Category Archives for "Feat"

January 13, 2017

9 Ways to Better Mental Health

People nowadays are busy. Extremely busy. They need to prepare before going to work and face a lot of stressful problems with their career or business ventures. On top of that, they still need to take care of their social responsibilities, let alone to take care of their relationships with families, friends, and loved ones. Surely, the 21st century person tends to put their physical health on top of anything else. However, most of the time, they tend to forget about the other side of their health – their mental wellness.

That does not exclude you. Have you ever wondered how your mental health is doing? Studies show that mental health is just as important as your physical wellness. As a matter of fact, many mental issues are directly affecting most of a person’s physical conditions. Then again, you don’t need to worry (worrying too much is one of the greatest causes of unhealthy mental states) for there are many ways for you to keep your mental health in check so that you can live your life to the fullest.

Talk to a medical professional

Of course, the first step towards mental health transformation (or any health-related concern) is to consult a medical professional about the appropriate steps to take. Regular checkups are very helpful for anyone, even when you’re not feeling anything unusual about your mental health. General physicians are able to offer depression and mental health consultations. They can then refer you to a clinician who is able to tailor to your specific needs.

It pays to visit your mental health professional.

Consider meditation

Meditation is just as integral to mental health as technology is to the world today; the art of meditation is not anymore an ancient Asian discipline that helped monks or even martial artists achieve a state of higher power. There’s scientific evidence showing how meditation works: in people who are meditating, brain scans (MRI) have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate. Other studies on Buddhist monks have also shown that meditation produces long-lasting changes in the brain activity in areas involved in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception.

The practice has a host of health benefits, from better concentration to improved mental well-being. This is why you should give meditation a chance. Try setting aside five minutes for meditation when you wake up or before you go to bed. You might as well start, or end, your day on a positive note.

Be Mr/Ms/Mrs. Brightside

Life’s so much better when you’re acknowledging the bright side. Research suggests that expressing what you’re thankful for — from your friends to suddenly hearing your favorite song played while you’re at a cafe — can improve your mental well-being.

A small sign of gratitude could go a long way

Don’t worry your life away

Speaking of looking at the bright side of things, you must try and veer away from things that can make you overthink. Reduce the things that can make you worry too much.

If you’re too concerned about work, don’t be. Work is rarely worth stressing over. If it is about family, stop. Talk to them to settle things instead of just worrying. If it is about your finances for your elderly days, begin saving or investing in life insurance now. Find a no exam life insurance, so that you don’t need to worry about premiums being too high in terms of cost.

Life can ve easy. Just relax and stick to the plan.

Have a regular exercise regimen

Try at least to exercise a few times per week, and it doesn’t have to be an intense heavy lifting regimen. You can start off with a few basic cardio exercises and you can slowly increase the intensity of your workouts, or try to exercise more frequently in a week.

Scientists often say that endorphins are magical. When you exercise, your brain releases these endorphins (which are often called the feel-good chemicals), giving you an instant mood boost. Additionally, try to take your workout outdoors. Research also suggests group walks (yes, walking is considered exercise) in nature can help ease depressive symptoms.

Rest and Sleep more

Scarcity of sleep doesn’t just outright destroy your physical health, but it seriously messes with your mental health as well. Research shows sleep deprivation can make it difficult for someone to regulate their emotions. Not only that, but the fact that your central nervous system is the information highway of your body makes proper sleeping not only a luxury but a necessity.

Sleep is necessary to keep your nervous system functioning properly: during sleep, the brain rests busy neurons and forms new pathways so you’re ready to face the world in the morning. In children and young adults, the brain releases growth hormones during sleep. While you’re sleeping, your body is also producing proteins that help cells repair damage.

Poor sleep is also a sign of more serious mental health problems. Try going to bed just 10 minutes earlier every night and work your way up to a healthy amount of sleep.

Go out and travel

Sometimes a change of perspective involves a change of scenery. Traveling allows the mind to expand and literally see the world in a new and different way, and that’s good news for your mental health. Having a proper – or at the very least, a different – perspective could be helpful for one’s mental wellness. When people view others in similar or worse situations, they tend to realize that their problems are no longer as daunting as they may have earlier believed and this greatly helps in reducing any stress or depression.

Research suggests that planning a vacation can increase your overall happiness as you anticipate your trip. If you’re looking for travel suggestions, someplace with water may be a good place to start. Studies show being near the ocean can make you calmer.

Digital detox

A digital detox is a great way to stay productive and balanced in a wired world. Consider switching off your gadgets or staying away from social media for a long enough time (maybe for 24 hours or even more). By doing a digital detox, you give yourself a chance to step back temporarily. When you return, recharged, you can be more productive and – again – have a different perspective on things.

Social media is basically just a highlight reel of someone’s life, for sure. However, this most likely can’t stop you from feeling a pang of envy every time someone posts a photo of their fabulous party, their new car or their shiny engagement ring.  Research suggests that people can feel depressive symptoms even from just scrolling Facebook, likely due to the internal social comparison that’s taking place. It could be essentially good for you to take a break from seeing toxic news.

