You wake up early and rush to get ready for work. You sit in the car and drive through heavy traffic to get to work. You arrive already stressed and tired. Once at work you sit at your desk all day. You drink too much coffee to stay awake. The air in the office is stale. You feel sleepy and irritable.
You leave the office at the end of the day for the long commute through more busy traffic and many other stressed, tired drivers, all anxious to get home. Too tired to cook, you get take-out, or eat out. You barely have a chance to unwind and then you must fall back into bed. You wake up the next morning having had a bad night, only to have to repeat the routine all over again.
Does any of this sound familiar? Does your health suffer as a result? Of course it does. Even sitting on a daily basis for long periods affects our posture and can cause aches and pains we would not have with a more active lifestyle.
What You Can Do To Keep Healthy When You Think You Are Too Busy
Even though you might think you do not have the time, the truth is there is a lot you can do to maintain health and wellness, even in the crazy busy lives we lead these days.
With winter coming on, many people are afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) commonly called the “winter blues”. Thought to be caused by a decrease in the hours of sunlight, typical symptoms of this mood disorder include a lack of energy, sleeping more, overeating, depression and a general overall lethargic feeling. If you are one that suffers from SAD, you have to take control of it or it will take control of you. Otherwise all the hard work you put into looking and feeling good across the other three seasons will be for naught with a gain in weight as a result. Exercising works at beating the winter blues for these reasons…
Increased blood flow
When exercising, your heart rate increases thus pumping more blood throughout your circulatory system. More blood over a given time means more oxygen going into the cells and more wastes coming out.
Any exercise increases the rate at which your body burns calories, but cardio training tends to burn more than strength training. Because people afflicted with SAD tend to crave carbohydrates more in the winter, it is important to do exercises that give you the most calories burn per minute of exercise. However be sure to include at least a couple days per week (but not in a row) of strength training for toning and definition.
Increased oxygen to the brain
Exercising not only increases blood flow to your muscles, but also to the brain. As a result of the additional oxygen, brain function increases making you more alert and cognitive.
You’ve likely heard it more times than you can remember- laughter is the best medicine. This is true in many respects, as laughter can bring about meaningful neurochemical and physiological changes that can benefit the body. In particular, laughter can improve brain health, and help manage many “silent” disorders, not easily observed by medical practitioners, or society as a whole.
Interested in knowing what a little more laughter can do for your health? Then read on below and find out!
What could be more important than the health and well-being of your brain? From conception to grave, we are worried about our mental performance. Except for that middle bit where we are preoccupied with making money, working, and taking care of our families instead of ourselves, but there are simple, easy ways you can care for your brain health.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is a big deal and can wreak havoc on all aspects of your life and your health. Stress is known to fatigue and seriously degrade the brain and its functions. Stress has an immediate and negative effect on things like concentration, short-term memory storage, and decision-making, but the effects aren’t just short term. Chronically stressed people show slower response time, less brain mass and slower plasticity than there less stressed counterparts.
Many people do not take mental health seriously, doing even less to ensure that they maintain an optimal mental state. It would be safe to assume that as much as 75% of men are not comfortable discussing their emotions, and thus sweep symptoms of depression under the carpet.
Is this ideal? No, far from, as all this does is compound a possibly simple issue, and deprives you of help you could have been receiving.
With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of developing depression, even though it may also have a genetic link. Regardless, by limiting your external risk factors, you can limit your chance of developing it.
Let’s explore what you can do today:
The term depression is used to refer to a mood disorder that causes you to constantly feel loss of interest and sadness. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. This mood disorder can be very dangerous, as it often causes a number of physical and emotional problems. It is also one of the leading causes of suicide.
