Seasonal flu usually debuts in the fall and peaks shortly after the new year. Children, seniors and those with chronic health conditions are most at risk because they have weaker immune systems. But keep in mind that the flu is very contagious. We’re all susceptible to the respiratory illness if exposed to it. So if your apartment is home to multiple generations, get ready!
If you’re moving from your parents’ house into your first apartment, or if your kids have moved out and you no longer want or need a big house, chances are you’re going to downsize at some point in your life – maybe more than once. The good news is this: Going smaller is good for you! Here are five reasons bigger isn’t always better:
1. You’ll save money.
This one’s obvious: In general, smaller spaces are less expensive. Downsizing to a smaller house or apartment is good for your wallet:
Between air conditioning and heating, our apartments can start to feel stuffy and stale. But adding some houseplants to your décor actually can help clean indoor air all year round, while improving the look of your home.
Read on for the benefits of indoor plants and how to take advantage of them.
August falls firmly in the summer season, but believe it or not, it’s the time to plant if you want to harvest crisp vegetables this fall.
If your apartment balcony gets enough sun, you can plant a container garden and grow your own food this fall, which saves you money in addition to brightening up your balcony.
You’ll want to invest in large containers, each one at least 10 inches wide and 12 inches deep, so your vegetables will have enough room to thrive.
Here are a few fall vegetables to consider planting this year:
The hotter the weather becomes, the more you may need your apartment to become your refuge.
To help you find nirvana at home this season, we’re serving up some hot apartment living tips to make your summer cooler than the AC that’s pumping!
Check out this summer edition of your happy-at-home apartment tips.
With spring allergies looming, it’s the perfect time to reassess your medical supplies to ensure you’re prepared for any situation. Check the pulse on the medicine cabinet in your apartment and keep it stocked with these 15 must-have items.
For Cuts, Scrapes and Burns
- Bandages. Make sure your medicine cabinet is full of bandages of all shapes and sizes protect wounds. This also includes self-adhesive bandages, gauze pads, medical tape and other special bandages.
- Antiseptics. Clean and disinfect minor cuts and scrapes by having some sort of liquid disinfectant on hand. Good options include hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as a stain remover and generally stings less than alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol, which can be used as a cleaner.
- Antibacterial ointment. An antibacterial ointment like Neosporin or Polysporin can help with pain relief and often speeds up the healing process.
- Cotton swabs. These are helpful for applying ointments and other medicines in a sanitary manner, and they can also be used for removing makeup and cleaning, making them a versatile investment.
- Tweezers. This tool is useful for removing splinters and ticks. Find sturdy metal tweezers with pointy ends for best results.
What are the healthiest cities in America? Some of the top ranking ones might surprise you.
Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine creates the American Fitness Index, a list of the healthiest cities in the U.S. based on diet and exercise habits, recreational opportunities and the prevalence of certain diseases.
Following is a collection of some of the highest-ranking metros in the country.
If you’re not sure whether or not you have SAD, the Mayo Clinic has released a list of symptoms to watch out for, including depression, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal, oversleeping, weight gain, difficult concentrating and appetite changes, particularly a craving for foods high in carbohydrates. While the specific cause of SAD is unknown, a few factors that might come into play include a disruption of your body’s circadian rhythm, and a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels due to reduced sunlight and the change in season. The good news is that there are several quick fixes you can make in and around your apartment to help fight seasonal affective disorder and boost your mood by spring. Here’s how.
• Bring the light in. One of the most effective ways to combat winter depression is with the use of an artificial light box. These small boxes, found online for upwards of $60, mimic outdoor light and are generally used for at least 30 minutes at a time to help adjust your body’s sleep cycles. You can even make your own by repurposing a wooden filing box from Ikea and purchasing some fluorescent bulbs. You can also brighten up your apartment by keeping blinds open and curtains drawn, allowing as much natural light in as possible. Sit near a window, either at home or at work, to take advantage of the sunlight. In terms of décor, use light-colored fabrics, wall treatments and rugs in your apartment during the winter to reflect light.
