Tag Archives: stress management

5 Healthy Ideas to Try This Week

Every January all of us make resolutions, many of which center around health and fitness. The problem with these resolutions is, we have the big picture but not the steps to achieve them and so they ultimately fall by the wayside. This year, we at Beaming Health Magazine decided to share a few tips to help you stay on the road to good health and fitness. So, plunge right in and do let us know which ones worked for you. 

  • Let the Winter Olympics inspire you to reconnect with a childhood game. Be it hockey, tennis, basketball, swimming or even just running free.
  • Discuss an issue that has been creating undue stress for you with someone you can rely on. Then work on eliminating or at least minimizing the source of that stress 
  • Eat one green meal every week. Be it an exotic one or a simple and delicious homemade one, the focus is on including as much raw plant-based food as possible in that meal
  • Switch off all electronic devices an hour before you go to sleep and read a book instead. This includes all computers, phones and the television
  • Spend five minutes in the morning doing a few, simple stretching or deep breathing exercises before you start your day. The quality of transition time, from sleep to alertness will make a difference to the quality of your day

Make these small changes in your weekly routine and soon you’ll be thanking us.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

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Of Brunches and Easter Bunnies….

It’s that time of the year again…. redolent of great summer brunches, long lazy days by the pool, sugary drinks, ice cream and of course chocolate bunnies and eggs. The heat is just setting in, and we are getting to the point of power cuts, restless sweat drenched nights and the resulting inertia in the morning that makes waking up such a chore, and working out close to unthinkable.

Add to that the additional pressures that summer brings. The need for a flat tummy that looks good in a swim suit, and toned arms that enable one to sport sleeveless tops. All of which have to be juggled with the mounting pressures of children who are on holiday, and need to be kept entertained and away from mischief. Is it any wonder that tempers are frazzled beyond belief? This kind of pressure is enough to make a normal human being turn to food, if not food and drink, and that’s when the trouble starts.

Perhaps one of the most common ways of coping with stress and the pressure of life is by turning to food for comfort. On the face of it, it’s not so bad. A few extra cookies once a week will hardly make any difference to your waist line, and if you restrict that binge to once a month, it will not affect you at all.

Now that we have used that dreaded “B” word, and brought it out in the open, maybe we should discuss it threadbare. A binge is when a person consumes 4-5 times the food that he or she normally would eat in a relatively short span of time. Say two hours? Typically the food that one consumes when binging is high fat and high sugar. You would have to be a rabbit to binge on carrots, right? Now as long as the binge is restricted to one meal once a week or better still once a month, you won’t have a problem. Acknowledge it as a treat that you deserve for being so disciplined for the rest of the week or month. Savour every mouthful of the food, don’t feel guilty about it, and just go back to your normal healthy diet from the next meal. If all of us could do that, it would be perfect.

Unfortunately in today’s pressure cooker environment, those extra cookies or that slab of chocolate become a kind of crutch that you can’t do without, and over a period of time they become a habit. Of course it starts with a cookie with a cup of tea when you are stressed, and slowly that one cookie is just not enough. That is simply because, when you eat a high sugar/high fat treat, it sends the blood sugar soaring, which accounts for the feel good factor; only you come down from that high fairly rapidly since the body counters this influx of sugar by releasing more insulin to metabolise it, which is what causes that rather quick slump that you feel. Of course you counter it by eating more cookies, which only makes the whole situation worse.

The best way to combat stress is by exercising it away. Walking, dancing, cleaning the cupboard or baking a cake. By the time you have whisked all your frustration into those poor eggs, you are bound to feel better and more than ready to share the cake with the family, limiting yourself to a tiny bit.

If you are one of us who feels that the only way to fight stress is to eat, then maybe you should have a fruit, or a salad and a sandwich with a glass of milk. Actually, what would be really good for you would be the handful of carrots that you stole from the Easter Bunny.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

The Workout Series – Mind Over Matter

Most fitness enthusiasts I have meet or worked with, stress on one important factor which the rest of us (who consider our daily workout a necessary evil) miss. That simple but oft neglected factor is this, ‘When it comes to real performance, it’s a case of mind over matter’. Yes, your mental fitness is as important as, or maybe even more than, your physical fitness.

