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More Than A Coffee Fix: Energize Your Life Without Caffeine

 

When was the last time you felt awake and energized all day long? It's been a while, hasn't it? Many of us suffer from energy highs and lows throughout the day, then we inject ourselves with caffeine so we can face the day. This continues all day long, with many of us wishing we could nap under our desks or throw our kids in front of the TV so we could have a few minutes of rest. Sound familiar? Rootology is here to share with you holistic ways to create more energy during your day

Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast might be the biggest perpetrator of energy crashes. Eating breakfast not only hooks you up with energy for the day — it's been shown to encourage weight loss. People who are famished tend to binge. We eat more to compensate for the missing calories that our bodies need when we wake up. Fuel up your body with healthy protein, healthy fat and fruit or veggies.

Upgrade your afternoon snack. Trade that afternoon sugary treat for an unprocessed and unrefined energy booster. Eat an apple with some raw almonds, or make a fruit smoothie. Having a bit of healthy fat will satiate your appetite. 

Get hydrated. This is your best friend. It helps flush toxins from your body, resulting in more energy, clearer skin and better digestion. Dehydration also leads to fatigue, because the less water you have in your system, the less oxygen is circulating in your blood stream. So drink up!

Get outside. Even when it's cold outside, the natural light and crisp air refreshes your body and mind. Try to get outside for at least 15 minutes a day.  

Add superfoods. Certain foods pack a major punch. Try things like leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce) and quinoa, or make a smoothie and add in goji berries or chia seeds. All of these foods are powerful sources of nutrition and energy.

Eat healthy fats. Fats from foods like avocado, olive oil, coconut and fish not only fuel your body and create a sense of satiety, they're powerful brain boosters that can lead to better focus and clarity. 

Change gears. Whether you're sitting at a desk or sitting at home trying to muster up the energy to do laundry, switch things up in the moment. If you're stuck at work, go into the bathroom and stretch; shake your arms, bend over and touch your toes. Do anything that will get your body in a different rhythm for a moment. If you have the luxury of privacy, crank up your favorite song and dance around your room. 

Clear some clutter. It's amazing how some purging can lighten your load and clear your mind. Just clearing out one cluttered drawer can lead to feelings of euphoria. 

Brain Exercises That Boost Creativity

Meditation triggers high-frequency brain waves associated with attention and perception: it feeds the wellspring of human creativity. Researchers also found that people who meditate 30 minutes a day for eight weeks have improved focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility. Give meditation a try to get your creative juices flowing. Here's how to start.

The spark of creativity is ignited when we are able to get out of our own way by letting go of preconceived notions, inward distractions of day-to-day worries, habitual associations. Creativity, in other words, stems from the state of mind induced by meditation.

Find a meditation technique that works for you. There are many ways to meditate. To start: try sitting mediation. Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is upright with head up, chin straight ahead. Count your breaths, an ancient meditation practice. On your out-breath, silently count one, then two on the in-breath, up to four, then return to one. If your thoughts begin to stray, or you find yourself counting beyond four, return to one.

Keep your eyes open. Closing your eyes can lead you to drift away on certain thoughts. Stare at the flame of a candlelight if that helps, or a picture of a pleasant landscape. Repeating a simple chant (perhaps the ubiquitous, “Om”) also helps keep your mind clear and focused.

Focus on de-stressing.Meditation strengthens cognitive control. The ability to concentrate is enhanced when meditation quiets other brain functions. After one of my 30-minute meditation sessions Iburst of creative and associative energy -- I listen more acutely to my colleagues and am better able to synthesize disparate ideas into an action plan.

Practice meditating daily.If you exercise your brain this way you can make it stronger and more innovative than you were yesterday. Thirty minutes of "mindfulness" at the office as a substitute for outmoded brainstorming sessions can make us all stop and think.

The hows of meditation have been around for millennia. They are simple to learn, and, although they require consistent practice, they will return increasing rewards as you build them into your weekly or even daily routine.

