5 Resolutions for a Happy and Healthy New Year

On behalf of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we want to wish you a very happy New Year!

We hope 2018 will be your best year yet!

And, with a little planning and a few New Year’s resolutions, we know it’s possible to ensure that this year will be filled with the things that matter most–time spent with loved ones, good health, and joy.

What should you add to your resolutions this year to help make 2018 one of the best years yet?

Check out the 5 resolutions we recommend trying to achieve this year.

Resolution #1 – Drink More Water

Every New Year thousands of people make resolutions to lose weight, tone their bodies, and improve their health.

In theory, these are great resolutions. However, the desire to lose weight and regain your health fast often leads to crash diets and unrealistic workout plans.

No good!

This year, we recommend that you make the resolution to simply drink more water.

Why? Because drinking water…

  • Increases muscle fuel.
  • Helps with calorie control.
  • Improves kidney function.
  • Helps keep skin clear and free from acne.
  • Boosts your brainpower.
  • And so much more!

All those health benefits, and all you have to do is try and drink about 64 ounces a day! Now that’s something anyone can try and do!

Tip: If you don’t like plain water, add lemon, lime, or other flavors to the water you drink to jazz it up! Here are a few recipes you might want to try!

Resolution #2 – Eat More Veggies and Fruits

Much like our first resolution to drink more water, the resolution to eat more fruits and veggies is a simple lifestyle change that anyone can make.

Not to mention, it’s also a super easy resolution to carry out through the entire year!

Here are a few ways to add more fruits and veggies into your diet…

  • Use a vegetable-based pasta while cooking.
  • Blend vegetables and fruits together to make a sweet and delicious smoothie.
  • Grab a piece of fruit as a sweet snack instead of a candy bar.
  • If you’re craving a salty snack, try out veggie chips–made with sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, and other veggies–instead of potato chips.
  • Substitute cauliflower for mashed potatoes or rice.
  • Top your oatmeal off with fresh berries for sweetness instead of sugar.
  • Preslice carrots, peppers, and cucumbers for an easy, grab-n-go snack.
  • Add one vegetarian meal to your meal plan every week.

Regardless of whether you love veggies and fruits or not, there’s a ton of ways you can sneak them into your meal plans so you can consume more of them on a regular basis.

Resolution #3 – Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Spouse/Significant Other

When there’s turmoil in your relationships, you’re bound to experience unnecessary stress, anxiety, or even depression.

The best way to avoid this is to make it a priority to work on your relationship with your spouse or significant other and strengthen the bond this year.

There are a few ways you can do this.

First of all, it’s important to have time together. This is extremely important for couples who have children, which makes it difficult to go out on a date night.

Make it a priority to have at least one night a month that you can spend alone with the one you love.

Second, communication is key.

Make sure you and your partner are taking the time to communicate with each other. Talk about your goals or dreams. Discuss the things that are driving you crazy, whether it’s something happening at work or in your family life. And continue to make sure to keep each other updated on what’s happening in your lives.

Third, consider taking a class or workshop that will give you the tools and strategies you need to strengthen your relationship.

We personally recommend The Love and Respect Video Marriage Conference.

Resolution #4 — Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care is a topic that we talk a lot about, and for good reason.

Without focusing on self-care, it’s easier to fall victim to stress, anxiety, depression, and even poor health.

So, what is self-care and how do you do it? Easy.

Self-care is simply making time for yourself every day or week.

It can be as simple as setting aside an hour of time to unwind in a hot bubble bath or as extravagant as planning a week-long vacation for yourself to rest and recoup.

For more information on self-care and simple things you can do, check out our blog post here.

Resolution # 5 — Schedule Your Yearly Physical

Going for a yearly physical is one of the best ways to help keep you safe and healthy.

At a yearly routine checkup, doctors will check for signs of serious health conditions like high/low blood pressure, unusual lumps or bruises, heart problems, and so much more!

It’s also a great time to bring up any health concerns that you have and chat with your doctor about the things you should be doing to improve your health during the year.

We know your schedule is busy! But, please, before you forget, get this resolution checked off and call your doctor’s office today!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know in the comments below!