As Naresh, a regular contributor with us, and a fitness enthusiast who has been running and rowing for over 30 years says, “While running or rowing, after a point your muscles get used to the effort and then it’s only  a matter of convincing yourself that you can do it, and at times even fighting boredom or laziness”.

Now we are definitely not saying that to win a marathon, you can be a couch potato who just needs to believe he can run. Physical training is an obvious factor here as it helps us build strength and stamina while preventing injuries. The difference between making it a lifelong activity and a flash in the pan, or between enjoying a 42k marathon and dragging yourself through a 5k run, is in the mind. Mental conditioning is vital for success in any activity so why should it be any different for physical fitness.

So how what does mental conditioning comprise and how do you do it? The ‘what’ is pretty simple to identify and has three ingredients. First, you need to be 100% sure that you really ‘want’ to get fit and perform at a certain level. The reasons for this ‘want’ can be varied and don’t really matter as long as they are strong enough to motivate you. It could start with a desire to look your best at your wedding, or to improve your quality of life while having a stressful career or just another challenge because you are a competitive person by nature.

The second ingredient in mix is convincing yourself that you can do this (whatever your target). This self confidence is, in my limited opinion, the most important aspect, as motivators can change over time but the knowledge that you are capable of achieving a target is non-negotiable for success.

The last item in the pot is a strong filter when negating factors come into the picture, such as, pessimistic influences or easy out options. The former are easy to identify but the latter can slip past your defenses and though this ingredient may have a certain link to the previous two, ‘motivators” and ‘confidence’, it is not the same. Say you are training ardently for a month and it’s taking a bit longer to reach your milestones when you come across an advertisement promising the results, that you are working towards so diligently, in half the time. In such a case you don’t feel you are giving up but just switching to a more efficient plan. This is the reason I used the word filter and not blocker. There is absolutely nothing wrong with exploring options but the common mistakes to filter out are two.

One, switching too often makes you lose focus, which may result in you not completing any plan, however good, in the long run, which means you  have essentially failed to reach your target. Two, not all plans are as good as they sound and it’s important to do some research before spending time, money and effort on any one. The second reason I used the word filter is that we need to be open to factors such as illness or injuries, but not so susceptible that even the mention of one makes us fall of the treadmill. This ability to discriminate, while not giving into paranoia or laziness is definitely an element of mental fitness and is affected by both the motivators and the our confidence levels.

So having identified the ‘what’ factors, we now move on to the ‘how’. While, there is no exhaustive list on ways to build mental strength, there are a few simple, commonly used and effective methods that I’ll share with you in a three step program:

  • Note your Motivation: Make a note (or list, if applicable) of reasons why you want to do this. Read this note (list), maybe even frame it and put it up on your wall.
  • Plan: Plan out how you want to reach your target or hit your goal. The plan can be as detailed or simple as suits your requirement and work style, you may even drill down to the level of planning out days / hours / distance to be covered in a certain period of time. Ensure that the plan is realistic, with respect to timing and type pf activity,  given your personality and current lifestyle.
  • Meditate: I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. I know people who have not done anything else (not even the first two steps above) to strengthen themselves mentally, except meditate, and they are the best at what they do. Meditation will not just build mental strength but will reduce stress and increase your powers of concentration, leading to success in any activity you undertake, be it professional or recreational.

For those of you who are planning to start meditating for the first time, here are three tips:

  • Till you achieve a certain minimum level of concentration, make sure you practice in a quiet place, at a time when you have no immediate demands on your time. I usually spend half an hour before I go to bed, after the whole household has settled down for the night. Others prefer to do it in the morning, before they day starts, when and the world as a whole is still in a state of semi-slumber.
  • Practice everyday without fail. Calming and strengthening the mind is a simple process but one that requires regular effort. In the beginning even missing a day can make you lose your mojo, so don’t give yourself any leeway. Make it a part of your routine and as important as brushing your teeth (please don’t tell me if you don’t consider that important).
  • Enjoy the process, think of it as ‘me’ time. After all it’s supposed to help you relax, not create more stress by adding to your ‘to-do’ list.