This article was written by Debra Kaye for Huffington Post. We shared this with you to help improve your productivity and help you foster your creativity.

Become a Better, Active Listener

In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important than ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Active listening helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy at home and work.

Use these 6 steps to improve your listening skills:

Maintain eye contact. Listening first begins with attentive focus on the speaker. Do your conversational partners the courtesy of turning to face them. Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at them, even if they don’t look at you. Shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, along with cultural taboos, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances.

Visualize. If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as they say them – this will reinforce their message and help you stay focused.

Show that you’re listening. Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention such as nod occasionally, smile and use other facial expressions.

Resist the urge to interrupt. It can be tempting to finish someone's sentence to show you comprehend their message, but it can come off as rude. Listening builds trust. If you interrupt someone--even with good intentions--it denies the speaker the opportunity to fully express her feelings or opinions. To ensure that you won't interrupt, always pause for a few seconds before responding.

Respond, don't react. Rather than listening with the intent of speaking, listen with absolutely zero intention other than discovery. Don't react to what you hear, but respond to it at a later time such as to ask clarifying questions.

Ask thoughtful questions. I’ve found that the best listeners make a regular practice of asking thoughtful questions. When you reach a pause in conversation, ask a question that clarifies a previous point or helps to dig deeper into the topic of conversation. For instance, instead of asking, “So did you do what I suggested?” say: “Tell me what you decided to do.” Instead of “Are you upset?” ask: “How do you feel about this?”

 
5 Ways to Get People to Take You Seriously

If you're going to get anything done (especially in business), you need people to respect you. Sometimes getting others to listen to your ideas can be difficult. So, after looking at the research on social perception and relationship building, we identified the following strategies for instantly getting respect.

Let people talk about themselves. People spend 60% of their conversations talking about themselves. It feels good: "Activation of this system when discussing the self suggests that self-disclosure like other more traditionally recognized stimuli, may be inherently pleasurable," Scientific American reports, "and that people may be motivated to talk about themselves more than other topics." Research shows that when people disclose information about themselves, they like each other more. It's also the primary way to form social bonds, or another way of saying it helps earn their respect.  

Win people over with the first introduction. On the street, in the lobby, square your shoulders to people you meet. Make a handshake matter — eye contact, good grip, elbow erring toward a right angle. Do not pump the hand, unless the other person is insistent on just that. Smile. If you can't smile, you can't be gracious. You aren't some dopey English butler. You are you. Why is this important? Because paying full attention to someone is a way of showing respect, and social science confirms that we get respect when we give respect. Add that to the list of reasons that conscientiousness predicts success.

Keep your posture open and upright. Posture can influence the way others see you and the way you feel. Researchers have found that keeping your shoulders open and arms wide — a classic power pose — activates your hormone system in a way that makes you feel and look more confident and capable. The same logic carries over to the way you sit. If you're scrunched over your laptop, you won't feel very bold, but if you're sitting at a large desk, you'll feel more assertive.

Be way more prepared than you think you need to be. Ignorance is one of the world's least respectable traits — if not the worst. If you want your ideas to count, be better informed than everyone else. Know exactly what message you want to communicate. Anticipate the objections, not only will your ideas be stronger but you'll feel more confident presenting them.

You need to be both humble and confident. Respect requires a balance of humility and confidence. You need enough self-confidence to command the respect of others, but that needs to be counter-balanced with knowing that there is much you simply don't know. Humility is the path towards earning respect, while self-confidence is the path towards commanding it. With that balance comes not only respect but also intellectual curiosity and optimism.

This article was written by Drake Baer, we shared it with you because we thought it could help improve confidence and in return gain you more respect.

 
4 Techniques To Power Down A Busy Mind

You know you should sleep more (which could happen), walk more (which should happen), and turn off your phone (that's not happening). Here are a few surprising ways to quiet your brain at different times of day -- without going off the grid.

Do Some Heavy (Mental) Lifting

A counterintuitive way to calm a frazzled, wandering mind is to take on a more demanding task. In a 2007 study published in the Association for Psychological Science journal discovered that the more demanding the task, the less distracted the subjects were.