The Benefits of Stillness: 5 Ways to Recuperate and Relax

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

The holiday excitement is over, the festivities have come to a close, you can finally rest now and get off of your toes.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds,while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

You’ve pulled off a holiday season to remember, one that’s worth a slow clap, now after all of the chaos, it’s time for a nap!

All silly rhymes aside, we’re serious about that nap!

After all, we’ve just come out of a season where many of us tend to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. And if you don’t take the time to recharge, you might start to suffer from exhaustion.

Stillness is so important for the body as it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and allows the body to recoup. So, today, we thought we’d share some suggestions on how to “be still” after this crazy season.

Check them out…

Take a Hot Bath

There’s nothing more relaxing than a hot bath on a cold winter’s night.

This week, set aside an hour or so of uninterrupted time and take a hot bath. Then, grab your favorite book, turn on some music, or simply rest as you enjoy the comfort of a warm tub.

If you have children, we recommend you have your partner take the kids out for the evening to grab dinner or go see a movie. After all, the last thing you want is little Timmy interrupting your time of stillness because he can’t find the toilet paper!

Rest in Your Favorite Chair

Most people have a favorite chair that they like to to relax in. You know, the soft, cozy one that cradles you as you let your tired body sink into it?

The moment your house gets quiet, take advantage of that time by spending some quiet time in your favorite chair. Grab a soft blanket, and perhaps a cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, and just sit.

Don’t turn on the TV or grab a book. Just be. Reflect on all the amazing holiday memories that you’ve made, breathe, relax, and enjoy the stillness.


Meditation is proven to lower blood pressure and refocus your mind–two benefits people often need after a crazy holiday season.

Not to mention, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison also indicates that meditation reduces the grey-matter density in areas of the brain related with anxiety and stress.

Clearly, meditation is the ultimate key to relaxation. So, how exactly do you meditate?

Check out this FREE 30-day  meditation program via YouTube that’s specifically for beginners.

Visit Your Favorite Outdoor Spot and Sit Quietly in Nature

There’s something magically rejuvenating about the stillness of a winter’s day.

If you live in a cold climate, the simple act of sitting on the cool ground while watching snowflakes fall from the sky is peaceful and relaxing.

And, if you live in a warmer climate, you can enjoy the same serenity while watching leaves rustle on the ground or birds flying from tree to tree.

Nature is the perfect environment for being still, letting your mind rest, and reenergizing as you silently watch the beauty that’s all around you. Take a trip to your favorite outdoor spot, soak in the peace and calm, and leave feeling renewed.

Relax While Listening to Your Favorite Peaceful Music

Did you know that music has the ability to disorient rhythmic brain activity in the thalamus and the brain’s outer cortex?

It’s this phenomenon that enables music to make us feel happy and relaxed when we listen to peaceful, calm music.

Schedule some time this week and lie in a dark, quiet room. Then, plug in your headphones and play some classical music or calm music from your favorite genre.

Note: This is not the time for headbanger music, even if it’s your favorite music. Stick to soft, gentle tunes. Otherwise, the sounds of loud, chaotic music will have a reverse effect and the potential to hype you up instead of settling you down.

What is your favorite way to relax and be still? Let us know in the comments below!


“A Learning Experience” In HIS Words

by:  Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D.

learning is a giftI think the biggest thing I learned was how important it is to have providers you trust when you are facing surgery. For me, this was relatively easy, as my wife worked with these people all the time, and I found them immediately likeable when I met them. But how is a lay person to know who to place their trust in? I think the initial step is selecting your surgeon. He or she should immediately look you in the eyes, really listen to everything you say, answer questions honestly, and never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” I think it can help if they have already operated on people you know (as I mentioned, this surgeon had operated on my Dad), but that’s usually not going to be the case. Once you have found a surgeon you trust, the rest should start to fall into place, because they will select the best team they can to help them take care of you. As it turned out, my surgery took longer than expected because it they couldn’t do it laparoscopically, and had to “open me up.” This bothered my surgeon, but it didn’t bother me. I had trust in my team, and felt that however it worked out, it was for the best.


I also noticed that, by and large, everyone I came in contact with on the day of my surgery seemed to be “tuned in” to how I was likely feeling at an unusually vulnerable time. I had previously lacked firsthand experience of the importance of that empathy to patients.


