Archive for the ‘Emotional Wellness’ Category

Quickly Overcome Sleep Deprivation

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Sleep deprivation can make your mind feel sluggish and your body lack energy. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be incredibly difficult, not to mention staying sharp for a morning meeting or getting a workout in during the afternoon. Getting a good night’s sleep does not have to mean taking sleep aids or medication. Simple readjustments to your lifestyle and making sleep a priority can help create a healthy daily rhythm and have profound effects on your quality of sleep.

The Importance of a Sleep Routine
Consistency is one of the keys to sleeping well. Continually changing the time you go to sleep and wake up in the morning can leave your body confused and lead to sleep deprivation. Although you may feel tired, you may still have trouble tuning out and falling asleep. Resetting your circadian rhythm, or natural sleep cycle, by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day can help your body know when it’s time to wind down at the end of a long day.

We place a significant emphasis on bedtime routines for children, but we tend to fall out of those habits as adults. Taking the time to relax before going to bed can help signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. Turn down the lights, turn off the television and put away your laptop a few hours before crawling into bed. Don’t participate in stimulating activities right before bed either. Try to stay quiet to set the mood for relaxation, such as taking a warm bath before bed. By having a routine every night, your body and mind can start to switch into sleep mode.

Overcome Your Sleep DeprivationEat Right for the Best Sleep
It may be obvious that you should avoid caffeine in the afternoon and early evening if you want to avoid sleep deprivation, but eating big meals, fatty foods or meals that may cause heartburn can keep you awake too. Other diet factors such as food allergies or sensitivities to dairy or gluten can cause restlessness that affects your sleep.

Drinking too many liquids before bed can leave you with a full bladder that interrupts your sleep. Once you wake up in the middle of the night, it can be difficult to go back to sleep, so it’s beneficial to try to prevent night waking before it occurs. Also keep in mind that although alcohol may make you drowsy, it can cause you to sleep lightly and wake frequently.

Exercise the Body to Stimulate Sleep
Exercising earlier in the day can help you sleep at night. Working out regularly helps relieve the anxiety and stressful thoughts that may keep you awake at night. Outside activity and being exposed to bright light during the day can help reset your circadian rhythm and prevent sleep deprivation. But keep in mind that exercise before bed may cause you to have trouble winding down right away, so make sure to exercise long before you plan on turning in for the night.


Primrose Oil: Super-Nutrient a Vegetarian Alternative to Fish Oil

Friday, January 6th, 2012

If you don’t like the idea of ingesting any type of animal product, even in supplement form, primrose oil can provide the same benefits as fish oil while allowing you to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. Extracted from the evening primrose, a plant that displays yellow blooms in the evening hours, this oil contains a high percentage of GLA, gamma-linolenic acid, also known as Omega 6 fatty acid.

Don’t I Need Omega 3s?
Your body does need the Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oil, but it’s also capable of converting plant-based Omega 6 compounds into Omega 3s. This provides the same health benefits as consuming them directly through either fish or fish oil supplements.

Primrose Oil and FlowerWhat are the Health Benefits of Primrose Oil?
The GLA in evening primrose oil is reported to support brain function, body growth and overall development. It also promotes hair and skin growth, healthy bones, an efficient metabolism and reproductive health. This vegetarian-friendly supplement has also been shown to help treat or manage a number of diseases including:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension

The Future of Primrose Oil
Because of primrose oil’s other benefits, researchers have been looking for new ways to use this vegetarian supplement. So far, it has been found to help with some cancers, especially cerebral gliomas. Primrose oil has shown some promise with skin disorders like atopic dermatitis, mastalgia and some uremic skin disorders.

Sticking with a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you should ignore the nutrients traditionally provided by animal products.Instead, seek out plant-based alternatives that offer the same health benefits. The omega nutrients are a vital component to your overall health and should not be disregarded just because the most common form comes from animals. Primrose oil is the perfect alternative to the fish oil supplements.


Is Gluten the Culprit for Your Mood Swings?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Wheat Gluten MoodIf you’ve been struggling with mood swings and nothing has helped, there could be a simple answer: Your diet might be the cause of your emotional ups and downs. Gluten intolerance can wreak havoc on your body leading to adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances and mood swings.

What is Adrenal Fatigue and How Does Gluten Come into Play?
Adrenal fatigue is a state of chronic tiredness caused when the adrenal gland doesn’t work as it should. Reports indicate that as many as 80% of people will experience this disorder at some point in their lives. Warning signs include:

  • You’re tired most of the time for no reason.
  • It’s hard to get up and going in the morning.
  • You crave caffeine or sugar to keep going.
  • You feel stressed and run-down most of the time.

