1. Polyphasic Sleep: To Sleep Better Look at Our Ancestors

    April 26, 2014

    Polyphasic Sleep: To Sleep Better Look at Our Ancestors

    by Audrey  Hollingshead

    You’re tired. Dog tired. Just the simple thought of studying for your looming math midterm makes your eyes heavy. You need to study but you also need to get snacks ready for your kids when they burst through the door from school in an hour. Worse yet, as soon as their done you’ll have to rush them off to the neighbors so you can rush to work. If I just had one decent nap, you sigh to yourself, maybe I wouldn’t feel so dazed.

    Well, what if you COULD? What if a simple two-hour nap felt like eight AND refreshed you better then a reloaded webpage? Imagine all the things you could do!!!

    As unreal as it sounds this is totally possible.  You CAN train your body to put those power naps to good use. But how? By using the Uberman Sleep schedule, also known as Polyphasic Sleep.

    See, our brains LOVE sleep. It’s like a double stuff Oreo to them, with REM sleep being the creamy middles it just can’t get enough of, and with good reason. While many phases of sleep are beneficial, the phase with Rapid Eye Movements (And the dreams responsible for R.E.M.) gives us that well rested feeling. With a little training and patients anyone can learn to have R.E.M. filled naps any time, any day. If you think this sleep schedule is right for you, read on!

    Step 1: Go to bed at 9:00PM. Wake up at exactly 9:30PM. Do dishes, study, or relax.

    Step 2: Go to sleep again at 1:30AM for another 30 minutes. The times are not exact, but you SHOULD be sleeping 20-30 minutes every 4 hours for this to work.

    Step 3: Repeat this process for three-four days. WARNING: You WILL feel sleep deprived. This is NORMAL. By the fourth or fifth day your brain will give up on it’s old sleeping pattern and will kick into R.E.M. sleep the second head hits pillow. This means that any catnap you grab will leave you well rested and refreshed.

    Step 4: Once your brain becomes the R.E.M. master you should try to nap for at least two hours. This will give your brain enough time to get through a full dream cycle.

    So why does this work? Why does breaking up our sleep turn us into better sleepers over all? Because, according to one New York Times article, we’ve slept this way for centuries. Before Thomas Edison had the bright idea of improving artificial light many people used to sleep more then once a night. They’d go to bed around eight or nine, and then wake an hour or two later feeling tranquil and meditative. They’d use this time to pray, or, as the article most mentions, make love to their bedding partners. After an hour of quiet wakefulness they’d go right back to sleep for another four-five hours.

    What’s even more interesting is that the article mentions a study done at the National Institute of Mental Health where volunteers experienced more then 14 hours of darkness. Pretty soon everyone in the study was breaking up his or her sleep with quiet wakefulness before returning to dream filled bliss.

    So the next time you feel like you’re not getting enough from your sleep, try this method and see if it works for you!

    And remember,

    Dream Well! Dream Positive!!!

     

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tanaka/2436918835

     


  2. Balance Your Life with Ayurveda And The Doshas

    March 24, 2014

    Ayurveda

    by Jacqueline De Burca

     

    A Guide To The Tridosha Concept

    For over 5000 years, the Ayurvedic system has offered a body of wisdom to help people to achieve balance and vitality, whilst realising their full potential. Practitioners of the ancient holistic system of Ayurvedic medicine view each human as an individual and diagnosis is carried out using all of the five senses. Ayurveda considers that the physical and mental aspects, as well as the personality combine to make a unit, of which all aspects can influence the others. Treatment can include the use of herbs, yoga, nutrition, panchakarma cleansing, Vedic astrology and acupressure massage.

     

    Native to the subcontinent of India, this traditional medicine system’s name Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit word ?yurveda, which means life-knowledge. There are texts on Ayurveda which date back to as early as the 3rd or 4th century B.C. However today in India the word is used to cover a range of traditional medicine, which means that there are numerous branches of Ayurveda now. Historically the system has enumerated the bodily substances into a framework of the five great elements (earth, water, fire, air and aether) which also interact with the seven tissues (blood, plasma, flesh, bone, marrow, adipose and reproductive).

     

    In Hinduism it is believed that humans and all of creation are made up of these five elements, which dissolve back into nature upon death, balancing nature’s cycle. However whilst living humans are affected by the five elements and Ayurveda aims to balance the three elemental substances, known as doshas. Known as the tridosha concept, tt is believed that each human being is a unique combination of the doshas, which defines their character and temperament. Every human has a natural systems state, which is a natural combination of the doshas. In Ayurveda is it believed that humans can achieve balance by seeking more of the element/s that they lack, which can be done through care of their habits, environment and behaviour.

