Secret Miracle Cure ?

What if I told you I have a secret something that can extend your life ?

Something that will make you feel better. Reduce your stress, your blood pressure, and improve your emotional stability, anxiety and impatience. It will probably also reduce your risk of depression.

Something that has been shown to reduce levels of bodily inflamation linked to heart disease, stroke, arthritis and diabetes, and that will actually increase the rate your body repairs itself. It also improves your resilience to colds !

Something that also amazingly improves your memory, sharpens your attention, makes you more alert and more creative, increases your willpower, regulates your appetite, improves sporting performance and willingness to take part in exercise. It also magically makes you a safer driver.

It also makes you happier !

Sounds unbelievable ?

It’s real, it exists, and is yours for free.

If you haven’t realised already, it’s sleep. Type ‘benefits of sleep’ into Google to see for yourself.

Sounds great, but the bad news is that we’re all sleeping less. It’s not because we magically don’t get tired anymore (despite self-medicating with caffeinated energy drinks), it’s because there’s so many other things to do – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It wasn’t that long ago there was no breakfast TV and once the national anthem had finished around midnight, there was only a little white dot on the screen. Most shops were closed by six, or by lunchtime on Wednesdays, and virtually nowhere was open on Sunday.

If you’re 30 or younger you might find this hard to believe. Our lives are so different now – we can watch, work, shop, play and communicate 24/7 in endless different ways. This digital world is so enticing – why would we waste our lives sleeping ! Many of us have a tendency to sacrifice sleep for work, family or personal enjoyment such as late night surfing the internet, we think we’re maximising our time or productivity, but we’re probably doing the exact opposite.

There’s no getting away from it – if we want the happiest, healthiest life we can we need to ensure we get enough sleep.

Prioritising sleep and ensuring we get enough will likely do wonders for our concentration, mood and energy levels, and will make it easier for us to find the motivation, willpower and commitment to achieve everything else we want to do in life.

I’m as guilty as anyone.

Sleep has never been something I’ve been terribly good at – but improving my sleep is my mission for the new year.

My solution will be to build a habit of a regular bedtime, spend a little less time looking at screens, especially in the evening, and generally organising my routine to include more sleep. It will also involve finding the willpower to simply stop what I’m doing more often, and go to bed.

You might want to join me on my journey to more sleep – or if you’re there already feel free to tell the rest of us your secret ?

Photo by dannyelbrazil, via Flickr

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10 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Inner voice saying ‘work harder, do more, have more, be more’ ? Always tired as a result. It doesn’t have to be that way.

1              Identify What’s Important

Moving to a simpler way of life requires the letting go of non-essentials, so that you can focus on what’s important. Look at all parts of your life and decide what you value most.

2              Evaluate Your Time

What are you doing with your time ? Is the way you spend your time in-line with your priorities ? Do you spend enough time with family, friends, and by yourself ? Re-evaluate your commitments – eliminate time wasters and do what you love.

3              Create More Free Time

For many of us, our lives are simply too full. Free-up time in your day by reducing your commitments and including and protecting more free time in your schedule. Cut down your to-do-list. Consider making a don’t-do-list of things you can happily do without. By reducing the number of our activities we can reduce stress, and get more out of what we do.

4              Reject Status

Question your motives, and reject anything you are doing for recognition or approval in the eyes of others. Concentrate on substance not image and stop feeding your ego. Buy and do things based on their utility or enjoyment to you, rather than prestige.

5              Give Up Some Control

Focus on controlling yourself and your own thoughts and actions, rather than wasting energy seeking to control others or events. Don’t focus on irrelevant details, and don’t aim for perfection – know when to let go and move on.

6              Relaxed Efficiency

We need to balance our desire to be more efficient and productive against the risk of becoming obsessional about it. Develop a simple system for managing tasks and commitments, and make using it a habit. Try to reduce the amount of time you spend multi-tasking. Limit your distractions and try to create a relaxed ‘flow’ state by fixing your attention on what you are doing.

7              Question Your Dependency on Material Possessions

Recognise the difference between the things you need and want, and learn how enjoy things without owning them. Minimise and de-clutter to surround yourself with less stuff, carry less stuff with you. Get into the habit of giving things away – de-accumulate.

8              Limit your Inputs

Think about how much information you process everyday – media, email, news, reading, TV. Our brains weren’t designed to handle so much information and it can result in overload and stress. Question the value of your inputs and impose boundaries, eliminating any non-essentials.

9              Slow Down

If we’re over-committed and rushing through life we risk missing the quality of the moment. Practice the art of ‘being present’ and pay attention to what is happening now, rather than mentally reviewing the past or worrying about the future. Make an concious effort to eat, talk, breathe and walk more slowly, to help ground yourself in the present.

10           Appreciate Life

It’s easy to be grateful for being alive – what’s the alternative? Try to actively practice gratitude – grateful people are happier, less depressed, less anxious, less stressed and more satisfied with their social relationships. If we spend more time thinking about what we already have, we will be less inclined to constantly want more, and as a result feel more generous towards others.

Photo by Dan Zen, via Flickr

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