When it comes to footwear for standing on hours on end, chances are sandals don’t come to mind. Between the lack of arch support, open, flexible design, and minimal cushioning, sandals are better left for, say, a quick trip to the beach or a brisk stroll around the block… right?
Not necessarily. Turns out, there are sandals you can wear that are supportive enough for long-lasting comfort. To find them, you just need to be a discerning shopper.
So, yes, you can wear sandals for long periods of time—just do it one of the picks below.
Stand for hours in these supportive sandals
Chacos, Z/2 Classic — $100.00
Next time you venture out on the long, summer hike over hill-and-dale, do it with Chacos. They’ve got Dr. Splichal’s seal of approval, thanks to their arch-loving midsole that gives you support over long periods of time. They also feature adjustable straps, making it easy to customize to wide or narrow feet, and a toe-loop for added control.
Surprise, surprise—Birkenstock is also on Dr. Splichal’s list of stand-worthy sandals. That’s because of that legendary cork footbed which literally molds to the foot, giving you custom support step after step. Like the Chacos, these sandals are also adjustable, so if you need some extra room for bunions or hammer toes, they’ve got you covered.
Sizes: 4-11, medium and wide
Colors: taupe, green, fuchsia, orange, light grey, dark grey, beige
Aetrex shoes are renowned for their uncompromising comfort and podiatrist-approved support. The Mimi sandals are designed to alleviate pressure in the forefront, using a high arch to stabilize and balance your joints while you walk. Layer on the cloud-like midsole that absorbs shock and the buckle ankle strap, and you’ll never want to take ’em off.
Spring aka hay fever season has arrived which means plenty of red eyes and runny noses. Hannah Braye, Bio-Kult’s Technical advisor reveals 5 ways to help reduce symptoms.
Whilst many of the population feel happy about the arrival of Spring, for those who suffer with hay fever it can be a very different story.
Hay fever (also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis), is a skewed immune reaction to inhaled pollen released from local trees, grasses and flowers.
It’s symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, itchy, red watery eyes, blocked or runny nose, loss of smell, itching, headache and tiredness can be uncomfortable and significantly impact on quality of life.
Here are 5 tips to help stop hay fever from ruining your day…
#1 Reduce your exposure to pollen
Tracking the pollen count in your area and where possible, avoiding spending lots of time outdoors when it’s at its highest is likely to reduce exposure and irritation.
Keeping windows and doors shut on high pollen days can also help – instead using fans or air con to keep cool is also advisable.
When you have been outside, showering when you get home and especially before bed will help remove pollen residue from the skin, hair and nasal passages. This may also help reduce irritation overnight, helping you to get a better night’s sleep.
In addition, try irrigating the nasal passages once a day using a neti-pot and saline solution, to remove pollen residue and help clear any stuffiness.
#2 Eat more fermented foods
Recent research points to an important role of the gut microbiome in allergic conditions.
It is well established that the microbiome can modulate immune responses and bacterial dysbiosis (an imbalance of the gut microbes) is a risk factor for inflammatory conditions, such as hay fever.
It is thought that fermented foods containing lactic-acid producing bacteria are able to deviate the immune response away from a pro-allergy response.
Therefore, regularly incorporating traditionally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, live yoghurt, miso and kombucha, which contain live bacteria in the diet may be beneficial, reducing some of the symptoms of allergy in adults with hay fever or nasal allergies.
#3 Take a probiotic supplement
A study published in 2019 showed that a multi-strain live bacteria supplementation taken for eight weeks by individuals with hay fever reduced overall symptom severity, the frequency of medication use and improved quality of life.
Although beneficial effects of live bacteria supplementation have been shown even when commenced at the height of allergy symptoms, it is hypothesised that they may be even more effective when taken for a period prior to hay fever season as a preventative measure.
#4 Try acupuncture
Increasing evidence is supporting the ability of acupuncture to help modulate the immune system, with potential benefits in allergic conditions.
