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5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the stresses and strains of modern life, then you’re not alone. It is estimated that 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress on a regular basis, while as many as 1 in 3 experience extreme stress at some point every week!

Some people believe this is down to the fact that we are now expected to work longer hours (sometimes around the clock), leaving us with less time to spend with family and friends. Others think the blame lies with our ever-growing obsession with money and status. Whatever the cause, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

Stress can have an enormous impact on our physical health. It is thought that 75–90% of all doctor’s visits are due to a stress-induced ailment. Feeling stressed on a regular basis has been linked with everything from an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, to depression, bipolar disorder and social anxiety. Clearly, we need to change the way we live before stress catches up with us. But what can we do? Here are 5 easy ways to beat stress that you can put into practice right now.

1. Tweak your diet to beat stress.

It is amazing how much of an impact tiny changes can have on your overall health and well-being. The same is true of keeping your stress levels at bay. One simple but effective way of beating stress is incorporating some high-quality dark chocolate into your day.

That’s right, you heard me: chocolate.

Although we might think of comfort-eating as a very bad way to cope with negative emotions, there is actually good reason to indulge in a small amount of dark chocolate if you’re feeling the pressure.

Chocolate contains several chemicals that closely resemble anandamide, an essential fatty acid proven to have a major role in alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety, and promoting feelings of happiness and contentment. It also contains compounds called N-acylethanolamines that inhibit the breakdown of anandamide, meaning more of it stays in the blood for longer. It is thought that these chemicals explain why chocolate has been used as a comfort food, delicacy, drug, and medicine throughout history.

Quite tellingly, the word anandamide is derived from ananda, the Sanskrit word for “bliss.”

Incorporating a small amount of high-quality dark chocolate into your daily diet can ensure that you have relatively high anandamide levels all-day long. This can have a profound impact on your stress levels.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should eat Hershey Bar after Hershey Bar every day. But by eating a few pieces of cocoa-rich chocolate when your stress levels creep up, you can take the edge off some of the worst symptoms, leaving you to get on with your day.

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There are lots of other easy ways to beat stress through your diet. Feeling anxious and depressed? Try eating more asparagus. This will ensure that you have a sufficient intake of folic acid. Folic acid deficiencies have been linked with a wide range of mental symptoms, including lethargy, depression, anxiety, and acute stress. Eating just one cup of asparagus can give you about half of your daily intake of folate; more than enough to see you through the morning feeling stress-free.

Another easy way to beat stress naturally is to up your fat intake. I don’t mean that you need to start visiting McDonald’s more. Consuming more trans and saturated fats won’t do a great deal for your stress levels. What you need to increase is your intake of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are known to help lower LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) levels. This will, in turn, help keep your blood pressure low. Many of the more serious side effects of stress can be avoided if you keep your blood pressure within a normal, healthy range.

Try eating more healthy oils, olives, avocados and nuts on a daily basis. You don’t need to make drastic changes; just chop an avocado into your salad and drizzle on some olive oil, or have a bag of nuts with lunch. Easy, cheap, and effective.

2. Exercise right.

Easy Ways Beat Stress Exercise Correctly

    Most people know that exercise is a good way of keeping stress at bay. It lets us let out all the anger and frustration we might have stored up over the course of a busy day. Whether you prefer pounding on a punch bag, punishing yourself in the squat rack, or hitting the pavement, exercise is a good way to clear your head and let off some steam.

    However, a recent study found that all exercises are not created equal as far as stress management goes.

    Researchers from a Finnish University used rats to examine the impact on brain growth of three different types of exercise: steady state cardio, high intensity interval training, and weight/resistance training. Over the course of seven weeks, the three groups were put through their specified exercise regimen on a daily basis. At the end of the seven weeks, the researchers measured how much neurogenesis (or “brain growth”) had occurred in the hippocampus.

    The rats doing resistance training registered no extra neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

    The rats doing high intensity interval training exhibited some growth, but nothing too impressive.

    The rats doing regular steady state cardio, on the other hand, showed remarkable levels of neurogenesis. In the words of the NYT reporter who covered the story, their hippocampal tissue “teemed with new neurons.”

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    Why is that important? The hippocampus gets hit when we get stressed. It gets hit hard. Of all the “area”‘ of the brain, the hippocampus seems to be particularly sensitive to stress. If you find yourself stressed on a daily basis, then it’s likely that your hippocampus has experienced some degree of degeneration. This is serious: the hippocampus is largely responsible for memory, learning, and according to some, emotions.

    Steady state cardio can therefore serve as more than just a way of letting off some steam. Done regularly; it can help reverse some of the worst effects of chronic stress.

    3. Supplement smart.

    If you find that things like diet and exercise don’t help, then supplements might represent a quick and easy way to beat stress. Done intelligently, supplementing can actually help you eliminate stress from your daily life altogether.

    But isn’t that expensive?

    Buying top-of-the-range supplements can be expensive, but there’s no need to part with a big chunk of your hard-earned cash to eliminate stress from your life. While there are hundreds of pre-made supplement stacks designed to promote clear thinking and reduce anxiety, you can effectively lower your stress levels by taking the right combination of good value, un-branded vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts.

    For instance, if stress is keeping you up at night, you could try supplementing with some valerian root. This stuff has been used for centuries as a mild sedative, but its effects aren’t anywhere near as strong as prescription sleeping pills, and it’s nowhere near as side-effect ridden.

    You can get hold of this and similar supplements in any health food shop, and some pharmacies will stock it for sale over-the-counter. While it may not be immediately effective, it is definitely beneficial to start with a weaker sedative and work your way up to something stronger if necessary. If you just need something to help you relax of an evening, this might be a great place to start.