Ditch those devices every so often for the sake of your mental health.

Spread the positive vibes

People say that one of the best ways to feel good is to make someone else feel good. This is actually true in terms of mental health, and science has backed it up.

When you do something nice for others, even the little ones, people would feel happy. This, in turn, radiates and makes you feel happy, too. The whole idea is to make kindness something that’s cyclical and contagious. Even the smallest gesture, such as random acts of kindness, can make a difference.

Pay it forward every so often and reap the benefits.

3 Ways Moms Can Build a Stronger Spiritual Foundation at Home

Without a doubt, being a mother is the hardest job in the world. Almost everyone, if not everyone, can attest to this fact. Being a mother doesn’t only require a woman to carry a child in the hustle and bustle of this world for a whole nine months; she has to face the hardships that come after her delivery.

mother-knows-best

Furthermore, the challenge becomes more intense when these strong women become required to work for their children, playing a balancing act between family management and career development. All of these are reasons why the role of a mother should never go unnoticed.

The reality in this world is that women who take the challenge of motherhood are prompted to establish a sense of mental and spiritual wellness at home. This has long been one of the major characters of these strong women. As such, mothers continue their efforts so that they can establish in her family the importance of having a good state of mind, and an enduring spiritual awareness that will help them push through the realities of life.

mother-and-daughter

True enough, a person with a sound mind and firm faith has already placed his one foot in the podium of success. The fact still remains – this mindfulness and spirituality begin at home. To strengthen this foundation, mothers have their own ways to share their innate strength, teaching mental stability and a solid faith for her family to learn from and to achieve their overall well being.

Clean Home, Peaceful Mind

Most of the time, mothers instill in their families that cleaning and housework are part of the necessities of life. The amazing fact is that cleanliness and organization do have an amazing impact not just on one’s surroundings but on a person’s mental and physical well being, too. This is the reason why mothers should continue to teach a sense of cleanliness and awareness of the surroundings to the whole family.

It is important to create a healthy atmosphere for the home. A sense of home should embody a nurturing environment, providing a sense of warmth with scents and soothing air. To provide the best for the family, the best air purifier, aroma scents and décor should be part of home essentials. They’re more than just aesthetics. They create a happier and healthier home.

In the end, a clean home equals a peaceful mind.

washing-dishes

After a long, hard day at work, the last thing a person would want to come home to is a messy, dirty, cluttered house. According to a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” have been more depressed and fatigued, and have had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were “restful” and “restorative.”

Another amazing effect a clean house can do is the creation of a positive relationship within the family, among friends and between partners, which are all can lead to a happy life.

Believe it or not, having a messy, dirty house has a major effect, too. When a person lives with a partner or roommate, leaving dirty dishes in the sink can spark resentment and be the source of aggravation and bad feeling.

Psychology experts also say that for couples, clutter can create tension and conflict. The time one spends looking for missing items can also take away from time people could be spending together. Furthermore, an untidy house can cause shame and embarrassment, preventing a person from inviting people to visit. This effectively cuts the ties with friends, and in turn, it could lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

Researchers say that having tons of chores and housekeeping duties on one’s to-do list may prevent the natural decline in cortisol throughout the day, making a person feel more depressed and enervated. In turn, this can take its toll on one’s sleep patterns, health, overall mood and even fertility.

Mother’s Ears Lessens the Tears

In this time when genuine conversation are quite hard to find, members of the family can always rely on their parents, especially their mothers to listen to their problems. In fact, the first psychiatrist that each person had is their mothers. Because a mother understands the circumstances their children would go through, they know what to do and to say, and they are always in it with them.

happy-mom-and-daughter

More often, people are comfortable talking to their moms because they can be genuine in front of them. They are able to express their true feelings without being judged. With this, they are able to sort through their emotions and put things into perspective to find a solution.

One of the roles of a mother is to be a trustworthy confidant for a person’s deepest secrets. This creates a strong bond between mother and child (a bond that could last until adulthood). This gives practically everyone a person to lean on to during the harshest times and the most challenging tests of their mental and spiritual fortitude. With a mother constantly listening to the family, members are built to have a support system that helps them push through life.

Research tells that when young people feel unconnected to home, family, and school, they may become involved in activities that put their health (and life) at risk. However, when parents, most of the time – their mothers, affirm the value of their child, young people more often develop positive, healthy attitudes about themselves.

When parents and their young ones have a good line of communication along with appropriate firmness, studies have shown that there is less depression and anxiety, and more self-reliance and self-esteem in all members of the family.

On the other hand, lack of communication can negatively affect the behaviors and attitudes of everyone in the family. According to the studies, young people who reported feeling a lack of parental warmth, love, and care are more likely to report emotional distress, lower self-esteem, school problems, drug use, and sexual risk behaviors.

