Because if you don’t take care of you first, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
Should we be forced to sacrifice our mental health for physical?
Are you stuck in a rut and can’t get up? If you’re following the same mundane routine every day and no longer feel that thrill that comes with living life to its fullest, then you’ve probably unknowingly slipped in to some for of a rut.
But don’t worry. Believe it or not, it happens to the best of us! At some point we just need to pick ourselves back up and make a change for the better, that’s why we’ve come up with some simple steps to help you pull yourself up and out of that nasty rut.
Stop stressing over what could have been
Chances are you sit at work everyday thinking about that dream job you missed out on, or that cute guy at the bar last night you were to shy to talk to. Life is full of what ifs? As fantastic as it would for us to live out our what could have been moments, we can’t. We need to step up and leave the past behind us. So you never got the promotion you wanted, so what? What’s your next step? Or plan B so to speak. Instead of dwelling over what could have been start thinking about what you’re going to do to change it. It could be as big as quitting your job, or as little as putting yourself out there with the next cute guy that buys you a drink.
Find what makes your life meaningful
We all say we hate our lives at some stage, but amongst all the hate and angst we carry around, there’s always some love and passion. Whether its people that make you happy and bring out the best in you, or a hobby or activity that you utterly enjoy, these are things you need to hold onto. Chuck your negative feelings out with the trash and focus your life around what you love. If you have one of those friends that are always bringing you down, you don’t need them! Give them the boot. Life’s about doing what we want, not wasting it on crap we don’t want or need.
Think about the big and the small
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference and sometimes it’s the bigger stuff, you need to consider them both. Maybe you need a weekend away to gain some perspective, or maybe you need a trip overseas to achieve this. Everyone’s different and you need to take the time to find what’s right for you.
Step outside of your comfort zone and make a change
Yes, snuggling up on the couch with a good movie and block of chocolate does sound fantastic! But it’s not going to get you the changes you want in your life. Sometimes it’s the scary stuff that gives the best results. If you’ve let your social life slip, instead of the couch hit the town with some friends, or if clubbing’s not your thing go out for dinner or catch a movie. Try to switch things up a bit. As we said before, you don’t have to make massive changes, just work on making some small changes, especially if they’re the sorts of things you wouldn’t usually do.
Don’t expect your life to change over night
We all wish we could live in the world of movies, where after a brief montage of life changing events we have our lives exactly where we want them, but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. Your little steps will start leading to bigger steps and eventually, with time, you will find yourself where you want to be. The most important thing to remember is to stick with it! The time it took will be worth it when you say goodbye to that stinking rut for good!
Everything we read about lately is all for our health; we juggle diet, exercise, regular check ups and mental wellbeing, while also fitting in a stressful job. But how far would you go to be healthy? Would you try… wait for it… a faecal transplant?
Yes, you did read that correctly. Faecal transplants are the new, and unproven may I add, way to get your gut healthy. If you haven’t had your lunch yet, don’t bother because talking about putting someone else’s poo into your intestines is one such thing that makes me shudder with disgust.
However, that’s what is popular with health nuts of late. A faecal transplant is the process of taking a healthy donor’s faeces and treating it before transplanting it via an enema or tube, to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. It is essentially, putting someone else’s poo up you butt and into your intestines to try and make it healthy.
Having a healthy gut is important and is said to be linked to playing a positive role in major diseases and central nervous system conditions, but having a faecal transplant is the extreme way to go about getting a better digestive system. Diet and nutrition are well known for helping our gut out with health, but that doesn’t stop people from looking to the somewhat, easier option.
There is little proof that a faecal transplant has the major health benefits that have been claimed and there is worry that faecal transplants are in the same boat as organ transplants, which means there is much room for error, especially in the early stages.
At the moment, you can snag yourself a faecal transplant from a private practitioner for a mere $10,000. That’s right, it costs that much to have someone else’s poo transplanted into your body for unproven health benefits. I don’t know about you, but if I had ten thousand dollars to spend on my gut health, I’d probably just hire a private chef for a while.
Image via bakeitinacake.com
While meditation Experts state that even a couple of minutes of meditation a day can do wonders for our brain functioning, sleep patterns and stress levels, recent reports have challenged this and highlighted the potential dangers of meditation. Some experts suggest that meditation can actually take us too far into the recesses of our minds and do more harm than good in the process. However, one of Australia’s leading meditation experts and clinical psychologist, Dr Paula Watkins, argues that these occurrences are rare and that for most people, regular meditation is a safe practice that everyone can benefit from, when practiced correctly.
“Meditation helps to give us access to parts of the mind we may not have regular contact with. The theory is that in doing so, some people may become overwhelmed with feelings of depression and anxiety as a result,” says Paula. “Research shows that even the smallest amounts of regular meditation can result in significant benefits to a person’s wellbeing, but it is still crucial to recognise that no one form of meditation works equally well for everyone.”
