13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Achieving work-life balance can be really tough. More and more people are reporting that managing their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

Longer working hours, more pressure to get things done quickly, more pressure to succeed and less personal time. Added together this combination of things creates more stress and plenty of daily struggles.

But working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most.

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles” — Zig Ziglar

The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control. Here are 13 work life balance tips you can implement right now to start living a more stress free and joyful life:

1. Take more rejuvenation days

When was the last time you took some time out from work to completely rejuvenate?

One of the best ways to create an environment for future high productivity and creativity is to take yourself outside of the day to day and remove yourself completely from work-related activities.

By taking time out for yourself, you will gain clarity on what’s most important, both now and in the future, and you will come back refreshed, energized and motivated. By taking more rejuvenation days, you are investing in yourself which naturally means you are creating more balance.

If you can take this day to yourself every month or two you will start seeing immediate results on all levels of your business and life.

Now get your calendar out and mark down your rejuvenation days!

2. Let go of fear

Many people, be they entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders or managers worry that if they’re not working, or seen to be working every day, they may miss out on something important. The business may fail or they may not get that promotion or something. There’s always something. There is a sense that something bad could happen if not enough time was invested or “I could always be working on something else”.

But, what if you believed you were good enough, you were achieving and doing something meaningful, and that you mattered?

Once you have that belief and confidence, you can let go of the fear that there is ‘always more’. You will feel more joyful, productive, abundant and know that what you accomplished was good enough.

This guide will help you get over your most irrational fears: How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

3. Prioritize your day

If you took a step back and looked at what’s on your to-do list, how many things are critical? How many things MUST be done that day?

It all starts with a clear understanding of what your bigger and better future looks like. Are you planning a year ahead? Three years? Ten years? What are you working to achieve?

Once you understand that, you can work back and create plans and goals that help you achieve your bigger objectives.

You may build 90 day outcome goals, the things you really want to achieve in the next quarter and then lay out the process for getting there. From this plan you will understand your priorities and where your focused time should be.

Don’t have 10 things on your list to complete that day. Focus on achieving just 3 or 5 important things every day. Achieve them and your motivation will go through the roof. Have too many and don’t complete them and your energy levels will drop.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has his unique way on how to prioritize: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Express gratitude for what you have

Sometimes we are so busy working through and dealing with the day to day and having our mind in the future that we forget about the here and now, this present moment. I believe it’s essential to include proactive gratitude as part of everyday life, to actually look at everything in our lives and appreciate what we have.

Many of us think of gratitude as reacting. Something happens or someone does something and you feel grateful. You say thank you, maybe send an email.

But a far more proactive strategy for creating and living an abundant life is to actively find things you appreciate. This affects your own personal state of mind but also impacts others. You could send a handwritten card to the people you love or someone that means a lot to you.

Try giving thanks for three things at the end of every day and see how this shifts your mood and mind-set.

5. Learn to say no

It’s important to decide what you want to do, who you want to build relationships with and where you want to spend your time. We have so many requests made of us and so many opportunities to do different things that we end up saying yes to things that we really don’t want to do but feel we should do.

Have the self-respect, confidence and courage to live life on your own terms and say yes only to the things that really matter. For everything else, start saying no.

When you are clear on who matters most and what matters most, you gain clarity on what and who is essential and who isn’t.

Your time is scarce. When you start saying no to most things, you will become more focused and be completely present in everything you’ve said yes to.

Learn how to say no more often with these tips: How to Say No When You Feel You Can Only Say Yes

6. Have more fun

If you looked back at the last week, how much time did you spend just having fun? If it wasn’t much, then it’s time to change things up.

Think about what gets you excited, think about the people you love spending time with. Jump into new things and new relationships. Take some risks, try something new, learn a new skill and start laying the groundwork for a big project you’ve always been putting off.

If you need to get out of your comfort zone to have more fun, just do it. However, you want to change your life, having more fun keeps you energized and motivated.

7. Start to journal

One of the biggest things that has helped me in my own personal growth and goal achievement is using my journal every day.