How to do it: When you feel yourself darting out in a thousand different directions, rather than play Whac-A-Mole with your email, immerse yourself in one of your most challenging projects, one that will require your full attention.

Try it when: Your energy is high (as in, not at bedtime), but you're feeling stressed because you have your hands in a bunch of different half-done tasks.

Don't Spend More Than Six Hours Alone

While there's growing evidence that working from home can reduce stress and increase productivity, there's reason to believe that spending too much time alone is a recipe for anxiety. Face time with another person can have a grounding and calming effect, and you should do it every four to six hours. A study done at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine suggests that a change in brain hormones due to social isolation was responsible for aggression and anxiety in mice.

How to do it: Commit to regular daily doses of human moments. Whether that's coffee with a friend or a hair appointment—interact with a real person in the flesh, not on your phone.

Try it when: You don't remember when you last spoke a word out loud to another person.

Balance on One Leg

A powerful way to calm the mind is to redirect attention to the body. Somatosensory activities, which are simply exercises designed to help you sense your own body, can help sharpen cognitive and physical performance. Use it to help with balance, attention and focus issues for children and adults, and you can use them to quiet the mental chatter.

How to do it: Try standing on one leg with your eyes closed (better yet, try it on a wobble board). Change your clothes or put on your shoes without sitting down or holding onto anything.

Try it when: Your brain is about to explode.

Put Up Stop Signs

You weren't born knowing that a red light means hit the brakes. But you've done a pretty solid job of assimilating that information, as you have other habits, like tying your shoes or driving. And you can do the same for a racing mind—if you turn it into a habit.

How to do it: Get yourself a packet of tiny dot-shaped stickers, and put them in select places where you'll come across them regularly: On the back of your phone, on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the steering wheel. Every time you see one, take three deep, grounding breaths. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found yogic breathing to be a beneficial adjunct treatment for those suffering from anxiety and stress disorders—even those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Don’t have stickers handy? Train yourself to pair breathing with actions you do every day; for instance, every time you walk through a doorway or open the fridge.

Try it when: Your thoughts are racing so fast you can't keep up.


This article was originally written by Terri Trespicio. We shared it with you because we found it very informative and helpful for easing a racing mind and de-stressing your life.

 
The Science & Power Behind Naps


According to a growing body of research, napping is a smart thing to do. It can help refresh the mind, make you more creative, boost your intelligence, and even help you live a longer, healthier life. It's slowly gaining acceptance as part of a healthy lifestyle, even in some corporate offices.

Taking a nap, we've seen time and again, is like rebooting your brain. But napping may be as much of an art as it is a science. Let us offer recommendations for planning your perfect nap, including how long to nap and when.

For a quick boost of alertness. Experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.The sleep experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap gives you the best "bang for your buck," but depending on what you want the nap to do for you, other durations might be ideal. 

For cognitive memory processing. However, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.

For a full cycle of sleep. The 90-minute nap aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.P

Sit slightly upright during your nap. Because it will help you avoid a deep sleep. And if you find yourself dreaming during your power naps, it may be a sign you're sleep deprived. 

This article was originally posted by Melanie Pinola for LifeHacker. We shared it with you because we want you to get adequate sleep at the right times so it can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life.

7 Tips to Reduce Anxiety

In technical terms, anxiety is apprehension over an upcoming event. We anticipate the future with sometimes scary predictions that don’t necessarily have any basis in truth. In everyday life, anxiety’s physical and emotional symptoms can mean an increased heart rate, poor concentration at work and school, and sleeping problems.

Anxiety and stress are physical and emotional responses to perceived dangers (that aren’t always real). And since most of us aren’t running from tigers or hunting and gathering in the woods, it’s often the little things that put us over the edge: an over-loaded email inbox, morning rush hour, or losing those keys before running out the door. Luckily, it’s easy to beat this kind of stress with just a few easy changes added throughout the day.

