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10 Simple Steps To Helping Your Child Cultivate A Joyful Life

10 Simple Steps To Helping Your Child Cultivate A Joyful Life

Being a kid is serious business nowadays. Times have changed and kids today can be almost as stressed out as their working parents.

In this day and age, many people would give anything to have a child that was not stressed out, but wouldn’t it be great if you could help your child cultivate a joyful life? Is it possible?

Yes, it is!  So much of life is about learning. Kids watch us and emulate us even when we are not at our best. Kids do learn to be stressed and unhappy so the truth is they can learn to create joy for themselves and others.

Here are 10 simple steps to set your child up so that he or she can cultivate a joyful life.

1. Be joyful yourself.

On My God! Is that what I really said? So much easier said than done right?

The fact is that children do learn from us. They learn which objects, people, attitudes and viewpoints are important in life by watching how we react. If you are stressed out, they become stressed out and it never dawns on them that there can be another way of dealing with the situations that cause stress.

You, yourself living a stressed out life can cause them to believe that being stressed out is normal and that this is the way you have to be to be an adult. In order to give a child a good example of how to deal with life, you have to handle and reduce your stress to manageable levels.

The first step you must take on the road to managing your stress is to realize that some stress is a normal part of life but if you are stressed out all the time, that is not normal and something must change. You must handle your lifestyle and make the necessary changes.

If you are stressed out, sit down and figure out the exact reason why. If it is your job, what can you do to change the situation? If you have tried to change it and found that you could not, look for a transfer or look for another job. So many people have a huge fear of changing jobs. But if your job is stressing you out, what better lesson to teach your child than to have the confidence in yourself to make the changes in your life to make it better?

Being in a situation that creates stress in you affects your confidence insidiously and in a very negative way. If you are afraid of changing, chances are that the stress has worked heavily on your confidence, and how you feel about your true abilities is NOT reality.

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In every situation in life, you have made it through somehow. Have confidence that whatever happens, you will find your way.

Many times, stress in our lives stem from the people in our lives. This brings me to my next point.

2. Teach your child to detect and avoid negative people.

I cannot put too much emphasis on this statement because in life, the biggest cause of unhappiness is being around or intimate with negative people. Negativity is a cancer that permeates a family or a group. I am sure you can think of a time you were perfectly happy and until you were around a negative person. You left either angry, sad, or feeling some other negative emotion didn’t you? That is what happens.

Children, unfortunately do not have a lot of choice in who they spend time with. Make sure that they are not forced to spend time with negative people and whatever you do, do not allow a negative person to take care of your child.

In general, negative people tend to be more irresponsible and when things go awry, tend to blame others. If your child is unfortunate enough to have a negative person as one of his or her teachers, ask for a transfer. If your daycare provider is a negative person, get a new one. Go through your list of the people with whom you associate and identify the negative ones. Then, eliminate or severely limit any association with these people for yourself and your child.

Part of your duty as a parent is to safeguard your child’s environment. His environment includes the people around him or her. If you can’t get the negative people to stop being negative, get them out of your life. Just this simple step alone, though sometimes difficult, can smooth out the roughest and most stressful life.

It is worth taking the time to do this step thoroughly. Do not allow yourself to be made guilty and manipulated by these people either. Many of them are great at making you feel  guilty but realize that they have a choice in life. They can continue to be negative and harmful or they can turn around. It is up to them, but you and your child should not be around this type of person if they refuse to change. The damage they inflict on the unsuspecting is very great.

This goes for anyone negative in your environment, relatives, teachers, doctors, anybody. There are good people everywhere. They are easy to find. Seek those people out and cultivate friendships with them. You will all be happier, and being around happy and successful people makes you more happy and successful.

3. Teach your child to help others.

Helping others is one of the purest joys in life. There is no joy like watching a person become really happy and knowing we did something to make that happen. Even the littlest children will bring you gifts just for the privilege of seeing you smile.

When I was a kid, I used to stop at a tree on the side of the road on my way home from school. Every day I would pick up an autumn leaf. I would look and look until I found the prettiest one, then I would pick it up and take it to my mom. She would stick them on the fridge and we would be sad when they dried out and fell apart.

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One day I came home and found that she had taken sheets of wax paper and ironed the leaves between them preserving the leaves forever in time.

I was so happy because I knew that those leaves were so special to her that she wanted to keep them. Even though I was a small child, I realized that I had given her a great gift just as she had given me one by taking the care to preserve them. It didn’t take long before our fridge was so covered in wax paper and leaves that I had trouble opening it.

4. Show your child the beauty in every day things.

Everywhere in this world, there is beauty. Perhaps we don’t notice it as much any more but I am sure there was a time when you woke up and could not wait to get outside, or a time when you stopped to admire a beautiful view.

As I have gotten older, I have never stopped looking at the autumn leaves. The trees can be so beautiful when they are dressed up in their autumn best. Sometimes, I will take walk and look at people’s gardens. Did it ever occur to you that people plant gardens in their front yard just for you to see and enjoy? Point this out to your child. It may be a new idea to him that someone would work so hard to give joy to strangers.

Everywhere you look people create beauty and wonderful effects. There is music all around us. There are funny people whose joy in life is making others laugh. There are people who dress up every day with the idea that they are going to give everyone who looks at them a treat for the eyes.

