Health & Wellness Blog

    

How to Deal With Stress

How to Deal With StressWould it surprise you to learn that the biggest health reason why people have to take time off work is stress? Although the number of days lost has fallen over the last decade, the Health And Safety Executive estimate that 10.8 million days are lost every year in the UK because of stress. On average, each person suffering with anxiety, stress or depression takes 27 days away from the office. It’s a massive problem, and something that many employers seem unwilling to deal with. So how do you recognise the signs of stress and deal with it before it becomes an issue?

Symptoms

Stress is often described alongside the related conditions of anxiety and depression as they are all interlinked. By the time you notice that you are feeling under stress, the symptoms have been building up for quite some time. Some of the early indicators that you may be suffering from stress include irritability, anxiety, change in eating habits, headaches, worrying about work and loss of self-esteem. Not everyone suffering with stress has the same symptoms, as every case is highly individual.

Identifying

Once you have recognised that you are suffering from stress, the next step along the process is trying to work out what it is in your life which is making you stressed. It may not be your job at all; you may be looking after an elderly parent, or dealing with a newborn baby who is awake half the night.

Keeping a diary which details what you have done on a day to day basis and when you have felt stressed will help identify what triggers the symptoms in your case. Simple lifestyle changes such as making the effort to eat healthy, balanced meals rather than grabbing a takeaway, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol and taking more exercise can also help combat low-level stress and make you feel better about yourself too. If you feel that symptoms are severe, take a trip to the doctor to explore what other help may be available.

Me-Time

One of the main factors for stress in our everyday lives is that we never seem to get time just to “be”. Whether it’s the kids with constant requests for snacks, or the mobile phone buzzing to let you know you’ve got yet another text from the office, there are more demands on us than ever. It’s not often easy to find time to explore our own interests, but even a few hours a week can make a huge difference.

Leave the mobile at home and go for a long walk in the park, a swim or do an aerobics class at the gym. If being creative is more your sort of thing, put some woodworking tools like a mitre box on your wish list and start planning your first project. Once you’ve got your mitre box and other tools together, make a regular space in the diary to retreat into the garage or spare room to spend some time switched off from the pressures of everyday life and doing something you really enjoy.

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What Are Low Energy Levels And How To Diagnose Them

Nowadays, one can hear every other person complaining about increased tiredness and fatigue. The most common phrase used to describe the situation is that “I am low in energy”. With the passage of the day, once start feeling sluggish and loses concentration about his or her work and again the situation is associated with “low energy.” As a fact of matter, very few people know what actually energy is and what energy levels are high and low and how to maintain them throughout the day.

What are Low Energy Levels?

The low energy levels have become so common in modern busy world that now they are considered as everyday routines. But there are people who long to find out methods to increase their strength and endurance to pass the day effectively and efficiently. In this regard, they wonder if things like natural energy supplements or vitamin supplements can really help them or not. If you are filled with energy, it is natural that you will be more happy and positive doing everything enthusiastically. On the other hand, shortage of energy will make things daunting for you making life difficult in general.

Reasons of Low Energy Levels:

Many reasons contribute to the decline of energy as the day passes by and almost all of them are the gifts of modern world. These contributing factors of fatigue usually come in the shape of:

  • Poor diet
  • Excessive toxins
  • Pollutants in the environment
  • Unbalanced life style
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • A medical condition that must be addressed

How to Diagnose Low Energy Levels:

If you have now regularly been suffering from fatigue and tiredness, you need to reevaluate yourself and look for the following things,

  • Are you taking regular exercise at least for 30 minutes thrice a week
  • Are you taking your caffeine intake to minimum
  • Are you drinking plenty of water daily
  • Are you eating abundance of vegetables and fruits
  • Is your alcohol intake is not more than 1 drink per night
  • Is your diet in rich in iron
  • Is your diet rich in all important nutrient like proteins, carbohydrates and fibers
  • Is your diet rich in all important minerals like chromium and calcium 
  • Do you take at least 3 meals and 2 small snacks a day
  • Do you spend some time on rest and leisure
  • Are you taking at least 6-8 hours of sleep daily
  • Are you stress levels managed properly and under control
  • Are you emotionally satisfied and not in any sort of conflict