“Individual circumstances and personality must be considered to determine whether a certain style will be positive for that individual,” she says. “It’s also vital that we have realistic expectations about what meditation can bring to our lives. It isn’t an instant panacea for everything that’s going wrong, but rather a way that we can better explore our minds, our feelings and our true selves.”
Scientifically proven and backed by years of research, Paula has shared the five things people should be aware of when meditating, in order to develop a safe practice that can be enjoyed for years to come:
Meditation doesn’t cure all
“Traditionally, meditation was used for spiritual development and considered a tool for deepening your perception of yourself and the world. Now, it is often called upon as a remedy for all our first world woes,” says Paula. She suggests that the key is to always be aware that the practice is not a cure to all our problems. “We need to be realistic. Meditation will not somehow eradicate negative thinking or problems from our lives. But research shows that it can help us change the relationship we have with our own thoughts and with the experiences of our daily life so that we are less reactive and resistant to them. We no longer enter into such a battle with reality” says Dr Paula.
Beware of intensive retreats
“When meditating, you are tuned into your physical, mental and emotional senses, and so you may start to release all sorts of pent up issues,” says Dr Paula. “People who visit intensive meditation retreats after years of blocked and suppressed emotions can sometimes experience a rude awakening. It’s crucial to know that meditation on these intensives is not all bliss. It can be kind of like a psychological boot camp. Proper guidance is crucial here. It’s also important that you research the technique and the teacher first to explore whether that particular retreat is likely to be a good fit for you”.
Meditation is not a substitute for therapy
“Many people look to meditation as a quick and easy fix for all their problems and get confused as to how to use it correctly” says Dr Paula. “While meditation may help with certain issues, I recommend not solely relying on this if you are mentally vulnerable and in need of emotional support.” It is always important to seek help or see a therapist to address any underlying problems, and Dr Paula urges meditation teachers to be upfront and honest about this when working with their clients.
It’s not a one size fits all approach
While people often ask Dr Paula which meditation technique she thinks is best, she stresses that there is no straight up answer for this – “I recommend trying a few styles and then practicing what feels right for you,” she advises. If you have a specific purpose for meditating, then it will be much easier to make the right choice. “For example, if you’re looking to relax then choose a style that deeply soothes you. If you want to deal with negative thoughts especially – mindfulness approaches are the best practice to take.”
Meditation is not for everyone
“We’ve become increasingly aware from years of research that for some people, mindfulness can trigger anxiety, depression or flashbacks to past traumas,” Dr Paula states. As a clinical psychologist herself, she advises that although meditation can be beneficial to happiness and wellbeing, it should be performed under guidance if you are working through any emotional or mental issues.
Dr Paula has recently launched a nine week online course which offers weekly training modules that include easy-to-follow videos introducing you to the technique for the week. There is guided audio to help you practice, e-books that share the psychology and neuroscience behind the techniques and workbooks, journals and calendars to help you track your progress and stay committed to your meditation practice.
Dr Paula will also be hosting a live workshop of the course at the InYoga Studios in Surry Hills from the 9th – 30th August. For more details please visit www.inyoga.com.au/whats-on/event/calm-conscious-connected-1 Membership to Dr Paula’s Calm, Conscious and Connected course costs $199 as a one-off payment, or $55 over four instalments. This fee provides six month access to the course, as well as the exclusive members-only forum where people can interact with Paula as well as other participants. For more information or to sign up, visit: www.calmconsciousconnected.com.
It’s the time of the year when everybody’s hair goes a little haywire – literally. And with in-salon hair treatments sometimes costing upwards of $100 it can be a real struggle (not to mention expensive) to get your locks in good shape again after they’ve been subjected to the hair torture devices of summer – sun, salt water and styling tools. Which is where this little celebrity secret comes in.
Blake Lively swears by it, so does Kate Hudson; even Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are singing the praises of this unexpected hair saviour and hairdresser’s worst nightmare. No matter what you’ve heard about coconut oil and its much debated health benefits, the one thing that is certain is that when it comes to hair, this stuff really does live up to the hype. Here’s why:
Nourishment with a capital N
The N word is a favourite in the hair salon realm, along with the M word – moisterising. Luckily for your strands, coconut oil is going to do both of those things like a dream because rather than coating the surface of hair like store bought products and hair masks tend to do, the natural oil works to penetrate each strand’s cortex meaning deep nourishment and the added benefits of improved hair strength and flexibility.
At the end of the day when it comes to chemicals, your hair really is better off in the long run without them. Not only can they be harmful to your health but they can also strip hair color, leave you with a frizzy mane and drain the moisture, resulting in hair loss and breakage. All-natural oils like coconut oil are free from harsh sulphates, ethoxylated thickeners, parabens and formaldehydes, which are common nasty ingredients in salon products.