Thought to be a product of chronic stress, allergies or obesity in the past, many researchers now attribute adrenal fatigue to gluten intolerance. In a person with this problem, gluten, the basic protein in wheat, rye and barley, puts stress on the adrenal glands. These tiny organs sit just above the kidneys and regulate the body’s hormones.

How Does Gluten Intolerance Cause Mood Swings?
Gluten intolerance causes mood swings by stressing the adrenal gland. This in turn causes an imbalance in hormone levels. The main purpose of balanced hormones is to allow the body to repair itself and prevent aging. When this balance breaks down, your body can’t repair itself and each system starts to deteriorate. Eventually, this leads to unexplained fatigue, uncontrolled PMS, mood swings, hot flashes, depression and even a loss of libido.

How Can I Remove Gluten From My Diet?
It sounds so simple to just not eat bread. Unfortunately, removing all traces of gluten from your diet is a little more complicated. Start off by looking for gluten-free products and restaurants that serve gluten-free items. Learn to read the labels religiously for any type of flour that commonly contains gluten. When in doubt, remember that basic food items like meats and fresh fruits and vegetables are always gluten-free!

Although it’s perfectly fine to remove gluten from your diet to see if it makes you feel better, you should see your doctor if you think you may have adrenal fatigue. These symptoms could be a sign of a number of other health problems.


What Fish Oil is Right for You?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

omega 3 fatty acidFish oil is reported to be a miracle supplement for every ailment under the sun from heart disease to depression. This has resulted in shelves crowded with a variety of products all claiming to be the best. To ease your confusion, here’s a practical guide to fish oil:

What’s so Great About Fish Oil?
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are composed of DHA and EPA, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Considered essential fatty acids, the human body requires these substances to function, but it can’t produce them on its own. In other words, you must obtain all of your DHA and EPA from your diet or through supplements. Omega 6 is another essential fatty acid that can be obtained from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, nuts, and olive oil. This substance contains a different amino acid called ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. The body can use Omega 6 fatty acids, but they must be converted into DHA and EPA first. Because this process stresses the body, it’s always better to get your daily requirement of DHA and EPA directly from your diet or through fish oil supplements.

Types of Fish Oil:
Fish oil comes in three basic varieties: old-fashioned cod liver oil, health-store fish oil and pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. All three include Omega 3 fatty acids, but these products are definitely not created equal. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

  • Cod Liver Oil – This inexpensive oil is harvested from fish liver. It’s OK in small dosages, but higher amounts can expose you to contaminants and excessive levels of Vitamin A. An entire teaspoon, five grams, contains about 500 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids, but you’ll also receive plenty of organic mercury and commercial chemicals including DDT and PCB.
  • Health-Store Fish Oil – Slightly more expensive, this type of fish oil is often extracted from salmon, tuna, anchovies, herring or sardines. Some products are filtered to remove a portion of the contaminants and concentrated to provide a higher dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. On average, this type of fish oil contains 300 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about three times as much as cod liver oil. Although safer than cod liver oil, this type of fish oil can be dangerous at high dosages.
  • Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil – This type of fish oil has been filtered to remove almost all contaminants and concentrated to increase the Omega 3 percentage to very high levels. If you’re interested in using a high dosage of Omega 3s in your diet, this is the safest and easiest way to proceed. This type of fish oil generally contains 600 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about double the amount of the typical health store product.

Which Fish Oil Should I Take and How Much?
Although the FDA has not yet set a recommendation for fish oil intake, but several other medical groups have presented their opinions on the subject based on specific health concerns. Here are a few of the most popular recommendations:

  • Omega 3 Fish OilHealthy Adults – This group should get about 2,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids every day. This fatty acid supports brain development, brain health and memory. Children and seniors can also benefit from additional amounts of essential fatty acids.• Crohn’s Disease – The recommendation for this ailment is 2,000 mg twice a day for a total of 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Lupus – This disorder responds well to 6,000 mg per day split into three 2,000 mg doses.
  • Asthma, Arthritis and High Blood Pressure – Doctors may recommend 3,000 mg per day for these health problems, split into three 1,000 mg doses.

Because of the contaminant levels associated with health-store fish oil capsules, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil is always the safest choice.Speak with your doctor about their recommendations for any of your specific health concerns.


Probiotics: A Little Known Stress Reducer

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Does your normal diet fall by the wayside during the holidays? Have you yet to introduce yourself to probiotics? If so, you’re definitely not alone! To fully enjoy this time of year, most people indulge in rich foods at every turn. Whether you sample your own gourmet creations or you can’t resist a second serving of your favorite aunt’s world-famous macaroni and cheese, a sudden change in your diet or meal schedule can quickly take its toll on your digestive health.