I think that I also gained some appreciation for how the patient can sometimes contribute to a good outcome. I think my preoperative efforts to lower my blood pressure and improve my overall fitness were helpful.  On the morning of surgery my blood pressure was normal, and I think my postoperative course might have been a little easier because I was in a little bit better shape due to the exercise.


And I will still prescribe to my patients those Lovenox shots, because I care about their safety – but I will do it with much more sympathy.

Hey doc how are you

The Doctor is Out…..

the doctor is outNo worries – he’s back already!  Dr. Kline shares with us his personal experience as a surgical patient and what he has learned from being on the other side of the exam table that will enhance the personal care of his own patients.

“The Doctor is Out” is part 1 of this 4 part series.  Enjoy and have a happy day! – Gail

Three weeks before my surgery, everything was fine. I felt good, a little heavier at 56 than at 26, but still hale and vigorous. Then, while operating late one afternoon, I felt a pain in my groin. “Probably just too much strenuous exercise,” I thought, and dismissed it. It didn’t go away. The next day, it was worse. I felt a bulge. DAMN. I had a hernia.

The whole concept of needing to get treatment, instead of needing to deliver it, was foreign and unsettling. For decades I’d been used to helping other people. Now, whether I liked it or not, I was potentially going to have to sit down and let others help me.

I called the same general surgeon who fixed my 86 year old Dad’s hernia last year (why did mine have to come 30 years sooner?). He told me there was no danger in watching the hernia for a while, and that if I wanted to try and lose some weight it might get better, but it was a long shot.  As it turned out, I didn’t actually have time to try and lose weight, because it started to get worse hurt towards the end of long workdays. I turned over all my long cases to my partner, and I started looking for the soonest, least disruptive time I could find to get it fixed.

I greatly respect the people I work with daily, but I didn’t want to have surgery at the hospital where I usually worked, because I wanted things to be as routine as possible for everyone. I felt that it would be much less stressful on me (and probably everyone else) if I wasn’t in an environment where I was used to giving the orders.

Fortunately for me, my wife is a surgeon, and she regularly works at a hospital I rarely visit. I thought this might be the best place to go – my wife could kind of “watch over” things, but I would not know anyone involved in my care personally.

When I visited the surgeon for my preoperative appointment, he examined me and confirmed that I did in fact have a hernia.  We discussed options, and decided to attempt a laparoscopic repair of the hernia. He advised me that it might turn out that it was too difficult to do the surgery laparoscopically, and that they might have to “open me up.” I assured him that after 20+ years of practicing surgery, I was well aware that things are not strictly predictable, and I asked him to please do whatever he felt he needed to at the time. This was the first time I started to “loosen up” a little bit, and I was actually kind of glad that it would be him, and not me, worrying about the details in surgery that day.

I also found out in his office that I had high blood pressure, for which they put me on medication. I began to limit my salt intake, and cut back on calories. Fortunately, jogging did not aggravate the hernia, so I also increased my aerobic exercise until two days before surgery. Yes, I was “in training” for this.

On the night before surgery, I went to bed early, woke at 2 a.m., and didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

(Part 2 of this series will post April 16)


Places to Stay Fit and Healthy in Charleston

Every city has its “go-to” places to stay fit and healthy, and Charleston is no different. In fact, because of Charleston’s charm, the places shared below go above and beyond your average gym or healthy eatery.

Health and fitness have always been an important part of our world. From the use of natural herbs to thwart illnesses, to the ancient Eastern tradition of yoga, humans have a vast history that includes thousands of ways people lived and practiced healthy living.

However, in the recent decade, health has been front and center of our culture. Some would say the growth of the Internet led to the spread of important information about staying fit and healthy. And as a result of America’s deep interest in fitness and health, dozens of new health-focused businesses — as well as already established businesses — have successfully grown here in Charleston.

We’d like to highlight those below.

<alt="Fit and Healthy"/>

OrangeTheory Fitness

OrangeTheory Fitness applies a unique approach to working out.

According to their website, Orange Theory is:

Backed by the science of post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), our heart-rate monitored training is designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. The result is the Orange Effect – more energy, visible toning and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours after your workout!

Their healthy living claim is they can “produce 12 to 20 minutes of training at 84% or higher of your maximum heart rate.” And we know a lot of Charleston locals and guests would be interested in getting better results in less time.

