Happy Sandy

Happy Sandy

5 Signs You’re Ready to Get Married

Ready to Get Married

Are you considering settling down with your better half and building a life together? Whether you’re at the age where a lot of your friends seem to be tying the knot, or you’re considering your second (or third or fourth) marriage, how do you know it’s the right decision? Here are five signs that you are truly ready to marry your partner and not just giving in to peer pressure.

1. You’re planning a marriage – not a wedding

Of course you’re excited about the wedding itself. It’s a big fun party that all your friends and family come to. Depending on your preferences, there may be music, flowers, food, gifts, perhaps even a theme. You may be furiously planning your rehearsal dinner, venue, decorations, cake, welcome bags for guests, and all the other fun details of planning a wedding. But is this why you’re excited about getting married? Remember that, while your wedding will last a few hours, your marriage will last for the rest of your life. Plan for that part first, and if you’re still all in, then feel free to start planning the party.

2. You know why you want to get married

People get married for a lot of different reasons. Some people are excited about having a big wedding. Some just feel it’s what they “should” do and want to be able to say they’re married. Some feel lonely or otherwise unhappy and feel that marriage is a solution. Some are pressured by their partners; others find themselves unexpectedly expecting. In and of themselves, these are terrible reasons to get married. Ask yourself what benefits you will get from marrying your partner as opposed to continuing your relationship the way it is now. Make sure that you and your partner trust each other, love spending time together, know each other very well, have similar goals, and know how to fight fair before saying yes.

3. You know and trust your partner deeply

As mentioned, it’s essential that you know and trust the person you’re considering marrying on a deep level. It’s not about how long you’ve been together. Just because you’ve been dating someone for five years doesn’t necessarily mean that you know them through and through. Before you get married, you should know your partner’s past as well as their hopes, dreams, and goals; likewise, they should know yours. Make sure that you know their shortcomings and still love them. (Spoiler alert: if you think your partner is perfect, then you don’t know them well enough to marry them.) You should also trust your partner completely. If you don’t, there’s work to do before you get hitched.

4. You have no interest in changing your partner

No one is perfect, and again, if you think your partner is, then something’s wrong. However, you should not only know them very well but also love them exactly as they are now. Marrying someone hoping that they will change is a huge mistake. Don’t think for a second that marriage will change them – it won’t. If anything, marriage is likely to exacerbate any existing issues in your relationship, not fix them. A wedding will not heal a rift, nor will it magically make your partner want to have kids, exercise more, do more housework, or get a better job – no matter what they say. Can you see yourself spending the rest of your life with the person you’re with just as they are now? If so, you may be ready for wedded bliss.

5. Your friends and family like your partner

When you first fall in love with someone, it’s easy to think that nothing else matters in the world. Once you make a lifelong commitment, though, you’ll quickly find that everything matters. This is a tricky one because, after all, you’re the one dating your partner, so why does it matter who likes or dislikes them besides you? However, a small rift can and will affect your life and relationship over the years. If the people you know and love don’t like your partner, where is your support system? Might you end up alienated or not invited to social events? Sure, you know yourself best – but your family and friends know you pretty well, too, so if they’re saying that you’re making a mistake, at least consider their views.

How to Be Happy in an Unhappy World

how to be happy

Do you ever feel like the world around you is just full of… unhappiness? That’s because it is. According to the CDC, in 2017, 479,000 Americans visited emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. 47,173 committed suicide the same year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the US (after health conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as accidents). In 2018, nearly 20% of American adults experienced some form of mental illness; almost as many kids (ages six to 17) dealt with a mental health disorder themselves.

And these numbers are the extremes; they don’t even account for the millions of people who simply feel low-key unhappy from day to day. Sadness, stress, frustration, it’s all there bubbling under the surface, and it’s not hard to see why, especially given the current state of the world. From the pandemic to the protests, from impeachment trials to “murder hornets,” 2020 has been a tumultuous year, to say the least.

And yet, happiness is just as accessible as it has always been.

I recently watched a documentary called On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace. (It’s on Netflix as I write this if you’re interested.) This film, based on the photographer Michael O’Neill’s book of the same name, follows O’Neill as he travels the world to meet and talk with the great Yoga masters from India to Tibet to New York. The entire documentary was inspiring to me (not to mention visually beautiful), and it got me thinking about inner peace (a phrase at which I’ve previously rolled my eyes). But one concept in particular struck a personal chord. I’ll paraphrase:

Happiness, health, joy, and peace are already inside you. Instead of blaming outside influences for making you unhappy, ask yourself what you’re doing that is interfering with your own innate happiness.

What are you doing that is interfering with your own natural joy? What would you like to stop doing to give yourself more free time, to relieve you of an ongoing burden, or to improve your life in some small or big way?

The truth is that we have a good deal of control over how we spend our time and with whom we spend it, but we can get “stuck in a rut” and start believing that there is no way out. With that in mind, remember that things will never be different unless you make different choices. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you make a move toward the elusive and life-changing “inner peace.”

