Posts tagged with "stress"

Stress Awareness Month: Alleviating Stress and Working Out

Natalie Durand-Bush, PhD, CMPC

Association for Applied Sport Psychology Executive Board Member

Full Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Co-Founder, Canadian Centre for Mental Health, Ottawa, Canada

Recovery plays a vital role in sport. It is necessary to prevent underperformance, overtraining, burnout, injuries, and illness. This is mainly due to the fact that athletes are subjected to ongoing physical and mental stressors while training in order to stretch their performance limits. However, it is important to balance such stressors with appropriate rest and recovery through the use of periodized approaches. Periodization programs are designed and implemented in sport to maximize the effects of physical and mental training over predetermined training cycles by varying key training variables such as volume and intensity.

The aim of these programs is to maximize long-term athlete development and peak performance during targeted competitions within identified periods or ‘mesocycles’ (e.g., hockey season, Olympic quadrennial). Each mesocycle consists of preparatory (e.g., off-season and pre-competitive season), competitive (e.g., regular competitive season), peaking (e.g., playoffs, national championship), and recovery (e.g., post-competition period prior to off-season training) periods or ‘microcycles’ that vary in length based on training objectives, athletes’ needs, and the amount of time available between peaking events. Issues often arise when periodization protocols are mismanaged and training responses are not properly monitored. For example, peaking may not occur if athletes do not respect built-in recovery activities (e.g., days off, sleep routine, naps, limited social media) as a result of fearing they will fall behind their competitors. Also, coaches who insufficiently pay attention to warning signs during high-intensity periods in which athletes require more time to physically and mentally recover can jeopardize athletes’ performance and health. The costs of poor or failed monitoring could be injury or illness, including low mental health and the onset of mental illness.

Athletes’ mental health reflects their psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Athletes who are mentally healthy are able to feel, think, and act in ways allowing them to work productively, reach their full potential and goals, enjoy life, contribute to their community, and cope with normal daily stressors. When stressors (e.g., physical, psychological) exceed athletes’ internal (e.g., resilience strategies) and external (e.g., parental and coaching support) coping resources, it can deplete them and lead to significant distress and impaired functioning. In other words, it can exacerbate an existing mental illness or trigger a new one. Symptoms to which coaches should pay attention when working with athletes include any significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, isolation from others, unusual low energy/stamina, intense mood swings, decreased enjoyment and concentration, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, inexplicable pain, and difficulties performing daily tasks, to name a few. Coaches noticing such changes in athletes should intervene, particularly if these changes last more than two weeks.

This entails having a private, respectful, and empathetic conversation with struggling athletes by (a) asking them specific questions regarding observed changes (e.g., “I have noticed that you look more tired and withdrawn than usual, are you struggling at the moment?”), (b) offering support (e.g., “Your mental health is important to me, what can I do to help you recover and regain your strength?”), and (c) referring them to an appropriate mental health care provider if necessary (e.g., “I’m not a mental health expert but I am seeing signs that concern me; our team has access to a mental health practitioner and I’d like you to see this person to make sure you have the resources you need to cope and get back to your normal self”). Given the crucial role of rest and recovery in the management of both athletic performance and mental health, coaches should discuss with any struggling athletes the benefits of adding recovery periods in their training program or of taking a complete break to prioritize and help them restore their mental health.

Can Stress Help Your Workout?

By Eddie O’Connor, Ph.D., CMPC

You don’t need this article to tell you the benefits of exercise on your stress levels (but I will reinforce them anyway). Physical activity increases endorphin production in the body. Those feel-good pain-relieving hormones. And it’s good for your brain. Physical activity increases blood flow, which increases our cognitive capacity and speed. So, we think better. Focusing on exercise means we are not focusing on our stress, so there is a fantastic mental break from stress too, plus the positive meditative effect of focusing on the exercise, in the moment, as we do it. Your self-confidence likely gets a boost with the earned results of a better, healthier body.

But while exercise helps stress, can stress help you exercise? Your experience is probably going to tell you “no.” Ever been too tired to go to the gym and skip it? Ever prioritize more work or responsibility over your workout? Or be so fatigued that you’d rather zone out in front of the TV or phone, maybe eat a snack to feel better instead? Of course, you have. In fact, it is more likely that stress actually hurts your workout. Besides the decreased motivation to go, there is the real fatigue you feel even if you attend, decreasing the quality of your workout—especially if you are not recovering well with adequate sleep. There isn’t one major organ or process in the body that isn’t enhanced by sleep, or impaired without enough of it. (Get at least 8 hours to help both regulate your stress and improve your workouts.) Stress can cause muscle tension, increasing risk of injury and slowing tissue repair—which leads to longer recovery times. Stress makes it harder to lose weight and can increase food cravings. Those extra pounds don’t help us move well.