Analysing the results of 13 studies, it was found that compared with control groups, acupuncture treatment group showed a significant reduction in nasal symptoms, medication scores and IgE antibody levels as well as a significant improvement in quality of life.
#5 Eat more quercetin and vitamin C rich foods
The phytonutrient quercetin is known for its anti-allergic properties, and is therefore a useful addition to any anti-allergy diet.
Quercetin is thought to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties. The main food sources are vegetables such as onions, garlic and broccoli, fruits such as apples, berries and grapes, some herbs and green and black tea.
Quercetin appears to work synergistically with vitamin C, so topping up on lots of vitamin C rich foods such as broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, peppers and parsley is a good idea.
Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant which protects cells against free-radicals in allergic inflammatory responses and studies have found that children with increased vitamin C consumption had fewer hay-fever symptoms.
Source: Hay fever season: 5 proven ways to reduce symptoms – Healthista
A good friendship works like a positive feedback loop: You feel warm and fuzzy in your friend’s presence, which encourages you to hang out with this person again and again. Before long, you’ve solidified your bond, which can act as a buffer against loneliness, reduce your stress levels, boost your mood, and according to a review of more than 148 studies, even help you live longer. But, turning your connections into longevity-boosting powerhouses requires time, effort, and, yes, socializing. If that word alone made you groan, do know that socializing for introverts is very possible—and even enjoyable—with a reframe of how and in what context you do it.
Though researchers are still figuring out exactly why maintaining social ties is so clearly linked to longevity, they’ve found that these connections need to be high quality and supportive (rather than straining) to have that effect. And that distinction actually works in favor of introverts, says clinical psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD, author of Introvert Power. “Because introverts are more easily drained socially, they tend to be picky about relationships. And being picky is a good thing, given that socializing with people who bring you down or who model unhealthy coping is not going to benefit your health or longevity,” she says.
5 ways introverts can still reap all the longevity-boosting benefits of socializing
1. Start by finding an alternative word for “socializing”
If the word itself is an instant turnoff for you, then turn off the word. “To many introverts, the word ‘socializing’ conjures images of dreaded small talk, fake laughter, and clinking glasses in an overcrowded room,” says Dr. Helgoe. “But, as an introvert, if I think of ‘relationships’ instead of ‘socializing,’ I imagine relaxed conversations, genuine laughter, and shared activities.”
So, “relationships” is a good swap-in—but the word you use can be anything that connotes real connections, whether that’s “bonding,” “partnerships,” or something else in that vein. “From there, the focus can be, ‘How can I foster and tend to the relationships [or connections or bonds] that I value and desire?’” says Dr. Helgoe.
2. Turn a personal passion into a social outlet
The quickest way to fast-track a total stranger into a meaningful friend (and skip all that surface-level chitchat) is to connect with them on a personal interest. So, if you’re looking to grow your social group as an introvert, consider “what you love most in your ‘introvert world,’ and then set out to find your people,” says Dr. Helgoe.
If your thing is movies, maybe you find a film class or volunteer to help plan a local film festival, she suggests. Or, if you love books, perhaps you find a book club to join, hang out at the library, or bring your reading to a coffee shop, where it’ll be a great conversation starter. “The idea is to make visible what’s inside of you, so you can connect meaningfully with others who share your passion,” says Dr. Helgoe.
3. Carve out time for deeper chats (not just catch-ups)
Socializing that takes the form of “life dumps”—where you fill in your friend on everything that’s been going on with you for the past few weeks or months, and then, they do the exact same—is not only draining for introverts, but also, it doesn’t leave any time for real intimacy. Instead, Dr. Helgoe suggests relying on low-lift forms of communication, like text messages or emails to stay in touch with a few good friends on the regular, so that when you’re meeting up in person, you can skip the basic catch-up and move right into the good stuff.
To that end, make sure you’re also setting aside enough time for hangouts with any close friend in order to allow for the kind of relational intimacy you desire and deserve. That could mean regular 30-minute coffees or more sporadic three-hour hangouts; but either way, it’s important to hit a critical mass of time, so to speak, to ensure you both have the space to feel truly seen and heard.
