Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Without Drugs

GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP WITHOUT DRUGS

Jane E. Brody

Alternatives to prescription drugs for insomnia offer better, safer and more long-lasting solutions, experts say.

Shakespeare wisely recognized that sleep “knits up the ravell’d sleave of care” and relieves life’s physical and emotional pains. Alas, this “chief nourisher in life’s feast,” as he called it, often eludes millions of people who suffer from insomnia. Desperate to fall asleep or fall back to sleep, many resort to Ambien or another of the so-called “Z drugs” to get elusive shut-eye.

But except for people with short-term sleep-disrupting issues, like post-surgical pain or bereavement, these sedative-hypnotics have a time-limited benefit and can sometimes cause more serious problems than they might prevent. They should not be used for more than four or five weeks.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration added a boxed warning to the prescription insomnia drugs zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist), zaleplon (Sonata) and eszopiclone (Lunesta) following reports of injury and death from sleepwalking, sleep-driving and engaging in other hazardous activities while not fully awake.

Last July, a Georgia woman was arrested when she drove the wrong way on a highway the day after using Ambien, as prescribed, to help her sleep. Although she had consumed no alcohol, she flunked a standard sobriety test and told police she was unaware of how she ended up going the wrong way.

Although extreme reactions to these sleep drugs are thought to be uncommon, they are unpredictable and can be disastrous when they occur. Some have resulted in vehicular fatalities.

As many as 20 percent to 30 percent of people in the general population sleep poorly. They may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, some awaken much too early, while others do not feel rested despite spending a full night seemingly asleep in bed. For one person in 10, insomnia is a chronic problem that repeats itself night after night. Little wonder that so many resort to sleeping pills to cope with it.

“Short sleep is not just an irritant. It has real consequences beyond just feeling crummy the next day,” Adam P. Spira, a sleep researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told me.

However, Dr. Spira and other experts report that there are better, safer and more long-lasting alternatives than prescription drugs to treat this common problem. The alternatives are especially valuable for older people who metabolize drugs more slowly, are more likely to have treatable underlying causes of their insomnia and are more susceptible to adverse side effects of medications.

“Insomnia is typically undertreated, and nonpharmacologic interventions are underused by health care practitioners,” Dr. Nabil S. Kamel, a geriatrician now at Cox Health in Springfield, Mo., and Dr. Julie K. Gammack, a geriatrician at the St. Louis University Health Sciences Center, wrote in The American Journal of Medicine.

In other words, when persistent insomnia is a problem, before your doctor writes a prescription for a sleeping pill, ask whether there are other remedies that may be safer, more effective and longer lasting.

For example, if pain or other symptoms of a medical disorder are keeping you awake, the first step should be treatment of the underlying ailment to minimize its sleep-disrupting effects. I once spent three sleepless nights tortured by intense itchiness until a dermatologist prescribed medication for what turned out to be an invasion of bird mites. More recently, my middle-of-the-night leg cramps have been nearly entirely eliminated by consuming eight ounces of quinine-containing tonic water (actually, diet tonic) every night before bed. If you can’t handle that amount of liquid close to bedtime, drink it earlier in the evening or perhaps try a herbal remedy that I use when traveling: Hyland’s Leg Cramps, which contains quinine as one of its active ingredients.

Sometimes, the medication given to treat a chronic ailment interferes with the ability to get a good night’s sleep. In that case, the doctor may be able to prescribe a lower dose, substitute a different drug or adjust the timing. But when the symptoms of a chronic ailment itself disrupts sleep, treatment by a specialist, including perhaps an expert in pain management, may be needed to improve your ability to sleep. If persistent emotional problems are what keep you awake, consider consulting a psychologist, psychiatric social worker or psychiatrist before reaching for a sleeping pill.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is now considered the best treatment for insomnia, especially for older adults. It teaches people to challenge disruptive negative thinking and replace it with positive thoughts that counter arousal and induce relaxation. Before going to bed, try using soothing imagery or meditation to reduce cognitive arousal.

The American College of Physicians recommends cognitive behavioral therapy as “the first-line treatment for adults with chronic insomnia.”

It is much safer than drugs and, unlike sleeping pills that work only when taken and shouldn’t be used long-term, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, teaches effective strategies that continue to work long after the therapy ends.

The physicians’ college suggests that if needed, sleep medication should be used only short-term while learning the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

Also helpful is what sleep experts call stimulus-control therapy — limiting bedroom time to sleeping and sex. You learn to associate the bedroom with sleep by avoiding activities incompatible with it. If you spend too much time lying sleepless in bed, your brain starts to link the bedroom with not sleeping. Also avoid going to bed when you’re not sleepy.

If you don’t fall asleep after about 20 minutes in bed, Dr. Kamel and Dr. Gammack recommend getting up, perhaps taking a bath or reading, then returning to bed when you feel sleepy.

If all else fails, sleep-restriction therapy can be effective even after a week or two, especially at eliminating prolonged wakefulness in the middle of the night. It doesn’t restrict sleep itself but limits the time spent not sleeping by restricting time in bed to how long you currently sleep. Go to bed at about the same time every night, set an alarm to get up, and maintain that waking time every day for at least two weeks no matter how much you slept the night before. Finally, gradually extend your time in bed by 15 to 30 minutes, allowing a week between each extension, until you are able to get the amount of restful sleep you need with little or no wakefulness in the middle of the night.

Why Women, but Not Men, Are Judged for a Messy House

WHY WOMEN, BUT NOT MEN, ARE JUDGED FOR A MESSY HOUSE

Claire Cain Miller

“The Smiths share the drudgery of housework, for they both have important war jobs,” the Office of War Information wrote about this photo circa 1944.

They’re still held to a higher social standard, which explains why they’re doing so much housework, studies show.

Even in 2019, messy men are given a pass and messy women are unforgiven. Three recently published studies confirm what many women instinctively know: Housework is still considered women’s work — especially for women who are living with men.

Women do more of such work when they live with men than when they live alone, one of the studies found. Even though men spend more time on domestic tasks than men of previous generations, they’re typically not doing traditionally feminine chores like cooking and cleaning, another showed. The third study pointed to a reason: Socially, women — but not men — are judged negatively for having a messy house and undone housework.

It’s an example of how social mores, whether or not an individual believes in them, influence behavior, the social scientists who did the research say. And when it comes to gender, expectations about housework have been among the slowest to change.

“Everyone knows what the stereotype or expectations might be, so even if they don’t endorse them personally, it will still affect their behavior,” even if they say they have progressive views about gender roles, said Sarah Thébaud, a sociologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of one of the papers.

