With so much going on in our lives, many of us plan out every minute of our day: Wake up, work, go to the gym, come home, make dinner, work from home, try to spend some quality time with our families, go to sleep, repeat. Day after day we know what is important to live a healthy life and we are constantly working to juggle that with our daily responsibilities. But when our mental health starts to falter, it can be hard to check off everything on your To Do list.
How we can get more done while feeling less stressed, more fulfilled in our daily lives, and maintaining our overall health? The answer might be simpler than we think.
Try getting out more often. With most people living in urban environments, working in offices all day, and spending free time working out at the gym, it is not uncommon for our only time in nature to consist of the walk to the car. This may seem like a minor price to pay for living a full, busy life but the New York Times cites studies showing city dwellers have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illness than those who spend regular time outdoors.
By not spending enough time outdoors, we lose more than just our recommended daily intake of Vitamin D. Human beings have an inherent connection to nature and previous generations did not spend nearly as much time indoors. With modern technology, we can do nearly everything from the comforts of our own home but doing so could be detrimental to our health.
In a study done by Stanford University, Gregory Bratman and colleagues found that volunteers who walked through a green area of the campus showed a more focused and positive attitude afterward than volunteers who walked for the same amount of time near heavy traffic. The volunteers who had strolled through the calming natural parks also showed improvements in their mental health and were not dwelling on the negatives in their lives as much as they had been before the walk.
Getting into nature has major mental and physical health benefits for us, but don’t think of it as something else you have to add to your ever-growing To Do list. Many routine activities can simply be moved outdoors. Make the commute to work on your bike if possible, or take nightly walks around the neighborhood as a part of your post-dinner routine. On the weekends make time for a hike or picnic outdoors. Even just sitting on the porch for a while has its benefits.
It can be easy to become obsessed with reaching our goals and crossing tasks off lists, but a successful, healthy life is about balance. We should work towards the life we want and love, but not at the cost of our mental health. Start with half an hour every day spent in nature and try to write down how you feel before and after. Noting the lift in mood that the outdoors can have on you will help to continue the habit when it seems like the last thing you want to do. And eventually, your time in nature may be what you look forward to most every day.
Guest Blogger: Camila
Communication Major at the College of Charleston
Marketing Intern at Wellness Beyond Fifty
It doesn’t take long for something new and exciting to capture people’s interest, and the Fidget Spinner is no exception. Almost instantly, this gadget has created a “buzz” that is turning heads of all ages. But why?
The Fidget Spinner was originally intended to hold the attention of distracted children. Now adults, especially those in high-stress environments, use them to alleviate stress and to help them stay focused.
You can find these plastic, three-pronged toys almost anywhere including convenience stores, tourist shops and even local pharmacies. Why is there such an intrigue in this toy? The Fidget Spinner is designed to reduce stress and increase focus, especially for those who have trouble concentrating and are fidgety. Hence the name. Its effect is similar to an old-fashioned stress ball although more intriguing. The user holds the middle of the toy, spins one of its three ends and watches it rotate.
Its inventor, Catherine Hettinger, originally intended for the device to calm children’s nerves and help reduce their stress and anxiety in a creative way. But soon the device caught on with people of all ages, so much so it is now No. 3 on Amazon’s Top-20 list of best-selling toys in 2017.
Although the Fidget Spinner has become such a sensation, many predict, like most fads, it will soon lose its popularity. However, if the toy has similar effects on people as does an old-fashion stress ball, comes in a variety of colors and are around the same price, it’s hard to say what its future holds.
What do you think? Will you try this stress-reducing fad, or do you think it is just another passing fancy?
Author Bio: Jacqueline Dorman is a Business Administration major at the College of Charleston and an Intern with Wellness Beyond Fifty.
Need an energy boost? We all do from time to time, but those highly advertised over-the-counter energy drinks are not the way to go. Here’s why:
- The extreme acidity and high caffeine content of such beverages can increase your blood pressure, induce a rapid heartbeat, and cause dehydration, vomiting, seizures, headaches, insomnia and death.
