You might want to start looking for a cheap plane ticket…
If you’re feeling extra stressed lately and you’ve got tension running through your muscles, it could be that overtime you’ve been putting in at work, or you could be lacking in magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is required for every organ in the body, making it a very important part of your diet. Magnesium can naturally be found in varying amounts in fish and meat, nuts and whole grains, and commonly in dark green vegetables. Some great sources of magnesium can be found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, tofu and baked beans.
While our bodies can get magnesium naturally from a healthy diet, our excessive intake of processed and sugary foods, alcohol and caffeine, and carbonated drinks has caused many of us to have a deficiency in the essential mineral.
If you’re not sure whether or not you might have a magnesium deficiency or a low count, you may want to assess whether or not you fall victim to some of these health issues. Headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual tension and muscle cramping and tightness have all been linked to low levels of magnesium in the body. Difficulty getting to sleep and actually staying asleep are also signs that you might not be getting enough magnesium naturally.
Having adequate levels of magnesium is also said to help manage diabetes and asthma, while low levels are linked with a risk of post-menopausal osteoporosis. Anxiety, eye twitches and facial tics have all been tied to a deficiency in magnesium.
It’s interesting how one mineral in the body is used for so many things and you could be suffering from any of the above due to something that can be added into our diet through a supplement. Magnesium supplements are a great addition to any diet, though excessive amounts can cause stomach upset and diahorreoa.
Adding a supplement can help you with stress, sleeping and headaches – which are common symptoms of an intense career or time of life. Not only will this change make your quality of life better, it will also make you a happier person. Go on, add a magnesium supplement and see the benefits that it has for you!
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Do we really need any more reasons to have sex? Probably not, but researchers in America and South Korea have found that having sex might just make you smarter!
Working with rats they identified that half an hour of sexual behaviour a day can encourage the growth of brain cells. In turn, this improved their cognitive function.
This is ground breaking stuff because scientists traditionally thought that brain cells couldn’t regenerate. You may have remembered hearing that you had to be careful not to destroy too many? Well, it’s only been a few short years since this was found to be untrue. They can, and do, regenerate through a process called neurogenesis (the development of neurons). Since then scientists have been busy collecting evidence to see what we need to do to enable this process to happen.
Firstly, psychologists at the University of Maryland identified that sexual behaviour can generate neurons in the hippocampus. This is where our long-term memories are made. This clever group of researchers also tested middle-aged rats and discovered that daily sexual experience can help restore age-related decline in brain function. Apparently the restoration of function was so pronounced it reverted the brain function of these middle-aged rats back to young adult levels.
There was a down side, however. If the rats ceased their daily sexual escapades, the improvement of cognitive function was lost. So, this isn’t only an excuse to have half an hour of sex a day but to continue the practice as we get older.
Secondly, in another study at Kontuk University in South Korea, they investigated the effects of stress on the brain. It is believed this is a primary inhibitor of neurogenesis. Remarkably, they found that having sex could successfully counteract the negative effects stress can have on brain development. Their overall consensus was that in cases of chronic stress, having sex could act like a buffer and prevent further brain deterioration and even promote growth.
So, it seems that yes, having sex can in fact make you smarter. However, being smarter doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have more sex. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania identified that having a high working memory actually decreases the chances of becoming sexually active early.
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Our lives are becoming evermore stressful with work commitments, family commitments and wanting to have that special me-time that has become oh-so-precious. While some people may say that we have become overrun with technology, I’m here to tell you to slap that thought off your laptop screen! Technology has made our lives more stressful with immediacy and urgency, but it has also made our lives so much easier in those aspects as well.
Technology is such a useful tool to organise your life, your work and even your health and rest. Organisational devices, such as your phone and tablet and your Google calendar are life savers when it comes to work meetings, deadlines and family gatherings. By syncing your email to your phone, tablet and laptop, you can create events and reminders that will pop-up on all devices to help you remember important things that you need to get done – even if it is just picking up your dry cleaning or getting your hair done.
While those devices have your schedule in order, gadgets such as the Fitbit are taking care of your health. Activity trackers that can be slipped on your wrist are a great way to keep your diet, exercise and even your sleep in check. Interestingly, the Fitbit Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband will track your steps, your calories and your sleep to help you assess the changes that you need to make in your lifestyle. Other variations include a 24/7 heart rate monitor and GPS system, as well as smartphone notifications that appear on screen of the band – for the girl who is really on the go.
There are also upgrades in technology that can help us with everyday tasks like printing and organising files, such as printers that can now process 30 A4 pages per minute and high-gig USBs to help you coordinate your files for different meetings and clients. And as we learned from Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City: we should always back up our work, so investing in a portable hard drive is key. Now if this isn’t taking the stress out of work and life admin, then I don’t know what is!
Tech expert Trevor Long has partnered with Officeworks to bring us some helpful hints about how to manage our stress with the help of technology. Encouraging us to make use of gadgets, social media and devices, he says it’s a great way to de-clutter our lives and be as efficient and stress-free as possible.