Dining Together, For the Better

More likely, mothers would show more desire to have every family member be present during dinner, or any family meal time, for that matter. This is because mothers know the major benefits with regards to psychological and spiritual facets of the family that can be reaped when the whole family is dining together and participating in table talks.

happy-family

This concept makes a lot of sense when one thinks of relationships. In fact, it can be difficult to reach out and nurture a person’s relationship if he or she isn’t spending enough time together. It is in fact healthy to make it to a point of eating with a loved one, a family member, as this automatically creates a stronger bond between individual. The shared time is critical to ensure that people drift apart..

Research shows more benefits of eating together to children.  According to reports issued by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University(CASA), children who eat at least five times a week with their family are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems or alcohol and substance dependencies, and tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home.

This is because eating together as a family is not just about food and nutrition. It is about civilizing children, about teaching them how to become members of the society and about building a nourishing culture.

Food has become such a ubiquitous commodity, so easily and cheaply available, people no longer appreciate its significance. This is why people have to rediscover its importance and its value. Sharing a meal with loved ones should be considered a special event every time.

3 Ways Working Adults Can Improve Their Mental Wellness

In this extremely busy generation people live in, the tendency for many is to forget their personal wellness. Add in the financial pressure of these harsh economic times, and it becomes obvious that reality puts a lot of responsibility on working adults. Unfortunately, this has become one of the most common reasons that led to the numerous cases of depression and anxiety all over the world.

professionals-working-together

According to statistics, depression is a condition that affects 1 in 10 Americans at one point or another. Over 80% of people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any specific treatment for their mental condition. Furthermore, the number of patients diagnosed with the said disorder increases approximately 20% per year.

The sad thing is that beyond depression and anxiety, there other conditions that working adults may be into if they do not look out for themselves. In fact, there have been many accounts that suggest that being too busy at work affects personal relationships and relationships within the family.

These are alarming facts that should be faced by working adults today. Thus, it is important that each person is enlightened in the small but interestingly efficient ways to build on mental and spiritual wellness while juggling with work, relationships, health and everything else about life.

woman-working-on-computer

Be at Ease: Get a Pet

With the amount of stress that this life has to offer, the human psychology can be strained by various ailments and mental ailments. This is why it is vital that people take time to just to breathe in and relax.

One of the better ways to enjoy every moment in one’s life is living life with a pet.

Owning a dog or cat can make a person feel much happier and calmer. In fact, playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for the feeling of being relaxed.  Similarly, having a pet can make a person feel better about him or herself, providing a better outlook on life.

Pets also create healthy connections between people. They can be considered as social magnets which can be very beneficial to a distressed person. They give a sense of comfort and company which can never be truly one of a kind, especially if a person is an innate dog lover or a cat person. According to research, people with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than those who don’t have pets. They also visit the doctor less often for minor problems.

man-with-his-dog

Mental health is central in having good overall health because of the fact that the human mind works in intricacies under a lot of internal pressure coming from various factors. This gives light to the fact that training the mind to be more stable is one of the most arduous tasks to handle.

Having pets – from the lively and playful dog and cuddly cats to the calming aquarium fish and mysteriously serene reptiles, every moment turns into a brand new and exciting experience while providing wonders for the owner’s mental health.

In spite of the growing list of what kinds of animals people consider as pets, dogs and cats remain as the most “interactive” domestic companions man has ever learned to love. Often a dog is very intuitive and can seek his man best friend out when he’s feeling down, refusing to allow his owner to remain alone. On the other hand, a cat’s furry presence can bring new light to an owner’s down feeling.

Another inevitable fact is that one can talk to his or her pet about practically anything — one’s day, hopes, and even dreams! Pet owners can also practice a speech with them, lament about a breakup, or utter truths that one may be afraid to actually share with someone else. A pet can definitely be the perfect “person” to go to when the pet owner wants to vent without any potential repercussions.

Engage in New Physical Activities

Most people do not know that physical activities directly influence the activities in the brain. In fact, being physically healthy equates to being mentally and spiritually fit as well. For this reason, it is important for working adults to find time to participate in relatively new and engaging activities.

woman-and-man-dancing

Dancing is a perfect example. It is a concoction of slick moves and an effective training regimen for memory enhancement. This is due to the fact that in dancing, one has to remember certain moves or set of moves to perform in succession. Logically speaking, this activity can be a good exercise for memory retention of on top of the amazing benefits to the body.

Though dance is mostly remembered as a physical exercise, it encompasses more than just bodily health. Researchers have found that going out to dance can already lift the emotional state of a person. This is imperative for people who undergo stress regularly, and even more so for people who suffer from depression.

More importantly, however, is the fact that dancing provides a social setting in which a person can interact with many types of people. One important factor for stress-laden people to unload is by having people to mingle with. This eliminates the “lonesome factor” which many of these type of people actually incur.

On another note, most people might also consider martial arts as a physical exercise that can also boost the mind. This has been proven by a wide array of research concluding that martial arts induces a sense of self-esteem for a fighter, including behavioral changes due to the extreme control which it teaches. Speaking of control, the study of this art improves one’s self-regulation in daily living which is a main influence of the willpower taught in most martial arts.