    Other natural extracts that are thought to have potent anxiolytic (stress-reducing) properties include Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm, Rhodiola Rosea, and St. John’s Wort. You may also be able to find some fairly cheap but effective relaxation teas to help you get a good night’s sleep.

    4. Have the right attitude.

    A way to beat stress immediately is to give yourself an attitude overhaul.

    Obviously, I’m not so naive as to think that you can just think your stress away. If you could do that, then you would have done so already.

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    But, we can change how we feel about the things that are causing us stress by acting differently towards them. The simple truth of the matter is: acting happy can make us happy.

    This isn’t some baseless spiel from a second-rate “life coach.” I am talking about a robustly supported psychological theory.

    Numerous experiments have found that people told to act in a certain way, i.e with confidence and certainty, tended to have greater confidence in their abilities when later questioned by researchers.

    You can even do a little experiment with yourself. Spend a whole morning acting sad, and you’ll almost certainly feel it for real by the afternoon.

    In the same way, it’s possible to significantly reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety simply by acting as though you don’t have a care in the world. This could be in simple ways, such as smiling more, or walking calmly with your head held high.

    Or it could be in more dramatic ways, such as leaving work on time every day, or turning off your phone in the evening. Whatever way you do it, just make sure that you do it consistently.

    After a few days of acting, talking and smiling as though you haven’t got a clue what “stress” means, you’re bound to feel a great deal better.

    5. Make your world stress-free.

    Quick Easy Ways to Beat Stress

      Your home should be your castle. More importantly, it should be a stress-free zone at all times—no excuses!

      There are some really easy ways to make sure that you don’t bring your stress home with you, and one of the simplest is to get a house plant. It shouldn’t surprise you that we have a deep biological affinity with plants; we just love being around them. It’s what we’re used to, evolutionarily speaking, and being in familiar surroundings helps us stay calm.

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      You don’t need to go crazy with these. Just get one for the hallway so it’s the first thing you see when you get home, and a couple more for around the house. Ideally, get something that doesn’t need a lot of attention, otherwise it might become another source of stress!

      Another good tactic to employ is to build yourself a “cleansing zone.” This will be really easy if you have a porch. Set yourself up a table near the front door, with space for your keys, phone, files, wallet, laptop, mail—pretty much anything that you bring through the door with you that keeps you away from your family.

      Go through everything when you get in, dealing with anything that needs to be dealt with. Once that is done, walk away. Do not return to the “cleansing zone” until you’re heading out for work the next day.

      This is a really simple tactic, but in my experience, it’s really effective at creating a mental barrier between your home life and your work life.

      6. Putting it all into practice!

      Putting all of this advice into practice in one go is probably not the best way to go about things. Instead, try picking a few simple things to do right away, and choose one or two things to start building into your daily routine.

      Start small, but be consistent. If you really want to eliminate stress from your life, then you need to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

      Here are 5 easy steps to get you started:

      1. Buy a houseplant.
      2. Eat more avocado and have dark chocolate for dessert.
      3. Buy some relaxing herbal tea and drink a cup before bed.
      4. Take a long lunch every day where you don’t check your phone.
      5. Start running once a week.

      Once you’ve done all of these, pick something else. Pretty soon, you’ll forget why you even read this article. You might even forget why you cared!

      Featured photo credit: http://blog.gymlion.com/ via blog.gymlion.com

      More by this author

      Eric Jackson

      Self-employed

      You Plan on Weight Loss But Just Can’t Suppress Appetite, These Food Are Your Way Out. 5 Easy Ways To Fit More Into Your Day Easy ways to beat stress and anxiety naturally 5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

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      Last Updated on March 30, 2020

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

      Feeling tired all the time?

      Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

      I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

      Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

      If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

      What Happens When You’re Too Tired

      If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

      Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

      • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
      • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
      • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
      • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
      • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
      • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
      • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

      Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

      Unfortunately, yes!

      Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

      Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

      Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

      Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

      Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

      Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

      1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
      2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
      3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

      The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

      It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

      Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

      Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

      If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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      Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

      Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

      But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

      Symptoms of fatigue include:

      • Difficulty concentrating
      • Low stamina
      • Difficulty sleeping
      • Anxiety
      • Low motivation

      These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

      Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

      How Much Sleep Is Enough?

      The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

      Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

      So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

      The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

      Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

      Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

      If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

      And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

      It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

      4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

      Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

      1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
      2. Exercising regularly
      3. Using stressbusters
      4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

      So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

      After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

      In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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      I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

      Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

      • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
      • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
      • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
      • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

      The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

      And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

      But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

      L — Living Healthy

      Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

      So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

      In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

      As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

      Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

      1. Unplug

      Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

      So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

      2. Unwind

      Do something to relax.

      Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

      3. Get Comfortable

      Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

      Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

      Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

      Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

      If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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      Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

      This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

      E — Exercise

      Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

      That’s what happened in my case.

      But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

      As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

      My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

      That made sense to me.

      So, I decided to swim.

      I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

      Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

      Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

      So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

      If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

      A — Attitude

      Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

      When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

      Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

      Breathing.

      But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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      Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

      1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
      2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
      3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
      4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
      5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
      6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

      This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

      When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

      Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

      N — Nutrition

      Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

      If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

      Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

      For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

      Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

      Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

      1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
      2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
      3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
      4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
      5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
      6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
      7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
      8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
      9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

      Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

      That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

      Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

      The Bottom Line

      If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

      If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

      If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

      • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
      • Regular Exercise You Love
      • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
      • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

      Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

      More Tips to Help You Rest Better

      Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
      [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
      [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
      [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
      [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
      [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
      [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
      [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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