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3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

There are obvious car-free living benefits that you hear about all the time: reduced carbon footprint, reduced costs, or perhaps, not having to drive in traffic. You smile and nod your head, and then return to the reality of the modern world where you work across town, shop at discount warehouse club, and/or have kids to cart to school and practice.

What if I told you those were immaterial benefits? There are lots of ways to be eco-friendly, save money, and you can avoid traffic by adjusting your schedule or using public transport.

Car-free living benefits - decluttered

    The real benefits of living car-free are a less cluttered home, reduced stress, increased physical activity, and more family time.

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    That’s a bit more enticing, isn’t it?

    Now, what if I told you that you don’t need to sell away your car to experience these benefits? We started realizing the benefits of car-free living long before we sold our cars and moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Sydney, Australia.

    Our small family of three moved to Sydney in December 2014, and we have yet to purchase a car. True, we live in a city with pretty decent public transport, and a growing network of protected bicycle lanes, but we also began the journey to car-free living back in the home. It was actually on a recent visit that we saw the massive improvements in our quality of life, thanks to car-free living.

    We spent loads of time during our visit in the car, bought more than we could fit in six giant suitcases, endured a few stressful traffic jams, and put on a few extra pounds. (For full disclosure, it was Thanksgiving.)

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    Through this experience it became obvious to us that living car-free regulates our behavior so that we purchase only the essentials, casually enjoy our commutes, and exercise daily. Upon reflection we discovered that this made us happier, calmer, and healthier, and the best part is we were able to see how this started long before we sold the car. All it requires is a shift in priorities to favor wellbeing over mindless efficiency.

    The 3 Simple Strategies to Experience the Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car:

    Car-free living benefits - carry

      Buy only what you can carry.

      You know those half-price granola bars that tasted like cardboard, or perhaps those Halloween pillows that were just to cute to leave on the sale rack by the register? Those are now gathering dust in a closet, pantry, or worse, the trunk of your car, and they clutter up your life. If you limit purchases to what you can carry, you force yourself to make conscious decisions instead of succumbing to the manipulation of strategic retail placement.

      To implement this strategy, park at the far edge of the parking lot, and carry everything you buy from the store entrance to your vehicle. It is simple: unload your cart at the exit, and physically carry your groceries, homewares, etc. to the car. You will surprise yourself with the mindfulness it adds to your shopping cart, as you begin to think about whether your will be able to manage carrying everything to the car when you see those strategically placed “deals.” Impulse buys will become a thing of the past.

      Car-free living benefits - Couple Carrying Bags

        For a couple blocks, take a walk.

        Walking is a great exercise in awareness, if you put away the phone, but first, you need to get out of your car. Appreciate and discover where you are in the present moment, notice each step you take, observe the sound of your breathing, and don’t let those frantic moments rescuing your toddler from darting into the street mess with your Zen (I jest). Walking provides time to be present in a way that driving doesn’t. When I walk, I am part of the world. When I drive, I am just speeding past it.

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        Walking is easy to implement into your routine, and the examples differ based on where you live. You could walk to a Sunday brunch spot, your neighbor’s house, the mall, or the gym (I see you, people fighting for the closest spot in the gym parking lot). If you do not live in a residential/suburban area, walk from store to store next time you go to shop at 3 stores on 3 corners of the same intersection.

        We used to walk from Trader Joes across the street to Target and back. Not only is this a nice way to slow down and take in a bit of exercise, but it also leverages our first strategy of buying what you can carry. Boom! Reduced clutter, reduced stress from mindful walking, and a bit of exercise to boot.

        Car-free living benefits - Living EZ

          For a bit of a hike, go by bike

          Biking is terrific cardiovascular exercise, plus it extends your range and carrying capacity over walking. When we had cars, we worked up to biking for all trips less than 3 to 5 miles, unless it was raining.

          We love commuting, running errands, and traveling by bike, but it can be daunting for a novice. The first step to a bike trip is connecting with your local cycling community to learn the safest routes. This is often as simple as a Google search, and local bike shops are also great source of information. We had a lot of success connecting with local cyclists through online forums, which is what we did before moving to Sydney, and they are a wealth of information on safe routes and casual (read as Spandex-free) group rides.

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          Next Steps

          These days, vehicle-independence is not just for tree-huggers and hipsters. It’s for everyone willing to slow down and reap the rewards, regardless of where you live. Car-free living unlocks a variety of benefits from improved health to reduced clutter in the home. They are all in reach, as soon as you make a conscious decision to step away from the car – even if it’s just for a moment.

          Photo Credit: Groceries Bike,  Couple Walking

          Featured photo credit: Living EZ via livingez.us

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          Last Updated on October 16, 2018

          The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

          The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

          It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

          If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

          One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

          Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

          In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

          Why you can’t sleep through the night

          The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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          Stress

          If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

          Exposure to blue light before sleep time

          We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

          While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

          Eating close to bedtime

          Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

          Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

          Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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          Medical conditions

          In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

          The vicious sleep cycle

          The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

          Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

          You get a bad night’s sleep
          –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
          –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
          –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

            You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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            How to sleep better (throughout the night)

            To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

            1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

            What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

            Here are a few suggestions:

            • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
            • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
            • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
            • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
            • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

            2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

            What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

            • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
            • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
            • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
            • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

            3. Adjust your sleep temperature

            Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

            Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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            Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

            Sleep better form now on

            Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

            I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

            As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

            Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

            Reference

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