Those suffering from clinical depression can’t think, feel, and behave properly, which has a huge negative effect on their life. In most cases, patients suffering from depression have trouble performing normal day-to-day activities. This mood disorder is also linked to a lack of motivation for living and can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Considering that physical health is often dictated by mental health, it would be privy to take nurturing the latter seriously. There are a myriad of means by which this can be achieved, but hiking/being in nature, meditation, yoga, nutrition, and listening to music are the focus here. Each offer well-documented and researched benefits that are advantageous to brain stimulation.
Hiking is an excellent means by which our brains are given a chance to thrive. The combination of a serenely scenic and calming environment allows the mind to cognitively realign itself. Being out in nature has a documented, physiological effect on the neurological functioning of the brain.
A recent study conducted by Stanford University explores the beneficial ramifications of being in nature, even in small doses. Unfortunately, opportunities for many to experience a walk in nature for any period of time have grown fewer and farther between with the ever expanding of the urban sprawl.
Studies have found that these options can help contribute to a healthy mental state, bugger against the harmful physical effects of stress and dial up your serenity level. Eat your way to Zen.
It's true that the side effects may include off-color or odd-smelling urine, but it's a small price to pay for all the folate they deliver. The B vitamin is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head. Steam some spears and add to salads or stir-fries; they're also tasty broiled and seasoned.
Besides being an excellent source of healthy fat, these creamy green fruits (yes, fruits), can stress-proof your body. They're rich in glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage (the process that creates free radicals, the harmful compounds responsible for aging). Avocados also contain more folate than any other fruit. Try to stick to a single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado). Thinly sliced, it can go a long way on salads or replace mayo on sandwiches or burgers.
All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested this by asking 120 people to give a speech and then do hard math problems. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol after the stressfest. Add a handful of berries to salad, yogurt, or oatmeal, or try nibbling on them frozen.
Another vitamin C powerhouse, oranges have an added benefit: that tough skin keeps them protected while they're bouncing around in your purse or backpack, so you can tote them anywhere. Try some other varieties, like clementines, tangelos, or mineolas.
You probably heard about them being a "sexy" food but they have earned they place as a mother lode of zinc. Six oysters, what you would typically be served in a restaurant as an appetizer, have more than half the recommended daily allowance for this important calming mineral. They're an acquired taste, for sure, but fans love them with cocktail sauce, horseradish, or mignonette. Purists favor a simple squeeze of lemon.
Research has proven that these shelled marvels provide more than one kind of cognitive edge. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. And studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in check. To bring out their flavor, toast them for 10 minutes, then chop and add to salads
Exercise makes you pay attention to its sensations, such as breathing faster, and the things around you. It also helps you disengage from worry. In one study, by Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD, professor of psychology at UT; he found that exercise slashed anxiety in half! Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects
Yoga sessions three times a week improved people's mood and anxiety levels after 12 weeks in one study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine. The level of GABA, an amino acid in the brain, is lower in people who report anxiety. Among study participants who took a yoga class, GABA levels increased and reports of anxiety decreased after the session. Yoga's deep breathing "stimulated the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the ability to relax, says Chris C. Streeter, MD.
Norwegian researchers discovered that sleep-deprived people are more likely to be anxious. Here's why: "Sleep loss activates areas of the brain that are also activated during anxiety," says Jack B. Nitschke, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison. To ward off the willies, aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. It is also suggested to refrain/step away from electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime and jotting your worries down on paper.
In anxious people, researchers have seen a deactivation in areas of the brain that govern thought, enabling worries to spiral out of control. Mindfulness meditation helps stop the cycle of worry. Studies have shown that anxiety levels of meditators eased up to to 39%
This heavenly therapy slows the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which are linked to anxiety. Research by the University of Miami School of Medicine found that a month of weekly 20-minute massages lowers cortisol levels by 31%. Massage also causes a relaxation response, which eases anxiety.
Taking Kava for 6 weeks eased anxiety for 26% of people with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) in a 2013 study. Research shows that it's effective for up to 6 months. Kava is available in capsules and liquid tinctures; follow label directions
Andrea Stewart Roa, M.S.
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