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Easily Stressed People Are Mentally Healthier After Writing This Down. See How The Trick Works.

Easily Stressed People Are Mentally Healthier After Writing This Down. See How The Trick Works.

Most successful businesses operate by following a fundamental set of core values. Their vision and mission statement reflect these values, the day to day operations are driven by them and they dictate how major decisions are made. Having core values provides a clarity that fosters focus and makes prioritizing easy.

As human beings, we all have a personal set of core values that reflect the essence of who we are. We all have them. However having them and consciously allowing them to guide you through life are two entirely different things. Understanding and living a life driven by your own personal values is one of the major keys to success, happiness and inner peace.

Write it out

The first step in living a life full of purpose and passion is to write down your own personal values. Your values, though tied to your morals and ethics are not a system of right or wrong. Your personal values are the things you value the most. What drives you? What makes you feel alive, energized and invigorated? Is it love, family, money, career, popularity, serving others, social justice, rescuing animals? The list goes on and on. What do you love? What matters to you?

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Now that you have identified them–write them down.

Why? Research shows that writing down your values yields dozens of positive results such as:

  • You get a true picture of who you really are and what you stand for. To get what you truly want, you must be who you truly are.
  • You will begin to manage your time better. You will learn to make better choices about where you spend your time.
  • Knowing and being true to what really matters to you will ignite your passion for your purpose and being able to fulfill your purpose fuels that passion even more. The two are interdependent and keep you motivated and moving forward.
  • Our values are like our internal compass. They keep us headed toward our true north. When we get off course, having them written down helps us notice sooner. Writing about our values helps remind us of where we need to be and it helps us get back on track more easily.
  • Our values are our roots that keep us grounded in what’s important to us. Having them written down visually reminds us to stay true to who we really are.

In short, discovering, defining, writing down and living your core values helps to ensure that you get more of the right things done and makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

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Seeing your personal values in writing reduces stress

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, Stanford Professor and author of the book The Upside of Stress, has studied the impact that connecting our personal values to our experiences–specifically journaling about the connection–has on our overall health, well-being and ability to cope with stress. According to Dr. McGonigal’s research there are life altering benefits to writing about our personal values:

“In the long term, writing about values has been shown to boost GPAs, reduce doctor visits, improve mental health, and help with everything from weight loss to quitting smoking and reducing drinking. It helps people persevere in the face of discrimination and reduces self-handicapping. In many cases, these benefits are a result of a one-time mindset intervention. People who write about their values once, for ten minutes, show benefits months or even years later.”

McGonigal believes that writing about how the events of our day match up with our deepest personal values can mentally and biologically improve our ability to deal with stress. In the cases she studied she found that:

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“Stressful experiences were no longer simply hassles to endure; they became an expression of values… small things that might otherwise have seemed irritating became moments of meaning.”

Putting it in to action

When our actions and activities don’t align with our values, we feel less authentic and become demotivated in our daily lives..

Below are a few simple steps to assist you in aligning your actions, activities, goals and life purpose with your own unique set of values:

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Writing it down:

  • Choose the top five (or less) things you value most in life and write them down.
  • Define what each of those values means to YOU.
  • Reflect on your day (or week). What went well? When did you feel stressed? Why?
  • Select one or two highs and one or two stressful events and briefly jot down how they connect to at least one of your core values.
  • Select one or two core values and jot down something you can do the next day (or during the following week) that will positively reflect that value.

Self Assessment:

  • As time progresses, keep a tally of how many times you purposefully and intentional engage in activities that positively reflect your value system
  • Assess your stress levels. Are you feeling more or less stressed/anxious since you began the exercise? How is your passion and motivation? Do you feel driven?
  • Assess your physical well-being. How are you feeling overall? What changes have you noticed (more or less: headaches, neck and back pain, tension, upset stomach. etc.).
  • Plan your action: what can you do to keep this moment going?

The most important thing you can do for your personal success today is to not only know your core values, but live them. Allow them to become a part of your day to day life. Write about them and learn to see them in everything you do. A life lined-up with personal values is a well-lived, purpose-filled life.

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Denise Hill

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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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