But despite these facts, I can think there is one way that stress can help get you moving.

It’s this: Notice how bad feeling stressed out feels. Rather than repeatedly numbing out, or working harder and longer in futile attempts to escape it (do you ever really catch up on everything?), notice how you feel. It’s terrible. It’s unhealthy. It turns us into not-so-nice people, crabby and irritable with others. Our performance in everything declines. And our coping strategies of snacking, sleeping less, and sedentary “resting” just make it worse.

And then realize that you have a choice. There is something you can do. It won’t feel good at first. You will be tired and sore and you might sweat a lot. But if you don’t want to be stressed, working out (or any physical activity) WILL help you. This isn’t my opinion. Its science.

So, the question is, are you willing to choose some discomfort in service of decreasing your stress and getting healthier? Stress can motivate your workout if you realize that working out is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, and then engage exercise with your whole heart and mind to beat it.

About Eddie O’Connor

Dr. Eddie O’Connor is a Clinical and Sport Psychologist at Mary Free Bed Sports Rehabilitation in Grand Rapids, MI. He is a Fellow and Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association forApplied Sport Psychology—the largest organization for sport psychology consultants and professionals.  

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Mindfulness and Meditation for Children

Breast Cancer Survivor & Yoga Nidra Facilitator Helps Children Live Happier With New Book

Children from all walks of life are exposed to stressful situations daily and learn to think in a way that creates anxiety. Some suffer hardships or see family members go through medical challenges, while others may be exposed to violence or substance abuse. Even children who come from privileged homes with intact families face challenges, whether it be parents who push them too hard, bullies who tease them at school, or online videos that send the wrong messages. All of these events can create insecurities and fears, which today’s youth don’t know to handle. Learning mindfulness techniques can help children be more resilient in the face of stress and help ease their worries.  

How can we teach them?

By using a how-to storybook that introduces children to mindfulness techniques for easing anxiety and promoting happiness.

The Dolphin’s Secret: A Meditational Journey for Children by Meryl Best Lowell introduces children to Yoga Nidra—an ancient form of guided meditation which incorporates a sequence of mindfulness techniques—and encourages them to add it to their lives in order to feel calmer and happier. The book weaves how-to steps into the whimsical story of Meri, a beautiful mermaid, and her friend Aloha, a dolphin. Using The Dolphin’s Secret, parents and teachers can lead children ages 4-8 in these exercises as they lay down before naptime or bedtime.

“When children are scared, tired or sad, sometimes they act out in undesirable ways,” says Lowell. “The easy relaxation techniques incorporated into the story of Meri and Aloha will help caregivers as they guide children through ways to better manage themselves when they have these feelings. Not only can the story be used for entertainment when a child is feeling tired, but it can also be referred to in scenarios when a child is upset, and a parent or teacher needs to take action to calm them and stop the behavior from escalating.”

About Meryl Best Lowell

Lowell began practicing guided meditations while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Once treatments were complete, she checked off a bucket-list item and went swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas– a life-enhancing and transformational experience. Later while on a hike, she was inspired to incorporate the mindfulness techniques of Yoga Nidra into a book for children- and of course, use dolphins among the characters.

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The Midday Slump

5 Tips to Get Through Your Midday Slump

We have all felt it. After lunchtime, you’re lethargic, tired, and constantly checking the clock waiting for the day to be over.

But, fear not! Your day will no longer be ruined by the afternoon lull. Here are some quick tips to avoid the midday slump and allow you to end your day rejuvenated!

Spend 5 Minutes in Nature

According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2019, just 5 simple minutes sitting in nature, improves moods, decreases negative feelings and increases your sense of being awe and wonder at being a part of something bigger than yourself. If you have more time, combine being in nature with exercise. This can include hiking of simply taking a walk through the park lined with trees. This can reduce your heart rate and improve your ability to recover from stressful events.

Bring the Outdoors In

Feeling overwhelmed and can’t leave the building? Hang paintings of nature scenes on the walls, look out a window or a nature scene on your video device. It seems that even the picture of nature had the potential to reduce feelings of stress.

Break Out That Adult Coloring Book

Can’t absorb any new information? Take a break and take out the adult coloring book you have not taken the time to use. This distraction gives the brain the space it needs to tackle the problem while you focus on the joys of choosing the colors that make you feel better. Pro tip: Choose yellow and other bright colors if you need a pick me up.

