Takes Conscious Parenting!

HOWEVER, whether you are expecting your first child, or have a child of any age, I CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT ANYWAY! At times, the truth can sting a little, or even a lot, but isn’t better to know when it comes to the future of our children?   

1. If you live in the U.S., your child probably needs at least 2 more hours of outdoor activity a day in order to function normally (physiologically, mentally, emotionally). Children of every age need physical activity for 4-6 hours a day and the OPTIMUM is to have most of that activity outside, even in the cold (with adequate clothing, of course). When a child starts school, their body does not automatically reduce its need for physical activity. In fact, many of the behavioral, physical, and emotional issues of children today are a direct result of this physical, outdoor deficit! Don’t even think about medicating a child for any behavioral or emotional issues until they have had these OPTIMUM needs met for several weeks. Dramatically increasing outdoor physical activity (in a safe environment) will almost always guarantee positive results with challenges such as insomnia, attention, lowered immune resistance, emotional outbursts, physical  fitness, strength, large motor skill development, and overall life satisfaction.   

2. If you have a baby from this point on, any investment you can make that allows the mother (or yourself) to exclusively breastfeed baby for the first 6 months (no water, food, or formula), is the No. 1 best investment for both a baby and mother’s health. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months is the recommendation for OPTIMUM infant health by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Pediatric Association, and other health organizations, YET, all over the world, this recommendation is not being followed, especially not in the U.S. where even though 73.9 mothers start out breastfeeding at birth, only 13.6% of babies are    

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No doubt about it: the best!

exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/report_card2.htm. This staggering statistic correlates with the rise in many childhood illnesses and allergies. Even mothers who breastfeed lower their own risk of breast cancer and diabetes, while also losing extra baby weight easily (as long as they are not consuming empty calories). http://grannypantsspeaks.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/excerpt-from-the-new-physics-of-childhood/ Instead of providing the minimum standards with processed, incomplete formula and heating it with a microwave oven, let’s start our children out with the OPTIMUM nourishment and disease prevention.    

3. Insisting that caregivers and/or you hover over your child to protect them is creating generations of wimpy kids! If you think giving your kids what you didn’t have for yourself is all good, you may be fooling yourself! Whenever an adult does something for an infant, child, or teenager that they can do for themselves, the underlying message is, “I know you can’t do this, so I will do it for you.” When these actions repeat throughout a child’s life, starting in infancy, children become dependent on others to make them happy. They do not experience the intrinsic motivation of autonomous accomplishment. They need the continual approval of others and they often have low-self esteem because they are not challenged to learn, to try, to fail, to adjust, to try again and to succeed!  Experiences of success with minimal interference by adults create confidence and independence. They develop with plenty of alone time to learn to play, to satisfy oneself and to accomplish difficult tasks. Infants learn these lessons, even as they sit in the yard or on a patio, observing nature by themselves, or by playing with a single toy by themselves. Attention and reinforcement are important components in parenting children that helps them feel loved. Equally, children need to experience their own ability to make themselves happy by increasing autonomous successes that allow them to become capable, confident, and self-motivated adults someday.   

4. If you feel that your household is out of control, your kids may be the ones in charge, not you! Children need parents who are leaders and mentors, not overly permissive best friends. Being a parent means running the family and training children to be functioning members of society. This is not the job of a child. Children are not supposed to choose their own schedules, pick out their own food from the grocery store, decide what and when to eat, when to go to sleep, or how much exercise or tv time they get, or whether or not they participate in the upkeep of the household they live in. The job of parents is to make sure children have the proper household routines for OPTIMUM sleep, hygiene, eating, exercise, homework & free time, proper, nourishing food,  proper respect for others, manners, accountability for behavior and age-appropriate contribution to the household. If a parent is not providing these needs for their children, the children will become disruptive to the household-plain and simple.   

