Exercise: I Hate it, But it Feels Good

Like many others, my new year’s resolution is to increase my fitness. So far so good, but damn I hate working out. I’ve never liked it but remind myself that I’m not a naturally thin person who can eat whatever I want. If I eat a slice of bread, I’m bloated for at least 48 hours.

As I put my workout clothes on, I pace around my apartment to gather my thoughts or listen to a hype song for motivation. I talk to myself out loud saying, “Get it done!” or “You always feel good after it’s over, so do it.” Every now and then I’ll let out a growl then proceed to laugh at myself because it sounds like a kitten trying to meow for the first time.

The problem is, I have to start the motion. Even if I’m not mentally ready, once I press play to start the warmup and my body begins to move, I gain motivation. Eventually, my mind catches up with my body and I’m dripping with sweat with the urge to workout longer. Despite never wanting to workout, I ALWAYS feel amazing afterward. Bad cravings prior to my workout transform into craving a smoothie. Funny how that works.

I personally enjoy cardio, but my body reacts better to HIIT routines. I’m currently doing Les Mills workouts mixed with P90x for strength training. Choose routines you enjoy so the workout doesn’t seem tedious.

I guess I’m writing this to say hey, it’s hard. Getting in shape isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Hang in there if you’re on a fitness journey. Six months from now, you’ll look back and be glad you didn’t quit.

 

10 Stress Busters to Live a Better Life

It’s hard to combat stress and anxiety in a world that can drive you insane. It’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about situations that make you feel frustrated, nervous and uneasy. When it starts interfering with your daily life, that may indicate a more serious issue.

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Eat a Well Balanced Diet
When it comes to appetite, stress and anxiety can either make you eat more or less. When I’m stressed, all I want to do is eat and sleep the day away. It may be difficult, but you have to continue to fuel your body with a well-balanced diet. Never skip a meal, eat energy-boosting foods and drink plenty of water.

Discover Your Triggers
Something in your life is triggering your stress or anxiety. Family, work, school, relationships, or friends may be the cause. Keep track of when you feel fine and when you become irritable, nervous or experience any other physical symptoms. Try to avoid stressors if possible. Writing in a diary and keeping track of your emotions will also help.

Exercise
Exercise helps increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Physical activity allows you to focus on getting through your workout which results in a better mood. For me, it is hard to feel motivated enough to work out, but once I force myself to get up and start moving, the workout takes over and I’m proud I did it.

Talk to Someone
Keeping in feelings is never a good thing. Open up to friends or family that you trust. Simply expressing yourself can relieve stress. Talking to someone can also lead to advice you can utilize. I find this difficult to do for myself because I feel like I’m going to be judged or my feelings will be tossed to the side. Choose who you talk to carefully. Don’t talk to those who are self-centered and wouldn’t care about your thoughts. Choose someone who is empathetic.

Sleep
Stress and anxiety are exhausting on the body. Getting at least eight hours of sleep is important for your body to properly get rest.

Time-Out
Listen to music, go to the movies, take a hot bath, meditate, do yoga or simply go for a walk alone. Do something for yourself! Step away from the stressful moment to mentally breathe and clear your head.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoid the “I need a drink” mentality. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system. This can result in a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Sipping on a little alcohol may seem nice, but alcohol stimulates the production of the same hormones that produce stress. A study at the University of Chicago revealed alcohol and stress feed each other.

Keep a Positive Mindset 
If the only thoughts running through your head are negative, your outlook on life will be negative. Our minds can generate so many negative thoughts and scenarios. Positive thinking just means approaching situations in a more positive and productive manner. Self-talk, the little voice in your head, is the most damaging of all. Learning how to shift your thoughts will allow you to cope with stressful situations.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Many times stress and anxiety are caused by an individual trying to be perfect or live up to certain expectations. Everyone is different and being perfect isn’t possible. We live in a social media world where everyone only shows the good in life causing a false image of their lifestyle. This causes envy or jealousy. Be the best you can be. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone is struggling with something regardless of how pretty that picture is.

You Can’t Control Everything
Being able to accept things that are out of your control will help you manage stress. There are times when you have to stop resisting and embrace the lesson. There are times when you can’t change things and that’s OK. It’s hard, but it needs to be done. Put things into perspective by asking yourself, is it as bad as it could be?

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” ~Arthur Rubinstein

Though you can use these tips for stress management on your own, if you feel as though your stress and anxiety is unmanageable, please seek professional help or ask others to help you find the support you need.

Utilize the helpful tips above to live a happy and stress-free life that you deserve.

Your Job Should Not Destroy Your Mental Health

Your job should never destroy your mental health!