The additional time that women spend on unpaid household labor is a root of gender inequality — it influences how men and women relate at home, and how much time women spend on paid work.

On average, women spend 2.3 hours a day on house tasks, and men spend 1.4 hours, according to Department of Labor data. Even when men say they split housework evenly, the data shows they do not. (Women do more of these kinds of chores in the office, too.)

One of the recent studies, in the journal Demography, analyzed American Time Use Survey data and found that mothers married to men did more housework than single mothers, slept less and had less leisure time.

“One possibility is what people believe is expected of them to be a good wife and partner is still really strong, and you’re held to those standards when you’re living with someone,” said Joanna Pepin, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, who wrote the paper with Liana Sayer, a colleague at Maryland, and Lynne Casper from the University of Southern California.

Other possibilities, Ms. Pepin said, were that men created more housework; single mothers were more tired; or children did more chores when they lived with a single mother.

Women tend to do more indoor chores, research shows, like cleaning and cooking, most of which occur daily. Men do more outdoor chores, like lawn mowing or car washing, which happen less often.

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Another recent study, in the journal Gender & Society, looked at people in opposite-sex marriages and found that even though men who live in cities spend less time on outdoor chores than suburban or rural men, they don’t spend any additional time on other kinds of chores. Women spend the same amount of time on chores regardless of where they live.

The pattern demonstrates how much housework is considered women’s work, said the researchers, Natasha Quadlin at Ohio State University and Long Doan at the University of Maryland, who used data from the American Time Use Survey and the Current Population Survey.

One way to be masculine is to do typically male chores, they concluded — and another way is to refuse to do typically female ones.

These studies relied on survey data to show what people do. A study published last month in Sociological Methods & Research tried to explain why women do more housework. The researchers conducted an experiment to uncover the beliefs that drive people’s behavior.

They showed 624 people a photo of a messy living room and kitchen — dishes on the counters, a cluttered coffee table, blankets strewn about — or the clean version of the same space. (They used MTurk, a survey platform popular with social scientists; the participants were slightly more educated and more likely to be white and liberal than the population at large.)

The results debunked the age-old excuse that women have an innately lower tolerance for messiness. Men notice the dust and piles. They just aren’t held to the same social standards for cleanliness, the study found.

When participants were told that a woman occupied the clean room, it was judged as less clean than when a man occupied it, and she was thought to be less likely to be viewed positively by visitors and less comfortable with visitors.

Both men and women were penalized for having a messy room. When respondents were told it was occupied by a man, they said that it was in more urgent need of cleaning and that the men were less responsible and hardworking than messy women. The mess seemed to play into a stereotype of men as lazy slobs, the researchers said.

But there was a key difference:Unlike for women, participants said messy men were not likely to be judged by visitors or feel uncomfortable having visitors over.

“It may activate negative stereotypes about men if they’re messy, but it’s inconsequential because there’s no expected social consequence to that,” said Ms. Thébaud, who did the study with the sociologists Sabino Kornrich of Emory and Leah Ruppanner of the University of Melbourne. “It’s that ‘boys will be boys’ thing.”

Most of the time, respondents said a woman would be responsible for cleaning the room — especially if the occupants were in a heterosexual marriage and both were working full time.

“The ways it gets reinforced are so subtle,” said Darcy Lockman, the author of a new book about the unequal division of labor, “All the Rage,” and a clinical psychologist. “‘I should relieve my husband of burdens’ — it’s so automatic.”

Social scientists have been observing these pressures for decades. In 1989, the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote “The Second Shift,” documenting how even in dual-career couples, women did significantly more housework and child care than men. In 1998, the sociologist Barbara Risman described in the book “Gender Vertigo” how people feel pressure from members of both genders to perform certain roles.

Since then, men’s and women’s roles have changed in many parts of life — but not regarding housekeeping. In a study last year, Ms. Risman showed that Americans are now more likely to value gender equality at work than at home.

Bigger forces shape these beliefs. Employers increasingly demand employees to be on call at work, for example, which can end up forcing one parent (usually the mother) to step back from work to be on call at home. This happens for same-sex couples, too, showing that it’s not just about gender — it’s also about the way paid work is set up.

Policies that encourage men to take on more responsibility at home — like use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave in Canada and Scandinavian countries — could increase their involvement, evidence suggests.

The stereotypes start with what boys are taught. Research has found that when mothers work for pay and fathers do household chores, their sons become adults who spend more time on housework.

So far, what we know about the next generation is that girls are doing less housework. But boys aren’t doing that much more.

Why Does Dating Get Harder When You Reach Your 20’s?

WHY DOES DATING GET HARDER WHEN YOU REACH YOUR 20’S?

Waverly Smith

You’re older and wiser. You know what you want from life. You want a relationship, but there’s none in sight. Why is dating so hard in your 20’s?

Dating through high school and college is one of the most challenging experiences. These periods mark the beginnings of love, trust, sex and heartbreak that shape the way your future-self deals with relationships for years to come. You’re finally out of school with your new adult job, and things are going great, but there are no romantic prospects in sight. What happened?

There are many emotional and situational difficulties in finding a mate as you get older. Not only has the world changed since you took a break from the dating world, but your priorities have changed, and now it seems like you’re destined to be single forever.

Reasons why dating gets harder as you get older

We’re looking at 10 reasons dating gets harder from 20 onward, and what you can do about it!

#1 You’ve become set in your ways. It’s true. The older we get, the more stubborn we become about what we do and do not like. Working through college-age relationships, while frustrating and sometimes emotionally crippling, also taught you exactly what you’re looking for in a mate, as well as all those little flaws you’re simply too old and too wise to put up with now.

However, it also causes you to become slightly jaded and less open to new types of people. Like it or not, you’ve become “old” and set in your ways, and not even Mr. Right can seem to break your stance.

#2 You have more emotional baggage. When you’re a teenager, you feel like your whole life is ahead of you. Love is blissful, life is free, people are genuine, and you have all the naivety in the world. It’s that same naivety that gives you the balls to trust in love and continue putting yourself through relationship torture for years and years. It is also during this time in our lives that we begin to develop emotional baggage.

Suddenly the way our first love hurt us sets the pattern for how we handle future relationships. By the time we’ve hit our mid-20s, 30s and 40s, our emotional and physical baggage only grows, and if you’re dating within your age range, then that would mean your potential partner has some baggage of their own, creating a sticky situation for your future relationship.

#3 It’s way harder to meet people. Ironically, once you’ve matured and feel like you’re finally ready for a serious relationship, there seems to be no avenue to find one! Once you’re outside of high school and college, your dating pool seems to shrink drastically.

