50 Mind, Body, Spirit Mistakes (Even Smart Women Make)
Your mind and spirit may be the most overlooked—and under appreciated—components of your well-being. But research has shown that nourishing them not only lowers stress, lifts mood and improves relationships but can also protect your health. "Mind, body and spirit are interdependent, so if you take care of your spirit, your body and mind will reap the rewards," says Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of It's About Time! The Six Styles of Procrastination (Penguin, 1997). "And if you nurture your body, your mind and spirit."
1. You don’t breathe deeply.
It sounds simple, but studies show that taking deep breaths keeps you alert and relaxed. Make an effort to inhale and exhale for two to three counts each throughout the day.
2. You don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling jumpy, disoriented and unable to cope, says Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Chicago’s Rush Presbyterian Medical Center. She recommends that you lighten your mood before bed—by reading a humorous book, for example—since being cranky can lead to less- rejuvenating sleep.
3. You've banned chocolate.
"Chocolate stimulates mood-enhancing brain chemicals like serotonin," says Debra Waterhouse, author of Why Women Need Chocolate (Hyperion, 1995). The amount in just two Hershey's kisses will do the trick, she adds.
4. You neglect to exercise
Working out can significantly ease depression, according to a recent study from Duke University. To get the feel-good chemicals flowing, aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week.
5. You stay indoors all day
Lack of sunlight, even during summer, can leave you lethargic and depressed. Just 20 minutes is enough to brighten your outlook, so if you work inside, take a brisk walk outside at lunch.
6. You eat only fat-free food
"Bad" fats, like saturated fat, can lead to high cholesterol and heart damage. But "good fats," such as omega 3's, keep your memory sharp and your mood steady. Good sources include tuna, salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts and beans.
7. You skimp on calories
Eating too little-less than 1,200 calories a day-can make you tired and irritable, says Kelley Brownell, Ph.D., director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. Eat a healthy, balanced diet of at least 1,500 calories to maintain energy.
8. You skip breakfast
A recent Canadian study found that having a morning meal of carbohydrates, protein and fat (such as bran cereal with one percent milk) enhances memory. If you're on the run, at least grab a meal-replacement bar.
9. You're still smoking
If the threat of lung damage hasn't convinced you to quit, a new study from the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine discovered that chemicals in cigarettes may lower your libido-and less sex makes for an unhappy relationship. For help kicking the habit, go to quitnet.org.
10. You don't make time for sex
"It's believed that having sex stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins," says Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Southern California in TK. Plus, the intimacy it fosters is the glue that binds couples together. Make time by scheduling a "date" with your partner at least twice a week.
11. You have more than two alcoholic drinks a day
A new study found that women who drink excessively may suffer permanent memory damage. Alcohol also acts as a depressant, ultimately lowering your mood. Stick to one glass of wine at dinner.
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