     

    The three doshas are:

    Vata      – air and space = wind

    Pitta      – fire and water = bile

    Kapha    – water and earth = phlegm

     

    These fundamental energies affect both our inner and outer environment, plus they govern structure, movement and transformation. Upon diagnosis an Ayurvedic practitioner provides guidelines to be applied on a daily and seasonal basis. These include specific seasonal and daily routines, proper use of our senses, diet and behaviour. Ayurveda teaches that health is a result of a finely tuned integration between our spirit, body, mind and environment.

     

    Vata

    If Vata is the predominant dosha a person tends to be light, thin, energetic and enthusiastic. Vata types can be visionaries, with wonderful imaginations but they can also get spaced out. On the positive side Vata has an abundance of creative energy, but needs to watch out for feeling uptight and anxious. Although Vata may have artistic talent, the mind can sometimes be restless. This can lead to over analysis and theorising. They can also have a tendency for over-indulgence in some of life’s pleasures.

     

    Vata is required to mobilise the functioning of the nervous system, so this is why when there is too much Vata – an imbalance of Vata, that the person may tire easily due to over thinking, anxiety and worry. It also affects flatulence, windy humour, rheumatism and gout.

     

    To Balance Vata

    • Create a routine
    • Listen to relaxing music
    • Meditate if possible twice every day to calm your mind
    • Your environment should have more earth tones and mild pastel shades
    • Before going to bed, try to minimise watching TV, eating or heavy reading
    • Oil your skin

     

    To Avoid Excess Vata

    • Avoid exposure to the cold
    • Don’t eat too much dry, leftover or frozen food, or food that is bitter or astringent
    • Avoid too much exercise
    • Avoid suppressing your natural urges
    • Don’t travel too much

     

     

    Pitta

    Those who have more of the Pitta dosha are often confident leaders. Their physique tends to be moderately strong, and they seem to walk with a sense of purpose. When they speak the voice is often strong, or even loud, and their speech is convincing. They are enthusiastic for knowledge, have a leaning towards being very focused and can have a razor sharp mind. Even when relatively balanced they can seem argumentative, but it is mixed with a sense of humour. However an excess of Pitta can make them irritable, fiery and snappy. Those with Pitta as the prevalent dosha can be organised perfectionists.

     

    The energy principle of Pitta is to use the bile to direct digestion and metabolism. As heat is its main quality, those with Pitta can suffer from overheating, skin irritations, ulcers and heartburn.

     

    To Balance Pitta

    • Spend time in cooling environments
    • Do gentle exercise that doesn’t overheat you
    • Try to learn to go with the flow
    • Eat cooling foods, cucumbers are excellent as are many vegetables and fruit
    • Avoid oily foods
    • Take deep breaths frequently, or do breathing exercies
    • Do yoga asanas which are gentle

     

    To Avoid Excess Pitta

    • Don’t overexposure yourself to heat
    • Avoid too much intellectual thinking
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Be careful of too much anger, fear or hate
    • Do not exercise in the middle of the day
    • Avoid antibiotics and ideally all drugs

     

     

    Kapha

    Kapha tends to have a broader frame and long limbs. They are compassionate and caring, often speaking in a slow, rhythmic manner. They are stable, patient people who don’t tend towards anger too easily – however if they are driven far enough then they don’t calm down very easily. Essentially full of love, loyal and kind-hearted, the Kapha is the dosha which is prone to gain weight easily. They take longer to learn but when they do the memory is strong. Also it may take then a while to reach a conclusion, but they make excellent logical analysts.

     

    If there is an excess of Kapha then the person may feel lethargic and over-indulgent. As phlegm is the controlling body fluid, Kapha types are prone to excess weight, congestion and a sluggish digestion.

     

    To Balance Kapha

    • Walk for around 15 minutes after eating to aid digestion
    • Be attentive to your food while eating, in other words be mindful
    • Trigger your natural energy by going to a yoga class
    • Breath deeply or do breathing exercises
    • Do an invigorating daily self massage

     

    To Avoid Excess Kapha

    • Avoid eating too much meat, dairy, fried food, salt and sweets
    • Don’t use sedatives or tranquilizers
    • Avoid exposure to the cold
    • Avoid doing little or nothing
    • Don’t drink too much water
    • Be careful about focusing too much on possessiveness, greed and doubts

     

    To get the best out of Ayurveda, you should go to a qualified practitioner and then follow through on the recommendations based on your current balance of doshas. However, if you are curious, you can first try some quick online quizzes to find your balance:

    http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

    http://www.pukkaherbs.com/Ayurveda/dosha-quiz

     

    Author Bio: Jacqueline is trained in auricular acupuncture, hypnotherapy and Vortex Healing. She firmly believes in the healing power of nature, as well as its inspirational effects on us. She also loves ancient wisdom and is fascinated by how certain places can have a special effect on us.

     

    Image Credit: marketing-deluxe.at


  3. Laughter as the Best Health Therapy

    February 16, 2014

    Laughter as the Best Health Therapy

    by Melisa Marzett

    Laughing is a perfect way to reduce or even relieve stress in our lives. It can help you to cope with a stressful lifestyle. It releases anxiety and changes your mood, but if you think that it change stressors, you’ll be disappointed. It’s not so. It changes only how we relate to that stressors. The idea of this theory is quite easy –we laugh more, so we stress less.