Furthermore, it has been proven that fighters and participants of martial arts are more driven to seek perfection in everything they do as well as lessened aggression to other people. This comes as a result of how martial arts live by its guiding principle – practice the arts in self-defense, and do so only when necessary.

Establish a Soothing Environment for Rest

An important facet in mental health is the person’s sleeping pattern. Many people do not recognize that their brains recover and still undergo important processes when they are asleep.

Sleeping is an integral part of a person’s life. However, it is actually an incredibly complex process. The brain generates two distinct types of sleep—slow-wave sleep (SWS), known as deep sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM), also called dreaming sleep. Mostly, people’s sleep includes a SWS variety characterized by large, slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and slow, deep breathing. As such, this sleeping pattern helps the brain and body to recuperate after a long day of non-stop functioning.

woman-reading

This is why a person must establish an environment that provides him comfort. What else can be a more soothing environment than one that emulates nature? Getting a whole house air purifier and setting up the mood with therapeutic scents and music can definitely help with creating the best relaxing space at home.

On the contrary, an untidy house can cause a negative internal reaction, preventing a person from fully maximizing the use of his or her home. Also, no one would be able to invite people over! In turn, it could lead to gradual relational disconnect and build-up of feelings of isolation and depression.

Overall, cleanliness and organization at home can have an amazing impact not just on one’s surroundings but also on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. Thus, a clean house can bring about positive relationships with family, friends and partners, which are basically the key to a happy life.

A Teen’s Guide to Improving Mental and Spiritual Health

Being a teenager nowadays is genuinely exhilarating – largely because there is a variety of opportunities that await the young generation. The thrilling sounds of parties and the flashing neon lights of puberty are special and even more unique with the recent year’s advent of technology. Then again, the current generation is faced with the double edged sword of reality as many teens are placed in circumstances that may test their mental and spiritual health.

happy-teens

As this era has opened itself to exploration and to a more frequent tapping on the cumulative deviant mindset, many teens has faced the harsh realities of life. One of the more widespread challenges of the youth in recent years is teen pregnancy.

In 2014 alone, a total of 249,078 babies in the U.S. had been born to women aged 15–19 years, for a birth rate of 24.2 per 1,000 women in this age group. Though it is a huge 9% drop from the 2013 statistics, this is still a staggering number for U.S teens. More often, the effects of teenage pregnancy is devastating, as some young mothers fail to reconcile themselves and to fully outlast the depression it may concur.

Teenage depression is also a hindrance for those it effects. Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how a teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional and physical problems. Although depression can occur at any time in one’s life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults.

Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations and unrelenting changes in the body can bring a lot of ups and downs for teens. However, for some teens, the lows are more than just temporary feelings — they’re a symptom of depression.

More often than not, teen depression presents itself not just slight case of mental weakness that can be overcome with willpower. In some cases, it has serious consequences and requires long-term treatment. For most teens, depression symptoms ease with treatment such as medication and psychological counseling.

This is where effective handling of one’s mental and spiritual health comes in. In fact, even without these problems, teenagers should be aware of ways that can help them improve their mental state as well as their spiritual health. Here are some ways teens can be stronger in character and more resilient with regards to mental and spiritual wellness.

Alone Time is Always Essential

Most people today aged 15-18 years old spend time outside partying and “in a hurry” to explore adulthood. This is not necessarily a bad thing for young adults, especially if their goal is to improve their attitude of being outgoing and adventurous. What is imperative in their “trial and error moment” is that teenage people should not forget that alone time is the best time to improve.

What exactly are the things one can do during alone time?

The first thing that may pop out of people’s heads when ‘alone time’ is stated is munching on popcorn and watching their favorite flicks. This is just one of the best ways a teenager can find out about their personalities as they reflect on the type of the movie they are watching. Instead, to know more about one’s self is for them to be one with the universe through meditation.

teen-relaxing-on-grass

In the digital age, mindfulness seems like a lost art for teenagers. When they’re constantly texting with friends and checking their Instagram likes, they’re not actually living in the moment.  Mindfulness means giving full attention to present thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is so important for teens to be present in the moment and deeply consider their feelings. One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation.

In spite of its purposeful effect on a person, meditation may not be easy to sell to teens. Some may immediately think it sounds lame, pointless and boring. The good news is that mediation only takes a few minutes, and there is a ton of reasons they can benefit from giving it a try.

An important thing to consider while meditating is that it is supposed to be done in an environment that emulates nature. This includes having a soothing music to form a relaxing atmosphere, finding a comfortable meditation spot and creating a clean ambiance to avoid any unnecessary irritants and distractions. From getting the best air purifier for allergies to adding the most stimulating aroma for concentration, setting the right mood is a great way to invite teens to enjoy meditation even more.

