Sometimes we need to give our minds a little break. Whether you are stressed from work or overwhelmed by life’s demands, giving your mind a break can be good for your overall health and wellbeing. Here are some suggestions to implement mental health breaks into your day.
Write down your goals. Getting your goals on to paper allows your brain to process simply. Make sure that your goals are simple, clear and achievable. Make at least one goal each day and when you accomplish it, reward yourself.
Take a walk outside. Everyone needs exercise. Taking a walk helps to clear your mind and gives you space to breathe.
Diffuse an essential oil such as lavender. Besides the pleasant aromatic touch added to the room, essential oils can lift your mood.
Listen to your favorite music. Listening to calming piano melodies can slow your brain down if you feel stressed. If you are feeling tired, listen to some happy, upbeat tunes.
Giving your brain a break every once in a while is essential to living life to the fullest. Balancing stress levels and allowing clear thoughts can help you work best when stressful times come. Find your personal brain break and implement it into your daily routine to become a better, healthier you!
After a few weeks back at work from the holidays, it’s easy to experience a decline in energy as you get back into the swing of things. Here are some tips to stay energized and focused to get you over that slump.
1. Take breaks. It may seem counterproductive, but taking breaks can actually improve your ability to get work done. Simply getting up and taking a walk to get some blood flowing can improve your energy levels and your quality of work as well.
2. Be careful with caffeine. The first thing a lot of us do when we are tired at work is reach for the coffee pot. This can be effective, but it can also backfire. You might find yourself even more tired when the caffeine wears off or you could have trouble sleeping later on at night. Try limiting your coffee consumption or switching to tea as the afternoon approaches.
3. Stay engaged. As things pick back up at work, it can be easy to hunker down in your office and shut everyone else out in an effort to get more work done. But socializing in your office is important! It builds a stronger communal bond, breaks up the work day and allows the sharing of ideas.
Eating healthy can feel like a chore – one a lot of us would love to avoid. But if you vowed to change your diet this year, whether your goals are to lose weight or simply improve your overall wellness, here are some tips to make your “chores” a little easier:
1. Don’t leave behind the leftovers.
Packing a lunch for work is often a difficult task. You want to keep it healthy, but also have enough variety so that you don’t get bored and take a trip to that takeout place you love during your break. This can be easily remedied with leftovers! Simply make a little bit more food for dinner than necessary for you and your family and take the rest for lunch. That should help taper that sandwich and salad rut.
2. Map out your meals.
Decide in advance roughly what your menu will look like for the week. It is harder to deviate from a diet when a plan is already in place and groceries are bought. Not only does this save time and effort during the work week, but it can also be a money saver. Choose recipes in which some of the ingredients overlap to cut back on food waste and your grocery bill.
3. Schedule shopping trips.
In the same vein as meal planning, it is also important to schedule your grocery store visits. It is best to do this on a day off or weekend. If Monday rolls around and there’s nothing healthy in the pantry to cook for dinner, it will be far too easy for you to pick up the phone to order pizza.
Sleep deprivation is an issue affecting millions of people across the globe. We consistently put work and school priorities over our bodies’ most essential activity. And most of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are.
In actuality, long-term sleep deprivation can wreck both physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why you should always try to hit the hay for the right amount of time:
Stroke risk quadruples: Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours a night can elevate stroke risk for middle and older-aged people.
Heart disease risk increases: Harvard Health Publications reports that chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (or cholesterol-clogged arteries), heart failure and heart attack.
More likely to catch a cold: Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.
More likely to have an accident: Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org.
Less focused and memory problems: Can’t remember where you placed your cell phone? Exhaustion may be to blame. In addition, exhaustion destroys the focus you’ll need to properly complete those important tasks at work.
– Penny Kokkinides
More than a simple diet, veganism is a lifestyle – and, in fact, it’s one that can significantly improve health and extend lifespan. The misconceptions (and, admittedly, stereotypes) of a plant-based diet have led the public to overlook the many health benefits.
Here are a few examples of how a vegan diet may help improve health:
1. Anti-inflammatory: Disease, infection and chronic pain can all be caused by uncontrolled levels of inflammation throughout the body. A meat-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. The high levels of alkaline in the blood can prevent inflammation and protect you from a plethora of ailments.
2. Better digestion: Red meat, dairy and eggs can all linger in your digestive tract for up to a week, while most plant-based foods are fully digested within hours. For the millions of Americans suffering from constipation, a vegan diet may serve as a better alternative to stool softeners and laxatives.
3. Weight loss: One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for weight loss. The amount of fiber in plants allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time without a heavy serving of calories and fat. And, there are so many different ways to cook plants, you don’t have to worry about bored!
We’ve all heard someone say, “The early bird gets the worm.”
It’s a cliche, sure, but it may be onto something. Company executives around the world are emulating this phrase and tout the benefits of waking up early. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. to start his day, and the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on how 4 a.m. is the most productive hour of the day. Advocates of early mornings say it helps them jump start their day, and get ahead of the chaos.
Here are some simple tips for becoming an early riser:
1) Go to bed early. Night owls typically don’t make great early risers. Make sure you stop drinking caffeine early in the day and try reading a book in bed to fall asleep.
2) Slowly transition into the routine. If your morning typically starts at 7 a.m. it isn’t realistic to think that habit will change overnight. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier, and work your way up to the goal.