Cheap as chips (or coconuts)
Coconut oil has been used by traditional Pacific Islanders for centuries as a daily grooming routine for the hair and scalp, and do you know how much it costs them? Not a damn thing! While we can’t exactly pluck a coconut from a palm frond here in the Western world, we can stock up on inexpensive coconut oil, coating hair lengths and ends in as much of the good stuff as we like for an in-home hair treatment – minus the pricey salon trip.
For those wanting an all-round coconut hair routine, Nature Pacific has created Virgin Coconut Oil Rich Shampoo with the driest and most damaged hair in mind. The special blend, made from Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil is paired with only the most natural and nourishing ingredients to ensure the special fusion stays with Nature Pacific’s synergy of natural remedies based on thousands of years of Pacific Island tradition.
There are many ways to exude confidence in your everyday life – and here are just a few of them.
Close your eyes and think of a person you love and trust and who you know loves you. It could be your best friend, your sister or your lover. Think about all the things you adore and appreciate about this person, and notice how wonderful that love makes you feel.
Now turn it around the other way. Imagine you are your friend, sister or lover feeling that same fee love for you. Believe in this love and really feel it. Try to see yourself the way this other person sees you. Even if you can only do it for a moment you will experience a warm flow of confidence.
Be good to others
React to others are you would like them to react to you. If you wait for others to behave in a particular way before you do so yourself you may well be waiting forever. For example, if you want someone to be affectionate toward you, make a point of being as affectionate as you can to them. You don’t have to have a reason and don’t expect any payback. Similarly, react to co-works in the way you would like them to react to you. If they are rude or unfriendly don’t automatically take your cue from them. It’s up to you to set the tone yourself.
Saying ‘no’ to someone who wants you to do something can be very powerful, but it does not have to be unhelpful. You can always suggest a friend or co-worker who might be able to help out, or ask if they have considered such and such as an alternative.
You could also put forward a compromise such as ‘I could do it for you next week when I am not likely to be so busy’.
TIP: Snack Sensibly. Snack on dried fruit and nuts rather than chocolate or junk food for a long-lasting confidence boost. You may crave sweet things, but all you will get is a quick sugar fix that won’t last long.
What is your favourite tip for instant confidence?
Many people experience periods of anxiety when they are under stress, or going through major changes, such as moving home or jobs. For the majority of us, anxiety plays out by worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling tense, irritable and reactive. It can cause you to feel tired and have difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping as you struggle to deal with challenging life experiences.
Many people find that these symptoms of anxiety are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality. The old adage applies here: ‘A problem solved is a problem halved’.
However, for others these symptoms of anxiety do not disappear after the stressful event has passed. They may continue to feel anxious and worried, sometimes without any specific event triggering the feelings.
If these worries, fears about the future, and physical symptoms, such as fast heart rate and sweating, become severe enough to interfere with your ability to cope with daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety. For whatever level of anxiety you may suffer, it is possible to manage the symptoms. Here are some techniques that can help:
Understand the nature of anxiety
We all experience anxiety; it is a natural human state and a vital part of our lives. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in either ‘fight or flight’ mode. It can also motivate us to deal with difficult challenges.
However, there is another side to anxiety, a side which, if not addressed, can cause significant emotional distress and unmanageability. An anxiety disorder can lead to a number of health risks and it’s important to understand its nature in terms of severity, triggers and behaviour. Anxiety can be exhibited through a variety of behaviours including panic attacks, phobias and obsessional behaviours. Anxiety at this level can have a truly debilitating impact.
Gain awareness of underlying factors of anxiety
Some life experiences that are stressful or traumatic, such as family break-ups, ongoing bullying or conflict at home, school or work, abuse, or traumatic events, such as car accidents, can make people more susceptible to anxiety. These extra stress factors may be more than a person’s normal coping mechanisms can deal with comfortably, and may leave them vulnerable to experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety disorders, such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours, may be triggered by a range of specific external or internal stimuli. These could include traumatic memories, specific objects, particular situations, physical locations, or a persistent general worry that something bad will happen in the future.
If the anxiety is triggering to the point of a panic attack, part of the process of understanding our anxiety involves being curious about our developmental history, and also learning to regulate our physical state.
Set healthy limits for communicating and developing relationships
The lives of those with the most severe forms of anxiety can become completely dominated by their condition, and often their anxiety can impair their ability to sustain healthy personal relationships. People with anxiety may start withdrawing, they may stop attending social functions, they may become snappy, irritable and irrational, or they may worry unnecessarily that something negative is going to happen.
The first step is to start to identify our ‘reality’, in particular some of our thoughts and feelings. This can be very difficult when anxiety has been present for a while as we generally feel overwhelmed by our emotions. Identifying them can be hard. However, being able to share in our relationship that we are dealing with anxiety and having an ally you trust can be very helpful.
Learn relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system
Anxiety and depression are among the most common conditions cited by those seeking treatment with complementary and alternative therapies, such as exercise, meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Several studies have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments.