Travel Young, Reap the Benefits

Traveling is one of the best ways the mind unwinds from all the challenges of everyday life. This is simply because one is introduced to a whole new environment, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. While the teenage dream survives on having thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram, plus thousands of likes and shares on Facebook, there comes a time when a teen should explore the wonders of what’s real and tangible of the REAL world.

teen-photographer

Traveling can bring about many benefits for the human mind as well as the human spirit. For one, a person becomes more adventurous and outgoing, able to tackle tasks on hand especially on surviving skills. Decision making is also harnessed as teens are at a stage when they tend to rely more on what their intuition says and what they have already experienced.

Likewise, journeying to places can vary, offering exciting adventures every time. Traveling by air seems to be an exhilarating mode of transportation as one gets to have an aerial view of the world. Trips by sea can be quite tranquil since it provides the same aesthetics but a much slower, more gradual transcendence, as if meditating in a vast blue expanse. Finally, traveling by land is an experience EVERYONE can relate to since it is more accessible and more in tune with reality.

Overall, all trips can be exciting, depending on how the travelers looks into the world.

Don’t Be Afraid to Open up

The main dilemma of many teens is that they find it hard to open up to people, even to those who are close to them. Again, it is important to remember that each teen is faced with personality problems. As such, they do need guidance from people who are close to them.

At home, it is essential for parents to try to truly get down to the bottom of their child’s nuisances. This is done by constantly reminding them that their parents are present when they need them, and can guide them through hard times. Parents are the first lifeline of their children with regard to mental fortitude and spiritual wellness.

teens-with-questions

The same thought applies at school where teens spend most of their time. It may be important that teens have constant communication with their peers, especially those who fall within the same age bracket. Friends tend to understand each other more, especially when they are in the same circle experiencing similar circumstances. Teens should open up to their friends and learn to trust each other with their problems in order for them to get their opinion on important matters, as well as support in times of turmoil.

Nothing is more comforting than a friend’s company in times of trouble.

Likewise, it may also be helpful for teens to communicate their thoughts with trusted guidance counselors at school. The American School Counselor’s Association (ASCA) offers detailed literature about the role of the school counselor.

One of the major components of that role is accountability. School counselors are responsible for analyzing data on their own effectiveness and adjusting their techniques to maximize their value to students. As a result, the role of the counselor is ever-changing and depends on a variety of factors at work within the school.

How to Cope with Mental Stress during Pregnancy

The gift of life begins with pregnancy. As magical as it sounds, the responsibility of bringing a new being into existence arrives with a common but heavy baggage: stress.

Pregnancy is a period of change. Your body physically adjusts, your emotions constantly shift, and the lives of your loved ones are greatly affected. While the changes may be something you welcome, all these factors eventually build up and manifest as a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching and one-of-a-kind type of stress.

stressed-and-pregers

It may begin as early as suspecting that you have finally conceived. Your body begins to experience different changes and that alone could be the root, the trigger and the exclamation point of the mental stresses you might feel. From missed periods and spotting, to the uneasy and uncomfortable feeling from morning sickness, those early signs of pregnancy may cause you to look at pregnancy anxiety straight in its eyes.

Now, if you do start to feel your body changing and you catch yourself asking “What are the most obvious early pregnancy signs, exactly?” you need to take a deep breath, think of happy thoughts and be more mindful of your actions and reactions. Keep in mind however, that pregnancy is different for every woman. Some may manifest all or a combination of the symptoms, others may experience two or nothing at all.

You are pregnant. You are about to face a huge challenge for the next few months of your life. Get ready as you are on your way to a whole lot of stress, both inside and out.

What can be stressful for a pregnant woman?

Asking questions like “am I eating the right food?”, “am I allowed to exercise?” and “am I even ready to become a parent?” are common during pregnancy. The constant worrying is normal, but once you become too stressed, it gradually becomes uncomfortable. Suddenly, you have a hard time getting proper sleep, headaches become more frequent and your eating habits are altered.

Moreover, stress prompts the body to activate its “fight or flight mode,” which signals the release of cortisol along with other stress hormones. When you are in danger, these same hormones are triggered. They stimulate your muscles and make you heart pump blood a lot faster to prime you for escape.

working-while-pregnant

Less likely but not at all uncommon, when a pregnant women has a hard time coping with the stress of carrying a child in her womb, she may turn to drinking alcohol, smoking and taking recreational drugs. While this may temporarily alleviate the stress, it may manifest more serious complications during pregnancy and most importantly, after childbirth.

If the stress continues at an elevated level for long periods of time, this could alter the body’s stress management systems and cause health problems – such as a sudden increase in blood pressure, acute heart conditions and organ inflammation. These conditions and bodily responses have been linked to a more labored pregnancy and infant developmental problems. It increases the chance of delivering prematurely or having a baby with low birth weight.

Infants born under poor conditions are more prone to health complications that have lasting effect. Behavioral problems, weak immune system and difficulty in paying attention are more prevalent in babies as they grow up as well.

What are the causes of these stresses?

There are practically limitless reasons how and why stress is triggered for a pregnant woman. However, the bottom line is that stress levels rise due to discomforts that comes along with pregnancy, such as fatigue, nausea, headache, back pain and constipation. Constantly changing hormones throw women into mood swings which also make it more difficult to handle stress.