Yogurt and ProbioticsProbiotics Keep You Feeling Great!
The stress and discomfort of digestive problems only add to the pressure of the holidays, but you can use probiotics to take control of your troubling stomach issues. Unlike harsh medications, probiotics work naturally by gradually introducing healthy bacteria to your system in order to restore balance to your digestive tract. As your body begins to feel normal again, you’ll feel like a new person!

Can Probiotics Be Just as Good as Valium?
Probiotics have been proven in the past to help the body use nutrients more efficiently, but the latest research shows an even better reason to use this healthy supplement. In a recent animal study, scientists discovered that beneficial bacteria in the digestive system reduced the body’s level of corticosterone, a stress-related hormone. After feeding mice a diet rich in probiotics, they were noticeably more relaxed than other mice that were given a placebo. The researchers noted that this reaction was similar to the effects seen after injecting a mouse with Valium!

How Do I Get Probiotics?
Although the strain of bacteria used in the study is not yet commercially available, the market is filled with probiotic supplements that promote digestive health. If you’d like to introduce beneficial bacteria to your system naturally, here are the best foods to include in your diet on a regular basis:

  • ProbioticsYogurt – active-cultured with Lactobacillus bacteria
  • Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
  • Kefir – a European health drink made by fermenting milk and kefir grains
  • Natto – fermented soybeans
  • Kimchi – pickled cabbage with Korean spices
  • Miso – Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans, barley, rice and other grains with koji fungus
  • Tempeh – soybeans fermented with the rhizopus oligosporus fungus

Whether you choose a supplement or a dietary change, probiotics can reduce your stress levels and improve your digestive health. To feel your best during the holiday season, balance those rich meals with healthy choices and remember to continue this habit into the New Year!


Control Emotional Spending During the Holidays

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Many people consider the winter holidays to be the best part of the year. It’s a time to give from your heart, spend extra time with your loved ones and enjoy some tasty food! For others, the holidays are bittersweet. They can get overwhelmed with hustle and bustle of the holidays and find themselves lost in the mix of it all.

Emotional SpendingNo matter which category you fall into, the holidays can add an incredible amount of emotional stress to your life. Without even thinking about it, you may start to change your normal habits to help relieve the pressure. If you’re not careful, these emotions can take control of your spending habits and put you into a further stressful state of mind. Here are some tips to prevent this from happening:

Buy Memories or Experiences Instead of Things
If you shower your children or grandchildren with toys this year, they’ll have a great day or two, but the excitement will soon wear off. In fact, they may not even remember the gifts a year from now. On the other hand, if you treat them to a stay at soccer camp or you take them on their first fishing trip, they’ll remember it for a lifetime. If you can’t afford anything that lavish, give them the gift of your time! This could be as simple as a new baseball glove and someone to actually play catch with.

Remember, Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better
We’re all so blinded by TV ads that try to make us believe that our life isn’t complete without the latest electronic gadget or an expensive new car. The truth is you’d probably be much happier in the long run with less expensive items and a better sense of financial security. Before you buy something you don’t need or can’t afford, think about whether one day of anticipated happiness is worth months or even years of financial struggle.

Fill Your Needs by Making a Difference in Someone Else’s Life
If you buy, buy, buy during the holidays because it makes you feel good to give to others, why not do something that makes a real difference is someone’s life? If you donate money to a charity, help feed the homeless or share your holiday with a neighbor who’s all alone, that feeling of being needed and making a difference will activate the same pleasure centers in your brain as spending all your cash and some of your credit at the mall. As a bonus, this type of pleasure lasts much longer than the quick-fix that comes in a fancy shopping bag!

Get Organized and Get Stress Free
Take time to plan out your gifts this holiday season.  By organizing your gift giving you will not only save time and money, you will also save a lot of emotional stress.  Start by writing out a list of who you plan to buy gifts for and approximately what you would like to spend on each person.  Take this list with you on every shopping trip this holiday season and stick to it.  Having this list will not only help you maintain your budget this year but it will also allow you to see where splurges or “the forgotten ones” can be squeezed in.

Money Can’t Buy Lasting Happiness
Studies have shown that people with more money are happier than those without, but only by a small degree. The same research found that the reason for this anomaly is that people don’t spend their money on the right things. Like a drug or a sugar rush, an impulse purchase can satisfy your emotional needs for a short time through instant gratification, but that high will quickly wear off leaving you feeling empty again. This is a path that can lead to a true shopping addiction during the holidays and even worse, year round. If you take the time to reflect on the emotions behind your purchases, you may be able to maintain control this holiday season.
Learn to recognize your emotional health and how it may be affecting your decisions this holiday season, both in and out of the stores.  By making choices that provide long-term pleasure instead of instant gratification, you and your entire family will enjoy the holidays more and be happier throughout the year.