Focus on meaningful activities. When you’re feeling anxious, it’s also helpful to focus your attention on a meaningful, goal-directed activity. Try asking yourself what you’d be doing if you weren’t anxious. If you were going to see a movie, still go. If you were going to do the laundry, still do it. The worst thing you can do when anxious is to passively sit around obsessing about how you feel. Doing what needs to get done teaches you key lessons: getting out of your head feels better; you’re able to live your life even though you’re anxious; and you’ll get things done. So the bottom line is, get busy with the business of life. Don’t sit around focusing on being anxious – nothing good will come of that.

Take a deep breath. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Try slowly inhaling to a count of 4, filling your belly first and then your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of 4, and slowly exhaling to a count of 4 and repeat several times.

Accept that you’re anxious. Remember that anxiety is just a feeling, like any other feeling. By reminding yourself that anxiety is simply an emotional reaction, you can start to accept it. Acceptance is critical because trying to wrangle or eliminate anxiety often worsens it. It just perpetuates the idea that your anxiety is intolerable, he said. But accepting your anxiety doesn’t mean liking it or resigning yourself to a miserable existence. The bottom line is that the feeling of anxiety is less than ideal, but it is not intolerable.

Question your thoughts. When people are anxious, their brains start coming up with all sorts of outlandish ideas, many of which are highly unrealistic and unlikely to occur. And these thoughts only heighten an individual’s already anxious state.

Use a calming visualization. Practice the following meditation regularly, which will make it easier to access when you’re anxious in the moment. Picture yourself on a river bank or outside in a favorite park, field or beach. Watch leaves pass by on the river or clouds pass by in the sky. Assign [your] emotions, thoughts [and] sensations to the clouds and leaves, and just watch them float by. 

Use positive self-talk. Anxiety can produce a lot of negative chatter. Tell yourself “positive coping statements.” For instance, you might say, “this anxiety feels bad, but I can use strategies to manage it.”

Focus on right now. When people are anxious, they are usually obsessing about something that might occur in the future. Instead, pause, breathe and pay attention to what’s happening right now, he said. Even if something serious is happening, focusing on the present moment will improve your ability to manage the situation.

7 Daily Tricks to Improve Your Memory

Here are some simple steps you can take to strengthen your memory every day.

Learn something new. Learning something new–be it a new language or taking a cooking class–is generally good for your brain. But learning formal couples dancing, it turns out, is especially good. “Not only is it physical, it’s learned dance moves,” says Dawn Buse, PhD, a health psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “You have to think as you go, change and be flexible. If you stretch the body at the same time, it’s a bonus.”

Switch hands. Many stroke survivors who suffer paralysis have to learn how to use the previously non-dominant side of their body for everyday tasks like writing. This helps create new neural networks. But even non-stroke survivors can benefit from the practice. “Brush your teeth with your left hand, buckle your belt with your left hand, eat cereal,” says Buse. “These novel activities are stimulating novel parts of the brain.”

Take breaks. There’s a way to never cram again and still remember what you learned. Researchers have determined that people who break their study time into chunks actually learn better than those who study for hours at a time. “Spacing out your learning and allowing time for forgetting to occur in between study sessions can promote your ability to remember information and promote your ability to learn concepts,” says researcher Haley Vlach, PhD, assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Write by hand. Foregoing the keyboard for pen and paper may actually be better for the brain, according to a study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. People are better at remembering the orientation of a new character if they write the characters by hand rather than type them on a computer keyboard, the study found. And research in children has shown that writing with pen and paper activates more regions of the brain than simply tapping a keyboard.

Play a computer game. Don’t write off computer keyboards entirely. In one study, adolescent girls who regularly played the computer game Tetris had changes in parts of the brain involved in critical thinking, reasoning, language, and processing, among others. The game requires players to manipulate shapes as they fall so as to create an ordered row of tiles. And while Tetris may be 25 years old, it’s still available on all types of gadgets, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. And anagrams themselves–forming new words with the letters of an existing word–are good for stimulating the brain. You can find ways to tease your brain at GamesForYourBrain.com.