If you feel that question to any of these question is yes, then try to adjust your lifestyle accordingly and you will definitely feel a change in your life. However, if you feel that you are doing everything right and are still struggling with low energy levels, rush to a doctor immediately. You might need a more serious help than just going for natural energy supplements because reasons could be more drastic and long lasting like depression and hormonal imbalance.

Conclusion

Concluding, it can be said that if you are low in energy, your life may suffer heavily from the situation. Therefore it is better to resolve the issue as soon as possible to avoid subsequent consequences.

About the Author Angelika Johnston is an online content writer and writes on topics like natural energy supplements, bodybuilding techniques and fitness tips.

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Why Watching TV is Unhealthy (in More Ways Than One)

Health and TVTelevision sets are common household appliances in many homes. However, most users are unaware of the magnitude of negative health implications of TV.

Research information shows that people spend an average of 28 hours watching their favorite programs every week. On the contrary, many people do not discover associated health effects until it is late.

Watching TV can lead to physical and mental ailments (primarily due to inactivity and lack of engagement,) social isolation, and emotional swings. Watching TV can lead to either one or a group of these negative impacts. Let us discuss how each is associated to watching television.

TV Inhibits Physical Activity & Socialization

It is a globally accepted fact that physical activity has health benefits to people. Physical activities must not be entirely vigorous to give us health benefits. For instance, walking or jogging for an appreciable period can lead to good health.

Nevertheless, watching television especially for long hours separates people from physical activity. Such habits deny people from participating in common acts like walking around the room. If we collectively agree that physical activity boosts our health, then the lack of if equally deteriorates it. In addition, people do not have time develop their social life.

People will value TV programs more than socializing and making friends. For instance, people have favorite programs that they would never miss to watch. They develop addiction for such programs just like the case of hard drugs. They would not care about their neighbors' wellbeing for one second.

Children have a higher risk of developing ill health because of watching television. Research pinpoints watching TV as one of the causes of obesity in children. Therefore, parents and guardians should discourage family members from watching television without engaging into any physical activity.

TV's Effects on the Brain

There's no doubt that TV sales retailers have made a big push toward more interaction TV systems, such 3D TV's and HDTV. However, this level of engagement may not be in the best interest of the populations overall heatlh.

Scientists have found that watching television can be associated with depression. When speaking of depression, people should think a human mind. The brain functions based on its right and left sides. The left side controls logical thinking while the right side is responsible for our emotions.

Watching TV leads to much usage of the emotional side of the brain more than the left side. As a result, a person becomes more passive, gets easily distracted, and looks very bored. In addition, prolonged exposure to television programs that are full of violent scenes can lead to violence tendencies in man.

This is more pronounced in children since they learn from what they watch. Children will eventually develop violent behavior based on what they watch on TV. Furthermore, both adults and children risk low intelligence quotients because of an inactive left side of the brain. Children will develop learning disabilities or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) while adults develop depression.

TV's Effects on Emotional Disorders

Watching TV has led many people to develop inferiority complex tendencies too. This is especially prevalent after watching supermodels that have zero bodies; sports people that own big houses and earn large salaries, some adverts that openly criticize your eating habit in favor another.

The result is that people suffer from low self-confidence, develop disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Such people may end up committing suicide just because the media makes them feel unaccepted by society.

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How Learning to Play the Piano Effects the Brain

Pianos Scientific evidence has proved that learning to play a musical instrument like the piano affects and even makes changes on an individual's brain.

Various research studies have shown that learning the piano (as well as other musical instruments) has an affect on the auditory cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for the processing of sound.

