The GOOD Guide to Living Better, Part One: Home
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Your home is where you spend the most of your time, and it should be a healthy place. Check out these tips to get more sleep, keep you home toxin free, and take a break from your stressful life for a few minutes:
You don’t need a slew of studies to tell you that a good night’s rest makes your waking life better. Scientist actually know very little about how or why sleep works; we don’t even know why we dream. But here’s what we do know: studies have repeatedly linked sleep deprivation and weight gain.
Beauty sleep is no myth, either. In the most basic way, sleep gives our faces a chance to relax—and the less we frown, smile, and squint, the fewer wrinkles we develop.
Decreased sleep is also linked to increased stress, and stress is associated with more health concerns than you can count. Here’s how to get a healthier night’s sleep:
Adjust your hours: Force yourself to wake early and retire by 10 p.m. for a few days. We start winding down at nightfall, but the mind generally gets a second wind—go to bed before it kicks in.
Set the mood: Sleep in a cool, pitch-dark room, and go outside or let in daylight when you wake; this will reset your internal clock.
Reduce stimulants: Power down TVs, computers, and cell phones at least an hour before bed. Instead, read something. Avoid all forms of caffeine in the afternoon (and the morning, too, if you’re really struggling).
Picture nature: Apparently this works better than counting sheep.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Add some whey protein to a meal today to fight germs and protect your immune.
The cysteine in whey converts to glutathione, an infection-fighting antioxidant. Add whey protein powder to a smoothie, or eat yogurt—the liquid at the top is rich in whey.
The Importance of Disconnecting
At a time when many of us live with our smart phones glued to our palms or burn the midnight oil on our laptops, it’s more important than ever to take a timeout from technology. Recent studies have shown that personal electronics may be impairing our sleep, hindering our ability to relax, and reducing our ability to concentrate.
Turn off the TV: Consider this: The bright light from your TV can stimulate your brain the same way sunlight does, telling your mind it’s time to be awake and alert, even as you strive to wind down. A book and a dim lamp are better options for pre-sleep entertainment.
An hour before bed, power down your smart phone: Some experts believe the electromagnetic frequencies of smart phones and wireless internet can disrupt sleep patterns. For a more restful repose, turn off your phone before you unwind for the night to limit the stress incoming messages can provoke. Also, store your phone on the other side of the room from your bed or, better yet, in another one altogether.
Take a technology break once a week: For a few hours every week, leave the house without your smart phone. It’s liberating and also forces you to be spontaneous.
No computer time after 9 p.m.: Like the rays emitted by televisions, the light from laptops and iPads stimulates your brain and wires it to be alert. To ready yourself for relaxation, move away from your computer. And don’t worry: It will still be there in the morning.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Eat something different for one of your meals today and diversify the nutrients you're getting.
Food ruts equal nutrition ruts. Feed your body and brain something new. Always eat cereal? Try oatmeal. Always eat the same sandwich? Try a salad with some lean protein.
Products to Purge
You want your house to be a safe place, but toxins may lurk in the products you use everyday to clean it and yourself. To decrease the toll chemicals take over time, limit your exposure now.
Detox your personal-care products: More than 10,000 ingredients are used to make beauty and body products like shampoos and moisturizers—and some of those may be less than safe. Learn to identify these chemicals by reading ingredient labels, and opt for products that are as natural and nontoxic as possible. Look for the USDA Organic seal, and check out my blog on GOOD or my book No More Dirty Looks for safe body-product recommendations.
Go green at home: Label laws don’t require at-home cleaning products to list their ingredients—which can make detoxing your home tricky. To get around this (and save money) try simple combinations of baking soda, water, and vinegar to wash your bathroom, kitchen counters, drains, and sinks. Pure castile soap is an effective alternative for floors and walls. When purchasing ready-made, store-bought products, look for cleansers that provide complete ingredient lists, like those from Seventh Generation.
Ditch the dry cleaner: Most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene—a volatile organic compound that can be harmful to humans and the planet. The good news is that most fabrics—even silk and wool—can be washed in water, provided you do it right. Use a gentle cleanser and either hand-wash clothing carefully in cold water and lay it flat to dry, or use the delicate cycle and a garment-wash bag for delicates. For clothing that needs expert care, opt for a green dry cleaner. They’re popping up everywhere.
Check out the next section in the GOOD Guide to Living Better, Work.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Dust one room of your home or apartment today.
It is hugely cathartic to do a small act of cleaning. By getting rid of the dust in your home, you will feel neat and fresh. Not to mention you'll breathe cleaner air.