Incorporate Natural Mid-Afternoon Boosts

Grab some green tea, it is high in antioxidants, contains a small amount of caffeine and also has an ingredient that can help create a sense of calmness. If you combine this with a little aromatherapy, either peppermint or lemon to quick lift or lavender to keep the calm going, you might find yourself feeling better after a quick 10 minute break.

Quick Exercises to Do At Your Desk

Here are 2 quick exercises that helps to release stress, restore a sense of calm while improving moods. Do any exercise that helps bring the heart rate up a little bit to get blood pumping while also releasing the energy of frustration. First, so some quick tricep extensions using a chair. Then follow with a stretch that helps to relieve the tension. Shrug shoulders up to ear and gentle rotate forward then backwards. Follow this with an open stance arms open wide and slightly raised as if to open myself up to receive warmth, love and support, then simply cross your arms around your shoulders and give yourself a hug. Cross your arms until you feel the muscles in the upper back gentle stretch and start relieving some of that built up tension. After all, we do tend to carry a lot of stress in the upper back and neck. Bonus, hugs help to relieve stress and improve moods.

Laugh & Breathe

It is as simple as laughing. It decreases cortisol levels and improves moods. A simple way to watch a funny clip or even more simple, record a baby’s laughter and listen to it. That sound of pure joy and wonder can bring a smile back to your face and do wonders for your mood. Lastly, practice stopping and breathing. 4 counts in, hold for 4 and release for 4. Do this about 4 times and feel the stress slowly ebb away.

About Eudene Harry MD

Eudene Harry is the medical director for Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, a wellness practice devoted to integrative holistic care. She is a veteran physician with over 20 years of experience. Dr. Harry earned her medical degree and performed her residency at Thomas Jefferson University.

Dr. Harry is the author of three books designed to empower the individual to get started on their path to optimal health. She has published extensively on the topics of reducing stress, healthy lifestyle choices, and regaining youthfulness. Her most recent book, Be Iconic: How to be Healthy and Sexy at Any Age is now available on Amazon. She regularly contributes to television and radio shows nationwide.

Connect with Dr. Harry on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To learn more about Dr. Harry please visit, www.drharrymd.com.

5 Techniques for Taking Care of Eczema

Eczema is a disease of the skin that affects one in twelve adults in the USA. The condition causes symptoms such as itching, dehydration of the skin and risk of infection, which may result in blistering, rashes and weeping sores. The condition can be frustratingly debilitating for those who suffer with it and going about everyday life is made far more difficult by having to endure constant irritation. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for eczema, but there are a few ways you can make your life easier and also reduce risk of breakouts, as described in the useful guide below.

Keep the skin moisturized

Ensuring your skin is well moisturized is one of the best ways to keep your eczema flare-ups to a minimum. Even when it’s not itchy, topping up your moisturizer regularly will prevent your condition reaching its peak. For optimum relief, store the bottle of moisturizer in the fridge to cool down the burning sensation as soon as you experience a flare-up.

Shower regularly

It’s always been believed that showering on a regular basis can play havoc with skin conditions, but lukewarm water can help soothe and hydrate the skin and prevent outbreaks occurring. Providing you apply moisturizer as soon as you dry off, you should start to notice a positive difference in your skin health.

See a dermatologist

There may be some instances when your flare-ups are so out of control, that you’re having trouble going about your normal routine. In such instances, it is advised to seek the professional help of a dermatologist. Dermatologists are specialists in treating and diagnosing conditions of the skin and can give expert advice on how to manage your personal case. If you are looking for a specialist Dermatologist Summit to assist with your case, Soma Skin & Laser would be a suitable institution to research.

Wear cotton clothing

You may not pay much attention to the type of clothing you wear, but your safest bet would be to wear pure cotton only. Cotton is both soft and comfortable and allows the skin to breathe, whereas fabrics such as wool and linen should be avoided at all costs.

Manage your stress levels

Stress can play a big part in eczema breakouts; however, it can be very hard to manage and deal with when it impacts your emotional state. When you tense up with anxiety, your body has the intention of protecting the skin by causing breakouts.

There are a number of strategies that can help keep your stress levels down:

• Relax: You should aim to relax by engaging in meditation, yoga or even pass the time doodling in an adult coloring book.

• Exercise: Keeping yourself active is one of the key tactics of reducing stress levels, but if sweat is one of the major triggers, be sure to take a shower as soon as you’re done.

• Get enough sleep: It’s not always easy to have a full night’s sleep when you’re constantly itching, but sufficient snooze time will certainly make you feel a lot less stressed the following day. If your condition worsens at night, you could take an antihistamine to calm down your symptoms before bed.

Getting to the Heart of the Problem

Although it is well known that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among all Americans, there is still a misconception that it primarily affects older, white men.

