Tag Archives: stress

Avoid These Barriers To Healthy Living

Woman running

Does anyone out there really believe that supermodels eat fast food burgers? Although we are probably living in one of the most health-conscious time periods to date, we are still receiving mixed messages about what it means to be healthy. While it might be tempting to believe that the typical beer drinker has bright eyes and glowing skin, or that ice cream is a common nightly indulgence for the physically fit, quite often these examples would be more aptly place in the “too good to be true” files.

False advertising can encourage bad habits, and bad habits can become barriers to healthy living. If you are struggling to live healthily, here are some tips for avoiding some of the most common barriers.

Take Stock
One of the first steps to healthy living is to assess your current state of health. Make an appointment with the doctor and dentist to gauge your health. Have your BMI checked and make sure your waistline is not putting your health at risk.

Think about your physical activity. The CDC recommends at least two and a half hours of aerobic activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises per week. How do you stack up?

Consider your social network and keep an eating journal. “The idea, says Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD, and nutritionist, “is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of.”

Eating healthy

Eating Healthy
Healthy eating requires the ability to take power over what you eat. The key, according to Williams, is saying, “I choose,” rather than, “I should.” So it’s, “I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,” instead of, “I should be eating more fruits and vegetables.” Williams says. “it shows that you’re in control and making the right choice.

Another thing Williams recommends: leave guilt out of the equation. The doctor points out, “Usually, whenever someone feels guilty about something, it feeds right back to the behavior that they’re trying to get rid of. So if someone is an emotional eater and they say, ‘I know I shouldn’t be doing this,’ it implies more guilt and judgment on themselves; they feel worse, and they end up eating more.

Exercise More
Pick something you like to do. if you’re dreading cardio in the gym, go for a hike or take a dance class. Set weekly goals for physical activities and keep track of how much you do. Williams says, “Make the first goal so easy that you say, ‘I know I can do that.’ She recommends weekly checkpoints because they give more flexibility. If you miss one day, you can redeem yourself on the next. Williams often encourages you to reward yourself after being good all week with a visual reminder that you can look at often to celebrate your accomplishments.

Sleep better

Sleep Better
Common barriers to a good night’s sleep are computers and TVs before bedtime. Not only does the light from electronic devices trick your body into thinking its time to be up and about, computer activity and t.v viewing can be very stimulating, and not conducive to a peaceful rest.

Heavy exercise close to bedtime is another contributor to poor-quality sleep. Sleep medicine specialist Lisa Shives, MD says vigorous activity can heat the core temperature of the body and make sleep difficult. As a guideline, she says, “If you’re working up a sweat, you’re working too hard before bed.”

Improve Relationships
Although diet and exercise are big contributors for healthy living, social connections also play a major role. C. Nathan De Wall. assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky suggests looking for a person like you. “What really is important in terms of promoting relationship webbing is that you share a similar level of comfort in getting close to people. Feel people out in terms of, ‘Does this person seem like me in terms of wanting to be close to other people?”

DeWall also emphasizes the importance of having in-person relationships in these days of virtual online connections. He does not discourage social media relationships, but advises, “I think long term, having all your relationships online or virtual would probably be something that wouldn’t be as beneficial as having a mix.

Woman meditating

Cut Down on Stress
Stress is another big barrier to healthy living. Positive coping skills, like yoga and visualization can be very helpful in keeping stress levels to a minimum. Williams recommends handling stressful situations by burning off anger through exercise or allowing anger to dissipate in a quiet place.

Have you broken through barriers that were keeping you from living a healthy life? Tell us all about how you did it! We love to hear good stories!

Work Out To Relieve Anxiety

Anxiety and excess weight have a lot in common. They are both dreaded first world problems, they are both unhealthy, and they are both difficult to avoid. While it sometimes appears that there is no escape from either, there is one more thing that the two have in common: an enemy. Although it is true that stress and obesity are formidable contenders, there is one thing that has been proven capable of taking down both of them in one fell swoop. What is this thing of which we speak? The Workout. Find out why working out may be your best ally in the constant battle to remain stress and fat-free.

Woman running

How does exercise help relieve anxiety?
Exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals, reduces immune system chemicals, and increases body temperature, all of which may have calming effects and have been shown to improve mood and boost confidence. Meeting exercise goals can make you feel better about yourself and looking better increases confidence in your appearance.

Exercise can also distract you from your worries and give you the chance to socialize with others. You may find friends at a gym, in an exercise class, or simply strolling the neighborhood. Physical activity is also a healthy coping activity, and a healthier alternative to dwelling on problems.

Physical Activity Vs. Structured Exercise
While the phrases physical activity and exercise are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Physical activity is defined as any activity that expends energy and contracts muscles, and can be applied to household work and leisurely activities. Exercise refers to a more structured repetitive plan done with the sole aim of improving fitness.

Although we generally think of lifting weights and running as ways to get in shape, less intense physical activities, such as walking or gardening are equally capable of improving your mood and helping to maintain physical health.

Family cycling

How to Get Started

Pinpoint What You Enjoy Doing
Pick out something you can envision yourself sticking with and try to make a plan that you’ll be likely to follow through with.

Set A Reasonable Goal
Find a plan that meets your abilities and schedule. While 30 minutes a day three to five days a week is the recommended amount, as little as 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity can be enough to make a difference. Also, keep in mind, more vigorous activities can improve your mood and meet your workout requirements in less time.

Avoid Thinking of It As A Chore
If you think of exercise as something in your life that you need to live up to, you’re likely to associate it with failure. Try instead to think of it as a therapy session to help you feel better.