5. Quick fix meals may actually be hurting you and your kids in ways you aren’t even aware of! Unfortunately, parents need to read the labels when they are shopping, no matter where they live because manufacturers are adding ingredients to foods continously. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners should not be a part of any baby or child’s dietary consumption, yet they are included in many foods for babies and children today. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM ) The escalating rates of diabetes and obesity around the planet are a clear example that more diligence is needed from parents everywhere. Microwave ovens are also a seriously questionable method for heating ANYTHING for a baby or child. On the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services website of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), this is the statement they have regarding the health risks of microwave ovens, “Much research is underway on microwaves and how they may affect the human body.” http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/ResourcesforYouRadiationEmittingProducts/Consumers/ucm142616.htm. Will microwave ovens be another BPA nightmare as the FDA sits back and does research to substantiate the risks AFTER products are already being manufactured and consumed? Don’t make your child’s health a scientific experiment. Read labels, buy more fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. Don’t buy foods containing sugar, and choose proven, safe methods of heating food. (Keep a tea kettle filled with water that can be heated quickly and a deep bowl or measuring cup to heat any liquids or foods by adding hot water to the bottom and inserting either the bottle or bowl. This  3 minutes or so may save your child’s health!)   

6. Creating peace of mind today by allowing kids to tune-out with technology could be destroying your family and your children’s intuitive and sensory-based communication abilities. When parents make numerous choices and non-choices to allow ways for their children to be pacified by technology throughout the day–so they can have peace of mind–children are losing the valuable minutes, hours, and days they need to prepare themselves for life in other areas such as physical creative, intellectual, emotional, and social   

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Technology- A Blessing & A Curse

 development. See each moment a child or teen is glued to a television, video game, or computer as a minute robbed from their development. When children and teens are plugged into music devices or cell-phones at all times, they are not learning to develop or fully listen to their own instincts and guidance. They are losing their ability to relate to and be aware of the world around them. They are losing their ability to communicate face-to-face. When anyone in a family is plugged into a device or allowed to use a cell-phone/IPod at the dinner table, they are systematically digging a wide communication chasm between family members that may never recover if it is underdeveloped. Why not create a tech-free zone for meals, a significant portion of commuting to school and other activities, after school, weekends and/or traveling. Of course, the kids will rebel at first, but in the end, they will have YOU and your conversations to reflect upon, not just a blurry memory of text messages and images on screens of people they don’t even know.   

7. Children identified with an illness, condition or disorder like ADHD, diabetes, migraines, etc. are debilitated by labeling. A label or an attachments does not really get anyone off the hook! Labels exacerbate challenges by limiting a child’s perception that they can have control of the many things in their life, starting with their attitude. The language that we teach our children either empowers or weakens their perception of their ability to create their own happiness and life satisfaction. First of all, if your child faces any physical, mental, or emotional challenges, refrain from using language like this, “Your diabetes” “Your migraines”  Shouldn’t children identify themselves and get more attention from things other than illness? Internal language produces physiological changes in the body, which either deteriorate or improve health. http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Healing-Exploring-Frontiers-Medicine/dp/0553348698/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265880453&sr=1-18 Whatever the condition of a child’s physical or emotional state, he/she will still need adults in their life to emphasize that “They are not their body!” They are a bright and shining spirit that is meant to experience joy in many forms. It is up to parents to find these experience for a child and build on them, not on the culture of victimhood. Regardless of any situation, we always have the ability to change our internal attitude! Physical and emotional states will improve when they are nurtured by positive experiences and empowering perspectives!   

 8. Marketing shapes a child in ways you may not even be aware of!  Limiting a child’s exposure to technology will also limit their exposure to dangerous life altering influences. The cumulative effects of advertising and product placement promote a “me” driven, materialistic culture which discourages the development of a child’s intrinsic motivation, integrity and compassion for others.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maeXjey_FGA   

9. Children are learning more about how to be from what they observe you doing than from what you say! Although this is not revelation, isn’t it funny that we ignore this fact quite often? How many times have you done   

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IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO BECOME?

something inappropriate like using profanity, but then tell a child not to do it later on? These little hypocrisies throughout the day add up over a lifetime. The way we  feel about events and other people, especially any contemptible or fearful feelings,  are felt by infants, children, and teenagers, even if they do not say anything. These strong opinions and feelings, reactionary behaviors, and even disrespect towards others (even employers) is affecting how they too will view others someday.  If you would rather sit on the couch and watch TV all evening, they probably won’t want to go outside and exercise. They too, will become couch potatoes someday. Pretend a movie camera is filming you and outsiders are reviewing you on your own quality of daily life experience. This is what your children see. Then, adjust it so they see     

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OR THIS?

the movie you want them to watch!   