The simplicity of taking a chance with that cute girl in class has now turned into you trolling the gym or your workplace for someone to date. This only gets harder as you get older, as you’re not exactly keen to go clubbing for potential partners when you have a 7AM meeting.

#4 You’ve gotten too used to casual dating. On the flip side, perhaps you’ve spent a little *too* much time in the dating world, and not enough time in the world of relationships to remember how to do it. As silly as it sounds, sometimes jumping into a relationship isn’t as easy as riding a bike, if you haven’t done it for a while.

After 3 years with my serious long term boyfriend, I suddenly felt like I had no clue how “kids” these days were pursuing each other. This can be incredibly discouraging to those trying to jump back into the dating pool, but don’t give up! It may be hard, but it sure isn’t impossible.

#5 It’s harder to meet someone with your goals. The fabulous thing about getting older is that you only become surer of what you want out of life. The only bad side? It becomes harder to meet someone who shares your life goals after college, especially when life becomes tangled with demanding jobs, children from a previous relationship, ex-wives and husbands, and other familial obligations.

#6 It’s awkward approaching someone new. While you realize you’re not in elementary school any longer, the thought of approaching someone new with the thoughts of dating can sometimes be overwhelming. This may be easier when you are still in your 20s. However when you hit your 30s, 40s, and 50s, the thought of approaching a stranger for a date becomes as uncomfortable a thought as approaching a child on your first day of school and asking: “Want to be friends?”

#7 Someone else has had a chance to shape your potential mate. Your potential new mate has already had a handful of relationships, and may even be divorced or separated, meaning they’ve had dozens of opportunities for someone else to shape their likes, dislikes, intuition, trust, and everything else in between.

This doesn’t mean your potential mate has entered a “no-go” zone. It is simply a fact of life. Still, you can’t deny how awesome it would be to have someone at least a little impressionable to roll in the hay with.

#8 Social media and cell phones have ruined our social capabilities. This is especially true of those in their 20s. The hard fact is that while technology has created a fun, diverse, and explorative spin on the current world we live in, it has also drowned our abilities to properly socialize.

Phone call, anyone? Instead, youths today would rather communicate impersonally via text message than actually get to hear their new crush’s voice. Ever seen a couple on a date at a restaurant, yet both of them are glued to their cell phones? Point taken.

#9 Looks have faded. You’re not getting any younger. A ridiculous thought for those in their 20s, but true for the rest. Don’t deny checking yourself out in the mirror studying your face at the sleep line that takes just *that* much longer to go away than it used to, or that one gray hair that seemed to have five friends attend its funeral.

When you’re young, shallow as it is, you feel like you can skate by on your looks to at least hook in your man and eventually make him see how awesome your personality is, too. The same goes for younger guys who subsist on beer and ramen noodles, and still look like they jumped out of a Chippendale’s ad. Now you may be finding you’re working your magic the other way around.

#10 The good ones are taken. This applies to most generations after 20. It seems all the good, cute guys who still have hair, or the smart, attractive women without children are already committed to someone else.

Don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to finding relationships in your later years. You may be set in your ways, but you know what you want, and when you do find that special someone, they’re going to be of the highest quality, because you won’t accept any less.

Try not to dwell too much on the negatives when it comes to aging and meeting people. The process may be a little more difficult than when you were in your teens, but the result of a mature, loving relationship is totally worth the struggle.

By the time you hit your 20s, 30s, 40s and so on, finding that one guy or gal whom you can spend the rest of your life with may be tougher. But don’t lose hope! Someone out there may be thinking the exact same thing as they wait for your opportunity to meet to finally arise!

Insecurity Hurts Your Marriage. Here’s What To Do About It

INSECURITY HURTS YOUR MARRIAGE. HERE’S WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Isabella Markert

Close to the end of my college career, I applied to an internship that I had been dreaming about, working toward, and planning on for four years. I knew it was competitive, but everything my professors, peers, and bosses said to me made it clear that I would be getting that internship. “You’re a shoo-in for this job!” they would say to me.

But the rejection email came, and it deflated me. I was depressed. It was clear that I had placed my self-worth on my abilities as a writer and editor. The rejection was a message from certified experts: You are not good enough.

My depression didn’t get to dangerous proportions, but I did struggle with motivation and energy. I would come home, sit on the couch, and do nothing until bed. My husband was a champ through it all, but that summer wasn’t great for our marriage. He did all the giving, and I did all the taking. All because my self-esteem took a major hit.

Insecurity isn’t good for marriage. Whether it’s personal insecurity or insecurity about the relationship, individuals need confidence for their marriages to thrive.

To keep your insecurities from hurting your marriage, recognize the ways insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when insecurity is more than just a feeling, and try a couple of practical exercises.

Recognize how your insecurities may be hurting your relationship

When you’re insecure, it can be tempting to think “This just affects me.” But the truth is that how you feel about yourself affects your spouse and your relationship. Here are some signs that your insecurities are hurting your marriage:

  • You struggle to fully trust your spouse. This keeps you from being totally open and honest in your relationship.
  • You believe and act on your negative thoughts about yourself. Let’s say you tell yourself you’re boring often enough that you start to believe it. Next thing you know, you prove yourself right. “It’s not that you are not allowed to judge yourself,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. “Do it, but remember as you do it to be a wise advisor, not a vicious tyrant.”
  • You compare yourself to your spouse’s exes. Never a good idea, especially since none of those relationships worked out.
  • Your spouse constantly has to reassure you. There’s nothing wrong with needing reassurance now and then, but if you constantly need validation, that’s a sign your insecurities are getting the best of you. There’s a feeling of distance in your relationship. If you’re not communicating about your insecurities, your spouse will pick up on that, whether consciously or not.
  • You read too much into what your spouse says. “You begin to read into the words of your partner in a way that reinforces the insecurities you are feeling,” says Dr. Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, assistant director of operations for Center for Discovery. “The focus of the relationship becomes about proving the feelings the person has rather than enjoying the time.”

Meet your spouse in the middle

Sometimes insecurities come because you’re afraid your spouse doesn’t appreciate the ways in which you differ. Maybe you’re fun-loving and adventure-seeking, and you worry that your spouse doesn’t think you’re serious enough. This discrepancy requires you to talk with your spouse and determine how you can meet each other halfway.

Maybe “meeting halfway” means the two of you meet weekly to discuss your finances, and then afterward you get to pick a zany restaurant to try out. But in the compromise, realize that being carefree doesn’t make you less desirable—it just makes you you!