To try this unique approach to working out, check out OrangeTheory Fitness: http://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/

<alt="eco fitness"/>


EcoFitness is a locally owned and operated health club that offers:

  •  Indoor cycling
  •  Core Barre
  •  Group exercising
  •  Blue turtle yoga
  •  Personal training

When we looked at their website, we discovered they have a ton of different activities and dozens of instructors to choose from. If you’re looking for flexibility in your workouts, and want to make sure you have a trainer available to fit your schedule, EcoFitness is worth checking out.

View more about EcoFitness on their contact page: http://www.ecofitness.com/about/contact/

Alluette’s Cafe (Holistic Soul Food)<alt="Alluette’s Cafe"/>

Did you know there’s a southern food eatery in Charleston that’s both mouth-watering delicious AND healthy?

Alluette’s takes southern favorites and transforms them into healthier specialties by using natural ingredients. They also avoid frying their foods, yet they still find a way to make it just as good as the “real thing.”

Just about everything is homemade, including the ketchup and cole slaw (with no mayo). You can even finish off your meal with freshly baked vegan cookies — what a treat!

Hmm… farm fresh, vegan friendly, and tasty food. This one’s definitely staying on our list!

Find more info about Alluette’s here: http://www.alluettescafe.com/contact

Charleston Farmers Market

Last, but not least, on our list is the amazing Charleston Farmers Market. There was absolutely no way we could leave this one out.

At the Charleston Farmers Market, you’ll always find what’s in season. You can be sure to find the latest produce as well as live entertainment each Saturday at Marion Square. Come check it out!

Details and times included in the following link:


Mammograms 101: What You Need to Know

<alt="Mammogram Images"/>

According to The United States Preventive Services Task Force, women aged 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every 2 years. As for women younger than age 50, they should talk to a doctor about when to start and how often to have a mammogram.

If you haven’t talked to your doctor about getting a mammogram, you should. When you get a mammogram, you’ll receive a low-dose x-ray that looks for irregularities in your breasts. Unlike a breast exam, an x-ray will uncover changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt or seen. All women have breast changes as they age. But without a mammogram, you don’t know if the differences in size, shape, and feeling is a natural occurrence or a result of something more serious.


How to Detect Breast Cancer ASAP

The best way to detect breast cancer is to get a mammogram and breast exam from a doctor. The earlier you take preventative measures, the better your chances of catching possible cancer and treating it. The faster your cancer is detected, the better your chances are of eliminating it.


What’s It Like to Have a Mammogram?

Mammograms are not an arduous process. Your doctor will place your breasts in a special x-ray machine. The machine will flatten your breast to get a clearer look at the tissue. The pressure may cause some discomfort, but any pinching that happens will only take place momentarily. Considering the alternative, a few seconds of minor soreness is worth it.


What Your Doctor Looks For

<alt="Mammogram Film Images"/>
Picture courtesy of the National Cancer Institute

If your mammogram is clear, then your doctor will let you know and you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you’re wondering what your doctor is looking for, here are some things she’ll look for:

  • Lumping of tissue. If you see a “building up” of tissue, this could be a sign that something’s irregular. If the lump has a clear edge, chances are it’s benign (at a very early stage). If the lump can’t be distinguished clearly, then it could be cancer.
  • White spots. There are two types of white spots you may see on your x-ray — one is normal and the other may be a sign of cancer.


How to Prepare for a Mammogram

Here are few things you can do to make your mammogram go smoothly:

  • Avoid unnatural products before your mammogram. The chemicals in deodorants and other hygienic products may disrupt the x-ray process. It’s best to not use any sort of make up, lotions, etc. when you proceed with your mammogram.
  • Schedule accordingly. The best time to make an appointment for a mammogram is one week after your menstrual cycle because this is when your breasts are the least tender.
  • Male or female. It’s okay to ask for a male or female doctor to conduct your exam if that’s what makes you most comfortable.
  • Dont drink coffee. Also, skip the energy drinks or any other type of stimulant. Why? Because the caffeine my increase breast tenderness, which will make the x-ray process more painful.


Where to Get More Information

Contact the following organizations for more information about breast cancer and mammograms.

