Articles from December 2014

How to Brighten Your Room

How to Brighten Your Room

Brighten up your dark room.

During winter cloudy days and long nights can make your home seem extra dark. As the longest nights of the year are upon us, lift your spirits a bit by using these tips to brighten your bedroom.


The winter is a great time to paint because all of your outside projects are on hold. It has been very trendy to paint entire rooms or accent walls in dark colors. While it looks very attractive, it may be making your space too dark and dreary. Consider painting your bedroom white. If you prefer to have color, choose a shade that is soft and bright. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in changing the look and feel of your private space. It’s important to note that when painting during the winter months, be sure to ventilate the room by opening a window or door. The paint fumes are not only harmful to humans, but small pets as well.


The lighting levels within a room have a huge effect on your mood. Choose a fun new chandelier or add sconce lighting beside your bed. Find something that will match your style and brighten your space. More bulbs in your room mean a sunnier feel. Be careful when buying your bulbs. Bulbs that are labeled outdoor light are a cold, bluish color. Choose a warm bulb for your bedroom for a homier feel.


Add fresh,crisp white sheets to your bed. Having bright white sheets can help you feel clean and warm. Pair the sheets with adown comforter andbright duvet to keep you extra cozy on cold nights.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers can add a springtime look and scent to your bedroom even in the middle of winter. Place a small bud vase on your nightstand or place a larger arrangement on your dresser or even on your bathroom. Living houseplants are a more long lasting way to bring the outdoors inside and brighten up your space.


You may not want to invest the time or money into replacing your carpet. Adding a rug is a fast and easy alternative. Find a rug with a bright color or lively pattern to transform your room and refresh your floor.


TLC suggests adding mirrored surfaces or cut glass to reflect light around the room. A decorative mirror will help your space appear larger and brighter.

Small Touches

These are just a few things you can do to brighten up a dreary feeling room. You can go as far as remodeling with new paint and decor, or simply add a few flowers or plants. Even small touches can help dark days seem a little lighter.

How do you brighten your home in the winter?

Image: “Sunny Window” by ilovebutter


Is Your Alarm Clock Bad for Your Health?

Reduce chronic stress by getting rid of your loud alarm clock.

Reduce chronic stress by getting rid of your loud alarm clock.

You may find your alarm clock annoying as it beeps at you in the early hours of the morning, but did you know it can also be bad for your health?

Physical Effects

ABC News cites a study done by the National Institute of Health in Japan that found alarm clocks raise heart rate and blood pressure as well as increase adrenaline. The increase in adrenaline may help you get up and moving, but daily exposure to these alarm clock side effects can take its toll on your health.


In addition to the negative health effects, abrupt waking during a deep sleep cycle can also seriously impact your daily performance. Being woken up during deep sleep can affect your memory as well as your ability to think clearly. Alarm clocks have no regard for your natural sleep rhythms and can easily wake you during some of your most important sleep stages.

Alternatives to Abrupt Mornings

Unfortunately, for most of us, alarm clocks are a necessity. They help us get to work on time, make our planes, and get the kids to school. There are a few ways to reduce the negative impact of alarm clocks and still be on time:

  • Go to bed earlier. Getting more sleep will help you feel more rested and you are less likely to be awakened suddenly by your alarm clock.
  • Go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday. Getting your body used to a sleeping rhythm will eventually eliminate the need for an alarm clock.
  • Use natural light. Our bodies are designed to work with the natural rhythms of the sun rising and setting. Crack open your blinds to let some light in during the morning hours. You can also use artificial light, like a sunrise alarm clock, to help your body wake more gently.
  • If you need noise to wake up, find a sound that is gentler than a beep or a buzz. Use soft music or chimes instead.

Ease Into Your Morning

Avoid the risk of chronic stress caused by the very first thing you encounter everyday. Change a few habits so that you can wake up gradually instead of abruptly. Hopefully you will find that you are more calm and more productive throughout your day. Better productivity will ultimately lead to more time to sleep breaking the cycle of staying up too late and setting your alarm clock to wake you up when you are not rested.

Have you ever tried getting rid of your alarm clock?