While the physical discomfort brought about by pregnancy may cause stress levels to rise, it is the mental burden that really affects a woman during pregnancy.  Worrying about a safe and successful pregnancy, labor and delivery expectations, as well as the prospect of parenthood (for new moms) add up to an overwhelming amount of mental stress. For a working soon-to-be mom, the responsibility of turning over important tasks and preparing her co-workers or boss for time off can be mentally and physically exhausting as well. There is also an added pressure due to time constraints.

Then again, stress is not entirely negative. If managed properly, stress enables you to become more resilient and insightful in your decisions.

Also, experiencing high levels of stress during pregnancy does not guarantee problems with the unborn child. Others experience overwhelming stress but are able to deliver healthy babies. However, there are certain types of stress that women should be aware of that make it definitely more difficult to cope while being pregnant:

Negative life events – such as serious illness, divorce, death in the family, losing a job or home

Catastrophic events – like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons or terrorist attacks

Long-lasting stress – being abused, having financial problems, coping with serious health problems or being depressed

How can a pregnant woman deal with it?

Having someone to share your feelings with can always help lighten the burden of pregnancy anxiety. Seek support from your partner, family, friend or health care provider to help figure out which aspect of the pregnancy is making you more uncomfortable than normal. Rest assured that any discomforts you are feeling during pregnancy are temporary. Consult your doctor on how you can better manage the discomfort.

It is also important to stay healthy and physically fit. Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest and exercise can help reduce stress and ease common pregnancy discomforts. Remember to restrain yourself from doing unnecessary activities. It can be simple tasks like cleaning or accompanying you to the doctor for check-ups.

Ask for help from people you trust when you need it. Don’t be afraid to accept help either. A good support network can do wonders in reducing stress and anxiety brought about by pregnancy.

pregnant-support-group

If you have friends who have young children or who are pregnant as well, spend time with them to share the excitement of giving birth or exchange tips on how to deal with pregnancy concerns. Not only can it establish support, but it can also make you feel that you are not alone through the whole process. With the support of people who are going through or have gone through the same state as you are in, you can come to realize that you’re not the only one who experiences the worries of pregnancy and that it’s okay to learn as you go along.

As advised by a great number of physicians, you can also consider having childbirth education classes to give you knowledge on what to expect during pregnancy and after the baby arrives. You can learn helpful breathing and relaxation techniques. Try taking it a little bit further and engage in relaxation activities like meditation, talk therapy or prenatal yoga.

Another great tool to help you out is music. It has been proven to help regulate cortisol levels in the body, especially now that your body may be full of it. Listening to music or singing songs can definitely help you relax. At this point, It doesn’t even matter if you can sing or not. As long as you are in the zone for music, just do it and let your anxieties fly away.

pregnant-yoga
If all else fails, you can find comfort in doing little calming activities like taking a warm bath, having a glass of your favorite juice or gorging on that book you’ve been dying to read. Treat yourself to the movies or go on dates with friends. After all, once the baby is born, you’ll have barely enough time to spoil yourself again.

September 9, 2016

Three of the Safest and Most Effective Nootropics for a Mental Boost

Athletes, gym trainees, or anyone who’s about to participate in a physically-demanding activity may often-times drink nutrient supplements that can help their body perform better. You have protein shakes, amino pills, strength boosters, etc. It is indeed very helpful for the human body to have these supplements as they are proven to increase physical performance.

However, what about supplements for the brain during mentally challenging activities?

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Typically, you’ll see supplements that focus on the heart, the lungs, the muscles, the stomach, and other parts of the body. Perhaps you’ve probably never heard of the term nootropic – supplements that target the brain and are associated with increasing intelligence, motivation, and mental energy.

By definition, Nootropics are part of a class of cognitive enhancing supplements that are used to improve concentration and boost memory power. They are often used to increase attention spans, help individuals focus and serve as effective studying aids. Simply put, a nootropic is a brain supplement – hence being more famous as “smart drugs” – you can take them to enhance brain function, or lower unproductive conditions such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and inattention.

Nootropics are supplements that keep your brain sharp and healthy. There are many ways this is done. As such, it is important to know which ones to take, which nootropics work well together for synergistic benefits, and who the most common users are.

Here are some of the most famous nootropics that you can take if you need a mental boost for any mental engagements in your daily life.

Disclaimer: while the following nootropic suggestions are user-proven and well-researched, it is always the best course of action to talk to your physician first when taking any supplements.

Modafinil

Modafinil is one of the most famous smart drugs because of its reliability. Initially, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Modafinil (Provigil) as treatment for people suffering from sleep disorders such as those who have narcolepsy, a brain disorder which causes an individual to experience excessive sleepiness or suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times.

provigie

Studies have shown that Modafinil actually works as a smart drug for some individuals. The findings, which were published in the European journal Neuropsychopharmacology, suggest that in healthy people, the drug can improve attention, learning and memory as well as increase what is known as fluid intelligence, or a person’s ability to solve problems and think creatively.