American Cancer Society

Phone: 800-227-2345 (TDD: 866-228-4327)

Breast Health Access for Women With Disabilities

Phone: 510-204-4866 (TDD: 510-204-4574)

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS

Phone: 800-633-4227 (TDD: 877-486-2048)

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

Phone: 800-232-4636 (TDD: 888-232-6348)

National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS

Phone: 800-422-6237

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Phone: 877-465-6636


Photo Credit: kristiewells

Protecting Your Skin in the Summer Sun

<alt="sunrise"/>Skin cancer is a major concern among adults every year. In 2013, there were over 82,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States alone. Additionally, last year there were roughly 12,600 skin cancer-related deaths.

Skin cancer can start from an irregularity in your skin and develop into something more serious. It’s possible to keep your skin safe from the sun. Before getting into those options, like sunscreen and protective clothing, here are some skin cancer warning signs to look for:

Warning Signs of Skin Problems

The best way to detect skin problems is to pay close attention to changes in your skin. Look out for things like growths or discoloration. If you notice a new lesion or a change in the shape, color, or size of a pre-existing mole or patch of skin, you should seek the consultation of a physician. Often times something very small can lead to something greater. Don’t take the risk. See a doctor when you notice changes on your body.

Non-Sunscreen Protection Options

When it comes to keeping your skin safe from the sun, you have more that a few options to consider.

1. Avoidance

The best skin protection is avoidance. Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Keep cool in the shade, and your skin will thank you for it. If you must be in the sun, wear tightly woven clothing and a wide brim hat to keep the sun off of your skin. When clothing like that isn’t a possibility, use plenty of sunscreen.

2. Sunglasses

Wear sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin around your eyes. Children in particular are susceptible to sun damage, so it’s highly recommended you keep their eyes protected, too.

3. Tanning Beds

Some people think tanning beds are safe because you’re away from the sun. The reality is: you should avoid anything related to a tanning bed or a heat lamp. These devices not only have the same harmful UV rays as the sun, tanning beds include additional harmful UV radiation.

4. Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, you should always aim for an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen will not fully protect you, so try to keep in the shade as much as possible.

Other factors make a difference in what sunscreen to choose. For example, babies and toddlers require different types of protection than an adult. Here are some sunscreen options out there to try:

Sunscreen for Momentary Sun Exposure

If you don’t plan on spending time in the sun for more than a few minutes, an SPF of 30 should be okay. We recommend applying lotions that have an SPF in them so that you’re always protected—even if you’re sitting in traffic in your car! The sun’s damaging rays are everywhere.

Broad Spectrum Protection

It’s very important that your sunscreen has both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. This allows protection from both sides of the light spectrum. If you plan to stay in the sun for long periods of time — such as the beach or near a pool — you should use an SPF of at least 30 or higher. With an SPF of 30, you filter out 97 percent of the sun’s UV radiation. You could also try an SPF of 50, which filters out up to 98 percent of these rays.

Sunscreen For Children

Chemicals are especially harmful for children’s skin, so you should avoid sunscreen with PABA and oxybenzone when using it on a child. Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to be okay for people who have sensitive skin, so it’s okay if these ingredients are in your children’s sunscreen.

One more tip for sunscreen for children: try using alternative applications, like sprays, with colorful packaging that are “fun” to use. Why? Because — and parents already know this — getting sunscreen on children can be a challenge. When using sprays, don’t spray on their faces. Instead, spray on the hands and spread on their faces.

Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin

If you have to manage allergic reactions, acne, or rosacea-prone skin, avoid sunscreens containing:

  • Preservatives
  • Fragrances
  • PABA
  • Oxybenzone
  • Anything “greasy” in substance

Sunscreen For Dry Skin

People with dry skin will find great benefit from moisturizing sunscreens. Apply after showering to “lock in” the moisture to your skin, and be sure to re-apply every 30 minutes.

Have a favorite sunscreen you use daily? Share it in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Werner Kunz

Summertime Treats for Better Health

<" alt="cherries" />Summertime means sunshine, picnics, and an abundance of seasonal foods like the ones we feature below.

You might commonly associate the word treat with candy, ice cream, or pastries. While those are treats, they’re not the only kind of treats out there. The dictionary definition of the word treat means “something that gives great pleasure.” A strawberry pie may taste good, but fresh and juicy strawberries taste good AND are healthy…two treats in one!