Use distress tolerance and mindfulness skills
Mindfulness focuses on changing the relationship between the anxious person and their thoughts, rather than changing the thoughts themselves. We become a witness to our process, we become aware.
Meditation can help people break out of the ‘automatic pilot mode’ that leads to negative ways of thinking and responding. Carl Jung stated that unless we make “the unconscious, conscious, it will direct our life, and we call it fate.” With the help of therapy, we can interrupt this unconsciousness, truly becoming aware of the way our environment triggers our physiology, and thoughts and the emotional states it then triggers.
Anxiety can be debilitating condition and can impact many facets of your life. Whether it’s brought on by stressful situations or you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, the effects of anxiety can be managed. The first step of acknowledging there may be a problem is often the darkness before the dawn.
By Steve Stokes, Program Manager at South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse.
The World Happiness Report has been released this month crowning the world’s happiest country, and boy has it caused some rivalry. Launched in 2012 by the United Nations, the report gives 158 countries around the world a definitive placing based on a number of factors, such as earnings, living standards and perceived freedom.
Think your home country should top this list? The winner might surprise you.
No, it’s not the United States of America, home of the brave. It’s not Australia, great southern land of the tanned surfer and carefree attitude. And the United Kingdom didn’t even make it to the top five (no, the arrival of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge didn’t factor into their happiness rank).
Coming in at number one is Switzerland. The European country boasts an average life expectancy of 82.8 (precise, huh!) and most citizens are multilingual, speaking German, French and English. Cold climate countries took out the top five spots, with Iceland ranking second on the list, followed by Denmark, Norway and Canada.
“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” says Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”
Other countries that made the World Happiness Report 2015 top ten include Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The United States claimed the fifteenth spot, while Britain crept in at number 21.
On the other end of the scale were war-torn countries and developing nations, most of which were sub-Saharan African countries. Afghanistan and Syria joined the likes of Rwanda, Chad and Ivory Coast at the tail end of the list.
Researchers say they hope the report will be used for good. “As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens,” says one of the report editors Professor John F. Helliwell of the Univeristy of British Colombia. “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put wellbeing first.”
Three ways to boost your happiness (without moving country)
1. Say thank you
Research in The Journal of Positive Psychology reveals that money and material goods won’t boost our long-term sustainable happiness, but gratitude will. Study leads from Baylor University looked into the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction.
Their conclusion that your pay packet won’t increase happiness wasn’t groundbreaking, but their findings about the impact of gratitude may well be.
Researchers found that feelings of gratitude act as a buffer from the negative effects of materialism. The take home message? At the end of each day practice reflecting on the good that happened that day, whether that be a new purchase or a great meal with friends – cultivating positive thoughts is key.
2. Get out there
Education and social-economic status are often linked to a better level of wellbeing, but research by the University of Warwick suggests that’s not the case. The study, which interviewed over 17,000 participants, found that getting a good education had no correlation to leading a happier life. So on this basis, focus on building life experiences to better your odds for a happier, more balanced life.
3. Have kids
Yep, that’s right. A study by the London School of Economics has found that having two children increases a person’s chance of happiness. What’s more, those who have children later in life have a particularly positive response to building a family. Interestingly, having a third child saw no boost in happiness.
Images via Sprout
Bad news for phone addicts – a new study shows that the device in the palm of your hand is killing your IQ. If you’re ever guilty of watching TV while browsing Facebook and using Google to answer every life question, research suggests it could be making you, ah… Dumb.
A study by the University of Copenhagen has found that digital multitasking – having one eye on the telly and the other on your Instagram feed – is having a serious impact on your brain. Researchers found that using multiple devices releases a hormone that is likened to being high on drugs. That’s not all: Every time you multitask, you’re rewiring your brain. Flicking between gadgets causes information to be stored in another part of the brain, establishing new cognitive habits.
“Our brains could, thanks to our reliance and overuse of technology, be heading for the scrap heap,” one of the researchers told the Daily Mail. And to top it off, scientists at the University of Waterloo believe resorting to Google to answer life’s questions is lowering our IQ. Nice.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Here, we speak to tech queen Megan Iemma of Tech Coach HQ about the four best ways to take control.
- Don’t Google Everything
To Google or not to Google? Megan Iemma says it’s important to develop “digital resilience,” and be discerning about when, and how you use search engines. A recent study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that most humans will opt to exert as little mental effort as possible. This can result in an over-reliance on search engines (we’ve all Googled questions we could solve ourselves).
“I think the bigger issue is critical thinking skills,” says Iemma. She believes that truly productive people know how to use search engines properly and aren’t ‘trigger happy.’ “Go beyond the first page of Google and try a combination of keywords, rather than just typing the question straight in,” she says.
- Have a Zen Inbox
Guilty of checking your emails every 10 minutes, and jumping when you hear the ping of a new message? It’s time for an inbox overhaul. Creating a zen inbox is simple: Write an ‘out of office’ message that lets friends and colleagues know exactly when you will check your inbox. Be specific and set two times – 8am and 2pm are ideal so you have time to action any tasks. Add to the message that any urgent notes can be directed to your mobile or receptionist.