    Laughter binds people together and increases intimacy between them and simply makes happier. Specialists points out, that laughing makes also good physical changes in our body. It makes your immune system stronger, it diminishes your pain and protect you from negative emotions, stresses and depression.

    Today the life rhythm tends us to stop laughing, we stop doing anything emotional. Our laughter can be described as a natural and essential way of taking care of ourselves. The nature itself gave us the laughter so we can heal our minds and bodies. Some people just haven’t realized its importance in their lives.

    Nowadays people are mostly media-educated and they know a lot of information about depression. But mainly we use drugs, medicines, of even highly recommended shock treatment. But if you want some natural solution, if you don’t want to medicate your body with antidepressants this technique is for you.

    Laughing releases your anger. If you keep it inside, you become sick and nervous. Laughter will not change your problems, it can only change you so you can cope with them. It dissolves harmful emotions because you simply can’t feel anxious, sad or angry when you laugh. It helps you to relax, because it increases your energy and reduces stress. It allows you to see situations in a positive way, making a psychological distance between you and world’s negative.

    You must understand that it’s ok to feel as good as you can. It’s your life so why must you worry about the others’ opinion. Take it easy. You should cultivate the ability to take the life in a spirit of play. Just imagine that all that gloomy,serious and heavy things are dragging you down at the very bottom of the depression. Do you really want it?

    If somebody seeks out the humor in everyday life, he’ll find that. And also the other important fact that we are searching namely for positive people. Nobody will like uninspiring or moody person. And if you’re alone, it’s harder to cope, there’s nobody who can support you. But first you must change yourself. Try to encourage yourself by watching funny movies and TV programs. If you simply don’t find that funny and you can’t laugh, just fake it! Make sounds of laughter and move your body as you laugh. There’s no doubt that your mood will change.

    If you think that that’s stupid, mat be you can try Laughter Yoga. It includes four things: clapping in rhythm, breathing, stretching and laughter exercises. In this case laughter comes from your body, not mind. When you take part in such a workshop you get the release of endorphins and then you feel yourself much better.  This technique also keeps you fit. You get exercise, which tones your muscles and improves your breath.

    In the end, we’d like to offer you several tips according to this theme:

    1. Try to laugh for 5-10 minutes every morning.

    2. Seek out the humor in serious situations, even if it’s hard.

    3. Smile more, watch comedies, read funny stories.

    4. Surround yourself with flowers or with other things that can make you smile.

    5. Don’t stay home on weekends. Go to the cinema, meet your friends, sing, dance and enjoy your life!

    Author Bio: Melisa Marzett is a talented essay writer who is striving to know everything. Being an active blogger, Melisa is mainly interested in psychology, entertainment and healthy lifestyle. Melisa is always glad to connect on Google+.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boudewijnberends/6307186578/


  4. Women and Testosterone during Menopause

    January 25, 2014

    Women and Testosterone during Menopause

    Hormone balance is crucial to physical and emotional health. However, perceptions of hormones are often limited by gender. Discussions of male hormones are dominated by testosterone, while estrogen and progesterone are female buzzwords.

    While each sex produces hormones to different degrees, a limited focus can further symptoms of imbalances. This can be most seen during life changes, such as menopause. Depression, body changes, sexual disinterest and low energy are all tied to testosterone loss in women.

    How Healthy Testosterone Levels Benefit Women:

    Relationships:

    Menopause can take a toll on relationships. Symptoms such as depression and low sex drive may create emotional distance between partners. A spouse may feel unattractive or neglected during periods of hormone change.

    Low testosterone is correlated with low sexual energy and enjoyment. Testosterone helps restore sensation in the clitoris and nipples for sexual arousal, which may facilitate female orgasms.

    Menopausal treatments often focus on treating physical symptoms, such as hot flashes. Unfortunately, estrogen and progesterone do little to restore libido that drops during menopause. Prescriptions that do not consider testosterone can increase these imbalances.

    Body Image:

    During menopause, women of all fitness levels can experience changes to body composition. Those with fit lifestyles may notice declines in endurance and drops in strength. Menopausal women may have lower results from workout routines.

    Reduced muscle tone and increases in underarm fat could affect self-image. Testosterone is crucial to building lean muscle mass and reducing body fat.  There are effects beyond cosmetic issues that can also plague women with low T.

    Bone strength may decline with age and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Testosterone strengthens bones to reduce the threat of breaks.

    Causes of Low Testosterone in Women:

    Aging:

    The aging process is the most common cause of low testosterone in women and men. Testosterone levels in women may begin to fall in pre menopause years and accelerate after age 40.