Here are some of our favorite healthy summertime treats to enjoy this summer:


Fresh and sweet corn is a staple summer treat. Corn also has way of providing you protection from the sun. Thanks to two antioxidants in corn—lutein and zeaxanthin—eating corn assists in the formation of macular pigment filters. Additionally, corn helps combat age-related macular degeneration: the leading symptom responsible for blindness in people over the age of 60.

Tart Cherries

Drinking cherry juice is a common way to get better sleep and combat workout fatigue. But juice isn’t the only way to get the benefits of cherries: you get a full spectrum of health benefits from eating them whole. (Minus the pits, of course.)

Researchers found tart cherries provide weight management benefits. The test subjects in the study that ate cherry powder did not gain as much weight or belly fat as those who did not. Additionally, cherry eaters had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Fighting the burning sun requires sunscreen. Layering on a protective lotion or oil keeps you safe from UV rays. The next time you consider what sunscreen to put on, consider what you can put in your body to protect yourself, too! Nature provides a wide assortment of natural sun blocking foods, one of them being the tomato.

Eating tomatoes obviously should not replace wearing sunscreen to protect your skin, but consuming them does provide a much-needed extra boost of natural protection, thanks to their high lycopene content.

Iced Tea

When the sun is beaming, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink. Instead of reaching for a sugary juice, satisfy your thirst with some iced tea instead. It provides the same treat-like satisfaction and has way more benefits than processed drinks.

Tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which lower the risk of Alzheimers and diabetes, and provide healthier teeth, gums, and bones.

It doesn’t matter what variety you choose to drink—black, oolong, green, or herbal—because all tea contains flavonoids. To preserve the flavonoids in the tea, squeeze a lemon inside the pitcher before storing it in your fridge. The citric acid and vitamin C in the lemon (or lime or orange, if you prefer) will work its magic on its own.


There’s no doubt the best thing you can do during summer is drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps your body from overheating. Thanks to watermelon, you get both the benefit of hydration (because watermelon is 92 percent water) and skin-protection (thanks to lycopene).

Additionally, eating foods full of water, like watermelon or kale, keeps you satisfied on fewer calories. Out of all of the treats shared here, watermelon is our favorite and most nutritious choice.

Do you have a favorite treat to eat in the summertime? Please let us know and share it in a comment below!

Photo Credit: motumboe

How to Unwind After Work

<img src="image.gif" alt="A bench in a park" />

Is it just us, or does time seem to slow down toward the end of the workday?

Don’t get us wrong – we’re passionate about what we do! But even if you enjoy your career or business very deeply, unwinding is important for your health. In fact, taking time off leads to even greater productivity and increased happiness.

Shutting down your workday means not opening any work until tomorrow! Even if you have several more things to do in the evening (we know what it’s like to be a woman with a lot responsibility!), you must make time to unwind. Just one hour of “me time” can make a day’s worth of difference.

One hour is recommended, but even if you spend fifteen minutes by yourself, you’ll get the benefits of ridding stress and tension. Here’s how:

Unwind by Napping

Being well-rested is key to regenerating your energy for the following day. A small nap in the evening provides the perfect transformation from “work mode” to “home mode.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three different ways to nap.

1. Planned napping. This is when you nap before you’re sleeping. It’s like keeping your gas tank half full instead of full or empty.
2. Emergency napping. If you feel extremely fatigued after work, then you need this kind of nap. Don’t try to fight drowsiness. Nothing is more important than your health.
3. Habitual napping. These are scheduled naps you take daily. When you know in advance what your evening looks like, you can take planned naps.

Of these three, habitual napping is the best way to unwind. Why? Because when your body is used to always resting at a certain time, it will provide you a deeper period of sleep.

Get Physical

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Try doing 15-30 minutes of exercise in the evening. Even if your mind is racing, having a tired body will kindly force you to rest. It’s a win-win, because you’ll wake up feeling healthier and rested (aside from the sore muscles).

Working out to unwind may seem contradictory. Just keep in mind how your post-workout euphoria will put you at ease.

Make New Friends

Sites like meetup.com provide a place for you to go and make new friends. Perhaps you have a hobby like painting or hiking. With Meetup, you can schedule regular gatherings in the evening.