• Watch what you consume. Fight against the cravings and limit your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods, which will only cause a sugar crash. Instead, fill your diet with healthy foods that promote alertness and mental energy, like salmon, blueberries, whole grains, vegetables and nuts. Avoid self-medication with caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine may give you a brief jolt of energy, but it can also cause anxiety, muscle tension and other issues. Alcohol is a depressant, which can exaggerate symptoms. Try sipping on herbal tea instead, or if you must indulge, have a glass of heart-healthy red wine with dinner.
• Don’t oversleep on weekends. While it may be tempting to catch a few extra Zs on cold winter weekends, doing so can actually prevent you from fighting against the symptoms of SAD. The goal is to keep your body in sync as much as possible, so try waking up and going to sleep at the same time each day, even on weekends or days off from work.
• Load up on light. To drag your body out of its natural tendency to want to sleep all the time in the winter, take several breaks throughout the day to get as much natural light as you can. Get outside and go for a walk in the morning before work, or eat lunch outside during the day. In addition to getting some exercise, you’ll also increase your body’s capability to produce Vitamin D, both of which can lift your mood.
• Socialize. While the crummy weather and cold spells may have you looking longingly at your couch, it’s important to stay social instead of hibernating for the winter. So call up a few friends and make plans to do something fun, like grabbing coffee or checking out that new romantic comedy. Being around friends and family for even just a few minutes a day can make you feel better.
• Stay active. Just because the temperature is less than ideal doesn’t mean you should slack off on your workouts. Engage in regular aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three days a week for optimal results. Plan your workouts for early in the morning, so you stay energized throughout the day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a pre-work workout, studies show that early evening exercise can prevent fatigue during the evening, so plan on working out two hours before bed so your body and brain have enough time to settle down before bed.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/HuntImages
The holidays are quickly approaching, which means that people are gearing up for parties, family get-togethers and gift shopping. But in addition to being a time of happiness and joy, the holiday season can be a source of stress for some of us. Luckily, there are ways to de-stress without breaking the bank. Read on to find our favorite ways to relax on a budget.
We’re a fan of manicures because they’re pretty and we love getting a hand massage. But we’re not on board with their often expensive price tag and added tips, so grab a couple of girlfriends and the latest chick flicks, pick up a few bottles of your favorite nail polish and have a manicure party in your apartment. You’ll save a few bucks while strengthening your friendships.
You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a massage to get its relaxing benefits. Even a simple, 30-second massage can help you tame stress. Rest your elbows on a desk and place your thumbs under your eyebrows on either side of the bridge of your nose. Let the weight of your head rest on your thumbs for 10 seconds. Then, pinch your eyebrows with your thumbs and index fingers. Hold for a few seconds, then move your fingers a half-inch out. Repeat until you’ve covered your entire brow.
Best Face Forward
Recreate the plush, spa-like atmosphere at home by giving yourself a DIY facial. Find a soothing space, take a deep breath and sip on some homemade cucumber water while you try the following self-spa facial treatments, made from ingredients you most likely have lying around your apartment.
For Dry Skin: Frozen Egg and Honey Facial Mask
- 1 egg
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon honey
Beat the egg in a small bowl until frothy and well mixed. Slowly add the liquid coconut oil and honey, beating until your mask is the consistency of mayonnaise. Take an empty toilet tissue roll and set one end in a clean bowl. Spoon mixture into the roll and place in the freezer overnight. To use, peel away the top one-quarter-inch of the roll and smooth the frozen stick over your face. Leave mask on for five to 10 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
For Oily Skin: Grapefruit and Parsley Face Mask
- 3 tablespoons very fine oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ½ large grapefruit
- Olive or sunflower oil
Mix first two ingredients in a bowl. Add grapefruit juice until a soft paste forms. Let the mixture rest for five minutes. Spread soft mixture over your face and let dry for approximately 15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, following with toner and moisturizer.
Pore Cleansing Strips
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 ½ tablespoon milk
Mix two ingredients and microwave for 10 seconds to slightly warm. Using a clean cosmetic brush, apply to nose and chin area, avoiding the eye area. Allow mixture to dry for 10-15 minutes and form a stiff film. Peel off the film.
Break a Sweat
Exercise has been known to be a great, natural stress reliever. Keep in mind the goal of getting your heart rate up to around 100 to 120 beats per minute. If you don’t have the time or budget to hit the gym, jog a few laps around your apartment building, or run up and down the stairs. You can even try jumping rope or doing jumping jacks in your living room.