- Caffeine is typically good for your body, but when consumed in a can of so-called hyper-energy drink you get six times as much that is in a regular cup of coffee. This not only speeds up and stresses your heart, it also flushes your body of vital fluids and nutrients.
- Most highly advertised energy drinks are also extremely high in acid. When low ph assaults your body, calcium leaves cells and enters the bloodstream in order to neutralize the acid. This means your bones, muscles and brain are robbed of vital calcium precisely when needed the most.
- High-energy drinks are also loaded with sugar, the No. 1 cause of diabetes. Who by now doesn’t know the risks taken when too much sugar enters your system?
- High-energy drinks are packed with carbohydrates, far more than are recommended for active people. This can lead to serious gastrointestinal distress and all the problems that go with it.
The best high-energy drink in the world is fresh, clean water in combination with fresh, clean fruits, vegetables and foods containing plenty of natural fiber. Add 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night and you have a healthy mix for an energy lift. Talk to your health-care provider or health coach about getting on a proper diet and then with their help, sticking to it.
Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”
So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success. Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:
1. Sleep better.
2. Work out more, whether it is outside, at the gym or home.
3. Begin a daily mindfulness or meditation practice.
4. Drink more water and get rid of diet sodas.
5. Eat more vegetables and less meat.
6. Organize your home, workspace or both.
7. Make new friends and/or spend more time with those you already have.
8. Improve work/life balance to allow more time to take better care of yourself.
9. Quit tolerating an uncomfortable situation at home or work out of fear. Define the problem and fix it.
10. Find an app or person to hold you accountable to whatever goal you are trying to achieve so you will create a lasting new habit.
There is a lot of help available, so take advantage of it now so 2017 can be your best year yet!
Last week’s post noted that using what is known as “the happiness advantage” is a great way to improve both your personal and professional lives. One of the ways I mentioned to raise your level of happiness is to briefly note on a regular basis those things for which you are grateful. A helpful internet application (“app”) which allows you to record your “gratitudes” is Gratitude Journal 365.
I enjoy keeping a daily journal in which, among other things, I write down three things for which I am grateful. I suggest that one of your happiness-advantage techniques is to give it a try to do this at least three times a week. Simply write down three things for which you are appreciative. Don’t simply do this in your head. Write them down.
Start out simple with things like “my morning cup of coffee” or “the sound of rain on the roof,” then go on to bigger things like “my daughter gave birth to a healthy baby boy” or “I’ve paid off the credit card and cut it to pieces.” The goal of the exercise is to remember the good things in your life and savor the happiness that goes with them.
As your write, here are some important tips:
1. Be as specific as possible. Specificity is the key to fostering gratitude. “I am grateful that my husband cooked supper for us when I had to work late on Tuesday.”
2. Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular person, thing or event for which you are grateful carries more benefits than listing superficial things.
3. Get personal. Focus on people to whom you are grateful. This has far more impact than those things for which you alone are grateful.
4. Consider what your life would be like without certain people or things, rather than just tallying up all the good stuff. Be grateful for the negatives outcomes you avoided, escaped, prevented or turned into something positive. In other words, try not to take good fortune for granted.
5. See good things as “gifts.” Doing so guards against taking things for granted. Relish the gifts you have and received.
6. Savor surprises. I love the word “savor” because it allows you to linger on gifts that are unexpected. Savoring is a stronger level of gratitude.
7. Revise if you repeat. In other words, writing about the same people and things over and over again is OK, but writing about a different aspect of each person in greater detail is even better.
8. Write regularly. Whether you chose to write every day or three times a week, commit to a regular time of day to journal and honor your commitment.
9. Don’t overdo it. This is supposed to be enjoyable. No one savors a routine chore.
10. And remember, it only takes minutes to unleash everything great in your life.