According to the findings, pianists tend to show more brain activity on this part of the brain. Other studies have also shown that preschoolers with musical training exhibit larger brain responses on various sound recognition tests. Individuals with early childhood piano lessons tend to have enhanced motor and auditory skills. They also exhibit improved verbal ability as well as nonverbal reasoning. Such training enhances a person's acoustic responsiveness.

In musicians, the brain structure that is associated with auditory processing is larger in the left hemisphere and smaller in the right. They also have a thicker nerve-fiber tract between the left and the right hemisphere. This increases the speed of communication between the two hemispheres. Music stimulates both sides of the brain as well as the area that contains the memory and emotions

Piano Lessons and the Affect on Memory

Its been shown that undertaking piano lessons has an impact on a person's memory. A study by Agnes Chan of the University of Hongkong proved that those individuals who had received musical training before the age of 12 had a better memory when it came to the spoken words than those who had never received such training.

Therefore, piano lessons have a long a long-term effect on someone's verbal memory. It affects his/her attention and memory which in turn leads to better learning.

Neural Pathways and Neuroplasticity

A research conducted by Nina Kraus of Northwestern University showed that musical training has some effects on a person's nervous system. The training builds meaningful patterns that are important in learning. Active engagement with musical sounds enhances neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change and even adapt as a result of training or experience.

Understanding music (especially learning to translate musical symbols into sounds like with piano lessons,) enhances the individual's ability to learn other things which share similar neuro pathways. Early musical training helps in strengthening connections between the neurons in the brain which leads to long-term development in certain parts of the brain.

Researchers probing the inner working of the brain have found neural firing patterns that are resemble musical patterns. This therefore suggests that music holds the key to higher brain functioning

Spatial-Temporal Function

A study in which children were given eight months of piano lessons in Atlanta proved that musical training improved spatial temporal reasoning. Children who take piano lessons tend to score higher in tests on general and spatial cognitive development. Pianos lessons can significantly reduce anxiety, depression and stress.

The best way to strengthen the eye-hand coordination and improve one's motor skills is through playing the piano. The children who take piano lessons learn a lot concerning dedication, discipline and the reward of hard work.

From all there findings, it is quite evident that piano lessons have so many to the brain. Besides benefiting the brain, the joy of making music is quite satisfying to most piano players.

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Is Too Much Screen Time Bad for Your Health?

Too Much Screen TimeThe phrase "screen time" denotes the activities that are done in front of a digital screen. Whether it be watching TV, working on the computer, playing video games, or using mobile phones and iPods, screen time is never a healthy endeavor (aside from learning something.) In fact, too much screen time, particularly in kids, can be bad for one's health.

Screen time is regarded as a sedentary time because very little energy is spent when you are physically inactive. Hence too much screen time combined with a sedentary lifestyle can definitely take a toll on your child’s overall well-being. Yes, excessive screen time, whether from the TV or iPod, can result in a wide array of problems – from physical conditions like obesity to mental issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Health Affects of Too Much Screen Time

So before you or kid overuses their computer or iPod beyond repair, be aware of some of the health side effects of too much screen time. Some of the following problems can associated with too much screen time.

1. Obesity: Various studies evidence that children who watch TV for more than two hours in a day are prone to be obese than others. This is because they sit inactive for hours, often snacking unhealthy food items. Obesity is dangerous as it is a major risk factor for numerous health problems. Moreover obesity in children can also lead to a feeling of isolation and inadequacy.

2. Irregular sleep patterns: Similarly a child who watches TV for more than two hours is likely to suffer from irregular sleep patterns accompanied by strange nightmares and dreams. If your child spends a lot of time playing games in the computer the self-luminous back lit display in the computer can cause the melatonin levels to drop making him/her difficult to sleep.

3. Behavioral problems: Viewing TV for more than two hours can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills. Excessive watching of TV, or obsessively reaching for an iPod or smartphone, can also pave the way for anti-social behavior. Spending too much time in front of the computers can cause physical changes in the brain and lead to attention and behavioral issues. Too much video gaming can also permanently or temporarily deactivate certain nerves in the brain.

