Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk

Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.

Indeed, some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don't despair — you can learn positive thinking skills. Here's how.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk

Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk

Identifying negative thinking

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Here are some common forms of negative self-talk:

  • Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, say you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. But you forgot one minor step. That evening, you focus only on your oversight and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or that you're a total failure.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

  • Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
  • Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them.

Negative self-talkPositive thinking
I've never done it before. It's an opportunity to learn something new.
It's too complicated. I'll tackle it from a different angle.
I don't have the resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I'm too lazy to get this done. I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
There's no way it will work. I can try to make it work.
It's too radical a change. Let's take a chance.
No one bothers to communicate with me. I'll see if I can open the channels of communication.
I'm not going to get any better at this. I'll give it another try.

Practicing positive thinking every day

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you. Plus, when you share your positive mood and positive experience, both you and those around you enjoy an emotional boost.

Practicing positive self-talk will improve your outlook. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

By: Mayo Clinic Staff

Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/positive-thinking/SR00009/NSECTIONGROUP=2

More Emotional Health...

Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.

Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.

Indeed, some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don't despair — you can learn positive thinking skills. Here's how.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk

Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk

Identifying negative thinking

Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Here are some common forms of negative self-talk:

  • Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, say you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. But you forgot one minor step. That evening, you focus only on your oversight and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or that you're a total failure.

Focusing on positive thinking

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

  • Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
  • Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
  • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them.

Negative self-talkPositive thinking
I've never done it before. It's an opportunity to learn something new.
It's too complicated. I'll tackle it from a different angle.
I don't have the resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I'm too lazy to get this done. I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
There's no way it will work. I can try to make it work.
It's too radical a change. Let's take a chance.
No one bothers to communicate with me. I'll see if I can open the channels of communication.
I'm not going to get any better at this. I'll give it another try.

Practicing positive thinking every day

If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you. Plus, when you share your positive mood and positive experience, both you and those around you enjoy an emotional boost.

Practicing positive self-talk will improve your outlook. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

By: Mayo Clinic Staff

Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/positive-thinking/SR00009/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Mark Twain once wrote, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

I like that. But get real. In a culture preoccupied with youth and beauty, why has there been a 114 percent increase in the number of cosmetic surgeries performed since 1997?

How do women escape the judgment conferred on them every time they open a magazine, get online, or turns on the tube? How does she silence the menacing messages she sends herself when a new gray hair is found, or her crow’s feet grow an inch longer?

Very deliberately and carefully say Vivian Diller, Ph.D and Jill Muir-Sukenick, Ph.D, both professional models turned psychologists, in their new book, “Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change.” The authors propose a six-step process to deal with this kind of anxiety that is prevalent but not often discussed among middle-aged women.

Step one: Confront our changing looks.

Diller and Muir-Sukenick call them “uh oh” moments: when you notice your first wrinkles, smile lines, graying and thinning hair, darkening circles below the eyes, varicose veins, brown spots on hands and face, loss of muscle tone, hanging skin on arms or neck, and hot flashes. I’ve experienced many “uh oh” moments recently, but the one that comes to mind is last summer, when a friend of mine said to me about another friend, “She’s our age … you know, late 40s.” I was, at that time, late 30s and stopped by the drug store to pick up some moisturizing cream, which I have used a total of two times.

Step two: Identify our masks.

Not the ones we are supposed to be wearing at night to stay wrinkled-free and pretty. Diller and Muir-Sukenick mean the ways we hide from or avoid our fears by layers of protection that, in reality, make us look ridiculous. Like, for example, deciding to wear our daughters’ clothes to work–in order to prove to ourselves that we, too, can wear a size six, and that our body looks like an 18-year-old’s. That kind of denial covers up the shame, embarrassment, and anxiety we feel as we age. But the problem with wearing masks? Say Diller and Muir-Sukenick: “Clinging to an illusion of physical youth often leads to reliance on the approval of others to validate that illusion. Women’s sense of beauty is then too dependent on external sources, rather than an internal experience.”

Step three: Listen to our inner dialogues.

We give ourselves so many memos throughout the day that it is difficult to keep track. One day I did, and realize I had delivered over 5,000 nasty grams to myself in one 24-hour period. Just as a mask covers up our insecurity, our internal dialogue exposes it. It’s an ongoing conversation within us that we are, most of the time, oblivious to. But the rest of the body hears the dialog and registers the message: You’re old, fat, ugly, and useless. So we have to pay attention to these blabbers and catch them after they hurl a bunch of toxic stuff into our nervous system. One way that I like to turn out the toxic talk is by envisioning that I am having a conversation with a friend instead. I would never insult her that way. So I should honor the same manners with myself.

Step four: Go back in time.

Here comes the part where you get to blame your mother. Not really. But it helpful to know where your self-image is coming from, because only then can we redesign it based on what we know about ourselves. Write Diller and Muir-Sukenick: “As adults, our psychological reservoirs are ours to fill….Instead of feeling a loss of control as we get older, we in fact have increased opportunities to fill our reservoir with responses that can now come from our own selves and from people we choose to have in our lives.”