4. Plan and schedule in advance
Spur-of-the-moment social events? Not typically an introvert’s jam. “Introverts do not like interruptions, and happenstance meetings can feel like an intrusion on other activities,” says Dr. Helgoe. By contrast, having regular time on your calendar for meet-ups keeps that scenario out of the picture. “For example, knowing I’m going to meet my friend every Tuesday morning orients my mind to the meeting, so instead of feeling interrupted, I am geared up and excited,” she says.
5. Nurture your internal sense of connection
In the same way that you can feel lonely in a crowd, you can also feel a sense of connection to others in your life, even while spending time alone, according to Dr. Seppälä. “One of the most important ways to do that is to lower your stress levels,” she says, “because stress is linked with a focus on the self, and that can create a feeling of disconnection from others [regardless of how much or how little time you’re spending with them].”
In that vein, taking care of your personal well-being by getting frequent exposure to nature, meditating, and practicing other stress-relief measures can actually enhance your internal sense of belonging. And researchers have found that simply feeling that sense of belonging and connection to others—even when you aren’t often surrounded by friends—can have its own longevity-promoting upside.
Blood pressure generally is higher in the winter and lower in the summer. That’s because low temperatures cause blood vessels to temporarily narrow. This increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through narrowed veins and arteries.
Blood pressure can also be affected by a sudden change in weather patterns, such as a weather front or a storm. A body — and blood vessels — might react to abrupt changes in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold. These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people ages 65 and older.
Other seasonal causes of higher blood pressure include the weight gain, salty foods often eaten during the holidays and decreased physical activity that are common in winter. If you have high blood pressure already, continue to monitor your blood pressure readings as the seasons change and talk to your health care provider.
Your provider might recommend changing the dose of blood pressure medication or switching to another medication. Don’t make any changes to your medications without talking to your provider.
In the United States, the average person lives to be around 78 years old. But in five places, people regularly celebrate their 100th birthday. These areas where people live the longest and healthiest are known as Blue Zones: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. This discovery as made by Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons from People Who’ve Live the Longest.
People who live the longest and healthiest lives all practice the same habits. Here’s what you can learn from centenarians living in the Blue Zones. So, what makes people in these regions so healthy? Researchers found that all Blue Zones share nine lifestyle habits that improve mental and physical fitness. Here’s what you should know about each:
There’s no need to spend hours at the gym for the sake of health. People in Blue Zones stay active by choosing to walk over drive, doing yard work, and moving more throughout the day. That’s because low-intensity movement burns more calories overall than the hour you spend at the gym. Instead of pushing yourself to run just one more mile, think of ways to increase activity by foregoing the elevator or by walking to the market.
Have a purpose
Having a clear reason that motivates you to get you out of bed and do your best increases your lifespan, according to the Blue Zones Project. In fact, a sense of purpose can add up to seven years onto your life.
And you don’t have to find meaning through large goals—like becoming CEO of your company. You can find purpose through small things like doing well on a work project or finding a creative outlet, reported NPR. In the Blue Zones Challenge, Buettner recommends placing a sticky note on your mirror with, as he says, “the default purpose: Grow & Give.”
People in Blue Zones aren’t without stress, which over time can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and possibly heart attacks. However, people in these areas have found ways to manage their stress. For example, Okinawans take time everyday to remember their ancestors, and Sardinians regularly participate in happy hour, according to the Blue Zones Project.
Running, meditating, or tackling a DIY project are simple ways to reduce stress. Buettner recommends meditation, yoga, and tai chi. And in the Blue Zones Challenge, encourages people to spend at least two hours in nature.
Don’t eat until you’re stuffed
Instead, eat only until you’re 80 percent satisfied, which is what the Blue Zones Project calls the 80 percent rule. Citizens in the Blue Zones have their smallest meals during the day or early evening and avoid grazing at night. A key way to eat better and enjoy it more: Avoid eating in front of a screen.