Realize when insecurity is more than just a feeling

Let’s say you’ve noticed people aren’t laughing at your jokes as much as they used to. It would be natural to feel a little insecure about your sense of humor. You have the choice to use that feeling of insecurity to do a little self-reflection. “Sometimes, those feelings are guides,” says Gail Grace, LCSW.

Maybe you’re making it up, and your insecurity is telling you that you need to be a little kinder to yourself. Maybe people aren’t laughing at your jokes because your humor has crossed the line from witty to rude, which just isn’t like you. In this case, your insecurity is telling you that you might have some bitterness you need to work through.

The same goes for insecurity about your marriage. Maybe your insecurity is a reflection of something you need to work on personally. Or maybe you and your spouse have an obstacle that’s keeping you from trusting each other. In either case, it’s a good idea to communicate your feelings to your spouse and work through it together.

Try these exercises:

Exercise #1

“It requires more attentional effort to disengage from a negative thought process than a neutral one,” says cognitive therapist Jennice Vilhauer, PhD. So it might take a formal exercise to overcome your insecurities. Here’s the exercise Vilhauer suggests:

  1. Each night right before you go to sleep, write down three things you liked about yourself that day.
  • Read the list before you get out of bed the next morning.
  • Add three items to the list each night.
  • Repeat this sequence every day for 30 days.

“This simple-to-do but nonetheless effortful exercise essentially helps you build the strength to disengage from any negative thought stream,” she explains. “But remember: There is no benefit to your mental health in just understanding how the exercise works, just as there is no benefit to your physical health in knowing how to use a treadmill. The benefit comes from the doing.”

Exercise #2

How do you get to the point where you can feel happy for someone else without comparing their successes to yours (or to your failures)? Charlie Houpert, founder of the YouTube channel Charisma on Command, tells the story of how after he and his girlfriend broke up, he couldn’t help but compare himself to the guys he was sure she was hanging out with. He wasn’t happy she had moved on so fast, and he sure wasn’t happy for the (imagined) guys that got to spend time with her.

He went to see a therapist, and this is the three-step exercise the therapist recommended for when you are feeling jealous or insecure:

  1. Interrupt your thought pattern with an eye scramble. Hum a simple tune like “Happy Birthday to You” and move your eyes back and forth to the rhythm. This will get you to a neutral place.
  • Feed yourself whatever you need. Chances are that, whatever you’re feeling—less-than, abandoned, disrespected—you need to feel loved. Look at yourself in a mirror (or imagine looking at yourself in a mirror) and say, “I love you exactly as you are.” You might feel goofy because you’re talking to yourself, but it will get you in a better mood. And the more you say this to yourself, the more you’ll believe it.
  • Extend that unconditional love to the person you least want to extend it to. In Houpert’s story, he tried to imagine his girlfriend happy with someone else and feel happy for her. Then he imagined the guy she was with and was happy for him because the guy was with someone Houpert knew was so great. After extending that love, come back to the present. Rather than comparing, now you get to “look around you and see all the happiness in the world, and you get to partake in it,” Houpert says.

Becoming secure in yourself and your relationship will heal and strengthen your marriage. To overcome your insecurities, recognize the ways insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when insecurity is more than just a feeling, and try practical exercises for overcoming insecurity. Next time you face a difficulty, you and your marriage will be ready for it.

The Meaning of Money in Marriage: Arguments Are Not Just About Saving or Spending

THE MEANING OF MONEY IN MARRIAGE: ARGUMENTS ARE NOT JUST ABOUT SAVING OR SPENDING

Kyle Benson

It doesn’t make sense when you think about it logically. Money is simple. Keeping a budget is something an 8-year-old can do.

For a marriage to be wealthy, a couple needs to have more money coming in than going out. It’s just addition and subtraction. Debt needs to be eliminated, and money needs to be saved and invested for the things we want. You know, toes in the sand with a drink in our hand.

If you and your partner follow this rule, you’ll have no financial issues for the rest of your lives. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? It feels like we need a Master’s degree in Finance and Wealth Management.

But do we?

Dr. John Gottman wanted to find out, so he went to a group of 8-year-olds and asked them for money advice. He told them he works with moms and dads who are fighting about money, so they can stop fighting and love each other more. All the kids understood this.

He told them a story about a couple.

The husband’s story went like this: “I don’t want to save for tomorrow. I want to live for today. I want to spend money enjoying life. Uncle Jack saved up millions of dollars living in a one-room condo and he never went out. He never truly enjoyed life. I don’t want that.”

The wife’s story went like this: “My family grew up poor. We never had any money when an emergency came up or if somebody got sick. We never had enough to plan for the future. When my parents got older and couldn’t work as hard, they had nothing. They couldn’t retire. I don’t want to be like my parents.”

One wants to spend now. The other wants to save for later. They are stuck in financial gridlock.

Dr. Gottman looked at the kids and asked, “What should this mom and dad do?”

A hand shot up. “Save some and spend some.” The other kids looked at each other and agreed.

The 8-year-old believed that the couple should work out a compromise with each other. The best option would be to work hard for a while, put some of the extra money in savings, and use the rest of it to enjoy life so they don’t end up like Uncle Jack.

That’s all it takes. Kids are totally logical.

So what’s wrong with us adults? Why do we struggle with money when an 8-year-old knows what’s best?

Money Isn’t About Money

Money, to a degree, defines us. It determines how we dress. How we eat. What social groups we join. Whether we like it or not, money influences what we can and cannot do with our lives. So where does all this start?

Out of all the forces that determine our relationship with money, the most influential is our personal history – the melting pot of our childhood, teenage, and adult experiences that have sculpted and resculpted our likes and dislikes about money throughout our lives.

Our unique experiences come together to form what Dr. Gottman calls our Money Map.

We spend our lives swimming in a sea of moments that sculpt our financial dreams and fears. Maybe it was your father’s gambling problem or your mother’s uptight way of controlling the household finances. Maybe it was your sister’s expensive interest in riding horses. Maybe it was your wealthy uncle who had a nine-car garage, leaving you to feel like you couldn’t measure up.

These, along with thousands of other moments, create our individual beliefs about money.

Money Maps, like Love Maps, are often subtle and difficult to read. You may have grown up with an alcoholic mother who spent food money on liquor, making your meals unpredictable, so you made a promise to yourself that high-quality, expensive food was more important than saving for retirement. Or maybe you were picked on by kids in school for the way you dressed, so you spent all of your savings on custom tailored suits and ate Mac and Cheese every night so you wouldn’t get made fun of.

It’s these personal meanings that guide how we deal with money in our marriage. Logic has very little to do with it.