This is the place to house my dreams. It is home to my creative thoughts and my thinking tools. It’s a place to escape to. It’s also a place to write down thoughts and notes on where I am right now — my thinking, my mind-set and my belief system.

The habit of writing in my journal felt like a small step but has been transformative. It has become a routine that has affected other parts of my life.

So, start keeping a journal. Commit to writing every day, even if it’s just for five minutes and see where your imagination takes you. If you need to know more benefits about journal writing to get started, here’re 5 Smart Reasons Why You Should Start Journal Writing TODAY

8. Create one hour a day to think and relax

It’s amazing what we actually have time for, especially when we decide to really make time. I hear the phrase “I don’t have time” constantly. How about you change that mind-set and start dedicating one hour a day to yourself?

One hour to work on yourself. One hour for reading. One hour to learn a new skill.

The truth is we can all find time if it’s important to us. This one hour a day could help us become more creative and increase your energy and focus. Plus, you’ll increase your capabilities.

9. Do one thing you love to do every day

As we get sucked into the whirlwind of the everyday, it’s all we can do just to get by. We often forget to do or enjoy the things that actually bring us the biggest amount of joy.

One of the best ways to bring more balance back into your life is to recommit to do the things that give you the most pleasure. If you don’t have anything, I suggest you find something you’re passionate about. This could be reading, walking, meditating, learning an instrument or a language, or becoming a better cook or gardener.

It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get joy from the experience. Try carving out time every day to do this one thing. Do it for 30 days and it will become a habit. Plus, it will help you reconnect with what you really care about.

10. Create more family time

This is an area that means a lot to me and was one of the reasons I set up my coaching business in the first place.

I have two young children and I wanted to see more of them and to spend more time with my family. I get to take them to school sometimes and am often home for ‘family dinner’ and bedtime stories. Having the freedom to do this is essential in how I run my business and how I help other entrepreneurs run their business.

If you can create a bit of space to spend more time with the people that matter you will see a massive difference. Here’s a guide on How to Maximize Family Time with plenty of ways you can try immediately.

11. Set clear goals

Successful people are always guided by a vision of their future. To keep them on course and motivated setting clear goals, both long-term and short-term, allows them to achieve their biggest dreams.

Setting specific and measurable goals gives you the best chance to transform how you work and live. They help you move forward and build momentum every single day. As Dan Sullivan says,

“Your future is your property. If you don’t take ownership of it, others will be happy to do it for you.”

Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide: How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

12. Focus on results, not time spent

Rather than thinking about working harder, focus your time and energy on achieving bigger results. By simplifying your areas of focus, you free up more time to live a more joyful and balanced life.

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of doing countless activities that drain your energy and take you away from building momentum in moving your business forward. You are being pulled in multiple directions and don’t have enough time and often take on too many projects. This can often leave you drained, worried and uncommunicative at the end of the day.

Remember, getting more things done means nothing when nothing great is done.

By focusing on a smaller number of projects and delivering maximum impact, you have a bigger sense of achievement, confidence and motivation. Plus, you may have more time to stop work early and spend time with the people that matter.

13. Commit to a bigger future

You have the power and control to decide what bigger and better future you want for yourself right now, in this present moment. How far into the future you want to ‘vision’ is up to you. It could be 3 years, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years. This future is yours to create but it only comes from investing time now to think about where you are and where you want to go.

Try this: Look into your ‘future you’ and be clear where you want to go, who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Then bring yourself back to the present day and create an action plan on how you’re going to create and ‘walk to’ this bigger future.

You will feel a higher sense of energy, engagement, motivation, creativity and productivity because you have a clear vision and clarity on exactly where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get there.

Think differently and live differently

Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately whilst others will take a little longer to implement but will be key to your long-term success.

Creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time is essential to your long-term health and mental wellbeing. The desire to create that change only comes from within. Hopefully these strategies and tips will set you on the right path!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Why You Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night (And How to Fix It)

Why is a good night of sleep so hard to achieve?

A bad night of sleep is cumulative. The side effects of a poor night of sleep carry over into the entire day leaving your brain running off fumes feeling fatigued, unable to focus and unproductive. It’s frustrating trying to get tasks done when your brain is screaming at you to just fall flat onto your desk and just “take 5.”

If you’re someone who finds themselves waking up at odd hours of the night with difficulty getting back to sleep or waking up not feeling refreshed and energized, then listen up because these next sections are for you.

In this article, we’re going to dive into some of the most common reasons why you’re not getting a good night of sleep and what you can start doing about it.

Is it normal to wake up in the middle of the night?

Shouldn’t we always sleep eight hours straight through the night?

It’s actually not uncommon for someone to wake up in the middle of the night, even 3-4 times a night. The normal human cycle of sleep is roughly every 90-120 minutes. According to Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert, most people will go through three to four “cycles” of sleep per night.

Towards the end of each cycle, sleep is less deep and you have a higher likelihood of being woken up. Sometimes we are unaware that we are even awake because we just fall right back to sleep, which is normal. This may be the main reason why many people rarely have true uninterrupted eight hours of sleep.

This becomes a problem when we have difficulty getting back to sleep. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep, it could be a sign of an issue that may need to be addressed.

Waking up at the same time every night?

If you find yourself waking up at nearly the same time every single night, don’t panic. This may actually be a sign of a healthy and dependable sleep cycle. Many people tend to find they most commonly wake up in between cycles roughly 4-6 hours from when they went to bed.

This infographic illustrates what parts of your body maybe unhealthy based on the time you wake up at night:[1]

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with consistent difficulty getting back to sleep, this could be a warning signal that you may need to make a change to your sleep habits using some of the strategies below.

Why am I waking up in the middle of the night? (And ways to tackle it)

There are several reasons that may be the cause of why you are waking up in the middle of the night. Let’s take a look at the top 5 most common reasons why:

1. You’re taking your stress to bed

Maybe you had a rough day at the office or have other form of stress. Stress doesn’t take a rest when you do. Often times, stress travels with you back to your home and eventually into your sleep unless you deal with it. If you don’t properly handle your stress, you end up lying in bed mulling over your stress for hours, whether you are consciously aware of this happening or not.

Have you ever found yourself in bed trying to sleep, only to be still thinking about the argument you had or the meeting that you wish went better?

Our brain tends to ruminate over our stress and it can end up keeping us from deep sleep because of it or it wakes us up in the middle of the night. When you mull over your stress, you are subtly keeping your brains in a state of “fight-or-flight”. When your brain is in a fight-or-flight mode, it has an extremely tough time falling asleep.

What to do?

If you find yourself taking your stress to bed or waking up in the middle of the night stressed, a simple strategy to practice is box-breathing. Box-breathing is a powerful strategy that helps calm the stress signals in your brain so that it can begin to fall asleep and stay asleep.

It’s a modern spin on “counting sheep.” With box breathing, you will count the same time on your inhale, hold at the top, exhale and hold at the bottom. It will look something like this: (you will be in bed for this)

  • Inhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold at the top of the inhale for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold at the bottom of the exhale for 4 seconds.

This simple strategy can help you release stress from the day so that you can step into a great night of deep sleep.

2. Bad sleep foods

A critical hormone in regulating sleep that you may be familiar with is a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin levels rise in your body roughly 2 hours before bedtime, triggering tiredness and sleepiness, then lowers throughout the night until you wake up.

It’s important to know that melatonin is conversely related to cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. So as melatonin goes up, cortisol goes down and we sleep. As melatonin goes down and cortisol goes up, we wake up.

Having too much cortisol in our body, especially as we get towards the end of the day, can have a negative impact on our sleep and can keep us waking up in the middle of the night when we really should be sleeping.

You may be surprised to find there are many everyday foods that we are eating that are triggering a stress response in our brain by creating inflammation. Our brain is extremely sensitive to inflammation and inflammation will leave the brain more sensitive to stress.

Some of the tops foods that may be wrecking your sleep could be:

  • Trans-Fat – Trans-Fat is a highly processed and highly inflammatory fat source that you should avoid at all costs if you want a good night sleep.
  • Highly processed vegetable oils – Oils like Safflower, Palm, and Canola oil have a few issues. First, they typically oxidize extremely quickly. Oxiditation is a form of “rusting” in fats. When these oils get heated, they “rust” very quickly which creates an inflammatory response in the body. Second, these oils are typically loaded with toxins from their processing which also makes them very inflammatory.
  • Fruit juices and yogurts – These are typically marketed as healthy foods but in reality, they are full of sugar which can disrupt healthy sleep.
  • Alcohol  – Alcohol has been seen as a way to calm down after a long day and many believe it helps them get a good night sleep. It turns out that alcohol actually does more harm than good. Alcohol has been shown to increase wakefulness during the second half of sleep and also increases cortisol levels.[2]

What to do?

Make sure to get rid of these foods especially before bed to avoid any interruptions in your sleep.

3. Electronics before bed

Our modern technology has made accessing our favorite social media, movies and T.V. episodes available at arms reach 24 hours a day. It turns out that this advancement in technology may be negatively impacting our brain’s ability to sleep optimally.

Light from LED screens like your smartphone, computer and television has a high density of blue spectrum light.

Your brain is very familiar with blue light. It’s most familiar with blue light around noon when the sun emits the most amount of blue light. Blue light is an important spectrum of light that helps our brains determine what time of day it is.

When blue light is highest around noon, it helps the brain calibrate it’s circadian rhythm to the correct time of day so that we’ll be ready for bed at the appropriate time in the evening.

Getting blue light from your smartphones or T.V. before bed can unknowingly be triggering your brain to think it’s actually earlier in the day than it truly is, which can inadvertently be affecting your circadian rhythm and optimal sleep.

What to do?

Avoid all electronics use at least an hour before bedtime to avoid unnatural blue light and allow your brain to start to calm down so you can get great sleep.

4. Working until bedtime

You only have 24 hours in a day so you want to maximize it. Sometimes that means working late into the night. As soon as you shut down your computer or finish the call, you hop into bed, hoping to get some reprieve and recovery from the day.

When the brain is actively engaged in mental activities or work, the brain is typically generating “beta” brain waves. Brain waves are what keep us focused and alert to the task at hand, but unfortunately being alert and focused does not lead to great sleep. It takes time for the brain to transition from an alert phase to the rest phase.

What to do?

The key is to give the brain a “cue” that work is over and it’s time to make a switch to a relaxed state so that we can begin the process to unwind and eventually sleep.

Some cues you can use to tell your brain it’s time to unwind are:

  • Shut everything off and begin to take 20 slow deep breathes.
  • Read a fiction book.
  • Take a hot shower.
  • Watch an episode of your favorite show, just make sure it’s at least an hour until you go to bed.
  • Play some relaxing music

Use whatever works best for you but the key is to stay consistent. The more consistent you are with your cues, the better the brain gets at making the transition from work to relaxation.

5. Not making a sleep routine

Your brain loves routine. There’s a saying in neuroscience that says “The Brain Wires The Way It Fires,” meaning the more the brain engages in the same activity or habit, the more wiring the brain lays down make it easier and simpler for the brain to accomplish.

When it comes to getting great sleep, having a “sleep routine” is crucial to helping the brain relax from the day and begin to set the stage for a great night sleep.

Think about the last time you went to workout, did you arrive at the gym and immediately start throwing weights around or start running? Of course not. You warmed up (hopefully) and got your body prepared to workout.

Think of your sleep routine as a warm-up for your brain to get ready for sleep. The only difference is that the more you “warm-up” with your sleep routine, the better the brain gets.

What to do?

The best way to get started is to set a specific time every night, typically an hour before bedtime, where you’ll commit to shutting down work and electronics to transition into your sleep routine. Whatever routine you chose, make sure to stick to it for a few weeks to give your brain time to adapt to the new schedule.

If you’re looking for a good night routine to follow, here it is: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

Your blueprint for “lights out” sleep

If you want to be able to stay productive and have incredible amounts of energy, you’re going to need great quality sleep.

Not sure where to get started?

Here’s your blueprint to help you get an amazing night of sleep and keep you from waking up in the middle of the night.

  1. Create a great sleep routine and stick to it.
  2. Write down everything you need to do the next day so you can get it off your mind and let your brain relax.
  3. Avoid the sleep trouble foods, especially before bedtime.
  4. Turn your TV, phone and computer off before bed.
  5. Stop working at least an hour before bedtime to allow your brain to make the transition to get ready for bed.
  6. Get to bed at a good time.

These strategies will help you not only get a great night of sleep but will also help keep you from waking up in the middle of the night restless and unable to get back to sleep.

Sleep well, my friends!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Time and time again, we’re told what a powerful tool breathing exercises can be for reducing anxiety and more specifically, the physical effects anxiety has on our body.

Yet how often have you gone hunting to find suitable breathing exercises for anxiety only to bump into a string of complex yoga jargon and techniques that take so long to master that they’re just not fit for purpose?

After all, when you’re in the grip of crippling anxiety or -worse- a full-blown panic attack, you simply don’t have the time to assume the lotus position and start worrying pranayama, whatever that is.

What you need is quick, simple solutions you can apply right there on the spot to relax your breathing and return to feeling calm and in control within seconds.

Today, we’ll look at five of the best breathing techniques for doing just that, ranging from powerful techniques you can use to curtail anxiety before it escalates, to quick-fixes you can use in an emergency whenever a panic attack strikes.

Why do breathing exercises for anxiety work?

Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Doesn’t it just feel better?

In that moment, you’re focused only on that breath. Your mind isn’t occupied with reading this article, listening to background noise or getting lost in the thousand and one thoughts rushing through your mind. Instead, it’s tuned only to that breath, on the slow, deep inhale and calm, relaxing exhale.

Take another deep breath and this time, pay attention to how you feel. This time, you’ll notice that not only is your mind clearer because of the reason mentioned above but also that you feel physically different, even if only for a moment.

This is because, as you focus on those slow, deep breaths, you’re sending a message to your brain that it’s time for calm. Your brain, in turn, sends messages throughout your body that result in that feeling of calm washing gently over you.

Now, compare this to what happens when you’re in the grip of anxiety.

When you get anxious, you tend to do what’s called thoracic -or chest- breathing, releasing quick, shallow breaths in rapid succession.

Often, instead of slowing down your breathing, you get caught up in how those rapid breaths make you feel as though you’re not getting enough oxygen, thus escalating the level of panic. This sends all kinds of confusing signals to the brain which, in response, sends its own signals back through the body, negatively affecting your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. As a result, your blood isn’t sufficiently oxygenated and thus you end up with all the classic symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks such as a thumping heart, dizziness and muscle tension.

When you finally take note of our breathing and consciously return it to slow, even diaphragmatic breathing (breathing using your diaphragm), you signal to your brain that it’s time to correct the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, alleviating those symptoms and making you feel calm and relaxed in the process.

So, that’s the science stuff out of the way, but how do you actually use breathing exercises for anxiety?

Quick and effective breathing exercises for anxiety

Here are five quick and effective techniques you can use right now, or whenever you need them, to return yourself to a peaceful state of calm.

1. Easy abdominal breathing technique

Let’s start with one of the simplest and most effective techniques available.

You might have seen this referred to as “belly breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing techniques.” Whatever name you see it by, the technique is essentially the same.

Here’s a video to help you go through the technique:

Abdominal breathing technique in action:

  1. Sitting or lying in a comfortable position, close your eyes, relax your shoulders and allow any tension in your muscles to disappear if at all possible.
  2. Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose. Your bellow should expand whilst your chest rises very little. If it helps, you can put your hand on your bellow and feel the inhaled breath pushing that hand up.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Keeping your jaw relaxed, purse your lips as you blow, though remember to keep the exhale nice and gentle. Again, you can keep your hand on your stomach and very lightly push down as you exhale.
  4. Repeat for several minutes until you feel calm again.

Like most of these exercises, you may find it helpful to practice this one even when you’re feeling anxious. That way, you’ll know just what to do when the time comes that you do need to use it.

2. Buteyko breathing method

One common symptom of an anxiety or panic attach is hyperventilating. This involves breathing so rapidly that it almost feels that you just can’t get enough oxygen into your lungs no matter what you do.

In actual fact, the very opposite is happening. Hyperventilation is caused by too much oxygen getting in, upsetting the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance and inducing those feelings of panic. The Buteyko method readdresses that balance, proving itself to be highly effective in stopping hyperventilation.

Here’s a video to help you go through the technique:

Buteyko breathing method in action:

  1. Sit comfortably, take a gentle breathe in through the nose.
  2. Just as gently, breathe out, again through the nose.
  3. Immediately following the exhale, pinch your nose with your fingers and hold your breath.
  4. Continue to hold your breath for as long as you can.
  5. When you feel a natural urge to breathe again, let go of the nose and breathe out.
  6. Resume breathing as normally as possible.
  7. Wait for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat until you feel calm and relaxed.

3. 1:4:2 Power breaths

Fans of best-selling author and performance coach Tony Robbins may already be familiar with this one.

Featured in Robbins’ groundbreaking 2001 book Unlimited Power, this powerful technique can help you quickly move from the short, shallow thoracic breathing that creates panic attacks to the deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing that leaves us calm and relaxed:

Like all the breathing exercises we’re looking at today, this one has the added benefit that by focussing on it and it alone, we’re able to take our thoughts away from the anxiety trigger, putting our minds in a clear, calm state from which we can better tackle what’s in front of us.

It’s called 1:4:2 because that’s the ratio used to determine how long to inhale, hold and exhale a breath. Using that ratio for an initial count of five, for example, the technique would look like this:

1:4:2 in action:

  1. Inhale for five seconds
  2. Hold the breath in for 20 seconds
  3. Exhale for 10 seconds.

If you find that this is too much, you can always adjust the number of seconds providing you stick to the same ratio.

You could, for example, do the following:

  1. Inhale for three seconds
  2. Hold the breath for 12 seconds
  3. Exhale for six seconds.

Tony Robbins recommends doing 10 “power breaths” three times a day, though even if you don’t remember to do it throughout your day, repeating this exercise ten times when you’re struggling with anxiety can really help with alleviating the symptoms you’re dealing with.

4. Equal breathing

If all that talk of numbers and ratios causes you more anxiety than it solves, here’s a much simpler version. This one focuses on breathing in and our for an equal number of breaths:

Equal breathing in action:

  1. Breathe in slow and steady through the nose for a count of four.
  2. Relax and exhale for the same count of four.
  3. Repeat until feeling calm and relaxed.

You might also find it helpful to use this one before bed if your anxiety is causing you sleep problems.

5. Alternate nostril breathing

Finally, we come to one of the trickier breathing exercises for anxiety, albeit one that can prove hugely beneficial in helping us move from thoracic to diaphragmatic breathing, as well as regaining focus when anxiety sends your thoughts into a spin.

Here’s a video to help you go through the technique:

Alternate nostril technique in action:

  1. Place your right thumb over your right nostril.
  2. Breathe in through your left nostril.
  3. Put your finger over your left nostril and breathe out through the right nostril.
  4. Alternate breathing in through one nostril and out through the other, blocking whichever nostril you’re not using.

Choose the best breathing exercises for your anxiety

Whilst some of these techniques are best used in specific circumstances (such as Buteyko for hyperventilation), each one ultimately achieves the same result — Getting us out of those fast, shallow breaths that cause our anxiety symptoms and back into the deep, relaxing breaths that leave us feeling calm.

To determine which one is best for you, you might want to take some time to practice each one and decide for yourself which is the most effective in alleviating your anxiety.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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24 Fun Things to Do with Kids (From Indoor Activities to Outdoor Fun)

You’re at home with the kids, your spouse is at work and it’s a beautiful day outside but you have no clue what to do with the kids. You’ve already taken them to the park 4 times this week (and it’s only Wednesday) and you and the kids are both getting sick of it.

Or you’re home with the kids, your spouse is at work and it’s pouring rain outside and now the park isn’t even an option, so now what do you do?

Allow us to hopefully spark some new ideas to entertain your kids and you with in this list of fun things to do with kids:

Indoor ideas

1. Romp it up

Where I live, my city has a great kids program called Tot Romp. It’s a space at a local community centre where they set up toys, slides, games, and activities for the kids to play with. It’s a great way to get out of the house, play with new toys and meet new families. It costs a couple bucks each time you go so it’s a relatively low cost option.

Check your local community guide for times and locations.

2. Go for a stroll

While it’s super easy to go for a walk to the park, what about when it rains?

One of my favourite places to go in that case is the mall. It’s a great way to burn off some energy and do a little window shopping. Chances are it won’t be super busy if you go midday so you will probably feel more comfortable letting the kids just go.

As an added bonus, a lot of malls now have a children’s play space for your kids to climb around on.

3. MasterChef your house

You know there’s a Junior version for MasterChef? Well, why not involve your juniors in making a meal.

Lunches and dinners can seem like an endless task and a challenging one with the kids stuck inside. What better way to combat those problems than having your kids help? Sure it might get a little messy but it’s bound to create some great memories.

Thinking about what to make with your kids? Check out 40 Easy Recipes To Cook With Kids

4. Bake away

A great way to get your kids involved in the snacks they eat or help you with is any baking you need to do.

Added bonus – this can help with math skills as you measure out ingredients.

5. Get lost at the blue and yellow

IKEA is one of those places that can easily take up a whole day depending on how you do it. (And how many times you get lost).

If your kids are old enough, they can be dropped off in the kids play area and you can shop (or have a coffee and snack for an hour or so). And even if they aren’t old enough, they can still run around the showroom with you and then you can all grab a cheap bite to eat at the end of the day.

6. Make a me- I mean, paint

Put down an old table cloth (or one from the dollar store) and put your little one in the highchair, give them some child friendly paints and let them go!

Whether you use paper or not, sure it’d be a good time!

7. Future Olympian in training

Many communities are so great at providing things to do for families with kids that we often forget to use them as a resource.

Gymnastics is one of the best ways for kids to burn off A LOT of energy. It’s safe and fun for them to run and run for an hour or two. It’s often cheap – or free – so it’s worth seeing what your community has to offer.

8. Switch it up

With my kids, I’ve noticed that they often are so bored of seeing the same toys, same spaces and same games, so why not switch it up?

Take your kids to a friend’s place. This will give the kids new surroundings, new toys and new games to play with that will entertain them for a while.

You can even swap with friends so that one person isn’t always hosting. It gets your child out of the house and provides great social interaction, and hopefully a new friendship or two.

9. To grandmother’s house we go

Besides you, chances are that nobody loves your kids as much as their grandparents. We’ve heard it said that being a grandparent is all the fun of being a parent with none of the responsibility. While that’s mostly true, they’re still responsible for the kids when they have them, the fun part is definitely true.

My kids love their grandparents and they always have a blast with them so why not let them spend more time with them?

10. Go on a date

If you have multiple kids, it can be really hard to get one on one time with them.

A great idea is to go on a date with one kid each week. One week mom takes a kid out, next week dad takes a kid out until each parents has had a date with each kid, then start all over again.

This is a great way to slow things down or speed them up while getting to focus all your attention on just one kid.

Here’s a sweet video about a dad taking his daughter on the first date:

11. Kids cafe

This one is similar to the one above but I know in my area, there is a couple of cafes that have a designated play space for kids and great snacks for parents. They often run different events such as music classes which can be a great day out.

12. Train your little Michael Phelps

This one can be indoor or out, but the pool is a great option to burn off that excess energy and it’s super fun for everyone. Just don’t forget sunscreen if you’re outdoors.

And after, the kids will drop like a rock for a fantastic nap!

13. Treat yo self

This one is for those of you with girls. The spa is always a good time whether it’s just getting your nails done or going for a full spa day with massage and everything.

Either plan an at home spa day or treat your kiddo and go get the pros to do it. Personally, we like the home one better, you can make up facial scrubs or pick up masks from the dollar store, paint each other’s nails and eat yummy treats!

Outdoor ideas

14. Take me out to the ball game

Chances are it’s getting close to baseball season where you live. If you’re lucky, like I am in Vancouver, you may even have a professional or semi-professional team close by.

Take the family out to a ball game for the night. If you’re on a budget, go to the local park one evening and watch the kids play.

15. Catch some rays

Take the kids to the beach. With summer fast approaching, go visit it! It doesn’t even need to be summer for this, cloudy days mean it’s going to be less busy and give your kid more space to run and explore! Pack a picnic lunch and you’re basically set.

You can even check out these beach hacks before you head out to the beach with your kids.

16. Take a ride

One thing I love to do is go for local drives and find new places to explore. Doing this with the kids can be awesome!

Ask them what they see out the window, just make sure your destination has some space for kids to get their energy out!

17. Search out a new park

Do you have errands to run in a different part of the city? Google up the top playgrounds in the area and make that a pit stop after running your errands.

Who knows, it might just become a new favorite!

18. Farmers’ markets

You don’t need to be a farmer to attend a farmer’s market. Often times there are farmers markets or festivals that are free to attend and will have music and different performances. It’s a great way to check out different interests and businesses in your community!

And for your reference, take a look at America’s best farmers’ markets here.

19. Chalk it up

Chalk is great for a few reasons, it’s super cheap, fun for the kids and harmless on clothing.

You can pick it up from the dollar store (or make it yourself if you’re really ambitious, another thing to do with the kids) and head out your front door for some cheap fun!

You can have drawing contests, draw roads or play hop scotch. Don’t forget to bring out the kids toys to play on after or simply sit and play endless games of X’s & O’s. You can find even more ways to play with chalk here.

20. Go for a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are great for kids. It gives them a task that they have to complete. If your kids are as determined as mine are, they will love it.

There are lots of free lists online or simply make your own before you leave. Head out for a walk and have your kids either gather the items on a list, take a picture or point them out to you. It puts a new spin on your ordinary walks.

21. Zoo-m off

If you have a zoo in your area, go spend the day there. If you don’t have a big zoo, maybe there’s a petting zoo close by. Pack a lunch for the day and head out!

Kids love animals and being able to walk around so much, this is a win-win situation.

22. Go chasing airplanes

One of the best dates I ever took my wife on was a trip to the airport late at night. We took a pickup truck, lots of blankets and pillow and laid in the bed watching airplanes land.

Chances are good that there is an airport near you, go spend an afternoon there. The kids can run around while you wait for any planes and then help count them, what colour are they, guess where they came from etc.

Tip – make sure you have ear protection for children that are really young!

23. Head to the great outdoors

Whether it’s in your backyard or out in the back country, camping was always a favourite memory of mine.

Getting out the tent and sleeping bags, and roasting marshmallows is a guaranteed good time for parents and kids!

Don’t miss these family camping tips to make camping safe and fun for everyone.

24. Fight the kids

Have a water fight! Kids love competition, especially if it’s against their parents. Find your inner child, get out your water gun and set teams, maybe even set up barriers and have a good old fashioned water fight.

We hope this list has given you a few new ideas to entertain both you and the kids.

This week choose one item from the list that you haven’t done before. No more using weather as an excuse either because we gave you indoor and outdoor ideas.

After you’ve done it, come back here and pick another one for the next week!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post 24 Fun Things to Do with Kids (From Indoor Activities to Outdoor Fun) appeared first on Lifehack.

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