    Many ‘manopausal’ men turn to testosterone boosters with maca root or gamma oryzanol to enhance their testosterone and mood. Women should use discretion is choosing testosterone supplements and work with a health professional.

    Oral testosterone supplements may cause drops in HDL cholesterol that limit heart benefits from estrogen replacement. Taking too much testosterone could produce masculine effects in some women.

    Possible Options:

    Diet and Exercise may be tweaked for better hormone balance. Low fat diets may lack the cholesterol needed to produce testosterone and improve heart health, as cholesterol is converted into T in the ovaries.

    HDL cholesterol is needed to clean arteries of plaque buildup for better cardiovascular health.  Women may consider a handful of almonds or fatty oils for essential fatty acids (EFAs) to help restore hormone levels, including testosterone.

    EFAs are not produced by the body and must be consumed. Drizzling walnut oil over a salad with Brazil nuts is an example of a hormone friendly meal.

    Workouts that strain the body are needed to produce a hormone response. Adjusting exercise to include more compound movements can generate testosterone. Squats and bench presses are examples.

    You may also consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This approach adds short bursts of intense activity into your routine. Adding short bursts of sprinting in your jog uses HIIT principles. Women can also change the order of exercises or weights used to shock their bodies.

    Ovarian Surgery:

    Female testosterone is mostly produced in the ovaries. Regardless of age, women who have had their ovaries removed are prone to low T.

    Solution: Working with a medical professional is advised.

    Stress and Lifestyle:

    Cortisol is a stress hormone that can crowd out other hormones. Menopausal women with high levels of stress may see drops in testosterone.

    Solutions:

    Managing stress is crucial to overall health. Women should set aside time each day to close their eyes and reflect. Basic meditation or yoga classes offer effective relief with other health benefits.

    Using cue words can help redirect focus during stressful times. A cue word helps direct focus to current tasks. For instance, ‘focus’ can be a cue word to fight the brain fog associated with menopause.

    Hormone Replacement Considerations:

    Individual factors will determine the extent of testosterone replacement for each woman. Therapies may add testosterone for otherwise healthy women. Women who have had their ovaries removed may require special considerations.

     

     Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregpc/3346027891/

     

     


  5. Divorce and Depression – How To Survive Divorce and Avoid Depression

    January 19, 2014

    How To Survive Divorce and Avoid Depression

    Depression can be related to several situations in life, and among them, divorce is one of those most painful and recognized. Divorce has a lot of feelings that come to the surface, which are directly related to depression. These include:

    • A feeling of not being accepted
    • A feeling of rejection
    • A feeling that one can’t be loved or understood
    • A need to isolate and be alone

    Divorce creates feelings of betrayal, and it can be one of the most emotionally destructive things an individual faces in a lifetime.  To some, divorce is the leap into depression that never fully goes away. When a commitment is made based on the foundation of love and wanting to keep a feeling of “forever”, the lack of achieving that goal can be mentally shocking and damaging beyond repair. It is important to consider ways to combat the feeling of depression that is invoked from divorce.  Consider the following options:

    Creative Diversions

    Consider getting a book to read to keep your mind preoccupied, or discover an author and read through their series. Keeping busy is essential when combatting depression –  especially when it comes from a loss of someone you love.

    If you enjoy writing poetry or painting, then indulge in that. The idea is finding creative outlets that keep your mind busy and challenged. The small joy that you find in these activities will grow and become a safe place for you to go to when you are feeling emotionally off, and a place where you have full control of the outcome.

    Routine

    Change your routine to keep your mind strong and open. It could be something simple like adding working out into your weekly schedule, or taking up a small part-time job to meet some new people. It can be a small change in agenda that can open up a world of possibilities.

    Plan

    Learn to plan your day and remind yourself that you have control over what you do and where you spend your time.  Setting goals and teaching yourself the feeling associated with accomplishing things that you set your mind to can be powerful and invigorating. The more you remind yourself that you have good qualities and potential, the more likely you are to put the feelings of depression to rest.

    Develop your Self-Esteem

    Recognizing the things you like about yourself is incredibly important when it comes to being comfortable in your own skin. The recognition of the things that you don’t like is equally important. Consider your strengths and your weaknesses, consider what you would like to improve upon, and make it happen. Time is your friend, and taking the time to think about where you would like to make adjustments is powerful. From that point forward, you have the option to make the adjustments happen.

    Depression from a loss such as divorce is something you must accept as a painful event in life; there is no way around it. The recognition of the pain isn’t weakness – it is accepting a reality you wish didn’t happen, but it is there and you have to deal with it. The largest challenges in life are the ones we wish we could ignore, but overcoming them is a feeling that is empowering in a way that nothing else can come close to. Feeling pain is not a weakness, but letting it run you into the ground to the point of being unproductive is an act of being weak. Recognize depression and sadness for everything that it is, but remind yourself that you can get through it if you choose to believe in yourself.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/2903325290/


  6. The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    January 2, 2014

    The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    There have been many studies that have linked mental health, and most notably depression, with the food that we eat. Researchers studied a variety of “favorites”, such as:

    • Doughnuts
    • Fairy Cakes
    • Croissants
    • Hot dogs
    • Hamburgers
    • Pizza

     

    Essentially, commercial baked goods and fast food have been found to have a negative impact on the mental psyche, leading to the possibility of depression. Much of this is linked to a lack of physical behavior, which leads to negative physical growth, as well as the development of poor self-esteem.