So when your partner complains about the expensive organic groceries you bought at Whole Foods or the silk tie that costs more than a plane ticket, an argument breaks out, and to you it’s not just food or a tie. These privileges represent stability and success. They protect you. They define you.

Money is loaded with power and meaning that can make can discussions heated and hurtful. Arguments about money aren’t about money. They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.

What 8-year-olds don’t understand is that the key to managing conflict about money is to not focus on how much something costs. Instead, it’s to go beneath the dollar value to explore what money really means to each person in the relationship.

To move past these arguments, you need to use conflict about finances to understand how your partner came to be that way. Work together with this new understanding of each other to create shared meaning around money that brings you closer, rather than pushes you apart.

So what does money mean to you in your marriage? Is this different than your partner?

How to Reduce Stress Fast

HOW TO REDUCE STRESS FAST

sheqoz

In today’s fast paced world, stress can easily take a toll on you. Situations like being held up in traffic easily raises stress levels. You cannot always avoid stress but there are simple effective exercises to calm you down and reduce stress in just 2 minutes.

Box Breathing:

There’s a well-known stress relief technique called box-breathing which is commonly used by Navy seals or people who work at very stressful environments like first responders. This technique has a direct effect on the functioning of the nervous system. It is a powerful yet simple relaxation technique aimed to return breathing to its normal rhythm.

This breathing is also known as resetting your breath. It helps clear your mind, relax your body and improve your focus. Most meditation classes use this technique to help their students re-centre themselves and improve concentration.

Follow the following simple steps to help you relax.

Breathing techniques to eliminate stress

Breathing Exercises:

  1. With your eyes shut, breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Feel the air enter your lungs.
  2. Now hold your breath slowly and count to four. Avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds. (Do not clamp your nose or mouth.)
  3. Exhale slowly for four seconds.

Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel calm. Normally 4 minutes would work.

You can practice as many times as you want. Breathing deeply for few minutes can tremendously benefit your body and brain at stressful situations. It causes the vagus nerve which runs from the neck down to the diaphragm to send a message to the brain to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and shut down the sympathetic nervous system.

Sympathetic Nervous System:

This is the part of the nervous system responsible for rest, peace, relaxation and digestion. When facing any perceived threat, the body will instinctively either run or fight. Also known as the body’s fight or flight response. Box breathing prevents the adrenal dump and the fight or flight response.

Alpha Wave:

In return, the body makes smart choices based on relaxed concentration, a brain wave state, referred to as Alpha.

Alpha waves brought about by deep breathing patterns Creates a positive feedback loop that brings back harmony between the mind and body.

This brain wave state is Also an indication of the eureka moments of compelling new idea. This enables you to create something out of nothing especially when in a challenging situation.


No matter what obstacles you have to overcome, take care of Yourself first

While the box breathing technique helps calm you down, it’s more important to avoid very stressful situations if you can. Too much stress over extended periods of time can create more complicated health issues. In fact most health related complications are due to stress.

Practice good Habits:

Balance your life with exercise and healthy foods and, when caught up in unavoidable stressful traffic, you can play some calming music while you work on the breathing exercise. This will distract you from the surrounding noise and, before you know it, you will be free from all the hustle and bustle. Stay healthy and stress-free.

Can’t Shed Pounds? Here Are 8 Reasons Why!

CAN’T SHED POUNDS? HERE ARE 8 REASONS WHY!

Charley Reid

Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how badly we wish it would. If you keep trying and failing, here are some reasons why.

It doesn’t matter if you want to lose weight before a vacation, before your wedding, because you gained a few pounds over the holidays or if you simply just want to live a healthier lifestyle, losing weight is a challenge, and it’s one that you really have to be up for.

Sure, there are different things out there like diet pills, wraps, and whatever else you might see on a commercial that promise quick results, but the fact is that losing weight does not happen overnight.

There is no “magic pill” that automatically makes you drop down 2 pants sizes, and the reality is it’s about making healthy decisions and being active. A body in motion stays in motion.

Why you can’t seem to shed those pounds

If you have been trying to lose weight, but aren’t seeing any results, here’s some insight into why. Some of these reasons are probably things you don’t want to hear, but they are definitely things you need to hear.

#1 You’re not educated about weight loss. If you think going to the gym, and doing a light walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes or less, and then going home and eating chips, cookies, and other fatty foods is going to help you successfully lose weight, you’re very wrong. Just because you are going to the gym and working out, doesn’t mean you should then go home and eat every fatty food in sight.

The key to losing weight is being educated about what food you should be putting into your body, and also knowing how many calories you should be burning, in order to meet your desired goal. If you aren’t sure, do some research on the internet, go to the library and check out some books, or start with a simple plan like making sure to have more green items on your plate than white.

#2 You’re not determined. Although you might think you are motivated and really pumped up to lose weight, you’re probably not, at least not enough. The only way you will truly ever see results, is when you actually want something bad enough that you work harder than you’ve ever worked before.

If you go to the gym 2-3 days a week, but then eat pasta for dinner every night, or wake up and make waffles for breakfast, then you’re basically throwing away every hard workout session you’ve done. If you find yourself making up excuses like “I’m too tired” or “my leg hurts” as reasons you can’t work out, you don’t want it bad enough.

The next time you find yourself making up excuses, do a quick Google search of Bethany Hamilton and Jason Lester. These 2 athletes certainly didn’t use excuses and let having a hurt leg or injury get in the way of them reaching their dreams and goals. So honestly, what’s your excuse?

#3 You want instant results. No matter how badly you want to see instant results, you need to accept the harsh reality that it just isn’t going to happen. No matter how many times those infomercials make you a believer, and you continue to order whatever product, pill, or wrap they are selling, you will not see results, at least not the real results you want.

Working out and losing weight takes time, dedication, effort and motivation. You have to want it bad enough, but the good news is that you can do it, once you accept the fact that it takes time. So instead of falling for products making false promises, start by making small goals that are within your reach, and you will slowly but surely start to actually see the results you have been dreaming about.

#4 You might have a thyroid problem. One reason you might not be losing weight is because you might have thyroid problems and not even know it. Women are 10 times more likely to have a thyroid problem than men. Let me also mention that having a thyroid problem is by no means something you should blame yourself for.

In fact, at least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder and half—15 million—are silent sufferers who are undiagnosed, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. There are signs and symptoms you can be aware of to know if you should consult your doctor.

If you find yourself feeling anxious often, your appetite has changed, your brain feels foggy, your sex drive is down, your skin is dry and your bowel movements are all over the place, a thyroid problem might be to blame. In addition to this, you may also notice that your menstrual cycle has changed, you have high blood pressure, you feel cold all the time, your sleep is irregular, you’ve gained weight or you start to notice your hair is thinning or falling out, you should definitely get your thyroid tested.