Eat less meat
People in Blue Zones eat a mostly plant-based diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Instead of relying on animal sources for protein, this group eats loads of beans, which contains protein and fiber. For example, a cup of canned chickpeas offers 18 grams of protein which contains the amino acids necessary for muscle growth.
Enjoy alcohol in moderation
There’s a lot of confusion about whether or not alcohol is actually good for us. Some studies say drinking wine is good for your heart, while other research links any alcohol consumption to a shorter expectancy.
Research in Blue Zones show that people drink alcohol regularly in moderate amounts. So, rather than drink six beers on Saturday, people typically have one to two drinks a day.
Belong to a community
Overwhelming, centenarians belong to a faith-based community. In fact, just five of the 263 centenarians interviewed by the Blue Zones project didn’t belong to a specific community. However, this doesn’t mean you need to head to church. Instead, you can find your own community through hobby groups, close friends, and family.
Prioritize family time
Family is important to Blue Zones centenarians. It’s common to live near older parents or to move them into your home. Adults also commit to one partner and spend quality time with their children.
Have a healthy social network
People who lived the longest surrounded themselves with others who practiced healthy habits, according to the Blue Zones Project. In fact, research from the Framingham studies-which looked at heart disease risk—shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness may be contagious. Buettner encourages you to take time to call, text or email a friend or family member you haven’t connected with recently. Another way to enhance your social network (and eat well, too): Host a healthy potluck.
Bananas are the perfect food in so many ways. They make the perfect grab-and-go snack, cereal topper, smoothie base, and of course, a staple “bread” ingredient. Not only are they sweet and satisfying, but they are loaded with nutrients.
“As a nutritionist, we love to recommend bananas for all the powerful benefits they provide. Bananas are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and packed with complex carbohydrates and vitamin B6, which helps to keep you energized,” says registered dietitian Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RDN.
But as is the case with anything, when eaten in excess, bananas may cause some negative side effects. Here are 5 downsides nutrition experts tell us about eating bananas every day.
1. They may leave you hungry.
“Because bananas are very low in fat and protein, the majority of calories in bananas come from carbohydrates. If breakfast or a snack only consists of a banana, you might find yourself feeling unsatisfied or still hungry immediately after eating,” says Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, registered dietitian, and owner of the Stirlist. “Personally, I prefer to pair bananas with a protein source like cheese or peanut butter so that I can make sure to balance the carbohydrate content with a protein source.”
2. They’re not great for people with high potassium levels or kidney diseases.
“People with high potassium levels may also have kidney disease or kidney issues. Limiting certain foods high in potassium (such as bananas, oranges, watermelon, etc.) can help you feel better and prevent the progression of the disease,” says Melendez-Klinger.
Adds Pankonin, “This is because those with advanced kidney disease are not able to properly remove potassium from the blood. High potassium levels could potentially lead to heart attack or death.”
3. They may cause gas or bloat.
“For some individuals, bananas might cause gas and bloating due to the amount of soluble fiber and natural sugar alcohols that are found in bananas,” says Pankonin. “Even though soluble fiber is needed in the diet, too much might cause feelings of gas or bloating [immediately afterwards].” Cut back on bananas to reduce bloat.
4. You shouldn’t eat them if you’re taking certain medications.
“There are certain medications that interact with foods so make sure to ask your doctor or dietitian to see if any of the medications you take may have an interaction with foods,” says Melendez-Klinger.
Two types of medication that you should avoid eating bananas with are ACE inhibitors (such as lisinopril, enalapril, or ramipril) and spironolactone. That’s because they raise blood potassium levels, according to Harvard Medical School.
5. They’re not necessarily low carb diet-friendly.
“In general, bananas are a convenient fruit source that contain calories mostly from carbohydrates,” says Pankonin. One medium-sized banana contains 27 grams of carbs. So, if you’re on a low-carb diet, bananas may put your carb count over the edge.