    The studies also conclude that the consumption of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and olive oil play a preventative role when it comes to depression. B vitamins, especially, play an active role toward maintaining increased energy levels and living a healthy lifestyle.

    Poor diet comes combined with unhealthy lifestyle habits (such as lounging around, watching too much television, or lacking in physical activity) leads to feeling negative.  Most people know that eating fast food and commercial bakery goods is unhealthy, yet the reason people indulge is often associated with convenience and the fact that it tastes good.  It provides comfort for many people (aka, stress eating), but it leads to a vicious cycle of feeling good (temporarily), only to be let down by guilt after the indulgence is over.

    Recognition of the real problems

    The real underlying problems associated with poor dietary choices and the subsequent low self-esteem needs to be addressed, and rather than truly address the epidemic, it is simply becoming more and more acceptable. The idea of living casual and non-eventful days is much more acceptable in today’s society; there isn’t enough pressure or consideration put toward where the problems truly begin.

    An effective way to address this problem isn’t necessarily to make a public service announcement, as people are aware of the problems. It’s about educating the youth who don’t fully have an understanding of just how serious the problem is. When one looks at the obesity epidemic (most notably recognized in America), then the proper resolve should be to put more effort into the education that schools deliver to our youth. In addition to education, there should be more action put forward in what the schools offer for meals; there should be healthier options made available rather than high-sugar and high-fat snacks that currently pollute the common school cafeteria.

    It is easy to point the finger at society and blame marketing on today’s poor diet choices, but the ability to deliver a solution to the widespread problems is an entirely separate matter. When people eat poorly and are inactive, then of course depression can become an issue. Whether it is unhappiness around the way we physically look, unhappiness because of the amount we get done in a day, or whatever the case may be, it’s easier to claim and remain stuck.  Solutions are right there, but the cloud of depression tends to keep us from utilizing them.  It might be a hard first step, but once you take that first step, each subsequent step becomes a little bit easier.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marketing-deluxe/8260087763


  7. How to Manage Anxiety Sweats

    November 27, 2013

    How to Manage Anxiety Sweats
    The big moment has arrived, you’re having an interview with your dream job. You’ve been preparing your entire working career for this one opportunity and you’ve planned everything you need down to a tee.  A copy of your resume rests flat in your laptop bag, your shirt has been pressed and dry-cleaned and you got a good night’s sleep. It seems that nothing can go wrong. You jump in your car and pull out the driveway, the air con is blasting – you don’t want to get overheated and start sweating right? Only problem is, you are sweating. Despite an 18 degree temperature, two wet circles are starting to form under your arms and they’re spreading quickly – the enemy has won again! By the time you get to your interview, you’re anxiety levels are at an all-time high, and you’re struggling to get it under control. A million thoughts run through your head like, why couldn’t they be one of those new age businesses and conduct a Skype chat interview? Or would it be bad if I cancelled now? Or maybe if I wear my backpack the entire time they won’t notice. People who suffer from anxiety sweats (myself included) know this feeling all too well. You don’t need to be embarrassed, sweating due to anxiety is a common condition that affects more people that you think. Apparently, sweating is a natural response of our sweat glands when we are anxious. For some, the sweating doesn’t begin until you’re standing in a crowded room, others just need to think about interacting with people and they start perspiring. So how do you manage this condition? Here is a few ways to help you overcome anxiety sweats.

    Wear clothes that allow you to breathe

     

    Much like the aforementioned scenario, if you know you are going to be in a stressful situation that may lead to sweating, try to reduce your external body temperature by wearing non synthetic clothing that is light and breathable. Wearing synthetic materials will only increase your body’s need to sweat, making it seem more excessive. Partner this with a strong antiperspirant (I use Rexona Clinical) to prevent any further sweats.

    Recognise your triggers and focus on something less anxiety provoking

     

    Feeling of anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming, besides sweating you may also be feeling waves of tightening in the chest, a racing heart, snowballing worries and obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour. These reactions are provoked by situations that make you uneasy or nervous. I’m not saying it’s easy to recognise all your triggers, but if you can identify a few and find ways to redirect your focus onto something other than your anxiety, you retain a sense of control. You can reach out to others, do work around the house, exercise, listen to music, watch a movie or engage in a creative activity such as drawing, painting or writing.