So next time you plan to run a marathon or take part in a mixed doubles tennis competition*, remember it’s a case of ‘mind over matter’.

*Always check with your doctor before taking up any new physical activity.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1, Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Is Work Making You Sick?

The alarmingly sedentary!

Wake up call, coffee, news, bath, dress and drive

To office!

Tooth in your ear, words ringing, sometimes chewed –annoying!

Mails and meetings, lobbies and coffee shops, traffic snarls-galling.

Spouse and kids already in bids

The movie is always on time.

Burger in hand and Diet Coke for dowsing,

Eyelids drooping.

And back!

Mattresses depressed anew.

Sedentary alarm!

Wake up call.

The sedentary lives of potato couches. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Unwittingly we tend to get ourselves entangled in this corporate vortex, which is not a great state of affairs and obviously needs immediate correction. Awareness is the starting point and the best way is to make physical activity a part of our daily lives.

I’m not suggesting that all of us try to structure the rigor of an exercise schedule into our 24 hour-plus day. Instead it could just mesh in with our daily routine. Here are a few ideas:

  • BREAKFAST MOVES – Do a set of stretching exercises while watching your favorite news channel in the morning before breakfast. Add-on a bit off on the spot running and/or skipping to the morning stretches
  • ON THE GO – Avoid the lift and take the stairway to your parking bay while you carry your laptop bag and lunch yourself. You can also plug in your ipod and headphones office and take the stairs upto your office. Alternatively, get off the lift one or more floors floor below and walk up
  • POSTUR’ING’ – Maintaining the right posture, especially while seated, increases blood circulation and helps us  stay and feel more productive. Sit on a chair with your legs bent at right angles and feet flat on the ground. Push your lower back against the base of the chair to maintain the natural curvature of your spine. Lengthen your spine by stretching the top of your had toward the ceiling, while tucking in your chin. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • TALK THE WALK – In the office, if you tend to talk for long durations on your mobile, take the opportunity to walk up and down the corridor while doing so rather than being seated at your desk
  • ACTIVE SIESTA – After lunch, shut off your mobile and take a quick walk down the garden path if there is one in your office. Else, you could walk in the car park area for five minutes. While working, take two minutes off your work-time every hour to stand, stretch your arms, legs and body, and blank out your mind to give it some rest
  • SOCIALIZE – Instead of using the intercom or internal telephone to speak to a colleague, get up and visit their space. This gives you an excuse to stretch your legs, while a face to face conversation usually yields quicker results than a call or email
  • WORK ‘OUT’ – Use the office gym, if your office has one, or do some desk workouts

This way the required physical activity gets built-in and becomes regular without affecting our daily office routine and will help us perform much more efficiently in a highly stressed corporate environment.

The Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA says, in one of their blogs, that a sedentary lifestyle carries with it a risk of obesity and type 2 Diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning that a sedentary lifestyle could very well be among the ten leading causes of death and disability in the world. By choosing physical activity as the theme for World Health Day, WHO is promoting a healthy, active and tobacco-free life style. The aim is to prevent the disease and disability caused by unhealthy and sedentary living.

So let’s pack in some physical activity as part of our daily routine or better still build in an exercise program over a week that we plan to sick to, come what may. Exercise, keep fit and live a healthy life.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Just Another Manic Monday

A few months back on the morning drive to work, I heard this on the radio “Mondays are going to comprise one seventh of your life, you better learn to enjoy them or be prepared to lose all that time”. That little statement stayed with me for the rest of the week. It was so true! Although, till that day, no one had ever put it quite like that.  That’s when I decided, the Monday blues attitude has to go, after all who wants to waste a seventh of their lives.