1. Go outside. There’s nothing like fresh air to boost your mood. Don’t have an hour to recline on the patio reading a book? Sit on the steps for 20 minutes – or stand outside your back door for five. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or time-consuming – simply take yourself outside and breathe. You might be surprised how five minutes of enjoying the sunrise can set the tone for your entire day.

2. Sleep more. Nothing drains happiness like fatigue. Sleep helps your body recover and repair itself after a day of use. It also refreshes your mind and helps you focus and be more productive the next day. Being sleep-deprived also makes you more susceptible to negative emotions. If you are one of the many people just not getting quite enough sleep, it’s time to make it a priority.

3. Exercise. I know, I know. If you don’t enjoy exercise, it can be incredibly hard to make it a regular part of your routine. But it’s key to enduring happiness. The good news is that you don’t need much to significantly impact your mood. Check out the science-based New York Times 7-Minute Workout – everyone has seven minutes! Or, maximize your time by combining exercise with fresh air and going for a quick walk on your lunch break. Your body, mind, and mood will all thank you.

4. Spend time with your family and friends. Did you know that not staying in touch with friends is one of the top five regrets that dying people have? Your social health and relationships are extremely important to your overall well-being. Even introverts need some time with the people they care about. So, take a minute to respond to that text, email, or phone call, and make an effort to get together with the people who matter to you once in a while.

Changing how you approach your daily life and being intentional about how you spend your time can make a huge difference in your overall happiness. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy, but it does have to take some. Find the places in your life where you can “declutter,” so to speak, and replace what you’ve been doing with something that makes you happy. When you have a solid foundation of joy, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the next unhappy event that 2020 (or any other year) throws at us.

Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

Staying Cool While You Stay in Shape

Cool Girl exercise on a ball

With summer temperatures heating up, many people are happy to be able to shed their winter clothes – and their winter weight – and get outside for some exercise. It’s certainly true that exercising outdoors is more fun in the warmer months, and that all that extra exercise is great for your body and your mind. However, there’s one thing to be careful about when you’re working up a sweat: the heat itself. When you work out in scorching heat, your body temperature can rise significantly, even if you’re in the shade. Never fear – you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and still stay safe with these tips for summertime workouts.

Get the Timing Right

If at all possible, avoid scheduling your exercise in the middle of the day, when the sun is high and the temperatures skyrocket. For example, you could practice yoga in the early morning as the sun rises – a beautiful way to start your day. Or, go for a jog after dinner, when the sun has begun to sink. If you can, try to choose a shady spot to exercise. Whatever you do, avoid prolonged workouts in the blazing sun, which will dramatically increase your risk of heat exhaustion.

Stay Hydrated…

Most of the time, you can drink when you’re thirsty, and you’ll be fine. When you’re working out in the heat, though, you need to be a little more proactive about hydration. Don’t wait for your body to display signs of needing more water. Drink some water before you start your workout, and continue to drink water throughout (a good rule of thumb is eight ounces for every 20 minutes of activity). Keep an eye on your urine, too – it should be pale yellow to nearly clear. If it’s darker than normal, you need more fluids.

…and Stay Wet

Keeping yourself wet is a highly effective way to avoid becoming overheated. There are lots of ways to enjoy a wet workout. The sunny season is the perfect time to take advantage of the wide variety of water workouts available, including swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, surfing, water aerobics, and more. All of these activities keep your body temperature down while giving you a great workout in the sunshine. You can also carry a little extra water with you on your walk or run to pour over the back of your neck for a refreshing cool-down when you need it. And, of course, you can always run in the rain for a fun and social-media-worthy workout.

Listen to Your Body

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling dizzy, cold, clammy, or nauseous, as well as having a headache or vomiting while you exercise or after you’re done. If you start to notice even a hint of these symptoms, it’s time to take a break in the shade. In fact, when you’re exercising in the sun, any unusual or uncomfortable feelings you have in your body should alert you to the fact that you need to cool off. Get out of the sun, sit down, drink some water, and catch your breath. Pay attention to your body at all times – it’s usually pretty good at telling you what it needs.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The All-Day Benefits of Yoga

Yoga and Meditation

An ancient practice, yoga has become increasingly popular in our busy modern world. For a lot of people, yoga offers a kind of escape from their chaotic and stressful lives. This is true whether you’re in an ashram in India or on a secondhand mat in your own bedroom. There are endless reasons that people love yoga; many of them are about the way you feel during your practice. A good yoga session is quite cathartic; you’ll relax, stretch, meditate, challenge yourself, and enjoy the improvements you make from day to day. However, many of the benefits of yoga carry over beyond the mat into your everyday life. Here are a few of these benefits. Read more

COVID-19 Safety Tips to Keep You Healthy – and Sane

how to protect from covid-19

There’s no arguing that we live in a new world – one where a simple trip to the grocery store could result in a life-threatening illness. Or so it seems if you stay on top of the latest headlines. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction with so many people disagreeing, but a few things are indisputable: first, there is a new virus out there that we don’t fully understand; second, staying home is the best way to avoid exposure; and third, most people cannot stay at home day after day, so understanding how to protect yourself is key. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and give you peace of mind while we wait for a vaccine (the ultimate goal). Read more