Many people share the desire to unwind after work. Mingling with like-minded people may be that helpful boost in energy you’ve been looking for!

Social Media Time

You don’t have to leave home to catch up with friends. Sites like facebook.com are a way to see what everyone is up to. Instead of using Facebook throughout the day, try Facebooking on a schedule (as weird as it sounds, this is a healthier way to use social media):

Schedule a time to use Facebook (e.g., 6:00-6:30 P.M).

Post something positive, leave positive comments on your friend’s posts, and share things you like on your wall.
At 6:30, shut down Facebook. Don’t let it suck you in — it will still be there tomorrow.

These are just a few ways to unwind after work. Do you have a favorite way? Please let us know by sharing it in a comment below!

Photo Credit: alexcoitus

Simple Ways to Make Yourself Happier

<img src="image.gif" alt="A branch" />Remember being a kid and your biggest chore was eating all of your dinner?

What a “problem” to have!

When it comes to living happier, you could learn a lot from a children. In fact, children laugh an average of 300 times a day while adults only laugh around 20 times.

It’s easy to forget to live a happy life as you get older. Bills, careers, stress, relationships, and countless other adult activities can burden your day-to-day routine. If you don’t remember to be happy, you’ll walk around with a frown, as if there’s a permanent rain cloud above your head.

But there’s a bright side to being an adult: you have more control over your life than you did as a child. While you have more responsibilities than a child, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do exactly what you want. Making a change for the better is simply a matter of wanting to do it.

So, give yourself permission to be happy. Here are a handful of ways to get happy:

Do Nice Things for Others

Giving to others is just as nice as receiving. For some people, giving is actually more beneficial. Think about the last time you received a random gift. Remember how happy it made you feel? Re-create that experience for someone else. When you see her face light up, you’ll feel happy you’ve made someone else happy—for no particular reason at all! Spreading happiness works like spreading the flu, except with less coughing.

You don’t need to buy your friend a new car to make her happy (although if you did, we’re sure she’d be ecstatic). A simple cup of coffee does the trick.

It doesn’t even have to be a friend, either. Why not buy something nice and give it away to a stranger? Even better: do something nice for someone without them knowing it was you. Doing this removes them feeling the need to reciprocate, too. You still get the good feeling of being helpful and they don’t have the pressure of paying you back.

Learn a New Skill

You can do anything you want. Yes, anything! All it takes is the desire to do so and a little effort. Taking on a new hobby and seeing your newfound skill develop over time will make you happy!

If you ever wanted to play the piano, do it! No one is stopping you. Start today, and in six months you’ll be amazed at your progress.

You could even take a class completely unrelated to anything you do or thought you’d be interested in. Imagine the surprise of your friends and family when you take up karate or archery. Not only will they be impressed by how outgoing you’ve become, but they’ll be inspired to pursue new skills, too!

The takeaway for learning a new skill is to break the mold of regularity. You don’t have to dye your hair pink and buy an entire new closet of clothes. Simply start making small adjustments by learning something new, and happiness will flow through you.

Handwrite a Letter to Someone

Can you recall the last time someone wrote a letter to you? Perhaps it was a card for an event, like a birthday or a wedding invitation. There’s something magical about receiving a handwritten letter. Not only is it more exciting to open than a bill, handwritten letters make you feel special. Getting a handwritten letter means someone took the time to write to you!

Think of someone who brings happiness in your life. Maybe it’s a family member, or perhaps it’s a friend. It could be someone you’ve never met, like a book author or a celebrity. Regardless of who it is, spend a solid hour writing them a letter expressing how good they make you feel. When you’re done: fold, stamp, and send. Oh, and don’t forget to smile, too.

You never know what can come from sending a letter. One couple sent a wedding invite to the Queen of England on a whim. And guess what? The Queen showed up!  It just so happened the Queen of England was in the area that day and didn’t have any other plans. Just a simple letter made that couple’s day much happier.

They didn’t ask for permission — they simply took the action.

Remember: you have the freedom to go out and create a happier life for yourself. No one is stopping you. You can start to be happy right now by just putting a smile on your face.

Share your favorite ways to make yourself happy below!

Photo Credit: Denis Collette https://www.flickr.com/photos/62202285@N00/2206463202