“Keyboards have come a long way – ergonomic ranges are now available for those who spend long periods of time behind the desk, while wireless keyboards are perfect if your desk’s cord clutter is starting to become a concern,” says Trevor.
“Voice recording devices are quite possibly one of the handiest additions to a meeting or presentation. Simply switch the device on and it will transform audio into a digital transcription, allowing you to sit back and take in what’s going on around you.”
With 76 per cent of Aussies now owning a smartphone, he also urges us to take advantage of voice-command features on our cell phones. “These should be your best friend, given you can set your alarm, send a text or schedule a meeting without lifting a finger.”
And as for wearable tech, Long’s an advocate. “The new phenomenon has brought us products like Jawbones, Fitbits and smartwatches changing our lives – for the better. Stay on top of your fitness, calorie intake and sleeping patterns using wearable tech to increase your overall health.”
While sex can be the last thing on your mind when you’re highly stressed, it may be exactly what your body needs. Stress builds up tension and a great way to get rid of it is having a quickie – or two. Preferably a quickie with a happy ending!
Why a quickie instead of a long seductive session, you ask? Well for one, stress lowers the libido, so you probably won’t feel like going at it for too long. Secondly, all you really need to do is reach orgasm and share some body contact – this encourages the body to release positive endorphins which will help you to cope better with stress in the long-term. Finally, having a quickie when you’re stressed will actually help to improve your libido, leading to longer love making sessions and generally a better sex life.
There’s been a fair few studies on stress and sex and interestingly partnered sex is far more effective than solo masturbation. It might be the physical connection we experience with another person, or sharing mutual satisfaction with your partner during times of turmoil. It might even have something to do with the fact that both partners get some stress relief. This can make your environment less stressful as well as make your body feel better.
There’s also evidence that regular sex makes us more resilient to stress when it arises by basically acting liking a buffer when things start to go off track. You see, instead of blood pressure rising significantly in stressful situations, people who have sex more often are said to have a lowered heart rate in similar situations.
Apparently it doesn’t only effect blood pressure, but can also have a positive impact on cortisol levels. This makes sense because cortisol is also known as the stress hormone and is secreted when adrenaline arises. It’s function helps to control blood pressure and our immune system among other things.
When stress arises cortisol release can have a positive effect on memory function, pain sensitivity and gives us that kick when our body needs to get into fight or flight mode. Long-term release can be really harmful, however. It can negatively affect cognition, thyroid function, blood sugar levels, our bones and muscles, give us high blood pressure and lower our immune systems. Therefore, when stress levels remain high over prolonged periods of time it has a derivative effect on our overall health – everything begins to suffer.
Using sex specifically as a stress reliever can reduce the impact this has on our bodies. It’s also a great way to keep your body working efficiently and your household functioning better. Plus, it’s far safer than tablets, pills and potions and way more enjoyable than a trip to the GP or therapist! Try it next time stress begins to impose on your life and feel the benefits it brings to you both in the short and long-term.
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Ever wondered, when tired, if you should opt for a really strong espresso coffee or a power nap to help you push through the day?
The science is in, lady, and you should choose a power nap every time. NASA research has shown pilots who had a 26-minute nap in the cockpit were more alert – by 54 per cent – and had improved performance by 34 per cent. Of course, if you aren’t an astronaut and work in a corporate environment, your boss may not love you napping at your desk! However, you can always try to counter this by telling your superior power naps boost productivity; ease stress; and are good for our heart, blood pressure and even weight management. Or, you could always don one of these to drown out the world – including your boss’ shouting.
I recently had the good fortune to meet a preeminent sleep specialist and he gave me some amazing tips, which I’m going to share with you here, dear reader. Sleep specialist guy says power naps of 29 minutes exactly are clinically proven to be the best for us. He says it’s just the right amount of time to refresh and revitilise ourselves, thereby boosting our alertness, learning, memory and performance.
One method he advises is grabbing a set of keys, laying down, and holding the keys in the palm of your hand over the edge of the bed. When you fall into a deep sleep and drop the set of keys, it’s time to wake up. I’m feeling sleepy just writing about all this!
Another great tip sleep specialist guy gave me was the power of sleep apps: he advises all his clients to try these two from the App Store on iTunes: 1) A free audio app called Power Nap With Andrew Johnson and 2) A free audio app (although the paid one is better and well worth the money) called Health Through Breath – Pranayama. Both these apps have greatly helped me unwind of late and get better quality sleep after my sleep patterns have been destroyed by two pesky toddlers under three, who wake often and cry out repeatedly in the night.
Andrew Johnson is a Scottish clinical hypnotherapist renowned for teaching relaxation and coping skills and even has a pleasing accent to boot. Meanwhile, Health Through Breath – Pranayama is a training tool that uses music and animated visuals to guide you to slower, deeper breathing. It’s not specifically designed for sleep, but makes me so relaxed, I usually drop off fairly quickly. It works off the concept of slow diaphragmatic breathing alleviating stress, anxiety and depression. Happy power napping, ladies!
Images via YouTube, Keep Calm-O-Matic and Hammacher