It might seem stressful at first, but changing your email habits will cause you to be more task-focused, rather than reactive as new messages come through. “It’s a more productive way to check and respond to emails,” says Iemma. “Research has shown we are less stressed when we stick to about twice a day rather than constantly checking it.”
- Try the 7til7 Challenge
Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has launched the 7Til7 Challenge, which asks Australians to ‘disconnect to reconnect.’ Participants are encouraged to take time out from technology between 7am and 7pm, to reflect on our relationship with devices. Sure, that might not be realistic if you hold down a full time job, but start small by switching off social media notifications during the day. You’ll be surprised by the results.
- Use One Screen at a Time
For years we’ve been told how important it is to hone the art of multitasking, but new research suggests that when it comes to devices, screen-on-screen action should be avoided. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that more than 80 per cent of mobile users are guilty of using multiple screens at once.
The answer? When you arrive home, dock your mobile on the charger in a separate room. At work, try to turn off Facebook notifications so you don’t have too many devices vying for your attention. It’s a tough habit to break, but your future self will thank you.
Image via Twitter
A new promising study suggests a simple diet known as MIND could significantly lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. What’s better, even participants who didn’t follow the diet meticulously still reaped the benefits.
Sound too good to be true? These findings could have huge implications on the relationship between diet and brain health.
Developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diet. The name MIND is an acronym for ‘Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay’ diet (phew- that was a mouthful!).
What’s really surprising are the raw figures. The study found that participants who followed the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 53 per cent. Even those who didn’t adhere to all the rules reduced their risk by about 35 per cent.
“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhere even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk,” Morris told Science Daily. “I think that will motivate people.”
Want to try the MIND diet yourself? Here are five simple ways to try this diet at home:
1. Up your grain game
The MIND diet has 15 components, many of which focus on foods shown to assist in brain health. Whole grains are recommended three times per week, a recommendation that might seem controversial amid claims by neuroscientist Dr David Perlmutter that grains can lead to dementia and chronic headaches.
Nutritionist Melanie Eager admits this topic can lead to consumer confusion, but believes grains can be positive for brain health. “Whole grains have a low GI which will release glucose slowly into the blood providing a supply of energy and allowing you to stay mentally alert throughout your day,” she says.
2. Snack on nuts and berries
Nuts and berries are regular favourites on the list of brain boosting superfoods, so it’s no surprise they feature heavily in the MIND diet. Diet developer Martha Claire Morris says that blueberries in particular are best. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” she says.
Studies have shown diets rich in blueberries have a significant link to improved learning capacity and motor skills. Eager notes it’s better to opt for organic berries as produce can be heavily sprayed. Likewise, nuts are recommended as a great daily snack on this diet. Nuts and seeds are a great source of Vitamin E, which has been shown to correspond with less cognitive decline in ageing.
“The best nuts for brain health are walnuts- they even look like a brain!” says Eager, who calls them Mother Nature’s brain booster. “They contain high amounts of antioxidants and Omega 3 which is great for brain health,” she says. Other nuts to add to your snack list include almonds, pistachios and macadamias.
3. Drink up
The link between drinking wine and boosting your brain health is often debated, but according to the MIND diet, the occasional glass of vino is perfectly fine. It is believed that resveratrol, found in abundance in red wine and dark chocolate may improve memory. A study of adults who took a resveratrol supplement for six months found those who had the active ingredient had better short-term memory recall than those who took a placebo.
On the other hand, a 2012 study by Rutgers University in the US found that drinking just two glasses of wine a day could almost halve the number of brain cells we produce. While more research is needed to define the link between wine and brain health, the take-home message is clear: sip in moderation.
4. Say goodbye to fast food
To reap the full benefits of the MIND diet, participants had to limit their intake of specific unhealthy foods. Butter, cheese and fast food all made the hit list with researchers recommending less than a serving per week of any of the three.
“Foods such as pastries and fried food are high in saturated and trans-fats which cause inflammation in the body – including the brain – due to the amount of free radicals that are released,” Eager explains.
Eager points out that studies show long-term neuron damage can occur when a high fat diet is consumed. “When the brain attempts to heal this neuron damage, brain scarring occurs.”
5. Fish and meat in moderation
Unlike the popular Mediterranean Diet which requires a serving of fish every day, the MIND diet recommends eating poultry at least twice a week and fish only once a week to reap the benefits.
“Fish and meat contain Omega 3 fatty acids and there are two active forms in the body-DHA and EPA. DHA is essential for brain development and is found in oily fish and grass fed animal products,” explains Eager.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, don’t fret. “It is possible to obtain all your essential fatty acids on a vegetarian and vegan diet through chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds [and] green leafy vegetables,” she says.