If you are going to try drinking cherry juice for any health benefits, you’ll want to make sure that it is pure tart cherry juice, made with Montmorency cherries. These cherries, sometimes called “sour” cherries, have a deep red color and a sweet-tart flavor profile on their own. This type of cherry has been studied more than any other for its unique nutrition profile. You’ll find them mostly grown in Michigan, but also in other pockets across the United States. Look for pure cherry juice (not diluted) and brands that skip any added sugar.
The deliciously tart drink has several potential health benefits, and many researchers are conducting studies to uncover even more gains in the field of cardiovascular health and even cancer. Here are seven distinct uses that may sway you to start a tart cherry juice regiment.
1) Packs a Nutritious Punch
First and foremost, tart cherries are packed with a ton of vitamins and nutrients in just one serving of juice. “[It] contains a significant amount of Vitamin A and C as well as some manganese, potassium, copper, zinc and some vitamin K,” says Jordan Mazur, MS, RD, a professional sports dietitian and nutrition director for the San Francisco 49ers. One serving also includes 56 mg of flavonoids, including anthocyanins which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants help slow down damage to your cells and reduce inflammation. Too much inflammation in the body can lead to diseases like cancer and heart disease.
2) Treats Sore Muscles
Fitness aficionados — and athletes in particular — began to pay more attention to cherry juice when researchers began examining its effects on recovery.
People started to notice cherry juice when it came to reducing muscle soreness. Numerous studies, including this 2010 item from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, looks at cherry juice for pain reduction after long-distance running. The results suggested that, compared to the placebo group, there was a reduction in soreness after drinking tart cherry juice for seven days.
“Overall, tart cherry juice intake in the days leading up to and immediately following intense physical exercise may reduce muscle strength loss and soreness. It may also speed up recovery,” says Mazur. “There are a lot of studies that have looked at the markers of muscle damage and how tart cherry juice can improve certain biomarkers of muscle damage after exercise.”
3) Increases Exercise Endurance
Tart cherry juice can help with strength and soreness, and it may also help optimize overall endurance for athletes over time. According to a 2020 meta-analysis, considering ten studies in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, tart cherry concentrate may enhance endurance exercise performance because of its low-glycemic index, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, and blood-flow enhancing effects. This validates Mazur’s stance that inflammation can be neutralized by tart cherry juice, allowing for less soreness and a quicker recovery.
4) Enhances Sleep
Tossing and turning all night? Tart cherry juice is being studied as a viable solution to improve your sleep hygiene over time. Tart cherries are one of the foods high in melatonin, a hormone that is naturally produced in our body that helps regulate our internal circadian clocks, which is found in some foods. Many people take OTC Melatonin pills to help with sleep.
In a randomized controlled study published in the Journal of European Nutrition in 2011, data suggested that the consumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate “provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep.”
5) Fights Inflammation
It’s advice you’ve likely heard a million times, but chronic inflammation can exacerbate countless chronic conditions — and anything that can protect us against it is good. It’s why there are so many diets focused on anti-inflammatory foods.
“The anthocyanins, which are compounds found naturally in the fruit, have anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial for those with chronic pain or inflammatory conditions,” explains Mazur.
Anti-inflammatory compounds like anthocyanins can protect our cells against damage, which otherwise can lead to issues like heart disease and poor cardiovascular health.
6) Targets Gout and Other Forms of Arthritis
There is also some research that shows tart cherry juice might help with gout, a form of painful arthritis that often impacts the big toe. This 2019 study showed promise in reducing flare-ups and there are more current studies in progress. The thought is that tart cherries have an impact on reducing levels of uric acid.
“Some preliminary studies show that tart cherry juice helps slightly lower pain and stiffness in those with arthritis after consuming consistently,” says Mazur. Most of the studies have been done around osteoarthritis, where the cartilage of the joint lining thins, and more research is needed to confirm how beneficial exposure may be.