Having a thyroid issue is not the end of the world, and it is something that can be fixed, but again, probably not overnight. Testing and treating thyroid disorders take time, but are worth it for your health and happiness. And, if you do have a thyroid disorder, then it will be nice to know why you haven’t been seeing the weight loss results you’ve been working so hard to achieve!

#5 You do the same thing over and over again. If you are doing the same workout routine over and over again, and not seeing results, the answer should be pretty obvious. It’s because you’re not progressing to the next level! Just like your skin can get used to a certain cream that no longer works on your face, your body can get used to the same workout and it no may no longer work.

The best way to lose weight is to change it up: run one day, do interval training the next, or take a workout class 2 days out of the week, instead of doing your everyday routine of walking and weightlifting.

You can even change it up simply by running on the treadmill a few days a week, and on other days, running outside around your neighborhood. Whatever you do, just make sure that you make this change to give your workout some variety. You’ll start seeing the results you’ve wanted to see for a while!

#6 You’ve fallen victim of relationship weight. When you first started dating your boyfriend or girlfriend, you were probably very active about working out, and you wanted to, because you wanted your partner to see the sexiest you possible—and they did! But now that you’ve been dating for a while, you find yourself cuddling on the couch and being much lazier when it comes to working out than you used to. It doesn’t help if your partner isn’t motivated either, never wanting to do active things with you.

So, if you can relate to being a victim of relationship weight, it’s time you stop being this victim. Stop being lazy! Start working out, and start taking care of yourself. You don’t want to look back a year from now and wonder what the heck happened. You’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Stop with your lazy ways right now, and start getting back to the most amazing version of yourself.

I have a funny feeling that once your lover starts seeing you getting in shape and living a healthy lifestyle, they’ll want to start coming with you on your gym dates.

#7 Can’t give up alcohol. If you are one of those people who always has to have a glass of wine after work, or loves going to happy hour and letting go of all the stress from your workday, that’s all good and everything. But it’s not good when you do these things all the time.

Having a glass of wine after work is relaxing, and it’s okay to go to happy hour from time to time. But you shouldn’t be doing these things every single day of your life, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. I know there are studies out there that show wine is good for you, but there are also studies out there that says having one glass of wine is equivalent to having a piece of cake.

The next time you want that glass of wine, ask yourself if you want wine or if you would rather have cake. Then, ask yourself if you would rather have cake, or if you would rather lose weight. I’m sure your answer will be the one about losing weight. And hopefully this will motivate you to get your butt in the gym!

#8 You obsess too much. It is very possible to get in the way of yourself, especially when it comes to weight loss. There is a reason that counting calories or obsessing over the number on the scale actually backfires on you when trying to lose weight. When you start becoming obsessed with every number and calorie, you mess yourself up from achieving your goals.

The saying “everything in moderation” is so very true, especially when it comes to losing weight, and it’s so important to remember this. A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep a journal. Write down your workouts, what food you eat, and whatever else you want to keep track of. Once you’ve logged your information for the day, let it go. Don’t sit there and obsess over the numbers and calories you burned or consumed. Remember, losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint.

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, about to start, or have been for a while, it’s exciting to know what the future will bring, and you should be excited! You are about to become the very best version of you possible.

It’s also important to be aware of these 8 reasons that seriously can keep you from achieving your goals. Remember that losing weight takes a lot of hard work. It wouldn’t be called a workout if it didn’t.

Remember above all else, you can do this! You are fully capable of achieving your weight loss goals. It starts from within. You have to want it for yourself, and be okay with doing it all by yourself.

20 Lifestyle Changes to Make in Your 20s for a Better Life

20 LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR 20S FOR A BETTER LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

Your 20s: the perfect balance between being young and energetic, and being practical and worldly wise. It’s the perfect time to make a change!

Your 20s can make you or break you. It contains some of the most exciting years of your life. You are just starting out your career, and you’re either building debt or building an empire. And although this decade can feel like you’re independent and consequence-free, how you spend your life in your 20s will have a huge impact on your life. What you do in this decade matters and may just determine your best shot at success and happiness.

In your 20s, you can experiment with so many things, party all night, go out on dates, travel the globe, and basically be a free bird. And although it’s not bad to enjoy being at the prime of your youth or working for your retirement, there are actually many things that you can do to make the most of your 20s.

Smart lifestyle changes you should be making in your 20s

Below are 20 of the top smart moves you need to make in your 20s that will pay off for the rest of your life.

#1 Travel. Invest in memories and experiences. This is the ideal time because you are young, able, and you have no family obligations. Use your time to meet different people and immerse yourself in different cultures.

#2 Don’t obsess over money. It is understandable to want to live comfortably later on in life, but don’t make your 20s so much about money that the decade passes you by. If you want to take risks or go after things that you are passionate about, then this is the best time. Think of money as a result of your hard work and not as your goal, and you can breathe easy enough to go out there and live a little.

#3 Think of one golden rule: save. Although you should not let money be your sole motivator, this doesn’t mean you should throw financial sensibility out the window. You can party, travel, and shop if you want, but be sure to set aside some extra cash *at least 10% of your income* for your rainy day fund.

#4 Be active. Despite your busy lifestyle, it helps to be active because of two things: you have something else to do other than race after work deadlines, and you are preventing your body from developing heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By squeezing some exercise into your schedule, you have a reason to wake up early and say “no” to that late night party invite every once in a while.

#5 Take care of your teeth. You may not notice it, but reality is, you’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life. It’s not a house that you can skip maintenance on because you can move out anytime—your teeth are yours, and they’re not going anywhere. So even if it costs a lot of money and you think you don’t need it, take care of your teeth now while you can before repairing years of neglect becomes more expensive.

#6 Protect your skin. So your face is supple, you have no wrinkles, and you still have that healthy glow of youth. But you can’t seriously believe it will stay that way forever. Unless the fountain of youth has been discovered, you have to protect your skin. Don’t sleep with makeup on, and more importantly, wear sunscreen.

#7 Develop healthy eating habits. Make conscious beverage decisions that will lessen the negative effects alcoholic drinks bring to your body. Alcohol is, after all, a toxin. So drink wisely and in moderation, and always rehydrate to avoid a raging hangover. As for food, you know that junk food will only bring even more toxins into your body. Tone down your processed food intake, and try to include healthier, more natural food options into your diet.

#8 Lessen your tech ties. Twenty-somethings are known to be highly dependent on their gadgets. If you’re one of those people, learn to put your phone down and make real people-to-people connections.