I work with an individual who is sweet beyond words. She does her job, gets tasks done on time, and never causes issues. The problem? She is overworked thanks to two individuals not wanting to pull their weight, people take credit for her hard work, and they go to her for everything. It has gotten to the point of her feeling stressed and going grey at 23-years-old. She has admitted to working from 8 am-1 am at one point and gets very little sleep because people ping her at all hours of the night. Since she’s a hard worker, she feels obligated to do the work.

I’ve witnessed her cry at work multiple times. She admitted to crying several times on and off-site. Some may say she’s simply emotional, but when you’re overwhelmed, your stress will reveal itself one way or the other.

I cannot stress this enough to people. Your mental health is more important than anything. If you feel yourself deteriorating, step back. Take a day off. Don’t answer emails, phone calls, instant messages, or text. There’s nothing wrong with having a “me day.” We all need them. There are several jobs out there that don’t believe in or practice a work-life balance.

Some people are so stressed and mentally exhausted that they don’t know how to function at work or cope with additional difficulties. This can often lead to suicidal thoughts or a sudden burst of rage.

Please, if you’re feeling mentally or physically exhausted, talk to your supervisor or someone higher up who will listen and express empathy. If you don’t have someone, it’s alright to call out.

According to one study, only 7% will use a sick day for their mental health.

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YOU are a priority! Take the day off. Make it a three day weekend. Make it a promise to yourself to focus on you and you only. It won’t hurt. The last thing you want to do is dread going to work before you go to bed or before you get out of it the next morning.

 

 

Fun Fact About Pet Owners

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Do you own a pet? Odds are, after a stressful day, walking into your door and having your adorable pet greet you help reduce stress. Your furbaby can also help:

  • Decrease blood pressure.
  • Decrease cholesterol levels.
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness.
  • Boost your mood.
  • Decrease anxiety and depression.
  • Adds more laughter into your life.

Having a pet, particularly a dog can help you socialize more. How often have you struck up a conversation with another dog owner? How about walking your dog and having complete strangers ask you to pet them?

According to a British poll, 90 percent of single women said that men who own a cat are “nicer” than other guys. I’m personally a sucker for a man who owns a cat. I guess you have to have a certain personality to handle the sassiness of a cat versus a dog.

Do you have a pet? If so, do you feel less stress due to their companionship?

Are You Sleep Deprived?

When you are sleep deprived there are adverse effects that take place as a result. Sleep deprived individuals have trouble healing, focusing, and completing daily tasks. Sleep is essential to life and plays a role in many physiological and psychological functions such as tissue repair, growth, memory consolidation, and learning. Although sleep needs vary from one adult to another, experts believe that regular sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours per night) may over time have adverse effects on the brain and the body.

Getting enough sleep is a vital need for all of the organs to implement specific functions in the body. One of the benefits of sleep, in particular, is its restorative function. Sleeping is used to repair the body every day by putting it to rest. Also, sleep allows the body to stay more alert when you’re awake.

Conversely, sleep deprivation destabilizes metabolic activity. It increases cortisol levels (an in a hormone involved in the stress response) in the blood, affects the immune response diminishes the ability of the body to metabolize glucose and negatively affects the regulation of appetite. Similar changes are seen in people whose sleep patterns are disrupted, like, among others, in young children a case of illness. Normal body functions are disturbed b the lack of sleep, resulting in some metabolic consequences.

Effects of Being Sleep Deprived

The effects of sleep deprivation are easily recognizable: you are more irritable, you have a pessimistic attitude, you will have frequent mood swings, and you will suffer from stress and anxiety.

Similarly, sleep deprivation also affects you physiologically. It affects the sugar assimilation rate and can, therefore, lead to the appearance of glucose in the blood and an increase in your weight.

The negative effects of lack of sleep are also visible on the body temperature drop. This decrease can cause arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

One of the most severe effects of lack of sleep in a person is linked to his memory. Sleep deprivation can hinder the acquisition of short- and long-term knowledge and storage capacity.

Little sleep also affects your movements, it becomes slower. Similarly, lack of sleep affects the way you communicate. Your way of speaking becomes imprecise, and you present many difficulties to solve problems.

The long-term lack of sleep will also cause physical problems. In fact, many experts agree that sleep deprivation leads to the occurrence of tremors, increased perception of pain, exhaustion, intestinal disorders and an increased risk of suffering infections due to a weak immune system.

Virtual reality and pain relief

Virtual Reality Pain Management – Can It Alleviate Pain?

Virtual reality pain management may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to chronic pain. Virtual reality is no longer just for gamers and other forms of entertainment. This type of pain management may seem odd, but completely effective according to test studies.