    Exercise

     

    Here’s yet another good reason to get involved in some extracurricular activities. Physicians have long recommended exercise as a means of relieving anxiety by helping your body to practice responding to stress. That way, when the real McCoy happens, you are much better prepared to handle an anxiety provoking situation. Exercising prior to anticipated anxiety provoking situation is also a good idea (such as job interview), because the exercise will cause inflow of endorphins into your brain and it will function better. Yet, you should finish the exercise at least two hours prior to the interview.

     

    This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things you can do to curb anxiety sweats. However, if you do experience anxiety on a regular basis, remember these tips and don’t be afraid to see the psychologist or psychotherapist to deal with root cause of your problems.

     

    Image Credit: Ryan Hyde @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/4668093768

     

     


  8. Ten Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

    November 25, 2013

    Ten Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

    by Beth Wallace

     

    After years of working hard and raising a family, retirement should be a time to kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In reality, the ‘golden years’ aren’t always as easy or carefree like the brochures and glossy magazines seem to portray.

     

    Just because work and children may no longer be primary concerns, doesn’t mean our stress magically melts away. It’s true that stress is a part of everyday life; however, our ability to cope with it can weaken the older we get.

    Whatever the source — financial concerns, the transition into a retirement home, death of a spouse or illness —the effect of stress on the body and mind can be catastrophic.

     

    Here are 10 easy ways for seniors to reduce stress and live a happier/healthier life:

     

    1. Walk Away from Stress

    According to a recent study by Statistics Canada, seniors who are physically active in their leisure time are twice as likely to be in good health and have a low level of stress. If you’re looking to add some physical activity into your daily routine and have been give the green light from your doctor, walking is an excellent step — quite literally! Aside from being cheap and convenient, walking for 35-minutes or more a day can help you stay physically and mentally strong. Just remember to stay safe by dressing weather-appropriate, wear bright colors and reflectors if walking in the evening. During the winter months, make sure you wear proper footwear to avoid any slips or falls — one little slip on black ice can have long-term consequences.

     

    2. Say ‘Om’

    You don’t have to be able to bend it like Beckham to excel at yoga, nor do you have to twist yourself into a pretzel. While some mistakenly believe that yoga is more of a youthful activity, the young at heart can benefit greatly. Deep breathing (a key component of yoga) is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress  — increased heart rate, fast breathing and high blood pressure all decrease as you deeply inhale and exhale.

     

    3. Go for a Dip

    Swimming is an ideal solution for arthritis sufferers or anyone who wants to keep fit and avoid injury, according to Canadian Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co.’s blog post “10 Ways to Relieve Arthritis Pain Naturally”.  As soon as you take that plunge into the pool, you’ll feel your stress float away while you concentrate on your laps.

     

    4. Bottoms Up

    In recent years, there have been many reports that have claimed a glass of red wine an evening is ideal for combating stress and lowering blood pressure.  Before you reach for that bottle opener, make sure your medications can be mixed with alcohol —to be safe, always check with your doctor. Once you get that ‘thumbs up’ it’s time for happy hour. Just don’t overdo it!

     

    5. Four-Legged Friends

    It’s a proven fact that pets can help lower one’s stress level —that’s why there are countless pet visitation programs that exist throughout North America. Those who are physically able to care for a pet, but have shied away from the idea in the past, may want to give it a second thought.

    For seniors or anyone for that matter,  a handful of benefits that come with having a pet are: less depression, sense of security, lower blood pressure and pulse rate, unconditional love and support — all factors that can ultimately lower your stress levels.

     

    6. On a Happy Note

    A new health and wellness craze that has seniors singing a happy tune in most retirement residences and care facilities is music therapy. While it’s no big surprise that music can help improve one’s mood, this form of therapy has been proven to also improve awareness, concentration, improve memory, reduce tension and promote relaxation. If there isn’t a music therapy programs in your community, you can still benefit from the calming effects of music by simply playing music at home.

     

    7. Massage Stress Away

    There are plenty of reasons seniors should consider booking a massage with a registered geriatric massage therapist. While it’s not exactly breaking news that a massage can help ease tension in your back, neck and shoulders did you know it can also reduce anxiety and depression? It’s true! Studies show that seniors who go for regular massages have an improvement in their personal well-being and overall health. Sounds like a great excuse to head to the spa!

     

    8. Reconnect with Nature

    The beauty of nature has always been compelling — it inspires us. Whether it’s your own backyard or a leisurely stroll at the beach or a park, the calming effects of Mother Nature can help promote relaxation. There’s also the added benefit of cardiovascular exercise, which also reduces stress (see #1).

     

    9. Get Crafty

    Have you ever considered taking up a craft? You certainly don’t have to be the next Martha Stewart to create a hand-made project. Whether it’s woodwork, sculpture, knitting, cross-stitch, etc., an artistic project can be your prescription for good health and lower stress levels.

    According to the American Journal Medical Association, a study of 30 female heart patients showed a significant decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and perspiration rate upon completing a craft project.