The truth is, the risks are even higher for African Americans. African Americans have higher rates of heart disease risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Currently, 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of heart disease in the U.S.

Experts say there are several reasons why heart disease disproportionally affects the black community ranging from genetic to environmental factors. There are simple ways to control certain risk factors to reduce your risk for heart disease – it can be as simple as changing your daily habits.

Lifestyle Changes Can Include:
-Healthy diet
-Be physically active every day
-Reduce stress
-Quit smoking

During Heart Health Month, Dr. Wayne Batchelor, an interventional cardiologist and member of the Association of Black Cardiologists, is available to explain what you need to know if you have a risk factor that’s out of your control, how to talk to your doctor and the latest advancements in treatment options.

3 Transformation Tips From Gold’s Gym Fitness Influencer

1 Set Micro Goals: Break your large goals into smaller steps. If you’d ultimately like to lose 100 pounds, start 10. If you’d like to cut out sugar, cut it out at a few meals first. If you’d like to make it in the gym 5/6 days a week over the next year, focus on making it 5/6 a week for the next month. Not only do micro-goals make your larger goals more manageable, they also give you a psychological confidence boost by achieving them.

2 Don’t Over Complicate Things: There’s keto, cardio timing, CrossFit, paleo, HIIT, classes, Powerlifting, gluten free, bodybuilding, macro counting… there are a million different buzz words in the fitness industry. Keep it simple when you’re starting out.

3 Focus on the FOUR Pillars:  There are four pillars – nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress. Focus on eating a nutrient rich diet that puts you in a caloric deficit (and drinking about a gallon of water), moving more than you normally would through exercise or activity, getting better, longer sleeps, and making efforts to reduce your stress. As you move closer to your goals and get a handle on those four basic tenants, you can start to focus on other variables. Nail the basics.  THEN upgrade

Be Your Own Boss – Tips for Starting Your Own Business

It sounds great, doesn’t it? No more 9-5 hours, forget the daily commute, and just work when you feel like it, but the reality of being your own boss is often very different. While choosing when to work, or not, is possible for some, there has often been a lot of hard work for them to get to that point. But, with now more people than ever declared as self-employed, it has never been a better time to be your own boss. If you are dreaming of quitting the day job, starting your own business and becoming your own boss, this guide gives you some tips on what you need to do.

Find the Right Business Niche

You might have some idea already about what area you want your business in, and that is great, as long as you play to your strengths. Pick a business niche that you are already knowledgeable about, because if you already have the expertise, then you are far, more likely to achieve success. Also, make sure you choose a business idea that you are really passionate about also. Otherwise, you might see your enthusiasm dwindle after a few months.

When deciding on a business niche, it is important to do your research and identify a gap in the market that your business can fill. It will be much harder to make a successful business if you are just doing what your competitors do. Offer something extra, and you will stand out.

Create a Business Plan

Having a solid business plan gives you a focused look at what your targets are for your business and the strategies to implement. Your business plan will have detailed information about your target market, and how you intend to sell to them. Not only does a business plan to keep your project on track, but it is also a worthwhile document to show to possible investors.

If you are not sure how to create a business plan, there are examples and templates you can use online, as a way to get you started. At first, your business plan might seem a little basic. But keep coming up with ideas and flesh it out as you learn. The more you learn, the quicker you will be able to grow your business.

Learn New Skills

So you might have a great idea for a business, but if you don’t know how to run a website or have any marketing experience, then that is going to be a weakness. You will also need to learn accounting skills to keep track of your business spending and keep records for tax purposes. Learn the basics before you start, and it will make running your new business much easier.

Finances

Financing a start-up business can be hard, so make sure you know exactly what you need to spend money on and what you don’t. It is a good idea to save up some funds before you start your business, to get you up and running.
If finances are tight, you could consider bootstrapping which where you build a business by only investing the profits it makes and keeping costs as low as possible, rather than spending a lump sum of your own, or an investor’s, cash. This might mean keeping your business small until you have raised enough to invest in growth, but you won’t be getting into debt to fund your business. If you are bootstrapping, it is often worth having another source of income to keep you afloat until your business is making more money. Don’t forget that you still have everyday living expenses to consider, so it might not be the right time for you to completely give up your day job. Try to begin your business alongside your regular job, or at least work part-time, so you still have a source of income.

Sometimes, new businesses face problems with cash flow, so you might have to supplement it with your own money. Or, you might be putting much of your own money into funding your business that you might temporarily be finding it difficult financially. If so, a short-term loan can be beneficial, such as from Bonsai Finance.