We’ve mentioned in previous articles how effective distractors can be when it comes to temporarily alleviate chronic pain. Virtual reality is one of those distractors. Virtual reality pain management is still working its way into the medical field. You may not find many VR sets at your local hospital or physician’s office because a headset and program can be quite pricey. A pain control game called Snow World cost $35,000 during a pain relief study. There are cheaper alternatives including Samsung’s Gear VR, HTC’s Vive and Oculus Rift. With these cheaper alternatives, you may begin to see more virtual reality sets in hospitals.

Virtual reality pain management doesn’t always include playing a video game. There are a number of virtual reality pain management applications specifically to distract patients from their pain. One application called COOL!, by DeepStream VR Inc., focuses on immersing pain patients into a soothing virtual reality world. In COOL!, patients can play with wildlife in a beautiful landscape.

One particular study used the Oculus Rift headset to run COOL! on 30 participants, male and female, ranging between 35-79 years of age. Participants had a variety of chronic pain disorders. Prior to their virtual reality pain management session, participants were asked to rate their pain between 0-10. Participants rated their pain as a 5.7. During the session, they rated their pain a 2.6. Post-session, they rated their pain a 4.1. The average change in pain rating between pre-session and post-session was 33 percent.

When asked to rate their engagement in the virtual world between 0-10, the average rating was 8.4. Participants were asked if they experienced any dizziness, headaches or nausea. No participants experienced dizziness or headaches, but one participant rated her nausea as a 3. She did note she had a long history of nausea with video games but mentioned COOL! was better than past video games that triggered her nausea.

We do have to note more studies need to be done on virtual reality pain management. This type of pain management may not be effective for everyone.

Open Your Heart

We unknowingly go through life closed off to people, the environment, and social situations. Yes, we interact with people on a daily basis, but are you truly yourself 100 percent of the time?

Life is constantly tossing us challenges and the results will often change us, for the better or worse. Happiness is a state of mind and a choice. Regardless of what challenges you’ve had, it is time to choose happiness. Yes, it can be hard, but it starts with opening your heart.

Opening your heart starts from within. It will allow you to eliminate sadness and unforgiving thoughts of others and ourselves. Absorbing positivity will generate a sense of mental freedom and clarity.

Appreciate who you are and be yourself. Many people wander the earth without knowing who they are. Do you? Are you simply going through the paces of life like a robot? Stop and take a moment to discover your true self.

Be open to receiving anything and everything. It’s great to be independent, but even the most independent person needs help. Instead of rejecting help, take it. Take some of the weight off of your shoulders. Accepting help will not devalue your independence or strength.

Open your heart to past mistakes, accept them, learn from them and move into the future with newfound knowledge. The past can eat at us. Don’t lose sight of who you are now and how you can better yourself.

Do something you love every day. For me, it’s writing. It is sometimes hard for me to organize my thoughts because my brain is constantly churning. Writing helps me focus my thoughts and express myself. Sometimes, reading my own words is therapeutic.

The Power of Sharing and Generosity

Sharing or generosity is an undervalued attribute in society. We live in a world where people feel as if sharing will minimize their opportunities, time or money. Some people will only give when the opportunity suits them or when they want something in return. What happened to genuinely wanting to share?

When you’re open to sharing, materialism will have less of a grip on your life. You will be able to shift your focus from yourself to the object of your generosity. You won’t be the center of attention for that moment and that’s OK. Even a meager dose of generosity can change someone’s life.

Studies have shown that people who are generous, feel happier, more fulfilled and confident. This psychological change helps people to discover their purpose and can lower their sense of selfishness.

The mindset of competition in everything we do is a false premise. If you are a successful artist, business person, musician, or any other form of expert and have the knowledge to help someone else, share it. People who are truly generous know that life is short and they only have a small amount of time to leave an imprint on this earth.

When you genuinely share, people will recognize you as a helpful resource. Let’s face it, this can be negative and positive. You do have to be careful with people who are grateful for your help but will try to take advantage of your generosity down the road. Hopefully, you’ll encounter more people who will never forget the generosity you provided and will be there for you in your time of need without asking.

This world needs more generous people!

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person?

Five-Minute Breathing Meditation Tips and Benefits

If you’ve always been interested in meditation but can’t find the time, these five-minute breathing meditation tips are perfect for your busy life. It is best to meditate for 20-60 minutes, but you can experience focus and relaxation in just five minutes.

You may be thinking, “Five minutes? That’s not even worth doing.” It is better to do a five-minute breathing meditation segment than nothing at all. You’ll feel the difference. The busier you feel in life, the more you should meditate. Whether you realize it or not, you could be mentally stressed without actually feeling it.