Step five: Consider our adolescence.

No! You might say. I buried those scars long ago. For Pete’s sake, leave them alone! At least that’s how I feel. Because I was an ugly 8th-grader with bad acne and a popular twin sister invited to all the parties. But I do think this is an important step, because, as the authors suggest, there are parallels between gray-hair anxiety and the awkwardness we went through as adolescents. In addition to my unpopular, acne-ridden self, I forgot that it was at this point that my dad left my mom, who was about 40 then, and married a woman who was 17 years his junior. No wonder why I’m a tad shaky about turning 40.

Step six: Get a face lift.

Kidding! It’s actually to let go. To mourn the youthful part of ourselves that is embedded into our memories. Viewing the aging process this way is helpful for me–because instead panicking and coloring every gray hair, I can look at the silver dandruff as an invitation to a new wiser, mature, but just as fun self.

Several of the women quoted by Diller and Muir-Sukenick said that they associated beauty with the time that they were most happiest–and that wasn’t necessarily their younger years. I can relate to that because I am much more gentle with myself now, know myself much better, and can be a friend to myself in ways that wouldn’t have made sense in my 20s.

In her book, “Motherless Daughters,” Hope Edelman writes, “Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.” It’s a bout coming up with a new meaning of beauty, a new definition of “youthful,” one that, perhaps, doesn’t require a plastic surgeon, but just a lot of raw and candid self-exploration and acceptance.

By: Therese J. Borchard

Original Article: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/05/16/face-it-6-steps-to-help-women-deal-with-aging/

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest

Divorce, layoffs, threat of terrorism -- there's plenty of anxiety around for everyone these days. And very often, the source is something we can't change. How do you know when it's time to get help dealing with your anxieties?

To better understand the underpinnings of anxiety -- and how to better cope -- WebMD turned to two anxiety experts: Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Normal vs. Harmful Anxiety

The cold sweat of anxiety is that "fight or flight" response that kept our early relatives safe from grizzly bears and other scary characters, says Andrews. "That adrenaline rush still serves us well under certain circumstances. Anxiety is a natural reaction to those very real stresses."

In today's world, "that reaction helps motivate us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes give us energy to take action when we need to," adds Ross.

Big job interview is coming up, and it's got you in knots. So "you spend a little more time getting dressed or rehearsing what you're going to say," Ross says. "You've got an appointment with the divorce lawyer, so you do more homework. That kind of anxiety can motivate you to do better. It helps you protect yourself."

But as we know too well, sometimes it doesn't take a specific threat -- only the possibility of crisis -- to send humans into anxiety mode. "The difficulty comes in learning to tone down that automatic response -- to think, 'How serious is the danger? How likely is the threat?' "says Andrews.

"The thing about anxiety is, it can take on a life of its own," she adds. "Everything becomes a potential crisis. The unthinkable has happened. So around every corner, there's the next possible disaster."

The Anxiety Toll

When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating. You get headaches; your stomach is upset. You might even have a panic attack -- the pounding heart, a feeling of lightheadedness.

Anxiety may also feel like depression. "The two sometimes overlap," Ross says.

When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day activities -- when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need to do -- that's when you need help, says Ross.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome -- "like a worry machine in your head," Ross says. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You're procrastinating to the point that you're almost afraid to take a step. You're so nervous about going to your child's school to talk to the teacher, you just don't go -- you miss the appointment."

In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, "people are not making good decisions," says Ross. "They're avoiding things, or they're unable to rise to the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They're procrastinating because they can't concentrate, can't stay focused. It's really interfering with their day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem and need professional help."

 How Do You Cope?

To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, "get real," as they say. "Separate out the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination is making worse," advises Ross. It's a twist on the old adage: "Take control of the things you can, and accept those you can't change."

"Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make changes? Then do what needs to be done," she says. "What things do you simply have to accept? That's very important."

Very often, it's possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of friends or family -- someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it's time for a therapist, or perhaps medication.

Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:

Challenge negative thoughts

Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to my goal? If it's just a negative thought you're rehashing, then you must be able to say to that thought: 'Stop.' "That's difficult to do, but it's very important," Ross says.

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later."

The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can, that you need to move forward," Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another."

Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews. "You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself."

But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life."

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.

By: Jeanie Lerche Davis
Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/jeanie-lerche-davis

 

 

The Smart Way to Snack - Custom-fit your snacks to your needs and schedule.

When you start fishing in your pocket for change for the evil vending machine, stop! Most people feel the need of a "little something" now and then during a busy day, but taking a second to "snack smart" will save you time, calories, and even money.

"Food is so available," Laurie A. Higgins, MS, RD, a pediatric nutrition educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, tells WebMD, "people don't take any with them and end up grabbing the fast, easy thing." This may be the worst, greasiest, sugariest, empty-calorie abomination on the face of the earth (OK, doughnut).