Meditate mindfully. Emerging evidence shows that people who routinely meditate can produce physical changes in the brain. This increases not only attentiveness but also self-awareness and empathy. Bonus: It costs nothing and can be done anywhere, at any time.

Read out loud. Reading a book or the newspaper out loud stimulates different parts of the brain than reading silently to yourself.

This article was originally written by Amanda Gardner of Health Magazine. We shared this with you for its helpful tips on improving our memory and keeping the brain active and healthy. 

De-Stress In 5 Minutes Or Less

Does the thought of taking time to relieve stress make you feel even more stressed out? Who has time for pedicures, massages, therapy sessions and long soaks in the bath? If you're feeling frazzled, there are lots of things you can do to calm down.

Try these techniques to bust stress in 5 minutes or less.

Grin and Bear It. Smiling, even when you don't feel happy, can instantly lift your mood. Instead of frowning, clenching your jaw, or tensing up your forehead in reaction to a stressor, grin and feel your troubles melt away. Try it now!

Call a Friend. Sometimes, you just need to vent. Enlist the help of a good friend or close loved one when you need to de-stress. Often, just getting something off your chest will help you calm down and keep things in perspective. A five-minute phone call can help strengthen your bond, too.

Take a Walk. Exercise, even when done leisurely, is a great way to relieve stress and boost endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. When you feel overwhelmed, go outside and walk for a few minutes. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel.

Stretch. Ever notice how dogs, cats and other animals stretch throughout the day? They do it for the same reasons we do—it just feels good! Starting or finishing your day with some light stretches can help you de-stress and relax when you need it most. At work, you can try some neck, arm and chest stretches, too.

Tune In. Anyone who listens to get-up-and-go music to get pumped up for a workout knows how much music can affect your mindset. Just as it can energize you or evoke powerful emotions, it can also help relax you. Choose the music you find most relaxing, whether classical, jazz, instrumental or something else. Keep it on your computer, in the car, and on your iPod in case of stressful emergencies. Tune in to relaxing music and tune out the world around you.



3 Steps Towards A Life of Well-Being

We know we would be better off if we slept for eight hours every night. And did yoga five days a week. And ate kale and ran marathons and kept a gratitude journal and shopped at the farmer's market and learned to play the viola. But we all don't. Every one of these things would require a huge lifestyle shift. Well, maybe not kale, but the point is that committing to too much change at one time is a recipe for failure.

So where to start? Here are three of the most common pieces of "live better" advice, and ways to make some serious progress without feeling too overwhelmed to continue or turning your life upside down:

Get enough sleep. Yes. Sleep deprivation ruins health, diminishes competence and leaves us feeling unhappy. Commit to getting your full seven to nine hours every other night. While consistency is ideal, many of the worst effects of inadequate sleep are associated with compounding deprivation over the course of several nights. If you absolutely have to work late Monday, don't do it again Tuesday. If you find yourself out until bar time on Friday, lay low Saturday.

Unplug and recharge. The pros of unplugging sound great, but we use our smart phones for everything. Not to mention the fact that we can no longer focus, navigate or remember anything without the aid of an electronic device. Baby steps. Even if you can't bear to unplug during the day, don't keep your phone in arm's reach while you sleep. Having a smart phone on the nightstand is associated with poorer sleep and insomnia. If you use your phone as an alarm clock put it across the room from your bed. This has the added bonus of forcing you to get out of bed when it goes off.

Find time to pursue your hobbies. Flow” is a term psychologists use to describe a state of invigorated concentration experienced while pursuing an enjoyable activity. Playing an instrument is a classic example, but for the utterly talentless among us there are some more attainable alternatives. While "drinking" or “napping” may not count as a flow activity, thought-provoking discussions where you lose track of time certainly do. Even if these conversations take place in bars. While channel surfing is mentally discombobulating, various kinds of media consumption (some movies, most video games) can produce a sense of flow, provided the content is sufficiently stimulating.

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