Taking a break from your daily task and incorporating five-minute breathing meditation can help improve your concentration. If you have a busy mind or can get easily distracted, calming your mind may be difficult, but it is possible. Try to pick a single motivating topic to meditate about. Quiet your surroundings and focus on that thought. You’ll have to learn how to catch your mind when it drifts off to another distractor and pulling it back. If you need a sound to focus on while meditating, listen to rainfall, ocean waves or nature sounds.

Those who practice five-minute breathing meditation have also experienced increased memory. While meditating, you calm your mind and can think of or recall anything you choose. With improved concentration, you’ll be able to communicate with people more effectively because you’ll be able to articulate a clear concise thought. In turn, you’ll be able to retain more information. Although Buddhist monks are known to meditate for hours, their improved memory over time helped them learn full texts and recite it later.

Five-minute breathing meditation can also reduce stress and increase happiness. Life can be stressful, but stopping everything you’re doing for just five minutes can calm the mind. Believe it or not, effective breathing meditation can help reduce any pain you may feel caused by stress. Meditation acts as a distractor and takes your mind off of stressful events. With practice and patience, you can achieve relaxation and forget the troubles of your day.

Natural Energy Boosters to Beat Exhaustion

Most of us are overworked and exhausted all the time. Either we don’t get enough sleep or still feel tired after eight hours. We are surrounded by energy zappers. Whether they are visible, hidden or randomly smacking us in the face, it can put a strain on our lives.  Since we are programmed to “go, go, go,” chugging coffee or sugar-packed energy drinks may be your first choice, but there are several natural energy boosters.

Stand Up
Many of us work at a desk and find ourselves sitting for hours in front of a computer screen. We often eat our lunch at our desk and only get up to use the restroom or attend a meeting. You’re probably feeling tired right now. Perk up by standing at your desk. Simply standing can reduce stress and fatigue. Standing has also been proven to boost productivity levels. Of course, you don’t have to stand for the full eight-hour shift. Standing for 20 minutes can increase blood flow and allow you to stretch your muscles.

Take a Walk
When feeling exhausted, your first thought may be to take a nap. Instead, take a walk. Even if you can only step away for five minutes, simply walking to the water cooler or walking to a restroom further down the hall is beneficial. So step away for a minute even if it is to go nowhere.

Increase Your B12 Intake
If you’re B12 deficient, one of the first signs is fatigue. B12 is a complex vitamin that cannot be stored in the body. You need to either take a supplement or eat B12 rich foods on a daily basis. B12 helps keep your thyroid functioning and your red blood cells healthy.

Stay Hydrated
Water is a no-brainer. Instead of drinking tons of coffee, try plain water or add a few squeezes of lemon for flavor. Green tea is a great alternative. Many fruits and vegetables also contain water. If you aren’t sure about the amount of water you should drink a day, divide your body weight by two. That is the number of ounces you should drink per day.

Make Your Own Energy Drink
There are a lot of energy drinks on the market, but many of them are packed with sugar and other unnatural ingredients. Try one of these simple electrolyte-packed natural energy boosters for a long-lasting natural boost.

Reduce Your Carb Intake
Carbs are delicious, but they can do damage to your energy levels. Simple carbs like cookies, donuts and processed foods are guaranteed to make you feel sluggish. Simple carbs may give you a temporary boost by spiking your blood sugar, but you will crash once it falls. Eat whole-grain, low-glycemic carbs. Your body will take longer to digest these carbs allowing a more leveled energy increase instead of a crash and burn effect.

Sit Up
Slouching can cause bent arteries and the restriction of blood flow. Slouching also makes your muscles work harder when your bones should be doing the work. Simply switching up your posture can give immediate relief. Many of us never notice we are sitting with our shoulders and neck forward arching our backs. Try sitting upright with your shoulders back and neck shifted up.

Socialize and Be Active
You got enough sleep, you didn’t work hard, but you still feel exhausted. Hang out with a high-energy friend. Sometimes a change in your environment can uplift and revitalize your mind and body. If you have a friend who enjoys going to the gym or for a hike, hang with them. Physical activity is one of the best natural energy boosters. You’ll feel great during and after your outing.

Magnesium
It’s important to eat magnesium-rich foods or a high-quality supplement. Our bodies do not produce magnesium on its own, so it is important to get the proper daily amount. Adults should take no more than 300-350 mg a day. Magnesium helps manage muscle and nerve function as well as energy production.

Incorporate one or all of these natural energy boosters and you’ll feel a difference in your energy and overall mood.