You know yourself, Higgins says, you know your age, weight, disease status (diabetes, low blood sugar), food allergies, whether you are pregnant or not. It's up to you to select the snack that fits both your individual needs and the occasion at hand. One size (and gooshy or crunchy mouth feel) does not fit all.

Snack With a Purpose

If you are a between-meals eater, look at your eating pattern, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, tells WebMD. "It may be a snack -- for you -- is a fourth meal or a good way to get a nutrient you missed. Think of it that way."

What are some common snacking moments, and what might you use to fill them (and yourself)?

When you need a wake-up or energy jolt. It's smart to eat a small breakfast of carbs and protein (cereal, egg, milk), says Duyff. It's even OK for most people to have a sensible amount of coffee, she says. "Have a latte with milk; that way you get a protein hit," she says (a candy bar will not give you the boost you want, she notes). Higgins also advises having milk or protein foods such as peanuts or cottage cheese.

Before leaving the office for a meeting. If you don't know when lunch is coming and need to be on top of your game, a piece of fruit or chunk of cheese is good. "Some people, especially young people, eat lunch early, so morning snacks may not even be needed, Higgins says.

Before working out. "The term 'carbo loading' refers to hours before an athletic event," Audrey T. Cross, PhD, professor of nutrition at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, tells WebMD. "But right before -- especially after a day of work -- you might want to prime the pump with a piece of fruit and a big glass of water."

After school or work. Depending on when dinner is scheduled, many people need a little nourishment when they get at home. Pediatric nutrition specialist Higgins recommends adolescents who are eating dinner late or running back out to athletic events eat a small meal consisting of a sandwich and a glass of milk -- regardless of whether they are diabetic or not. "Otherwise, young people come home and eat all the way until dinner, a cookie, a cracker, a soda; they are never satisfied. A sandwich is better."

Smart Snacks on a Diet

When you are cutting calories. Even adolescents can read labels, Higgins says. Popcorn, pretzels, or baked chips can be a good snack -- in moderation. Put the rest away on a high shelf. Cut-up veggies also make you work hard to chew and are satisfying. Cross recommends rice cakes with a little wake-up of peanut butter or cheese. "You are less likely to be hungry an hour later," she says.

During TV time. "I am not in favor of eating while watching TV," Cross says. "Have you ever watched someone eat while the TV is on? They are not tasting anything. They just need an activity to do while staring, and eating has become popular."

When out with friends. Sometimes it's also popular to "go for dessert" or grab a snack with your buddies. Cross recommends splitting a dessert. "If you get ice cream or To Die for Chocolate Torte, get one scoop or divide it," she says. "The real reason for going out is to be with your date or friends -- not the food."

At the movies. The movies are an example of an activity tied to food rather than time of day. "Why is this?" Duyff asks. "When we sit at the computer, we need a beverage. When we go to the movies, we need popcorn. We need to change our mindset."

Before partying. "It's an urban myth that you can coat your stomach with milk before drinking," laughs Duyff. "If there is going to be a lot of food, she adds, you may concentrate on eating rather than being with your friends and socializing. In that case, it might be better to have a snack beforehand to take the edge off. A cracker and cheese or those little carrots are good choices." (Remember, Duyff says, half a bottle of wine can contain up to 500 calories. In fact, Cross recommends drinking an equal amount of water after every drink.)

On the airplane. Call ahead and see if food is being provided, Cross advises. If not, bring a sandwich on board. Nothing salty or your feet might swell. "Coffee or another diuretic may mean more trips to the bathroom," Cross adds. "Water is good. And make it a juicy sandwich, with tomatoes."

Before bed. People who eat dinner early may get hungry at bed time. Milk contains tryptophan, which makes some people sleepy. On the flip side, Duyff says, chocolate ice cream may be a little buzzy and keep you awake. Chai tea can be soothing, Cross says. Eating too much and lying down causes heartburn in some people, so beware.

When traveling. Wise travelers bring packaged peanut butter crackers or other familiar little noshes, such as self-opening cans of tuna, in case restaurants are closed (forget those mini-bars).

If you want to plan ahead and remove temptation, Higgins says, check out some regular snack options online. You can go to the McDonald's web site (search on "nutrition"), for instance, and scope out the calorie and carb counts on the new offerings. She does this with her diabetic clients.

Although it's hard to "snackify," it's relaxing and softens stress.

But what about snacking against boredom? "Boredom or stress," Duyff says, "should not signal 'time to eat.' How about walking the dog or dancing around to a CD? Today it might be a celery stick, but tomorrow a whole bowl of something.

"A bowl of ice cream or a juicy peach should be enjoyed," Duyff adds. "That means every bite."

By: Star Lawrence, a medical journalist based in the Phoenix area.

Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/diet/fight-fatigue-energy-foods-6/smart-snacking