The point here being there are so many factors in our lives that cause stress to build up in our systems. While we have a host of stress management techniques, which do work, the best way would be to eliminate the sources of stress that are in our control. There’s work-related stress, domestic issues and even social stress. Our systems are being beaten-up over and over again by these toxic pressures, so I figured it was time to get rid of the unwanted ones as quickly as possible.

To give you an idea of how I turned Monday into a day that promises a fresh start, rather than one that has us moping for the second half of Sunday, read on. First, we need to understand what makes Mondays so tough to handle in our minds. By itself, it’s just another working day, pretty similar to five or six (for some of us) other days in the week. So it couldn’t actually be the fact that it was a weekday.

One obvious factor was, yes, it is the first working day of the week. So the difficulty of climbing out of the laidback weekend into a monotonous and fairly rushed routine was tough. Using my project management skills (learnt on the job), I broke down the reasons into a set of smaller pain points:

  • The workload on the opening day of the week tends to be higher than other days, since life goes on even if offices are closed
  • Most of us are exhausted from the late nights of the weekend
  • Traffic is worse, queues are longer and everything seems to take a lot more time on Monday than any other day
  • We have approximately five more days to go before we can relax and have fun

Having identified most of the pain points, I now had to come up with ways to get rid of them or at least reduce them. Here’s what I did.

With respect to my Monday morning workload, which I admit was what made me dread putting my foot through the office door, I tried a few options. On Saturday (yes I work a six day week) I decided to clear all possible pending items before leaving work. There would not be a to-do list of old items on my desk come Monday morning. Trust me this was an eye opener. It actually helped me to make a list of fresh work items for Monday, which helped me start the day clear-headed but not stressed out. It was like having a freshly cooked breakfast as compared to the previous night’s leftovers.

Now, I agree that this may not be a hundred percent achievable, but the intention is what matters. If the bank closes at one on Saturday and you have no choice but to do a transaction on Monday, that’s absolutely fine. That’s one activity and you know exactly what to do the moment you sit down at your desk. What most of us do is push all the important but non-urgent tasks to Monday in our eagerness to get out of the office and on with the weekend. This causes those very tasks to become crucial and by Sunday night we are losing sleep over deadlines and are completely stressed on Monday morning.  The same logic of preparing for a Monday morning at work also applies to domestic requirements and people who work from home.

Another option, which might not be feasible all the time but, would help if done before a really heavy work week, is to pick a time during the weekend when you tend to be at loose ends and finish up a little bit of work in preparation for Monday. It maybe just forty-five minutes of effort, but it really will give you a high for having got a head start on the Monday to-do list.

The next issue was the early start after the weekend sleep-ins. This had me looking at how we handle children on weekend nights. Most parents let their kids stay up on Saturday nights a bit longer than usual  but Sunday nights are school nights and non-negotiable. That’s why most kids (this does not include teenagers) are up nice and fresh on Mondays morning, though they may or may not want to go to school. I applied the same logic to myself and found that as far as energy levels were concerned I was pretty much brimming on a Monday when I had a good night’s sleep the previous night.

The penultimate pain point was the easiest and the trickiest. The tricky part being we couldn’t change the mindset of the masses on a Monday morning and actually reduce the traffic issues, however, we did figure out the right time to start to avoid that problem almost completely. Since the whole family was up and about early that Monday, we were also ready to leave on time, which on a Monday is earlier than usual. The bonus being we got to school before the gates opened and actually had time for a family coffee (fresh juice for the child) before, each of us, went ahead with our own routines. A great start to a supposedly tough day of the week and for the first time we parted ways with a hug and a smile rather than flustered goodbyes.

The final step was the toughest to figure out, but I went with a few small changes. Instead of waiting a whole work week to relax on the weekend, I would do one activity that I enjoyed every Monday. This definitely helped me look forward to the day and helped end it on a positive note. It could be starting a much awaited book or playing a sport you enjoy with friends.

These little changes will make a difference and Mondays may soon seem just as good as any other day going forward. Stress management is great but why not work on stress elimination when possible, it’s a much easier and simpler lifestyle change.

Let’s start the week on a zen note.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle