Want to reduce the stress of your commute?

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Get rid of all the junk in your car! Productivity expert Julie Morgenstern says a mess of bottles, newspapers, crumpled napkins, and workout clothes can trigger a big stress reaction. Then that gets combined with the stress of bad traffic and inattentive drivers. So, grab a trash bag and toss out all the junk. Your nerves will thank you!

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If you’ve been feeling blue…

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…it may be time to make your go-to beverage green tea. Because compounds in green tea called catechins have been shown to help decrease levels of hormones linked to depression. That’s according to research from Japan’s Tohoku University. The researchers found that people who drank between 2 and 3 cups of green tea a day were 41% less likely to report feeling depressed, on average. But stick with freshly-brewed tea, not bottled. Because the fresher the tea is, the more mood-boosting antioxidants it contains.

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What are you usually doing at 9pm?

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Watching Shark Tank or America’s Got Talent? Well, more and more people are at Spin class at the gym… or on the treadmill. 9pm is the new go-to time for working out, according to the Mind Body journal. It’s the fastest growing choice for workouts at fitness studios. There are 46 TIMES more classes booked at 9pm now than there were 10 years ago… mostly because people have more free time at night and gyms are staying open later to accommodate people’s schedules. The bonus of exercising at night? People are able to go 20% longer than in the morning – without feeling fatigued. That’s according to the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. That’s because our body uses oxygen more efficiently at night.

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Want to end your day on a high note?

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Take pride in what you accomplished since you woke up! Psychologists say taking a moment before bed to consider what made that day special reinforces the positives, which lowers stress, boosts moods, and can improve sleep. And taking another moment to plan ahead, and consider what you might do tomorrow that will also make you proud – can set you up for even greater success. And give you even MORE mood-boosting blessings to count the following night.

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Want a better workout?

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Pop 2 squares of dark chocolate first! Scientists at UC San Diego found dark chocolate with 70% cacao content can help us work out longer and harder – without feeling like we’re exerting ourselves more! The benefit comes from a healthy flavonoid that helps fight off muscle fatigue. It also helps build new mitochondria in muscles – which are cell structures that produce energy.

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We’re really anxious!

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How do I know? Because Google-searches for the word “anxiety” has more than doubled. You may need therapy to deal with your issues – but in the meantime, sniff fresh, crushed sage – or a cotton ball with a couple drops of sage essential oil. Researchers at Simmons College in Boston found the smell of sage cuts anxiety for up to 4 hours. That’s because its compounds boost production of brain chemicals that help regulate our mood.

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It’s flip-flop season…

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…which means yours are probably pretty gross by now. So here are some cleaning tips:

First: Seal them overnight in a bag of coffee grounds or dryer sheets, or for 24 hours in a plastic bag in the freezer. That’ll help remove odors, according to the Bright Nest blog.

Or put a couple of drops of cedarwood or sandalwood essential oil on the insole of each flip-flop. It’ll leave a fresh scent without irritating your feet.

And you can sprinkle rubber flip-flops with baking soda, and after an hour, rinse with water and vinegar. That’s the “classic de-stinking” technique.

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Improve thinking and focus by placing a plant on your desk.

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We’ve said before that having a plant on your desk can improve your thinking and focus. That’s because being within eyeshot of something from nature triggers the release of positive brain chemicals that make you feel refreshed and recharged. Well, there’s even more to it than that. By afternoon, indoor air pollution is at its peak. And according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, those chemicals increase brain inflammation – which produce feelings of anxiety. But if you have a plant on your desk, it’ll absorb the pollutants and pump out oxygen, which can leave you feeling calmer. And one of the best plants you can get is a spider plant. It thrives indoors – is hard to kill – and within 24 hours, it’ll soak up 87% of airborne pollutants in the immediate area. And not just carbon dioxide. It’ll eliminate dangerous volatile organic compounds – like benzene, ozone, and formaldehyde – that are emitted by plastic, fabric, computer printers, and cleaning solvents.

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So you fell asleep in the sun…

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…or played Frisbee and forgot to apply sunscreen… and now you’re a lobster. Here’s the first thing to do after you get a sunburn, according to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner from Mount Sinai Hospital: Grab cold SKIM or NON-FAT milk from the fridge, saturate a washcloth, wring it out, and apply it to your sunburn. That soothes because the milk coats your skin – instead of evaporating like water would – which helps repair the damaged outer layer. Milk protein also calms the skin and reduces inflammation, and skim or non-fat milk has more protein than whole milk. Out of milk? You can also use a cold compress of green tea to reduce inflammation.

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Here’s how to relax, fast!

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Feeling tense? Here’s how to relax, fast: Take a two-minute “stress break” every hour to get your blood flowing… say, by standing up and swinging your arms, or taking a brisk walk. Researchers at Loyola University in Baltimore found that physical activity helps calm the brain’s anxiety center and eases stress, which can quickly lower blood pressure by about 4 points.

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