Archive for June, 2013

26
Jun
13

Mind, body, sprit – Good stress vs. bad stress and how to deal with it

Everyone experiences stress, both good and bad, at times in their lives. The key to dealing with stress is to realize which kind of stress the situation is putting you under and then dealing with it accordingly.

Good stress allows us to excel or change our life for the better. It’s a challenge to be overcome.

The outcome is in our control and there is an identifiable resolution. Even if there is risk involved, in the end, it can help you. Some examples of good stress include meeting goals, fulfilling your dreams, anything that leads to growth or boosts your self-esteem.

Bad stress is exactly the opposite. Chronic stress can affect your health. Usually the situation is outside of our control and there usually is not a resolution that is readily apparent. It offers no fulfillment and can come between people. There is no growth potential, can lower your self-esteem, and can actually lead to new conflicts.

Simple Stress Management Tools

Although good stress can empower and invigorate you, there is still the potential that it can become overwhelming. Here are some simple ways to manage stress in your life, be it good or bad:

  • Learn to say no – For some, their natural instinct is to help people whenever they are asked. But this can snowball.
  • Avoid button pushers – There are simply some individuals and situations that are triggers for stress. Recognize what causes your stress and minimize your exposure.
  • Express your feelings – There is something to be said for letting those around you know how you feel. Stress is often the result of unresolved issues and unexpressed feelings.
  • Make time for the things you love – These things – hobbies, activities, reading, listening to music – help you eliminate stress. Or at least give you some time away.
  • Manage your time – Schedule activities so that you have time to complete what you need to do without rushing.
  • Revise your to-do list – When you feel stress coming on, take unnecessary activities or chores off your list of things to do.
  • Letting go – If you make a mistake, don’t wallow in it. Learn from it and move on.
  • Keep a stress journal – Everyone has things that affect them differently, and everyone deals with things differently. Get a notebook and write down the things that cause you stress, how you dealt with it, and the outcome. You may find that keeping a journal will not only help you identify stress, both good and bad, but help you come up with a strategy for dealing with it.
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19
Jun
13

Mind, body, sprit – Habits that Sap Your Energy and Make You Tired

Do you ever find yourself getting heavy lids at the office? Or dozing early in the evening just after dinner? You’re not alone. There are habits that we develop over the years (other than “Not getting enough sleep”) that drain us of energy and make us tired.

Dehydration

According to researchers, most Americans don’t drink enough water, which means we live in a constant state of mild dehydration. When this occurs, your body goes into conservation mode and slows blood circulation, which deprives your muscles of oxygen and makes you feel lethargic. Rule of thumb says to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Speaking of water…

The kind of water you’re drinking may also make you tired, if you’re drinking the vitamin-enhanced kind. The body doesn’t metabolize B-vitamins in isolated form, which are found in these types of drinks. This can give you the same kind of jitters as when you take in too much caffeine – and the same kind of crash later.

No carbs at breakfast

Over the last decade or so, many of us have avoided carbohydrates in the morning. The thinking is that the carb crash later is inevitable. The body needs carbs to produce energy; the problem is that when you consume the wrong types of carbs that you get the crash. Sugary cereals and highly-processed white bread will lead to the crash, while whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbs.

Too much caffeine

There is a definite crash associated with caffeine and most people solve the crash with… more caffeine. It takes 12 hours to metabolize caffeine, so your body still may feel the effects at bedtime, making it difficult to sleep. The solution is to limit your caffeine intake to the morning. This includes soda and energy drinks, by the way.

Slouching

Poor posture causes your muscles, joints and ligaments to work harder than when your body is in perfect alignment. The added strain decreases blood flow – and with it, oxygen – to the brain, which makes you feel tired.

Using a computer

According to the American Optometric Association, prolonged use of the computer can cause Computer Vision Syndrome. The symptoms include eye strain, blurred vision and headaches. Eye strain can cause you to feel tired. If you use a computer, you should also make sure that the monitor is at the proper level for your eyes so that you’re not slouching or looking down for prolonged periods of time.

Clutter

Piles and piles of “stuff” (bills, papers, books or whatever) everywhere can be overwhelming and can sap your ability to focus. Grab a filing folder or some plastic cubbies to stay organized. Removing the “clutter” and having a clean living space will make a tremendous difference in your mood and energy level.

Prescription medication

Certain medications can put strain on organs, particularly on the liver, which removes toxins from the body. If liver function is affected even a little, it can cause you to feel worn down. Check with your doctor if you take prescription medication to make sure the side effects are not causing you to be tired.

Over exercising

There’s no doubt that everyone needs exercising, but over-doing it at the gym day after day doesn’t give your body enough time to recover. Experts recommend that you give yourself a break from time to time to avoid burnout.

12
Jun
13

Mind, body, sprit – The Danger Signs of Snoring

Do you snore? If you don’t know, ask your sleep partner. Chances are that they know more about your snoring than you do. But sometimes snoring is not just snoring. It can be a sign of something much worse.

More than 18 million U.S. adults have sleep apnea and many don’t know it according to the National Sleep Foundation. Apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open. Apnea can cause broken sleep patterns and low blood oxygen levels.

If you or your partner have noticed that your snoring is characterized by choking, or that you seem to stop breathing, it could be a sign of apnea.

There are several side effects associated with sleep apnea, including hypertension, heart disease, moodiness and memory problems. Other risks include fatigue, depression and nightmares.

There are several factors that increase the risk of sleep apnea. Drinking causes the muscles in the upper airway to relax. Smoking, on the other hand, causes swelling in the same area. Being overweight can also make sleep apnea worse. Although changing these habits can help greatly diminish the effects, they will not cure apnea. Seeing a sleep specialist is highly recommended.

Sufferers of apnea may be recommended to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It’s a mask or nose piece that blows air into the airway to keep it open while a patient sleeps. For those who continue to suffer, surgery may be an option.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, see a specialist. For more information about sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, check out the National Sleep Foundation website. (http://www.sleepfoundation.org/)

05
Jun
13

The benefits of stretching at the office

For many of us, work means being in an office or cubicle for hours on end. All this sitting means that while your brain is working, unfortunately your body is not. Studies have shown that with this type of job there is an increase in health risks including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Whether you make it a habit of going to the gym or not, you can find some benefit in taking a couple of minutes to do some simple stretches a couple of times a day.

While those of us who work in an office environment aren’t doing physical labor, sitting behind a desk does mean that while some muscles aren’t being used, some contract for long periods of time. Stretching allows those contracted muscles to relax loosening the muscles.

Because we’re at the desk, we don’t often use our joints, either. Stretching increases the range of motion in the joints and can alleviate nagging aches and pains that office workers experience.

People who sit for long periods of time are at a higher risk of developing blood clots. Getting out of the chair will increase your blood circulation. While it may not eliminate the risk of clots completely, it will help.

Stretching is also a great way to relieve stress, help you clear your head and focus on the task at hand.

The great thing about a stretching regimen is that it doesn’t require a great deal of space. It doesn’t take long, either; just a few minutes. Just remember to concentrate on each muscle group, including legs, arms, back and neck.

Here are some things you need to remember while stretching:

  • When you reach your maximum stretching point, try to hold it for 20-30 seconds, then release.
  • Be sure to relax and breathe deeply.
  • Don’t “bounce” while you’re stretching as this can cause more harm than good.

Taking a couple of breaks during the day will help you to relieve stress, clear your mind and give your muscles a much-needed break. Work a 5-minute stretch into your morning and afternoon routine and you’ll see immediate benefits.