     

    10. Laugh out Loud

    There’s no denying that a good hearty laugh can make you feel great and forget your worries—that’s why the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’ has been used for centuries. In recent years, laughter has inspired a whole new form of therapy called Laughter Yoga — a revolutionary activity that combines yogic deep breathing with laughter exercises. For seniors, this is a safe and effective way to release energy, and reduce negative thoughts, which can in turn reduce the risk factors of cardiac diseases due to stress.

     

    While it’s impossible to reduce all stress from our life, especially as we age, there are countless ways seniors can counteract the negative, harmful effects. With these 10 stress busters, you’ll be feeling relaxed in no time. Ready, set, relax!

     

    Author Bio: Beth Wallace is a Safety Specialist for Canadian Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. She visits the homes of Canadian seniors to show them how they can make their homes safer. Beth wants every senior to have the chance to bathe without the fear and risk of falling. You can follow Beth on Twitter at @_BethWallace.

    Image Credit: Ryan Forsythe @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/16135068@N00/304753195


  9. Anti Anxiety Medication List – Benefits, Disadvantages, Side Effects

    November 15, 2013

    Anti Anxiety Medications

    Almost everyone suffers from anxiety at some point in their lives. Yet, if you are among 3.1% of Americans who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, medications could be a necessary component of your multimodal treatment. Anti anxiety medications should never be considered a permanent solution, regardless of what your doctor tells you. These could be used to control your condition, while you are working with a therapist and learn to manage your repetitive, negative, and often irrational thoughts. Psychotherapy is the only  permanent solution for anxiety, and it works best when combined with meditation, yoga, and regular physical exercise.

    Once you have been diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder and it has been decided (by your physician or psychiatrist) that you need to take anti anxiety medication for  your treatment, it is important to know and understand all of the options available. The following is an anti anxiety medication list containing information about medications commonly used to treat anxiety. We describe here specifics of each medication, their benefits, disadvantages and possible side effects.

     

    BENZODIAZEPINES

     

    *Xanax – panic, generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety and OCD

    *Klonopin – panic, generalized anxiety, phobias and social anxiety

    *Valium – panic, generalized anxiety and phobias

    *Ativan – panic, generalized anxiety and phobias

    *Serax – generalized anxiety and phobias

    *Librium – generalized anxiety and phobias

     

    Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs whose use results in sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxant properties. In general, these types of drugs are safe and effective for the short term. You can take benzodiazepines as a single dose therapy or several times a day for months at a time. Studies suggest that they are effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety in about 70% of patients. They are very quick acting, tolerance does not develop, and overdose is not dangerous. Generic alternatives are available which can greatly reduce cost.

     

    Sometimes patients experience side effects such as drowsiness, lethargy, difficulty with speech, a decrease in coordination, unsteady gait, and headache. These types of side effects tend to be present the first few weeks of treatment, but usually clear up. Some patients experience irritability and agitation. Taking benzodiazepines can increase the effects of alcohol. Long-term use is still controversial due to possible psychological and physical effects. It can cause tolerance in some people as well as dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines are also controversial for use in pregnant women.

     

    BETA BLOCKERS

     

    *Inderal – social anxiety

    *Tenormin – social anxiety

     

    Beta blockers help to treat the physical effects of anxiety such as trembling, shaking, uncontrolled blushing and controlling rapid heart beat in anxious social situations for several hours. They are safe for most people with few side effects. Beta blockers are also non-habit forming.

     

    Sometimes the social anxiety symptoms present are so strong that beta blockers cannot provide sufficient relief. They also tend to lower blood pressure so those with a heart condition or low blood pressure may not use them. Beta blockers are not recommended for anyone with diabetes or with respiratory issues such as asthma.

     

    TRICYCLIC ANTIDEPRESSANTS

     

    *Tofranil – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression

    *Norpramin or Pertofrane – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression

    *Aventyl or Pamelor – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression

    *Elavil – panic, generalized anxiety, PTSD and depression

    *Sinequan or Adapin – panic and depression

    *Anafranil – panic, depression and OCD

     

    Tricyclic antidepressants are among the earliest antidepressants developed. They are effective, but have been generally replaced with other types of antidepressants that cause fewer side effects. They are effective in reducing panic attacks and in elevating depressed moods. They are usually given in single daily doses with no tolerance development or withdrawal symptoms.

     

    Taking tricyclic antidepressants have a delayed onset of 4-12 weeks. Possible side effects include insomnia, tremors or both and both can last up to three weeks. Overdose is a dangerous issue with thee medications and the side effects are considered to be significant.

     

    MONOAMINE OXIDASE INHIBITORS (MAOIs)

     

    *Lardil – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression and OCD

    *Parnate – panic, generalized anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

     

    MAOIs reduce panic attack, elevate depressed moods and increases confidence. These medications are well researched, cause no tolerance development and are non-habit forming.