10. You may think putting off your own nutritional, exercise, or sleep needs are okay for now, but you are wrong! Not only are children learning how to take care of themselves by watching your example, your health and state of mind also effects your ability to care for your  children.  If you are exhausted, it is difficult to be consistent and firm. If you are tired, can you really be present for your children? If you are sick, how available are you for anyone? Perhaps this means limiting outside commitments, especially in the early years of your child’s life. Over time, the cumulative effects of neglecting your own health can also lead to many debilitating illnesses that will in turn, rob you of valuable, quality time with yourself and your family someday. This includes quality downtime for yourself with your partner and yourself to just do nothing, like taking a vacation. Who wants to spend their vacation time sick because they waited too long ot take on, or never be able to make it to enjoy retirement? Do it for your kids and you will also be doing it for yourself! When a parent is at their fittest and healthiest and rested, they are better equipped to care for their children and actually enjoy the experience!   

All of these preventive strategies among many others are contained in my book, The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies  You can purchase the book at http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com, and follow me on    

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Author, Christina Ivazes (aka Granny Pants) w/ Grandchild # 7 Hudson Cooper

Facebook at “Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips”   

I welcome your feedback and experiences with any of these issues! I am also available for Parent & Family consulting. Email me about the needs of your family @ christinaivazes@chameleaproductions.com   

Granny Pants

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GOOD-BYE JET LAG, INSOMNIA, & AMBIEN, I hope!

That was delicious…….a full night’s sleep without the need to drink myself into oblivion.  

After 11 straight days of insomnia, save one brief night of a 5 hr. stretch, I actually slept for almost 8 1/2 hrs. last night without waking. I silently celebrated when I finally opened my eyes this morning to discover it was 7:50am. Not 1:30am, or 3:30am, or 4am, but 7:50am!  

Then, with a bit of rebellion, I went back to sleep, because I could. My friend had recommended not to sleep-in but get up and take a siesta later because it was better. However, after 11 consecutive days of tossing and turning and waking and reading and writing and nonsense of all sorts, it was difficult to resist the temptation to doze off into the most wonderful dreaminess for two more hours, so I did.  Now it feels like a holiday!  

What was the secret to my successful slumber last night?  

I have to confess that I was on the verge of hunting down a sleeping pill if I experienced one more restless night. Me, the anti-pharma activist was actually considering a sleeping pill! Perhaps this experience was important to allow me to step into the shoes of the insomniacs I know. But I knew I wasn’t sleeping for a variety of reasons, which I addressed quite faithfully yesterday as a personal vow to try before I resorted to pharmaceuticals. (I already knew that alcohol didn’t work because I tried it without too much success.) Lack of the following factors contributed to my insomnia:  

  • Exercise- 2 times
  • Fresh Air and natural light
  • Sunshine

These are the three things I got yesterday that I had not had previously. The sun actually came up yesterday, even though it was 20 below zero in this Finnish heaven.  

I practically ran outside to seek the sunshine on my face last morning, after adding an additional 3rd. layer to my clothing.  

Due to the winter darkness here in the north, the sun rises ever so slightly above the horizon for what seems to be a brief moment. Knowing this urged me to rush to capture it, even if it meant stepping onto someone else’s property, which I did after crunching down the icy driveway and road.  

Seeing that glowing ball of light peaking through the dense forest was like the end of  

Here Comes the SUn

Here Comes the Sun!

  my treasure hunt. Naturally, the people who owned the property would understand if they found me. They would know exactly why I was standing in their driveway. I was an authentic sun worshipper.  

There I stood, eyes opened, with just the top half of my face peaking out from my thickly wrapped layers. From my studies and research, I knew that light into the iris stimulates the hormonal responses that regulate normal sleep cycles and I knew that I needed at least fifteen to twenty minutes of the sunlight to produce the changes I needed. I also needed more of the natural light, the reflective light from the snow to help me sleep better. Natural light is extremely important for sleeping as is sunlight and exercise.  