#9 Set your standards. When you’re young, flirty, and carefree, it can be easy to fall victim to the charms of partners who end up doing nothing for you. Learn from the dating mistakes of your past, and never settle for partners who will only hold you back from living a full life.

#10 Forgive yourself and others. You will make mistakes, and you may learn this the hard way. Accept the fact that there are things you can’t control, such as rejection or heartbreak. Don’t let this embitter you, and instead, learn from this and grow.

#11 Don’t waste your time on drama. You’re all grown up, and you know what you want, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. Cut off people and situations that drain you of your energy. Your time and energy are better off spent on productivity and growth than drama and misery.

#12 Build courage and face your fears. You are young, and you are in the best shape that you can be. The world is your oyster. So if you are ever going to try something daring, now is the best time.

#13 Be less busy and more productive. In other words, learn to manage your time before you run around like a headless chicken. Don’t spread yourself too thin over things that are unnecessary, but instead, keep your laser focus on being effective and get more done in half the time.

#14 Set goals and learn to prioritize. You’re just starting out in your career, so you may think that your responsibilities are still ahead of you. Nope. You should set your goals as early as now, and from here on, take small steps in achieving them.

#15 Learn and learn and learn. Whether it’s baking classes or management lessons, take some time to learn new skills. Before you even think about starting a family and having your hands full, start a hobby or try something new.

#16 Invest in self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is the best time to find yourself and to know what you want and what makes you happy. Learn new things about yourself every day and seize every opportunity to grow.

#17 Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares if your friend has bought a new house or your colleague already got a promotion? You can’t measure yourself against others, or else you’re never going to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be proud of who you are, and create your own story.

#18 Know what is right from wrong. You’re not a child anymore, so put away childish habits. While it’s okay to make mistakes, take responsibility for your actions. Learn to apologize for what you have done, and learn how you can make amends for actions that have caused others pain, and that includes the environment!

#19 Appreciate true friends. Through the course of your life, you will come across different kinds of people. Some will be genuine, while some will try to use you. Don’t waste time on people who will bring you down in the end. Appreciate the people who are there for you, and value their friendship.

#20 Slow down. You may be busy juggling your career, getting started living your independent life, sorting out your messy dating life, and simply enjoying being a twenty-something—but don’t forget to just stop, take a deep breath, and slow down. Success and happiness aren’t races to be won. You have to live your life at your own pace.

Your 20s can be the most exciting decade of your life. During this time, you’ll meet new people, learn new things about yourself, and really open your eyes to the wonders *and pitfalls* of the adult world. You only have 10 years to be a carefree, energetic twenty-something, so shouldn’t you make these 10 eye-opening years count?

While these lifestyle changes may be helpful and insightful, the best way to go through your 20s is to be kind to yourself and to others, make time for what you love, appreciate what you have, and be prepared for the future.

18 Ways to Have High Self-Esteem and Start Winning at Life

18 WAYS TO HAVE HIGH SELF-ESTEEM AND START WINNING AT LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but constant negativity isn’t healthy. Use these tips to have high self-esteem and feel better about yourself.

Having low self-esteem can have a significant impact on virtually every aspect of your life, including your job, relationships, and your mental and physical health. However, the secret to have high self-esteem is not so hard to figure out.

High self-esteem comes from developing a positive self-worth and outlook. This is something you have to proactively build within yourself. There are many ways you can build your own self-esteem little by little. What’s important is that you stay consistent, but not beat yourself up for failing once in a while.

Tips to have high self-esteem

If you suffer from low self-esteem, try to make it a priority in your life to foster positive feelings about yourself. Starting with some of these tips for high self-esteem can be helpful.

#1 Have a vision. Form an image of yourself as the confident, self-assured person you want to be. Often, it all just starts with your mindset. If you believe you can be a confident person with high self-esteem, that’s exactly how you will begin to come off to others as well.

#2 Set realistic goals. It’s not enough that you have dreams and aspirations. You have to set realistic goals that you know you can achieve within a specified timeframe. Practice writing down clear and actionable goals for the day, and don’t forget to set long-term goals, too. This gives you a target to hit, and boy does it feel good when you can actually cross those items off of your list!

#3 Have a plan and follow through. Now that you have goals, the next step is to draw yourself a roadmap for how you will achieve those goals. Planning helps you keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. Otherwise, you may wander off, become sidetracked, or lose your motivation.

#4 Think about yourself in a positive light. Be positive about yourself and the world around you. Don’t dwell on the bad things that are happening or worry about the unpleasant things that could happen. Focus on the here and now and appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you lack.

#5 Appreciate yourself. If you want to have high self-esteem, make it a habit to give yourself that figurative pat on the back on a regular basis. Even spending just a few moments every day to appreciate yourself can make a huge difference to your mood and to your self-esteem. Think about the people you’ve helped that day, what you’ve accomplished, and the other things that you can thank yourself for.

#6 Silence your inner critic. That voice inside your head that says you’re not good enough can be loud and persistent at times, especially for those who have low self-esteem. Guess what—you don’t need that in your life. Stop putting yourself down, and if there’s one inner voice you should listen to, it’s that one that says, “You’re great and you can do great things!”

#7 Say no to comparisons. Avoid comparing yourself to others. You will always find someone who is better or worse than you, but it’s not a healthy habit for your self-esteem to constantly compare. Celebrate what makes you unique and just look straight ahead with your goals in mind.

#8 Perfection is a myth. Doing things well is highly commendable. However, try to avoid striving for perfection. It is an impossible goal to accomplish. Instead, if you want to have high self-esteem, focus on giving your best in every situation and every task. Also, celebrate your imperfections, as those are what make you unique.

#9 Exercise and be active. Exercise can do wonders to your body, mind, and self-esteem. It releases feel-good endorphins to your brain. Furthermore, it keeps you fit so you feel good about yourself inside and out.

#10 Everyone makes mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, people still make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up whenever you commit them. Just learn from it and move on. If an apology is in order, be genuine, but don’t let anyone beat you up over mistakes that you take responsibility for.

#11 Focus on what you can change. Stop stressing over the things that you can’t control. Instead, focus on what you can change. Do your best to make your situation better, and believe in yourself and your capabilities.

#12 Make peace with what you can’t change. Now, as for the things that are beyond your control, it is best to make peace with them. There’s no use worrying about these things. Don’t waste your time and energy obsessing over anything that’s clearly beyond your control. Instead, focus your energy on making a positive impact in your life and the lives of others.

#13 Do things that you enjoy doing. Those who do the things that they love and enjoy are happier than those who just go through their days doing something they dislike. So if you’re given the choice, spend your time doing what you love to do.