     

    There are some dietary and medicinal restrictions that must be adhered to when taking MAOIs. Thee can be inconvenient for many patients. Aged cheeses and meat as well as certain medications need to be avoided when taking this medication. There can be significant agitation during the first days of treatment. There can also be a delayed onset of weeks to months and they are very dangerous in overdose. Patients that take MAOIs need to be extremely responsible.

     

    SELECTIVE SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs)

     

    *Prozac – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

    *Luvox – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

    *Zoloft – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

    *Paxil – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

    *Lexapro – panic, generalized anxiety and OCD

    *Celexa – panic, generalized anxiety, depression, OCD and PTSD

     

    SSRIs are a newer type of medication introduced in the 1980’s. They assist the brain in maintaining enough supply of serotonin in the brain. A deficiency of serotonin is associated with many anxiety disorders.  They are a well-tolerated medication that is safe for medically ill or frail patients. They are safe in overdose with no withdrawal symptoms unless abruptly stopped. No dependency develops and they do not promote weight gain.

     

    There is a delayed onset of 4-6 weeks  and full range effect can take up to 12 weeks. A worsening of anxiety symptoms can happen during the first two weeks of treatment.

     

    SEROTONIN NOREPINEPHRINE REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SNRIs)

     

    *Effexor or Effexor XR – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression and OCD

    *Cymbalta – panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety and OCD

     

    With Cymbalta, therapeutic response can take up to 4-6 weeks and alcohol must be avoided. Nausea and dizziness are common side effects. SNRIs are more expensive than most anxiety medications.

     

    Image Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/54111420@N00/2763358057/

     


  10. How To Get Over Anxiety and Get My Life Back?

    November 13, 2013

    How To Get Over Anxiety and Get My Life Back?

    Once you discover that you suffer from anxiety, it is imperative to figure out what the best course of treatment will be. It can be difficult to discern whether your anxiety is something that can be overcome on your own or whether you need to seek professional help. When you ask “How to get over anxiety?” question, here are a few basic steps that you can take that can assist in determining the level of severity of anxiety you may suffer from.

     

    Clearly Identify the Source of Anxiety

    Anxiety is detrimental for your health and it crushes your potential. It is important to identify where the source of your anxiety is coming from. The source could be from something in your environment, from a specific incident or because of an impending event, meeting or activity. It is much easier to face fear and anxiety if you are clear about what it is. Often times, not knowing exactly what is causing your anxiety can add to the anxiety that you already feel. As difficult as it may seem to learn what is causing your worry, the fear of the unknown can be detrimental on its own.

     

    Determine If Your Anxiety Can Be Solved On Your Own

                Once you know what is causing your anxiety, you can start to determine whether it is something that can be dealt with. Ask yourself these questions: What can I do to lessen my anxiety? Is it a long-term or short-term fix? What steps can I take to prevent the anxiety from happening again?

     

    Consider Worse Case Scenario

                If you feel as if your anxiety is consuming your every thought, take some time to really think about the honest and absolute worst thing that could happen as a result of your anxiety. If you can manage to think critically about your situation, you may come to realize that there are very few situations that cannot be handled in a reasonable manner.

     

    Accept Uncertainty

    At this point, it is best to simply accept the uncertainty. Worrying about the unknown is counterproductive and an unnecessary source of fear that we sometimes fall victim to. If you can learn to accept the concept of chance, many aspects of your anxiety can become less prominent. This is probably the most difficult step for anyone.

     

    If working through these steps is impossible or seemingly unhelpful to you, then you should seek help from a professional. Some people are not able to answer the question “How do I get over anxiety?” on their own. Some anxiety is a normal part of everyday life. If, however, your anxiety has become a debilitating and disruptive condition in your life, affecting relationships, work, school and/or sleep, it is recommended that you seek help. You should consult your doctor if you find that your anxiety overwhelms you to the point of not being able to think straight or rationalize normally. Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling and what your symptoms are. It is imperative to seek help immediately for anxiety disorders because, if left untreated, they can lead to very serious medical issues.

     

     

    Other Practical Recommendations

     

    *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to treat certain dysfunctional emotions and cognitive processes using goal-oriented and organized procedures. It is considered to be successful in treating a variety of condition including anxiety. CBT was created by integrating a combination of behavioral therapy and cognitive psychology.

     

    *Moodkit is a mood improvement tool for mobile devices that can help to give you the guidance and wisdom to become your own expert on your moods.

     

    *Stress is often a big factor with anxiety issues. Taking steps to alleviate your everyday stress can help to improve your overall mood and ability to handle potentially anxiety-ridden situations. Mindful meditation has been shown in recent studies to help reduce anxiety. This form of meditation focuses on breath and body sensations as well as objectively evaluating your anxious thoughts and emotions. There has been significant research to suggest that surrounding yourself with nature can be a powerful stress reliever. Outdoor exercise can be more anxiety and stress reducing than exercising inside of a gym.

     

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beccaplusmolly/2925613547