3) Plan your morning the night before. Having an outfit set out and breakfast prepared the night before will help you ease into your morning routine without added stress.
4) Don’t hit snooze. As tempting as the snooze button can be, it interrupts your body from REM sleep. Set your alarm and stick to it, once you’re awake and out of bed you’ll be glad you resisted the urge to snooze.
If, like me, you’ve been keeping a close eye on the Olympics, you might have noticed the dark round spots covering several Olympian’s backs and shoulders. While these marks may look like the sign of some serious skin disease, they’re actually just the result of cupping, a Chinese healing therapy. Michael Phelps has been the biggest name to utilize this practice, and he has everyone wondering: What is this new trend?
As it turns out, it isn’t new at all. Although it’s just now making its mainstream debut at the Olympics, cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that dates back to around 2,000 years ago. During cupping therapy, a warm oxygen-free glass cup is placed on the patient’s back. The lack of oxygen draws the patient’s skin into the cup. The aim of this therapy is to release tension in sore muscles, and increase blood flow. Although the bruises may appear to tell a different story, cupping is said to be virtually pain-free.
Skeptics of the practice suggest that there are no real health benefits associated with cupping, but that hasn’t stopped household names like Michael Phelps, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston from partaking in the ancient therapy. Have you given it a try? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience!
A few weeks ago, you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing a story on Zika Virus. While other newsworthy stories have started to take over the news cycle, many in the medical community are keeping their attention focused squarely on this infection. Here’s a short summary of why people shouldn’t be ready to stop talking about Zika quite yet:
- An infected person may not even know they’re infected. People very rarely die from Zika. In fact, according to the CDC website, most people don’t even get sick enough to go to the hospital and some won’t show any symptoms at all. This means that these infected people can unknowingly spread the virus.
- There is no vaccine. You can’t protect yourself from Zika the same way you would from the flu or chicken pox. The only way to ensure that you won’t get Zika is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
- It can spread through sexual contact. Zika virus can be spread from a man to his sexual partner. According to the CDC, this is because the virus is present longer in semen than in blood. From the cases of sexual transmission, doctors have learned that the virus can spread through semen before the man has symptoms, while he is displaying symptoms and after symptoms resolve.
- Zika affects unborn babies the most. The virus causes birth defects in newborns. The most frequent defect of children born to a mother with the virus is microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a newborn’s head is not as large as it should be because the brain is underdeveloped.
- This year’s summer Olympics are in Brazil. Zika spreads to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, and Brazil’s humidity and hot temperatures foster the kind of environment where mosquitos typically thrive.
With summer in full swing, it’s time to start prepping for your highly anticipated beach time. Hopefully you’ve already scheduled a week off work, booked an oceanfront room and stocked up on flip flops and bathing suits.
So, what’s next on your to-do list? One thing that may not stand out as a priority, but most definitely should be one, is arming yourself with the necessary tools to protect your skin from the blistering heat of the summer sun. Too much sun exposure could ruin your vacation with an unpleasant sun burn, and in more serious cases contribute to skin cancer. Here are five ways to protect your skin on your next beach vacation:
1. Apply Sunscreen. The American Academy for Dermatology recommends using a SPF 30 or higher, and reapplying approximately every two hours. Don’t forget to apply it to your ears, hands and feet too.
2. Check the UV index. Before heading out for a day at the beach, check the predicted UV index for the area. The UV index provides information on the strength of the sun’s UV rays. If it is too high, take extra precautions with a higher SPF or consider an inside activity that day.
3. Bring an umbrella. An umbrella can provide some much needed refuge from the hot sun. Don’t rely on the umbrella for complete protection, though, and continue to apply sunscreen regularly.
4. Cover up. Bring a tee-shirt or a trendy cover up to slip on when taking a walk on the beach or wading in the water. Just remember: Stay away from dark colors that will attract the sun’s rays.
5. Wear a hat. A floppy hat is the perfect all-in-one beach accessory. You’ll look stylish while protecting your scalp, face and eyes from damaging UV rays.
Office kitchens often provide the obstacles that knock a person off the “straight and narrow” of healthy snacking. Between company-provided snacks and the box of doughnuts your coworker was kind enough to bring in, these treats can make it tough to stick to your weight goals.
There are ways to stay on the right path, however! Here are some pointers to consider when trying to block the pesky office snack cycle:
Don’t eat the same lunches constantly.
- If you have the same sandwich or salad daily, it might be playing a role in your snack bar addiction. Switch it up and you might find that you are more satisfied!
- If you’re craving a snack, but aren’t actually hungry, try waiting it out. It can typically take 20-30 minutes for the desire to pass, so try to do something productive that will make passing the time easier.
Bring your own snacks.
- If you can’t stop the snacking, you will be able to control what you will be snacking on. This could help you stay away from the cheese puffs and closer to the carrots.
Get to the root of the issue.
- It is likely that your snacking problem has less to do with an addiction to food and more to do with your job. It could be boredom, stress, lack of stimulation or fatigue. Whatever the issue is, tackling it may help lead to a reduction in your snack attacks.
- It is okay to occasionally eat a cookie or two from the snack bar. Don’t beat yourself up about it, even if you did happen to skip the celery and peanut butter. This isn’t a war against snacks, so don’t act like a failed general when you give into their allure.