#14 Do something you’re good at. It’s not enough that you’re doing what you love. You should also do something that you know you’re good at so you have a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. This reinforces your strengths and abilities because you can see for yourself that you are highly productive, your efforts are going somewhere, and you can see the results.

#15 Celebrate your triumphs, however small. All great things start from small beginnings and taking baby steps. So don’t be afraid if your triumphs don’t seem to make much of an impact. You are working your way towards your goal, and those little things can add up in no time.

#16 Help others. It’s always fulfilling to be of service to others. Being there for others, even just to brighten up their day with a sincere smile, is enough to put you in a good mood and make you stand a little taller. If nothing good is happening in your life, then be the good thing to happen to others.

#17 Be around supportive people. Birds of the same feather flock together. So if you want to keep your self-esteem up, be around those who have high self-esteem, too. Furthermore, be in the constant company of people who give you constructive criticism and support.

#18 Avoid those who put you down. Avoid negative people like the plague if you want to have high self-esteem. They are energy vampires who will also try to bring you down. Even the people with the highest, healthiest self-esteem can find themselves drained when around negative people.Self-esteem comes from self-determination and self-discipline. Mind your thoughts and interactions with others and the world around you. The more power you have over yourself to think the right thoughts and take the right steps, the more self-esteem you’ll have. And the higher self-esteem you have, the better the quality of life you will live.

Achieving Self-Acceptance: 10 Little Steps for One Big Change

ACHIEVING SELF-ACCEPTANCE: 10 LITTLE STEPS FOR ONE BIG CHANGE

Bella Pope

Accepting yourself for who you are isn’t easy. If you’re struggling to be okay with you, here are the steps you can take to make self-acceptance a reality.

The one thing humans struggle with more than anything else is accepting ourselves for who we are. With the media so focused on who is “perfect” and what qualities make someone “the best,” we tend to pick ourselves apart in deciding if we have those qualities, too, thus shattering our ability to accept ourselves.

I am probably a poster child for needing self-acceptance. When I was younger, I was always told I needed to be better—to be the best. I became self-critical and had SO many insecurity issues *in part, due to a few boyfriends*, despite being a pretty well-rounded person.

Self-acceptance vs self-esteem

A lot of people might think self-acceptance and self-esteem are one in the same, but they’re very different. Although improving your self-acceptance usually increases your self-esteem, they’re not interchangeable. Self-esteem relates more to the qualities other people see in us. Whereas, self-acceptance includes ALL aspects of who we are.

This means someone could be happy with how they’re perceived by other people, but still be miserable on the inside because they don’t accept themselves.

How to be happy with who you are

I got good grades, always worked hard at anything I did, yet I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was never happy with who I was. I looked in the mirror daily and picked out my own problems and what I needed to do to fix them.

Little did I know all I needed to fix was how I viewed myself. It won’t be an overnight fix, but if you’re having trouble being happy with who you are and achieving self-acceptance, here are the different steps you can take to get there.

#1 Be positive all the time. You would be thoroughly surprised how changing your overall outlook on the world changes the way you also see yourself. According to Psychology Today, it’s actually possible to rewire your brain to be a more positive person.

Every time you have a negative thought, stop yourself and find something good about the situation. It doesn’t have to even be related to you—just in general.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic after a long day and get angry because you just want to get home and relax, just think to yourself that you get to sit and do almost nothing while listening to great music on the radio. That sounds pretty relaxing to me!

#2 Whenever you’re being critical of yourself, STOP and say three good things instead. Whenever I mess up on a project, there’s always something negative that comes to mind. I didn’t pay enough attention. I could’ve worked harder. I’m not cut out for this type of work. But there are so many better things to be said, too.

When you start being critical of yourself, stop the negative train of thought and replace it with good things instead. Cutting off that negative criticism of yourself retrains your brain to think positive thoughts about you instead, and it’ll make self-acceptance that much easier.

#3 Determine if there are outside factors. The truth is, a lot of outside influences affect our ability to accept ourselves. A rough upbringing with unsupportive parents, the cruel media expectations, and even an old teacher who told you, you weren’t good enough could all be a factor in your non self-acceptance.

If there is something like that in your life, identify it so you can acknowledge it, forgive whatever it is, and then move on. Realizing that there could be a different reason you are that way will make accepting yourself so much easier.

#4 Make a plan. Honestly, if you’re someone who’s had a problem accepting yourself for a long time, it’s going to be more difficult and take longer for you to start now. Make a plan and stick to it. Make a pact with yourself to wake up every day and be happy with yourself.

This not only gives you a reason to get up and try to accept yourself every day, but it forms in you the habit of doing good things for yourself.

#5 Write down every time you do something great. Either keep a notebook handy or make a section in your notes for all the positive things you do daily. Each time you do something that earns a compliment from someone else or even if you just think, “Wow, I did a good job,” write it down somewhere. Then look at those things every night before bed.

#6 Find support. Chances are, if you don’t accept who you are then you probably don’t have a great support system helping you out. Open up to a few friends and family members and let them know how you’ve been feeling about yourself.

You’ll be surprised how fast they jump on your ship and help you out in any way they can. It’s easier to accept yourself when you know how many other’s around you already accept you.

#7 Get rid of critical people in your life. Negativity and self-criticism are contagious. There are probably people in your life that are critical of others and also critical of themselves—all of which transfers onto you.

If there are people like that in your life, you just need to ditch them. They are in no way adding anything good to your life if they’re inhibiting your ability to accept who you are.

#8 Allow yourself to mess up—then forgive yourself for it. Nobody is perfect. But just because you mess up from time to time doesn’t mean you can’t accept yourself. You won’t be successful with everything you do and that’s okay.

As long as you forgive yourself and move on from the event, self-acceptance will be so much easier. The hardest part of this for someone who has always been self-critical is to actually forgive and forget. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

#9 Stop comparing yourself. You can’t expect to be just like someone else. You are your own person and don’t have the exact same qualities as someone else. Stop comparing who you are to who someone else is, because that only makes it more difficult to accept yourself.

Nobody has all the qualities you possess and you don’t have all the qualities someone else possesses. Even identical twins–who share DNA–aren’t going to be the same on all levels. You have to only compare yourself to YOU.

#10 Seek professional help. If your inability to accept yourself takes over your life to a point where you are becoming depressed or having trouble functioning during the day, you may need help. Sometimes there are underlying reasons to your dislike of yourself, and you need a professional to uncover those reasons before you can begin healing.Self-acceptance is something we all have to strive for every day of our lives. It can be a challenge at times, but it’s the most rewarding feeling of all.

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