Entrepreneurial Mind-Set

Your attitude is what drives your business, so you need to get into the mindset of an entrepreneur to get success. That means having the will to succeed even when times feel tough. It also means having discipline in your working day to get tasks done and to also have the confidence to make decisions.

It takes effort and hard work to achieve anything worthwhile, but if you show up ready to work consistently, you will soon see your efforts pay off.

Don’t Overdo It!

Remember why you wanted to be your own boss in the first place? It was to get that work/life balance you have always dreamed of. So while it might be tempting to work all the hours you can to make it a success, remember to take regular breaks and days off. Too much work and putting pressure on yourself can lead to stress, and that is not productive for your or your business.

If you find yourself under pressure, delegate what you can. If you have clients waiting, call them to rearrange a time for completion of a project, or consider outsourcing work if you have too much.

Being your own boss gives you the opportunity to manage your own time, rather than being dictated to by regular employment. However, it does come with risks. If you get sick, you won’t get sick pay, there is no paid annual leave, and if you don’t make it a success, you could stand to lose any money you may have invested in it. Treat starting your own business with caution, but don’t be afraid to try! Every successful entrepreneur had to start somewhere, and most experience failure as well as success. If you believe in yourself and have the will to succeed, then you have already won half the battle.

Roadtrip Ready!

Check out some of the essential things you need for your roadtrip this summer!

PediPocket $59.99

Stay warm and comfortable on your next road trip with PediPocket! This Ultra plush velvet seat fleece blanket has a clever 20-inch pocket that will keep your feet warm and is nearly 6 ft long, ideal for the smallest to tallest person.

nodpod $25

Catch up on your zzzz’s with nodpod! It delivers the power of Weighted Sleep Therapy in a unique shaped, microbead filled eye pillow, nodpad allows you to sleep comfortably in any position! Weighted Sleep Therapy is the way your body response to gentle, constant pressure. This is why hugs feel good and why babies experience relief while swaddled. Weighted Sleep Therapy naturally reduces Stress and Anxiety while promoting deep restful sleep.

SafeGo $39.95

Take comfort in knowing your valuables are safe during your vacay. SafeGo is a portable, lightweight safe designed to be durable, resistant to water, sand, and salt. It features of patent lock, custom combination, key access, and convenient to your earphone and charger accessibility.

Mouth Watchers $5.99

Packing up for your next road trip? Wherever you go, let Mouth Watchers maintain your mouth healthy! Doctor Plotka’s designed this toothbrush with anti-microbial Bristol’s to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria that grows in between uses. These bristol’s are ten times thinner to reach and brush away food and plaque in those hard-to-reach areas!

Laundreez $30

Wherever the wide-open road may take you, let Laundreez help keep your suitcase light! Thanks to an inventive new way to wash your clothes, you can just pack the essentials because you can have clean clothes wherever you go! Laundries is a self-contained laundry system- no washer, no dryer needed! Just throw your clothes in the bag, add a few drops of detergents, let it sit, shake and drain. You rinse in the same bag, drain, squeeze and hang to dry.

Sweatopause $30

Don’t let hot flashes ruin your road trip! With Sweatopause, you are wearing a fashionable scarf and cooling down your skin at the same time! Thanks to its patented coolcore technology, the more you sweat, the more Sweatopause cools you off. When the fabric is wet with sweat or water, it’s cooling magic can begin. The super comfortable, stretchy fabric cools 30% below your skin temperature like a delightful blast of air conditioning right when you need it most.

Showaflops $32

This road trip, avoid stepping in public showers, pools, bathrooms! Keep your feet healthy with Showaflops. They have unique drainage holes for faster drying flops and antimicrobials to help protect feet from bacteria on floors and prevent odors. It also has slip-resistant soles for safer trips on wet slippery floors.

Vessel’s NEW Boston Duffel $265

Let Vessel help you take all your things on this road trip! This signature piece has unique features including a 300 degrees zippered compartment! Keeping your daily essentials secured and organized for your next trip, rep your favorite colors with an expansive collection of color ways and material.

PORSCHE WORKS TEAM

Introducing an all new title from Delius Klasing, Porsche Works Team, that illustrates the true nature of 24-hour races – the tension, exhaustion, and the dedication. World-famous photographer, Frank Kayser followed the Porsche team for three years, detailing a world previously unseen by outsiders.

Kayser and his team were allowed where other press photographers were not: in the pit, in the pit lane during the change of tries and drivers, and in the closed off areas of the racers quarters. Every photo in this book shows the stress, the top performance, the eternal night and the success of perfection.

A special signed edition of the book, limited to 99 copies is also available for sale.

Book Available here