4. Impaired academic performance and less time for play: Excessive TV time has also been linked with other negative outcomes like poor academic performance and less physical play. Too much screen time leaves less time for creative and active play which is indispensable for the growth of the child.

5. Emotional problems: Too much time spent in front of the screen can cause emotional problems such as depression and anxiety in children. Moreover, children who spend more time in front of the TV or computer have reduced levels of self-worth, self-esteem and happiness.

6. Violence and fear: Exposure to excess doses of violence can also make them more aggressive and less sympathetic towards people. Excess TV viewing can also trigger feelings of fear when they watch scary things.

7. Other problems: Excessive use of phones and tablets can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, frequent headaches, neck pain and back pain too. Research studies also depict that too much computer time or sitting glued to the TV may also hurt your heart and shorten your life span.

To limit screen time it is best to keep TV’s and computers out of bedroom. Moreover children should not be allowed to eat in front of the screen as it can lead to mindless munching, which paves the way for obesity. Involving them in alternative activities can prevent them from spending too much time in front of the screen. Most of all we have to set a good example by restricting our screen time.

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How Meditation Influences The Brain And How We Feel

Meditation BrainContrary to popular belief, mindful meditation is significantly more popular than many people may currently assume. Statistics that were gathered by the National Institute of Health, demonstrates that roughly 8% of people who live within the US or 18 million people have meditated at some point or another.

When you look at the fact that studies suggest that meditation can provide a wide range of benefits such as, enhanced memory retention rate and stress reduction, it comes as no surprise. Let's take a looked at some promising science supported data that highlights the ways in which meditation changes the brain.

 

While it may be true that an insurmountable amount of academic research have proven that mindful mediation has a profound effect on our emotional well-being, scientists have not been able to figure out precisely, what actually goes on, whenever people meditate and the effects it has on the brain. However, a Harvard neuroscientist by the name of Sara Lazar, has been categorized as being one of the leading researchers within this field. She is also the first individual to demonstrate that mediation leads to a variety of structural changes within the brain.

Cortical Thickening In The Brain

In 2005, her team was the first to demonstrate that long term meditation, facilitates cortical thicken within the areas of the brain that are associated with: interoception "awareness of the body's physiological state, sensory processing and attention as well."

Increased Gray Matter Concentration

In 2011, during a study that her team conducted which consisted of a variety of individuals who had no prior experience with mindful mediation, her team found that, after an 8 week period of practicing meditation, there was an increase in gray matter concentration within the portions of the brain, that were associated with: emotion regulation, perspective talking, self-referential processing and memory and learning processes as well.

Conclusion on Study

What her research suggests is that, the reason why meditation practitioners feel a higher sense of euphoria and tranquility, isn't based on the fact that they are taking the time to relax, during their mediation routine, the reason for their higher state of tranquility is due to the fact that a variety of changes in their brain structure occur, that facilitate the improvements of their lives that many meditation practitioners have always proclaimed.

Lazar proclaims that it's these changes in brain structure, that leads to changes in mental activity. To put things in retrospect, let's take a look at two prime examples of how changes in brain structure can lead to big changes in mental activity.

Emotional Strength

As mentioned before, in 2011 her team found that mediation lead to increased gray matter concentration in the areas of the brain that's responsible for emotion regulation. Said in simple terms, this change in brain structure will leave the individual more capable of regulating their emotions. Therefore, whenever a negative emotion manifest itself, the individual will be more capable of accepting and allowing that emotion to fade away as opposed to acting upon said emotion via impulsive behavior, self medication or stressful thoughts for example.

Self Awareness

As mentioned before, her team demonstrated back in 2005 that, long term mediation facilities cortical thickening in brain areas, that are associated with interception or awareness of the body's physiological state. This in essence means that mediation helps you to become more aware of the subtle emotions you may be experiencing as well as the subtle emotions of others.

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