Find Out What’s Stopping You
Try and think of what may be preventing you from working out. Do you feel self-conscious? If so, you may want to exercise at home. Maybe you would prefer to work with a partner. Find out what it is that’s causing you to hesitate and try to find an alternative.

Know Your Limits
Remember to pat yourself on the back every once in a while and forgive yourself for small slip-ups. Just because you miss a day, doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on the horse.

Does working out relieve your anxiety? Let us know you’re best workouts for helping to get through your day!

Melt Away Holiday Stress

If you are looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, look no further than the stress relieving Hanukah balls. Whoever said that holidays were supposed to be peaceful never tried frying latkes while worrying that the kids didn’t burn the house down lighting the menorah. If no one was thoughtful enough to buy you Hanukah stress balls this year, there are alternatives. If the holidays have made you feel less than thankful this year, here are some other ways to relax.

Woman relaxing

Make Time For You
While the holidays are often a time for pleasing others, don’t forget about yourself. Give yourself a gift this year, after all, no one knows you like you do! Read a book, watch a TV show, or take a shopping detour to enjoy a coffee to tea and do some people watching.

Worship
Sometimes you need to remind yourself what the holidays are really about. Even if you don’t attend a mass or ceremony an empty temple or church is a great place for reflection.

Play a Prank
Humor is a great way of relieving tension. You can pull a few pranks right at your holiday party. Serve some chocolate covered Cheetos and see if anyone comments or put a plastic bug in the punchbowl.

Woman doing yoga meditation
Meditate
If you can’t find outer peace this season, you can always try to get some inner peace. Just sit in a stabilized posture and focus your mind inward. Zen teacher Bodhin Kjohede, director of the Rochester Zen Center says mindful mediation and simple breathing exercises can provide highly effective stress relief.

Yoga
Overcooked the ham? Don’t worry! Go into the other room and get into a yoga pose. Yoga stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, reduce heart rate and help slow the mind for increased clarity.

Spa Day (Pedicure, Blow Dry, Massage)
It was once said that the nicest thing one person can do for another is to give them a foot massage. You can go for a pedicure with all the fixings. Get a pedicure fit for a queen complete with soothing scents, hot- water soak, and the all important foot massage.Or, if you want some royal pampering, why not try a therapeutic shampoo and blow-dry? Start with a hair washing followed by a scalp massage and then let your hair be curled, styled, or straightened under luxurious warmth.

And for the icing on the cake? Have your body turned to jelly by some strong hands on your shoulders, back, neck, and arms in a cozy relaxing room. You’ll feel like a million bucks!

And, if none of those work, there’s always Hanukah stress balls! Tell us how you handles your holiday stress this year. We love to hear from you!

Avoiding Eczema Flare Ups

eczema

In the book, “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver, one of the many diabolical acts Kevin, the narrator’s evil son, undertakes is encouraging a young girl, Violetta, to viciously gouge her eczema inflicted skin after years of strict abstinence. In the book, Shriver gives one of the most vivid and haunting descriptions of the condition, writing that it, “itches like fury.” She describes little Violetta clutching her anti- itch ointment, although, “those antipruritics are only so effective anther self-control was impressive. She’d trace a fingernail tantalizingly over her arm and they grasp the offending hand with the other as if putting it on a leash.”

Shriver may or may not have ever known the experience of eczema, but, she surely puts it into perspective for those of us who haven’t. Eczema is a condition causing red, swollen and itchy patches of skin. There are many things in the environment that can trigger eczema and recognize and avoid them are key in keeping flare ups to a minimum.

The Cold
Cold weather is no friend to eczema sufferers. Low temperatures cause the skin to become dry and prone to breakouts. Be sure to have moisturizing ointments handy in the winter and use a humidifier to combat dry air indoors. Try to keep humidity levels between 45 and 55 percent.

Clothing
Synthetics, wool, and rough materials have been known to trigger eczema. Loose- fitting cotton is preferable. Always wash clothes before wearing them to get rid of excess dye and irritants and cut out tags.

Detergent
Try to use a pH neutral, fragrance-free detergent and use the double rinse cycle to make sure you get all of the soap out of your clothes. Look for natural household cleansers and wear rubber gloves when cleaning.

woman smiling in cold weather

Dust Mites
Dust mites can trigger eczema flare-ups, particularly in small children. Made sure you get rid of dust magnets in your child’s room, like carpeting, rugs, and blinds. Wash sheets and curtains in hot water once a week and keep the room clean.

Stress
While it can never be totally avoided, excess stress may be eliminated with yoga and deep breathing. Relaxation will help to send your eczema plan in the right direction.

Food Allergies
For those who suffer from atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, food allergies can trigger to the appearance of symptoms. Food allergies can be diagnosed with skin pricks and blood tests, however, the only way to know if your food is really the trigger is to have the doctor witness what happens after you eat the food, not a very enticing prospect. You must take the food challenge to know for sure.

Cosmetics
If you are a makeup maven who has eczema, finding the right products can be a challenge. Try to avoid products with alcohol, lanolin, preservatives and perfume. Keep in mind the “unscented” label does not necessarily mean there is no fragrance; the fragrance may just be masked. “Fragrance-free” is a better guarantee, choose products with this on the label instead. Also, always test out a new cosmetic on a small patch of skin before deciding whether or not it is for you.

Pets
Unfortunately, Skippy and Fluffy may have to sleep outside for a while and they better keep off the furniture. Vacuuming can help keep down pet dander, a leading eczema trigger, as can regular grooming and bathing of pets.