7) Decreases High Blood Pressure
A small study done by Northumbria University in New Castle on hypertensive men saw promising results with reduction in high blood pressure, a change effected by drinking Montmorency cherry juice concentrate that was equivalent to that of taking medication. Another study, from the journal Food & Function that conscripted both men and women in its methods, showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Although these studies weren’t as large as some of the others, they showed results promising enough to signal the need for continued studies.
What are the side effects of drinking tart cherry juice?
Tart cherry juice is relatively safe for most, but it contains a high amount of sorbitol natural sugar alcohol also found in prunes and berries — this may also cause frequent bloating and gas, and diarrhea in some cases, if too much is consumed. Those with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis (or other stomach conditions!) should be conscious if this is causing gastrointestinal issues. While Mazur says that a 16oz glass of tart cherry juice daily should be safe for most individuals, discussing an appropriate portion size with your healthcare provider is crucial if you have any preexisting gastrointestinal conditions.
If you’ve already received two doses of a Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine, plus a booster, you may be wondering if you’ll need to get a fourth shot – especially in light of the recent news of rising case counts in Europe. Vaccine makers already seem to be preparing for the need for a second COVID booster: Moderna is asking the FDA to approve the additional dose for all adults, and Pfizer has asked the federal agency to authorize another shot for adults ages 65 and up, notes Vivek Cherian, MD, an internal medicine physician based in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently recommending that certain teens and adults go ahead and get a second booster. But some experts are stressing that we can’t yet say for sure whether a fourth dose will be necessary for everyone. This is what you need to know.
Who Will Need a Fourth COVID Vaccine?
The CDC already recommends a fourth dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine for people over the age of 12 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, including those with cancer, primary or acquired immune deficiency, or those on immune-suppressive medications. (For moderately to severely immunocompromised people ages 18 and up who received a J&J vaccine initially, the CDC also recommends a booster – but that would be their third shot.) While there were some early reports of pharmacists turning away immunocompromised people requesting a second booster, Kaiser Health News reports that the CDC spoke to pharmacists to reinforce their recommendations.
The health agency hasn’t yet given the go-ahead for additional boosters for other preteens, teens, and adults, or for children ages 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised. The first three shots still offer very good protection against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death, Dr. Cherian explains. The FDA and CDC will review data to determine if and when a fourth vaccine is needed for people in other groups, he says. Some early studies, including one published by The New England Journal of Medicine, show that the fourth vaccine is “somewhat efficacious” against symptomatic disease. But in general, more research is needed to determine how effective and long-lasting fourth doses will be, The New York Times reports.
When Should We Get the Fourth COVID Vaccine?
Immunocompromised people within the eligible age ranges should get their fourth shot at least three months after receiving their third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the CDC guidelines state. For people in this group who received the J&J vaccine initially and then a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the CDC recommends that the additional Pfizer or Moderna booster should come at least two months following their second dose. For now, everyone outside of these groups should make sure they’re vaccinated (and boosted, once they’re eligible for it), and should stay tuned for updates about the necessity of fourth doses.
Will the Fourth COVID Vaccine Protect Against New Variants Like Deltacron?
This is still unknown. So far, the CDC states that “current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant. We don’t yet know how effective the vaccines will be against new variants [like deltacron] that might arise.” The CDC plans to monitor the efficacy of vaccines on variants, to see “how well COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.”
Is It Too Late to Get a COVID Vaccine?
The data is clear: COVID vaccines can help keep you from getting COVID, or spreading it; they also greatly reduce the risk of dying or having to be hospitalized due to the virus. If you have not yet been vaccinated, it’s not too late. And even as mask mandates lift across the US, continue to be cautious with masking and distancing in crowded or poorly ventilated places.
(This is the second post about the world’s happiest country, Finland.)
With more than 3 million saunas and landscapes as pretty as this, it’s no wonder Finland is the happiest country in the world.From the feelings that travel gives you when you’re exploring the world to how you hold on to those memories back at home, happiness is something we think a lot about here at AFAR, especially after the past few years. So naturally we were curious to see which country came out on top in the latest World Happiness Report.
What is the happiest country in the world?