Image “Comfyness” by Guilherme Tavares

Tips for Avoiding Allergens During the Holiday Season

Tips for Avoiding Allergens During the Holiday Season

Dust off your tree and ribbons.

Allergens are lurking all over your home during the holidays. Make your Christmas season more enjoyable by removing these pesky allergens.

Christmas Tree

Using an artificial tree instead of a real tree can help many allergy sufferers feel better during the holiday season. If you are using an artificial tree, don’t forget to remove the dust it collects each year. You can remove dust before you set it up by gently vacuuming it with an upholstery brush attachment or a small hand held vacuum. Test a small section in the back of your tree to make sure your vacuum isn’t too strong before cleaning more visible portions of the tree.

WikiHow also suggests wiping the tree down with a damp cloth. Use a small amount mild dish soap in a bucket of water. Wring out your cloth so that it is barely wet and carefully wipe down the tree. Make sure you aren’t leaving behind suds or drips of water.

Using a bag to store your Christmas tree each year will also prevent your tree from collecting excessive dust while it is in storage.

Artificial wreaths and garland can also be cleaned in a similar manner.


When you pull out your flannel sheets and down comforters be sure to wash them before putting them on your bed. Storing your seasonal sheets in a storage container or bag will also help cut down on the dust that collects in them. Washing your sheets with a half cup of vinegar will help remove any musty smells the sheets may have collected.


Some people are sensitive to burning candles. If it is the burning that bothers you use a candle warmer instead. You can melt scented wax cubes and still get the desired aroma without burning a wick. If it is the scent that causes problems, simply freshen your kitchen or bathroom by putting out a small container of baking soda. The baking soda will absorb odors without covering them with another scent.


Ribbons on wreaths and other decorations can also collect dust or mildew while being stored. Consider replacing your ribbons each year to avoid any mold or mildew. Storing decorations in plastic tubs will also protect them from any unwanted moisture that causes mold and mildew.

A few extra steps can and some caution used when storing seasonal items can help you feel healthier throughout the winter season. During the winter, when you spend more time in your home, you want to remove anything that might make you feel sick. What do you do to feel great during the holiday season?

Image: “Christmas Tree Closeup 7” by Zechariah Judy

Do You Suffer From SAD?

Do You Suffer From SADIt is common to want to stay in bed a little longer in the winter. Dark mornings and chilly bedrooms make it hard to throw off the covers and get ready for the day.

However, if you are feeling like you want to sleep constantly you may be experiencing a specific problem. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD typically sets in during early winter and sticks around until spring.

An article in The American Family Physician estimates that 10 to 20 percent of people may have mild SAD. Your risk of experiencing SAD goes up the farther you live from the equator.



No one is sure exactly what makes some people more susceptible to SAD, but there are some theories about its causes. Mayo clinic suggests three things that may trigger SAD. The first cause may be your biological clock. The body sends signals about when you should be asleep or awake. These rhythms depend on sunlight. Stress may be caused when the amount of daylight changes, but our sleeping habits don’t. Another cause of SAD may be, “A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood.” Lowered serotonin can be caused by changes in sunlight. Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, is also affected by changes in exposure to sunlight.

Symptoms and Treatment

The Depression Blog from Mayo Clinic suggests that there are several symptoms that may indicate SAD. These include; weight gain and craving carbohydrates in particular, anxiety, oversleeping, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating.

If you experience these symptoms at the beginning of the winter season, you may want to see your doctor for help. Because SAD is thought to be caused by lack of sunlight, light therapy is often the prescribed treatment. Spending time in front a special lamp every day can help ward off seasonal depression. Doctors may also prescribe drugs for severe cases of SAD.

Feeling Good

Even if you do not have a serious case of SAD, many people feel a bit down in the winter. Spending time outdoors will help you get a little more sunshine and boost those mood enhancing hormones and brain chemicals. Exercise is also a good way to have more energy. Spend time with friends and socialize. The more you avoid the temptation to isolate yourself, the better you will feel. Supplementing your diet with vitamins can also help.

Do what you can to cut back on stress and sleep well. Taking care of your body will lead to feeling well emotionally. If you are experiencing signs of depression, see a doctor for help. A little preventative action will help you enjoy a beautiful winter season.

Photo “day eleven” courtesy of m_cygne