Notice these things and point them out to your child. If he sees that they are important to you, he will decide that they are important to him. He will create a habit of noticing the things that make life so precious.

5. For Gosh Sakes Don’t be soooo serious!

Find things every day to laugh about! Get an hilarious movie and laugh yourself silly! Get out the crayons and draw really goofy things! Let your imagination go wild! Laughter and joy go hand in hand. If you develop a serious side, you are robbing yourself and your child of joy. It is true that we cannot be joyful all the time but I really do believe that we take the serious thing way too far.

I have found that I get a lot more productive when I am having fun than when I am serious.

When was the last time you took out a coloring book and a fresh box of crayons, you know the new ones that have points on them and are all in one piece? I teach music to kids and we use crayons daily.

A few days ago I bought myself a new big box of crayons! I opened it up and smelled it. Remember when the smell of new Crayons was a big deal? Now all I needed was a really good coloring  book and I was all set! Yes, I am a grown up! You want to come over and color with me? It’ll be FUN! Bring the kids!

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6. Teach your child that a day of honest work feels GOOD!

Kids naturally want to contribute to the betterment of everyone around them.

Teach them some basic skills they can use to help you and let them do it. They will be happier! Every so often you can teach them a new skill.

I am sure that kids think that food sort of magically cooks itself. How would it be for them to know how to make something simple like toast or a grilled cheese sandwich? Teach them safety and keep an eye on them but let them go at it!

7. Teach your child that working to get things is way more satisfying than having them given to you.

I had a nice chat with one of my wonderful friends yesterday and she told me about a friend she had when she was growing up. This friend was always beautiful and received a lot of attention from men. She had married three times and each time the man in her life had given her everything she wanted, cars, furs, jewels, everything and each time she had divorced them. These were good men but the mistake they made was contributing to someone without expecting something in return.

That contribution does not have to be a material thing, it can be love, nice meals, a clean and comfy house, music played when he is relaxing, anything that makes someone’s life better.

When a person only receives and never gives, he or she is miserable and they don’t know why.

My friend told me that his was a lesson for her early in her life. She knew that it was not the receiving of items that gave her joy, it was the fact that she had worked for them and made them happen.

Think about it. Was there something that you worked hard for and finally achieved? Wasn’t that victory extra sweet? I have found over and over again that things given to us that we did not work for, are just not as cherished as those we really worked to try and get. Creating this mind set in your child will make his life joyful.

I have known many people who suffer greatly because they have a mindset that makes them firmly believe that they should be given things that they have not worked for. They have no idea that, in order to be happy, they must contribute in some way back to the person who has contributed to them.

This is just how life works. If we take and never give, we are miserable. On the other hand, if we look for ways of giving to and serving others, we are happy. Those who do this are the happiest people I know.

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Those who don’t will never know the feeling of achieving a goal that they have set for themselves and worked hard to realize. And sooner or later, other people get tired of giving without receiving anything in return. Ultimately our success or failure starts and ends with us. There is no one that can give it to us and the happiest people I know fully realize that and embrace it.

8. Help your child adopt a pet and teach him how to care for it.

Having a pet is one of the big joys in life. Knowing that there is a living thing that depends on you for its survival is very empowering and it fosters compassion in a child. Make sure your child knows how to care for his pet and always double check the food and water dishes because good habits take time to create and you don’t want your child to learn the hard way that pets die when they are not cared for. Teach your child but have his back!

9. Take time off!

Your obligations will be there when you return. Get someone to cover for you and take some time off to spend with your child. Better yet, make time every day where you just enjoy each other. Some of the most fun times I had was playing Candyland over and over again while my son beat the pants off me at it. (Honestly how many times can a person land on Mr. Plumpy? Are those dice rigged?)

I also loved having my kids, fresh out of the tub and in their jammies sitting with me on the couch as we watched 101 Dalmatians for the millionth time.

10. Hug your kids wherever and whenever you can.

While they are little, our kids hug warmly and with abandon. When my littlest was young he hung on me all the time. Everywhere I went, he was there in my arms or holding my hand. I look back and see photos of us everywhere, arms entwined and smiling. I took it for granted. Who knew that simply being in constant physical contact was the cause of so much happiness?

Before long, the hugs became more reserved and we no longer hold hands or wrap our arms around one another. I no longer ruffle his hair as he passes and he no longer lays in my lap begging for a back rub. He is a man now, not a little boy.

I miss it a lot. I would give anything to rock him in my lap all bundled up and smelling like baby shampoo just one more time.

Take these hugs and this love given so freely and without any inhibition. Kids learn all too soon that affection given so generously can result  in broken hearts. Perhaps our unconditional acceptance of this love and these hugs can in some way form a protective barrier for our children from life’s most unforgiving realities.

This love and these hugs we receive from them are gifts far beyond any gift we will ever receive. Take them, cherish them and give them back. You and your child are a loving team and many times, in this life of hard edges and sometimes harsh realities, you need to come back together and rebuild the strength that comes from your closeness with each other.

I hope I have given you some helpful information. Above all else, your child loves you devotedly. Don’t turn your back on this gift or minimize it in any way. It is the most important thing in your life. It is your greatest source of joy.

XO Chris

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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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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