Most of this nootropic’s users, particularly students, use it off label when studying for exams believing that this could help them focus regardless of lack of evidence that the drug can work this way. Modafinil is a nootropic that increases alertness and energy levels – especially in people who do not get enough sleep. It is frequently used as a component in nootropic stacks designed for studying and productivity.

mind-boost

This nootropic is also a good supplement for those who don’t get to enjoy the luxury of sleep. Modafinil has been shown to help people stay awake and active, as well as make their mind much clearer if their memory has been previously worsened by the onset of sleep deprivation. Studies have successfully shown a correlation between the use of this drug and retaining cognitive function in a healthy state against factors like lack of sleep.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is a popular choice among nootropic users for its ability to enhance cognition while reducing anxiety and boosting your mood. It’s also moderately priced and has little to no reported side effects when taken at recommended dosages. Aniracetam is chemically classed as a racetam (a drug that shares a pyrrolidone nucleus) but is clinically proven to be much better. Like most racetams, it works largely by modulating neurotransmitters.

Clinically, it is proven that Aniracetam increases literary fluidity and learning of abstract concepts in its users. It also contains ampakine, which causes increased memory retention when taken. Aniracetam is also a natural anxiolytic or mood enhancer. Moreover, this nootropic increases right brain functioning to boost creativity, while still helping its users’ vision to appear sharper and more vivid.

aniractetam

Aniracetam’s well-documented positive mood and anti-anxiety properties, combined with powerful cognitive enhancements and a demonstrated lack of side effects, make it one of the most popular nootropics on the market. While some users report an initial feeling of mental fogginess, the effect is usually temporary, and within a day or two, Aniracetam’s true nootropic nature starts to have a noticeable effect.

In addition to generally elevating mood and lessening anxiety, Aniracetam can improve verbal fluency, enhance creativity, and make understanding and remembering complex information faster and easier. In this regard, if you’re a creative speaker, check out Aniracetam especially when you want to be sharper during your engagements.

Users have reported a distinct feeling of calm and relaxation along with increased learning capacity, greater social ease and fluency, and better focus and attention to mental tasks over longer periods. Also, there are also reports that visual stimulation may seem more enhanced by aniracetam, making everything in your surroundings appear to have deeper details and become more vivid.

studying-well

Aniracetam is fat soluble and is metabolized in the liver. Though it is fast acting (i.e. able to cross the blood-brain barrier in as little as 30 minutes), it has a relatively brief half-life of just one to three hours so multiple doses over a period of hours may be needed to maintain effects.

Ashwaganda

Ashwagandha is very interesting as a nootropic, since it is all natural. It has tons of benefits, holds an excellent safety record, is highly backed-up by a great number of researches, and has been used for thousands of years. Neuroprotection, enhanced virility, anti-cancer, and anti-anxiety effects are just some of the benefits of this wonderful herb.

ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a common name for the plant withania somnifera. This is a plant with tons of health benefits. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat a number of different conditions and as a general healing tonic.

As a nootropic, dealing with anxiety and improving cognition and memory are just two of the many benefits of Ashwagandha. This nootropic is excellent in calming the nerves of its users while essentially lowering anxiety levels through reducing stress.

Ashwagandha is also believed to promote social interaction and has been shown to reduce the negative effects of prolonged social isolation. This makes it an excellent supplement for people trying to overcome social anxiety.

While it can be effective at reducing social anxiety on its own, Ashwagandha seems to work best when taken with other anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) substances. It potentiates the effectiveness of other anxiolytics that affect GABA (one of the most abundant neurotransmitters), including alcohol.

Along with reducing anxiety and stress levels, the cognitive function of your brain is also improved by taking Ashwagandha. The healthier and more fluid brain function allows its users to be able to tackle problems at a much faster pace, concentrate for longer hours, and increase their attention span.

Another benefit of this herb is that it has been known for its effect on memory. You may not suddenly develop a super eidetic memory, however, your memory can drastically improve if you are the type of person who has been having highly inconvenient problems with it.

Two Kind Words That Can Change or Save a Life

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

My fiancé and I escaped to the northern wilderness. We wanted to build our home and our life off grid, off the beaten path, far from civilization.

It didn’t matter that I was a city girl who couldn’t handle a chainsaw, fix a pickup, or read the warnings of wind and sky. My fiancé was a mountain man, skilled in survival. That was all we needed for a life in the middle of nowhere. Alone, but together, and we loved it.

We were independent and resourceful. Nothing fazed us. My fiancé had a solution for everything: broken generators, shortage of water, staying safe on hikes through the hills that we shared with wolves, coyotes, and bears.

Never once did we doubt our ability to survive.

And never once did we think that our biggest challenge would come from anything other than the wilderness itself.

Our days were consumed by nature. We were always one step ahead. One step ahead of hungry bears, deadly windstorms, drought, wildfire, and maintaining the only road that connected us to far-flung humanity. We were always one step ahead.

Until we weren’t.

All of a sudden, my fiancé lost his appetite, his skin turned a pea soup green, and his jeans hung off him, a size too big.