Take a Breath
It may seem like a no-brainer, but most people don’t realize they are holding their breath during times of stress. Instead of keeping all of that negative energy inside, take a deep breath, pulling air in from your diaphragm rather than just your chest.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/StephePhoto
In “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” when extended family rings the doorbell, the doorbell tone changes from jovial to menacing. If you hear the same sound in your head when family arrives – or just when you think about being around them – it’s a sign you should try to relax before and after the holidays. Here’s a quick list of ways to relax, followed by more detailed explanations of ways you can reduce your holiday stress:
- Send yourself flowers. Or pick up a bouquet from the market on the way home from work, and put them in a room where you’ll see them every day. Refresh them as necessary.
- Exercise. Go for a short jog or a long walk to gain perspective and decompress.
- Sit in the sun for 10 minutes. Sunlight provides us with Vitamin D and may reduce your chances of having Seasonal Affective Disorder, often brought on by the long, dark winter evenings.
- Learn something. Whether you visit cooking school, language school or actually go back to school, you’ll preoccupy yourself with the new activity instead of stress.
- Consume more Omega-3. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseeds and enriched eggs combat the stress hormone cortisol.
- Have a good cry. Whether you watch that sad pet-adoption commercial over and over or immerse yourself in a tearjerker novel, you’ll let out negative feelings and make room for positive ones.
- Retreat. Go into your bedroom, shut the door, sit on the bed and breathe deeply for 10 to 15 minutes. Sitting in the quiet for a short time can renew your sense of peace and calm.
- Get traditional. Few things relax a person like a routine, so turn on your favorite holiday songs, watch your favorite holiday movie and pour yourself a mug of your favorite holiday drink while you decorate your home with traditional ornaments and mementoes.
Before: Family isn’t the only stressor; traveling through traffic to shop in pushy crowds for overpriced items is enough to make anyone want to hibernate. Instead of losing your cool in public, shop from the comfort of your pajamas with a cup of coffee, and save money in the long run. Sign up for an Amazon.com Prime trial membership and receive free two-day shipping for your first three months of membership, which is perfect timing for the holidays and post-holiday budget recovery. With the Add it Up program from Bank of America, use your Bank of America card that you’ve registered to shop your favorite online stores using their site links to earn up to 20 percent cash back on items you would have purchased anyway. Sites such as RetailMeNot.com offer promotional codes for your favorite stores.
After: If you’re not seeing some family and friends until after the holidays, wait until January or February to purchase certain items, such as electronics, which will plummet in price after that time. Or, sell the random gift cards you received to sites such as Plastic Jungle or Gift Card Granny, where you’ll get an Amazon.com gift card, PayPal credit or cash in return.
Treat yourself – a little
Before: Attend a yoga class a few days a week in the weeks leading up to the holidays to stretch, meditate and think positively.
After: Treat yourself to an hour-long foot massage (about $30 at spas specializing in it) or a 30-minute full-body massage. Indulge in hot bubble baths with candles surrounding you (and a glass of wine in hand) whenever you feel the need.
Budget, then buy nothing
Before: Few topics stress people out like finances. Fill out a Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet to determine who you need to buy gifts for and how much you’ll spend on them, and track your spending throughout the season. Buy gifts for your immediate family members first, so if you run out of money, you can make gifts for those remaining on your list.
After: If you overspent this holiday season, vow to have a “Buy Nothing” month in January – and maybe even February. “Buy Nothing” means you only buy your basic necessities and even try to make do with what you have if you run out. Cook all meals from scratch (it will help to buy cheap or ground cuts of meat and produce in season), walk instead of drive and pay all bills, but cut out entertainment, dining out (including that daily coffee shop drink) and clothing purchases for 30 days. If you run out of toiletries, use your travel ones or search for forgotten bottles of shampoo and lotion in your cabinets. To further your frugality, rely on pantry staples, such as grains, dried pasta and dried beans bought in bulk, and cut your meat consumption in half – or go vegetarian for a month. You’ll save from $200 to $400 each month, depending on what you do without, which can go a long way in paying down those holiday bills or reaching your savings goals.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/skynesher