A gentleman I met on the plane over to Helsinki illuminated me about the importance of snow in the northern hemisphere. Rainy winters without snow are dark, whereas when you have snow, you have light reflection and brightness, which is necessary for well-being. (Could climate change affect our mental health as well?) And is this why everyone in Finland seems to be so happy about the snow this year after years of rainy winters due to global warming?* 

Is this also why the Finnish people do not care how cold it is; they are determined to get outside for as long as they can every day, even the children and the elderly. I have enjoyed their appreciation for fresh air and exercise. Just another affirmation regarding what I know we all need no matter our age. 

So, I had the three factors to kick-start once again, which has been my lifelong pattern of solid sleep regardless of my enviroment or conditions (minus the years of babydom, which don’t count). You can’t really separate these factors because all are important, though the actual sunlight had been the one missing link for me for way too many days. The below reference from just one of many studies proves that we do not need to be addicted to pharmaceuticals for restful sleep during winter months or any other time for that matter. This study in the Lancet on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) confirms what I knew to be true:  

“These findings support the use of morning light for treatment of SAD, and are in keeping with the “phase-shift hypothesis”, says Lewy. “People get depressed in winter at least in part because of a delay in their body clocks”, he proposes. In summer, exposure to bright light occurs on waking. In winter, dawn is later, “and since we cue mainly to dawn, our other circadian rhythms drift later, and get out of phase with sleep”. Morning light pushes the rhythms back into phase with sleep, reducing SAD by “removing the internal dysynchrony”. Alternatively, people could simply be more sensitive to light in the morning, he notes.” (Benefits of phototherapy on SAD illuminated by Marilynn Larkin. The Lancet, Volume 352, Issue 9136, Page 1289, 17 October 1998)  

With this morning’s cloudy sky, it gives me a thrill just thinking of that glorious feeling of sunshine on my face yesterday. I hope it was enough to carry over because sunshine does not look like an option today!  

In the past, if I ever find myself ruminating over my thoughts at night, unable to sleep, I can almost always attribute it to lack of exercise and/or natural light. Insomnia doesn’t have a place when the body is in balance. Unresolved issues can be resolved better in the morning after a good night’s sleep, though I have always felt that writing my thoughts down in a journal or on a list of “to-do’s” so I don’t forget them, also helps me release them before bed so I can sleep. Then, I have no excuse. But it almost always stems from lack of exercise first, which prevents my body from shutting down; it is as if there is a clock wound up inside that just can’t stop because it hasn’t wound out yet.  

Yesterday, I was able to get those three necessities to a good night’s sleep in one morning walk: exercise, sunshine, and natural light. How easy it actually was to cure my insomnia! I just wish it wasn’t so darn difficult to find the sunshine around here! 

Today, after posting this, I will bundle up again. It is a little warmer, yet the wind is blowing and I don’t want a chance of cold air sneaking into my bundle. I will head out for my ritual brisk morning walk and enjoy the natural light at least, while it is here because it will be gone in a few hours. 

Wish me luck and remember that natural light and sunshine are highly underrated! Generally in the U.S., we need more of it than we get and perhaps we can give big pharma a run for their money if we take the free stuff instead: sunshine, exercise, and natural light! If it works for me here in the dark winter north of Finland, couldn’t it also work for you.  Bye-Bye Ambien, hello Sun!  

SUNSHINE- EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS

Please leave your thoughts on this subject! I want to know there are more people out there that actually know that we have choices that are much healthier and necessary to our well-being without side effects. 

Oops! I forgot to credit the power of a good piece of literature, the fiction variety; books that take you away from your world so you can actually let go of your attachments enough to slumber!  absent-mindedly, I committed the cardinal sin while packing for my 2 1/2 month-long trip, forgetting to include a good story or two or three to read! I finally bought some books yesterday and will be using these as well to help me sleep better. 

Granny Pants 

*Naysayers on global warming can ruminate on this thought: With several warm winters and the escalation of icebergs falling into our oceans, isn’t this winter just an example similar to a piece of ice being dropped into a glass of warm water? It produces a chilling effect for a short time period and then warms up again. Doesn’t this hypothesis make sense and aren’t we just experiencing the effects of a briefly cooling ocean this winter from this “ice-cube” effect?

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