According to the 2022 World Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world for the fifth year in a row. It’s followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands in the annual survey released on Friday, March 18, 2022, that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. European countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Luxembourg dominate the rest of the top 10.
In fact, the only countries outside of Europe to make the top 10 in 2022 are Israel and New Zealand, which ranked ninth and tenth respectively. The United States gained three spots, coming in at 16 in the rankings this year, while the United Kingdom maintained its spot at 17 since last year. Meanwhile, China jumped from 84 to 72 in this year’s report, showing that people’s perception of how their country handled the pandemic could have also contributed to an overall rise in well-being.
Thanks to Finland’s extensive safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 paired with a high vaccination rate of its population, it continues to have one of Europe’s lowest COVID-19 mortality rates.
“In Finland as well, of course, people have been suffering,” Anu Partanen, author of The Nordic Theory of Everything told the Associated Press. “But again, in Finland and the Nordic countries, people are really lucky because society still supports a system buffering these sorts of shocks.”
Why is Finland the happiest country in the world?
The World Happiness Report bases its annual rankings of 146 countries using data from the main life evaluation question in the Gallup World Poll.
In it, respondents are asked to rate their current lives on a 0 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best possible life for them and 0 being the worst possible life. The countries that made the top 10 this year ranged from New Zealand’s 7.2 up to 7.821 for Finland at the top. Afghanistan had the lowest score at 2.404.
While these results are based entirely on self-perception, factors that the Happiness Report says contribute to making these life evaluations better in each country include a high GDP per capita, a strong social support system among friends and family, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, absence of corruption in government and the business world, and generosity when it comes to donating to charity.
“We find year after year that life satisfaction is reported to be happiest in the social democracies of northern Europe,” Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, a coauthor of the report, told the Associated Press in 2021. “People feel secure in those countries, so trust is high. The government is seen to be credible and honest, and trust in each other is high.”
Finland’s friendly locals, thriving culture and coffee scenes, and unfettered access to nature all make it a great destination even if you have only a week to take off on vacation. (Vaccinated U.S. travelers can now enter Finland without presenting a negative COVID-19 test upon entry.)
Arts and culture lovers will be thrilled to explore Helsinki’s museums. In the past few years, Helsinki opened Amos Rex, a world-class contemporary art museum, and Oodi, an energy-efficient public library at the center of the city designed to be the nation’s “living room.”
If being outdoors makes you happiest, Finland has plenty of that, too. Like many other Nordic residents, Finns have a close relationship to nature and get outside even during the coldest months. For those who want to relax in a serious way, Finland also has more than 3 million saunas.
Looking for ways to practice Finnish happiness at home? Here are seven lessons you can pull from Finnish culture, so you can learn to revel—even in the darkness.
The 20 happiest countries in the world
In addition to Finland, here are the 20 happiest countries in the world, according to the 2022 World Happiness Report.
On vacation, we’re usually looking to get a little R&R. But, often, instead of restful, our sleep feels way more restless when we travel.
While jet lag can definitely disturb your snooze schedule, other fundamental factors can also affect your forty winks. Here, sleep specialist Michael Breus, PhD explains why you can’t sleep away from home, plus offers tips to overcome traveler’s insomnia.
What Causes Insomnia While Traveling?
Whether you’re hopping across time zones or just staying across town, here are the top things that deter you from dozing off to dreamland:
1. Jet Lag
It’s a pretty good bet that we’ve all felt the wrath of jet lag after a long flight.
Most common when traveling east (where you “lose” hours), jet lag happens when your body’s internal clock doesn’t match up with the time zone of your destination, Breus says.
Put another way: Traveling across time zones throws off your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep-wake cycle according to the sun, he explains.
And, as you likely know, this mixed-up sleep-wake schedule can seriously disrupt your slumber.
2. ‘The First Night Effect’
It’s tough to sleep in unfamiliar places because during the first night (or several nights) of your trip, your brain is basically on night watch in a new setting, a phenomenon called “The First Night Effect,” Breus says.