The wilderness was no place to get sick: lack of cell-phone access, few doctors, often-impassable roads, and a five-hour drive to the nearest hospital. Suddenly the idea of “challenge” took on a whole new meaning.

Finally, after many delays, tests, comings and goings, a diagnosis was confirmed: cancer. My fiancé was stoic. But the news hit me with hurricane force.

Our world flipped upside down.

Suddenly we were thrown into the scary unknown, a place far more challenging than the wilderness of the bush.

Surgery was booked. My once strong, ever-so-independent mountain man was forced to let go, to place his trust in the skill of a surgeon and the goodwill of the universe. I was terrified, but in my role of “pillar of support,” I acted brave by swallowing my fear.

In the faraway town where the operation would take place, I would sleep at the Easter Seal House. It was close to the hospital and affordable. But it was also a dorm.

The idea of sharing accommodation added to my stress. I was an introvert; I’d been living in the bush. The last thing I wanted was to socialize with strangers when my mind was consumed with worries for my man.

But there was no choice.

The following day, the operation, they said it would last a few hours. It took much longer. Then finally some news. “All is well, ” the surgeon said. And the relief of it almost felled me.

I thanked the surgeon; thanked the universe for throwing a lifeline. There would be a tomorrow, after all. And a tomorrow after that.

Two days later, results showed a spread of the disease.

We were not in the clear after all.

That night, I stayed as late as possible at the hospital with my fiancé. I wanted to curl up in his narrow bed, but he was hooked up to so many tubes and wires, and the eighteen-inch wound running down his belly was tender and sore.

When I reluctantly left to walk back to the “dorm,” the night was late and frigidly cold. My mood was as black and as slippery as the ice underfoot. All I wanted to do was to curl up and cry. The thought of facing a group of strangers sunk me further.

At the front door of the Easter Seal House, a small group of old men huddled under the outdoor light, sucking on cigarettes and stamping their feet to stay warm. They looked as miserable as I felt.

Inside, a new guest had arrived to share my room. She was setting up an oxygen machine that would keep her lungs safe through the night. The room was too cramped to make use of my offer to help, so I retreated to the lounge.

The TV in the lounge blasted a comedy. I slipped into the only spare spot, at the edge of the threadbare couch. A plump woman with bleached blond, coifed hair and rose-polished nails giggled wildly at the antics of the TV characters.

My mood was too dark to laugh; instead, I was flooded with gnarly judgments about the stupidity of TV, of sitcoms, of sharing accommodation with strangers.

I told myself I don’t belong with this group, with this coifed blond giggler and her rose-polished nails. As the judgments in my mind exploded, my mood turned surly.

At the break for an ad, the volume on the TV spiked. The blond reached for the remote, decreased the sound. One small mercy. A few minutes later, volume up again. Part of me wanted to seize the remote and hurl it out the window.

The sitcom resumed. Some inane stunt threw the giggler into hysterics.

Suddenly, she turned in my direction, clearly wanting to share the joke that I so obviously didn’t get.

Quickly she scanned me, and whatever it was that she saw prompted her to switch the TV right off, right in the middle of her show. She turned back to me again, this time swiveling her entire body right around to face me.

“Tell me,” she said.

And then I saw. Past the pristine rose nails and frilly sweater, past the coifed bleached hair and perfect makeup, I now saw a pair of soft, welcoming eyes. “Tell me,” she repeated in a gentle invitation.

And I did. And something inside me broke. All the feelings of tension and sorrow melted as I accepted her invitation.

I told her about my fiancé’s surgery, the cancer, its spread, and the hope for future treatments. I told her about my fears for our isolated life in the wilderness. How would I manage? And she listened. She listened with gentle eyes. She listened with her whole body, nodding, as if to say, “I hear you, I understand.”

And it amazed me, this gentle space that she had created through the depth of her presence. It amazed me how her kindness helped me peel open months of fear and anguish. Her invitation to tell my story was an invitation I didn’t even know I needed, yet desperately did.

One by one, the old smokers lumbered back in from the frigid night. They and others joined us. A semi-circle formed around the woman and myself. Haggard, jaundiced faces, bandaged arms; it struck me how all of us were wounded in one way or another, fellow travellers on a shared and complicated journey.

By the time I finished my story, a soft gratitude had filled my heart and eased my worries. My burden shared was a burden halved.

In the wee hours before dawn, sleep came gently in a way that it hadn’t for a very long time.

I never saw that woman again. But her generosity, in switching off a sitcom that she so clearly enjoyed to welcome instead my story, was a gift.

It allowed me to move past a sense of disconnection from others, to share my vulnerability, to be heard and understood. And it gave me solace and a feeling of connection when I needed it most.

Above all, that woman and her gift of compassion showed me that no matter how small, an act of kindness truly does have the power transform a life.

It transformed mine. By lightening my load, it created space for the challenges that lay ahead.

So many of us walk around carrying heavy burdens, desperate for a sense of relief. It may seem so simple, but two little words can dramatically ease our pain and our suffering. Such simple little words: Tell me.

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