Images via rebloggy, Tumblr, What To Cook, Bondi Beauty, India Marks
When was the last time you took time out for yourself? Well according to a new survey conducted by Officeworks, it wasn’t recently. Through their survey, the giant office supply store discovered that 95 per cent of us are at our happiest when we are participating in an activity that we love, however only 20 per cent are making the time to engage in these pursuits and activities.
As the Easter break fast approaches, why not schedule some time to re-discover or discover your passion. Whether your interests be creative, energetic, free, or costly, there is no doubt that your mood and mentality will reap the benefits. Dr Paula Watkins from the Happiness Institute shared her top 5 activities that will certainly keep you busy and entertained over the holidays, and the best part is that all these are kid friendly – so no excuses!
- Getting Outdoors
When was the last time you spent some quality time outside? And no, walking to work from the bus stop doesn’t count! This Easter why not get outdoors and enjoy discovering parts of your city or region that you didn’t know before.
It may be a lazy afternoon spent reading a book under a tree, some time in the park with you’re your family, or if you’re looking for something more physical, why not try a long walk or bike ride through local National Parks and reserves? A little Vitamin D never hurt anybody and according to Watkins, increasing the amount of exercise you do “stimulates dopamine and other happy hormones.” Like they say, the best things in life are free!
- Art and Design
Remember how much you loved art at school? Well why not pick it up again this Easter break as a hobby and introduce it to the whole family. Painting and drawing is a great way to relax and is extremely therapeutic. “The precision required, paired with quality family time, will leave you feeling connected to your mind, body and soul” says Watkins. Painting and decorating your very own Easter eggs is a great way to celebrate the holiday.
Photography is an art and can be the perfect way to document special moments as well as gain a new perspective on familiar landscapes. Yet taking photographs doesn’t have to be a solo hobby and can be a fun way to get everyone involved, particularly over Easter when a lot of extended family spends time together.
Get creative with how you take your annual family photo – create a photo booth with props and a theme. Alternatively, for those who are passionate about photography, allow time to produce a photo-shoot with friends and family. As Dr Watkins highlights: “Special moments like these with loved ones will leave you feeling connected and content.”
Sick of hearing the top 40 on repeat every time your turn on the radio? Are you still listening to that same old album you purchased 2 years ago? Those who are passionate about their music know that there are hundreds of artists across all genres that are amazingly talented and produce music that does more to the soul than any medicine could do. According to Watkins, “listening to music stimulates the brain, boosts mood and serves as an emotional and stress release.” All that from just listening to music – we should do it more often!
Remember all of those photos you took of your most recent birthday that are hiding in the dark corners of your computer? Why not retrieve them along with all the other photos that hold special meaning and create a scrapbook? Officeworks spokesperson, Watkins highlights the benefits of reminiscing: “It is known to be good for our health. This kind of nostalgia can boost mood and helps to provide a sense of meaning.” Scrapbooking can bring your memories to life and let your favourite moments be more regularly recognised and appreciated.
YES, technology is draining Australians of the ‘good’ in their mornings according to new research that found almost two thirds of Australians (62 per cent) turn to their smartphone instead of their partner or kids when they first wake up, with just a miserable 15 per cent starting their day giving their partner a good morning kiss. Instead, 42 per cent check their phone for messages and emails first thing after waking; while one in six catch up on their social media profiles.
The Galaxy research commissioned by Uncle Tobys also found that only one in 10 Australians manage to find the time to sit down to breakfast with their family, while 55 per cent don’t even manage to get breakfast at all in the morning. Tech addicts are twice as likely to skip breakfast in favour of their smartphone, with half of Aussies (52 per cent) admitting their tech time means they run out of time for the most important meal of the day.
Checking and sending emails (27 per cent), browsing the internet (27 per cent) and posting, liking and commenting on social media (23 per cent) were the biggest culprits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research revealed that Gen Y (62 per cent) are the most likely to run out of time for breakfast because of their technology habits but half of Gen X-ers (50 per cent) and two in five Baby Boomers (41 per cent) are just as bad.
Dietitian Geraldine Georgeou says:
“Somehow we’ve let technology steal our good mornings – it’s shocking that so many Aussies would rather spend the first hours of their day on their phone rather than with their loved ones. That more than half of Australians are missing breakfast as a result of this technology takeover is a real worry, particularly because most of the time it’s quicker to prepare a healthy breakfast than type a text message.”
It’s not just time with our loved ones but it’s our health and wellbeing that are suffering, too. These finding come despite Aussies knowing better, with more than half of Australians suffering negative consequences as a result of skipping breakfast. The research found that missing the morning meal has implications for the rest of the day with as many as 57 per cent of Australians struggling after skipping breakfast. This includes low energy levels (39 per cent), tiredness (28 per cent), nausea (19 per cent), difficulty concentrating (17 per cent) or getting annoyed with colleagues or friends (16 per cent).
“Many Aussies think they’re being productive by getting a jump-start on their emails first thing in the morning, but it’s a case of one step forward and two steps back. As the day progresses they’ll find their productivity suffers as a result of having low energy levels and poor concentration associated with rushing out the door and skipping breakfast.
A quick bowl of Uncle Tobys cereal gives you the energy and nutrients you need to enjoy the rest of your day. Uncle Toby’s range of 4+ Star cereals offer a nutritious blend of whole grains, nuts and fruits to make it easy to have a good morning.”
Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
We spoke to Michelle about setting goals and making 2015 the year to totally transform your body and your life.
Name and role:
Michelle Bridges, TV personality, author and all-round fitness guru
Why is it so important to firstly, write your goals down, and secondly, keep track of them?
When you want to make what I would consider a big life change there are few things you should and shouldn’t do.
The only time to overhaul your life is when you are ready to get honest and real about what it is you want for yourself and your family. When you are crying on your bedroom floor with clothes that don’t fit strewn all over the place and you’re about to go to a New Year party is DEFINITELY NOT the time to overhaul your life! This is what I would consider a BIG life changing plan and one which should be given respect, thoughtfulness and adult consideration.
Writing down your goals is key but so is not overwhelming yourself. I encourage making a plan with time lines so you can keep track of where you are going and how you are going.
How should you get started and why is January a great time to begin?
I actually think the ONLY time that is good to do this is when you are truly and honestly ready. It doesn’t have to be Jan, in fact that might be too much pressure for some people. Waiting till the silly season is over or more importantly when you can maturely and thoughtfully see that your plan, given the environment, is ready to be launched. However, that being said, you need to start. One small action can be the catalyst the next step and then the next step. I’m big on planning though, so time line your actions without overwhelming yourself by having to make all the changes in one day!
What are the key steps you should take in preparing to transform your body and your life?
Here are 5 starting points:
- Answer the question: “What do I want?” You need to know where you are going in order to get there, right?
- Get real and honest with yourself. Start to do the work around why you buy into your excuses. This is REALLY big work and it takes time and guts and probably support along the way. But, until this has been done and continued to be worked on, everything else goes down the drain.
- Make a plan which is realistic and achievable. That means it’s something that you can do long term. When I say long term, I’m talking about a new way of living.
- Get some support. It’s not a deal breaker, but supporters are worth their weight in gold!
- Get organised. Habits and routines are fool proof ways to achieve what it is you say you want. Consistency is king in my books!
Why is 12 weeks a good amount to time to see results?
In 12 weeks you learn so much about yourself and you start to engrain habits which become rituals. That being said, these are habits and rituals which continually need to be honed and sharpened for your life. It’s all balance. There are times where you loosen the reins and times when you dial it in but for the most part you get yourself into habits which support the kind of life you choose to live. It’s a choice. And it’s your choice.
Keeping track of how much alcohol you are drinking can be a bit tricky when you are out and about having a good time. Pubs and clubs have measured serves which makes things a bit easier, but what about home made cocktails like the recipes we regularly supply our readers?
A good rule of thumb is that the body absorbs 7-12 ml of alcohol per hour. A standard drink in Australia is considered to be 10 gms or about 12.5mls of alcohol. So, depending on various factors a standard drink per hour should keep you relatively sober. Please be aware though, that the more alcohol you consume the harder it is for your body to absorb. The first drink you have should be absorbed into your body in about an hour, but the second will take longer. It’s all science related and not an exact science at that!
Now, the type of factors which affect alcohol absorption include the following:
- How fast you drink
- The amount of food in your stomach
- Your weight
- Amount of fat or muscle your body consists of
- Other medications and drugs in your body
- Other chemicals in the drink. eg: Jäger Bombs
- Foods consumed
- Your drinking history and tolerance
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Current emotional state
With all these variables it’s impossible to know how the alcohol is reacting within your body. Cocktails can be especially tricky, particularly if they are created without a measure. They also consist of a mixture and some have chemical ingredients like caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two can have different side effects. This is what makes them so potent and care should be taken when consuming them. The caffeine itself doesn’t have an alcohol content, but it can affect the alcohol being consumed.
Having gotten through that, I’ll fill you in on an easy way to work out how much alcohol you’re consuming in your cocktails as well as giving you a couple of easy examples to follow.
First look at the percentage of alcohol on the bottle used to make the cocktail. Most have at least 1 regular spirit which is usually 40% alcohol. Next, you need the serving size of the alcohol only, not the serving size of the entire drink. A full nip is usually 30 ml so multiply this with the alcohol percentage. Remember when you multiply a percentage it is not a whole number so you multiply the serving size by the decimal point (0.4). To work out the standard drink size, divide it by the Australian standard of 12.5 ml. Viola!
Here’s a couple of examples:
- Full nip (30ml) of 40% alcohol bourbon = 30 x 0.40 = 12.00ml alcohol
12.00ml / 12.50ml = 0.96 standard drinks.
- 150ml glass of 11.5% alcohol wine = 180 x 0.115 = 17.25ml alcohol
17.25ml/12.50ml = 1.38 standard drinks
You can use this formula to work out the alcohol content in every drink you consume. The final thing I want to mention which will help you with all this is the oz to ml conversion. You don’t need exact figures so, if you remember 1 oz = 30 ml, you’ll be right!
Now you have all the tools you need to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming in your cocktails. A final tip is to do calculations before you start drinking for obvious reasons.
Image via mymoonbargumbet.com
Preconception care prepares your body for a successful, healthy pregnancy and is one of the most responsible choices you can make for you and your baby’s health. It helps eliminate harmful substances from your diet known to affect reproductive and general health and foetal development and should be considered by everyone looking to start a family.
“You need a healthy body to make a healthy baby,” explained naturopath and author, Lisa Guy. “It takes three months for female eggs to mature and four months for sperm to mature which is why it is so important to consider preconception care as early as possible, at least four months in advance, to increase your chances of a successful, healthy pregnancy.”
“Being healthy while trying to conceive is vital for both you and your baby. The preconception period is the time to make life changes for you and your partner that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth,” added Lisa.
Here, Lisa outlines her essential tips for preconception care;
1. Examine your diet
At no other time in your life is your diet more important than before, during and straight after pregnancy. Eating a wholesome, well-balanced diet is vital and will increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Try to include at least five portions of fruit or vegetables, protein, fish and some iron-rich food in your diet and make fast food and sweets an occasional treat.
2. Take essential supplements
Although nothing takes away from the significance of a healthy, well-balanced pre-pregnancy diet, nutritional supplementation is extremely important and is known to help prevent congenital defects and malformations often caused by nutritional deficiencies. Taking a supplement every day is a small change that will pay big rewards. When planning pregnancy, there are three essential vitamins and minerals your body needs:
- Folic Acid: Essential for healthy foetal development and reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, folic acid is crucial in pre-pregnancy. You should consider taking folic acid three months prior to conception. Each FABFOL tablet contains 500mcg of folic acid which is the recommended daily intake for the Australian diet.
- Zinc: Zinc works to support and strengthen the immune system and is important for hormone balance and to boost fertility.
- Omega 3: Increasing the intake of omega 3 fats helps support reproductive health.
3. Kick unhealthy habits
Making some important lifestyle changes is a great way to prepare for pregnancy and will help ensure a healthy conception. Avoid anything that poses a health risk to you and your baby such as alcohol, cigarettes and some prescription medication.
4. Visit your GP
A trip to your GP for a preconception consult is also important when you begin thinking about starting a family. Your GP will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy, discuss any health problems or concerns, lifestyle issues, diet and organise any essential pre-pregnancy immunisations.
FABFOL has all your nutritional needs covered pre, during and post pregnancy, so all you need to focus on is your growing baby and is available from pharmacies nationally. FABFOL 56 tablets RRP $24.95.
Every single one of us needs to simply stop and recharge – regularly! Most of us have experienced times where stress is high, deadlines are tight and yet we still seem to be able to move mountains. On the flip side, I can guarantee that all of us have also experienced periods of the same pressure yet feel we are not firing on all cylinders – resulting in lower quality of work being produced or it taking longer to complete.
Allow your body enough time each night to recharge. Start with attempting to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. We are all different with regards to the amount of sleep we require to operate optimally, however the average 7-8 hours is a great place to start. While we sleep we unplug from our lives and environment, allowing our brain to rest, process information gathered throughout the day and to store this information as memory. Our ability to function and be alert is directly related to the amount of restful sleep we have.
Try the following tips to get a good nights sleep:
- Have a regular sleep pattern. Establish a regular bedtime and rising time routine. Through repetition you will train your body and your brain into this pattern
- Keep your bedroom dark. Ensure your bedroom is sufficiently darkened as this will promote uninterrupted sleep
- Neutralise noise. Sleep in a quiet environment. Our brain focuses on the noise around us just in case it proves to be dangerous
- Wind down. Create a routine before going to bed that promotes relaxation. This could include a warm bath, reading a book or drinking warm milk. The amino acid tryptophan in milk helps produce serotonin (happy hormone) and melatonin (sleep hormone)
- Switch off. Turn computers and phones off at least an hour before bed. The screens promote wakefulness, so don’t get into the habit of using these devices in bed.
Take a 10-minute break from the frantic pace of life and just be still. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve after you allow your brain to stop and recharge.
When was the last time you took a holiday, one where you didn’t take your laptop, reports to read, answer work calls, but simply switched everything off? When did you sit down to read a book or watch a movie, enjoy the sunshine in your garden or simply catch up with friends? All of these things recharge our batteries. Select some that connect with you and add then to your life regularly. In no time you will be back moving mountains and firing on all cylinders.
By Mel Ingram, wellness consultant and retreat physio at Golden Door Health Retreat & Spa Elysia