“Your brain actually acts like a dolphin brain, sleeping uni-hemispherically (one half is asleep and the other is awake) as it constantly assesses the new environment for threats,” he explains.
And this protective function — which serves to keep you safe in a foreign place — occurs whether you’re traveling 20 or 2,000 miles.
3. Changes in Routine
When you travel, your daily schedule often shifts significantly. And these changes to your day-to-day routine can trigger travel insomnia.
For example, eating meals earlier or later than when you usually do has been shown to throw off your circadian rhythm, which, as we know, can zap your zzzs, Breus says.
Similarly, food choices also change with travel (many of us tend to overindulge on the local fare), and this can lead to acid reflux (i.e. heartburn), which may also hamper your ability to hit the hay, Breus says.
4. More Alcohol Consumption
Many of us let loose with liquor on vacay, enjoying a cocktail or two (or three). But gulping too much booze can sabotage your sleep.
Case in point: A 2013 review in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that drinking heavily interferes with REM sleep and slow wave sleep. This disruption is especially problematic because deep stages of sleep help your body build, repair and regenerate tissues and bolster your immune system, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
7 Tips for Sleeping Well in a New Place
These tried-and-true tips will help you overcome insomnia during vacation:
1. Plan Ahead
When you’re visiting a different time zone, prepping your body beforehand is your best bet. A basic way to sync up with the time zone you’re traveling to is by moving your bedtime an hour earlier (or later) in the week before you go. This simple strategy will help shift your rhythm to your new schedule, Breus says.
He recommends using a jet lag app like Timeshifter, which helps you recalibrate your body’s internal clock when switching time zones.
Here’s how it works: Once you plug in the details of your trip, the app provides a tailored plan, telling you exactly what to do and when to do it. For example, it may specify the exact times to get (and avoid) sunlight (more on this later), which is crucial for resetting your circadian rhythm.
2. Stay Hydrated
“This is easily the most important tip,” Breus says. That’s because dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag and travel fatigue, he says.
And when you travel by plane, your dehydration risk increases due to the lower pressure and recirculated air in the cabin, Breus adds.
So, to offset this, remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. A good general guideline is to aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces daily.
3. Cut Down on Caffeine
When you’re in the throes of traveler’s insomnia, reaching for a cup of joe for a jolt of energy seems like a no-brainer. But caffeine will just dehydrate you, and, as we know, being parched just compounds the signs of jet lag, Breus says.
Plus, if you drink too much coffee too close to bedtime, you can further screw with your sleep because it’s a stimulant.
4. Limit Alcohol
While it’s OK to have a piña colada or two on holiday, keep in mind that overdoing it with the drinks can disrupt your sleep.
What’s more, it’s not only how much booze you slug that can affect sleep quality, but when you swig it as well. In fact, an August 2019 study in Sleep found that drinking alcohol within four hours of bedtime increased sleep fragmentation.
Making matters worse, alcohol can dehydrate you and aggravate your jet lag symptoms, Breus says.
The takeaway: When traveling, keep your alcohol intake to a minimum, and cut off the cocktails at least four hours before bed.
5. Get Some Sun
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, soak up the sun. This tells your body it should be awake and helps reset your biological clock, Breus says. “But you need to do this on a very specific schedule, or it will make things worse,” he adds.
Again, a jet lag app can help you determine exactly when you need to get sun exposure for the most seamless transition to a different time zone.
Conversely, for times when you want to limit light exposure, wear dark sunglasses outdoors or sleep with an eye mask.
6. Bring Your Own Pillow and Blanket
Even seemingly small details — like a different bed or pillow — can prevent you from sleeping soundly in a new place. Packing your own pillow and favorite blankie from home can help make a strange sleep environment feel more familiar, Breus says.
7. Use Earplugs
Wearing earplugs to bed can help block out any ambient noise, Breus says. This is especially helpful if you’re visiting a big city where there’s a lot of street noise (think: honking horns, sirens or chatter from nightlife) or unfamiliar sounds that might keep you up.