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The Happy Brain Chemicals that Makes You Feel Good

Did you know, 37% of people around the world are unhappy. That means at least 1 in 3 people you know aren’t happy with their life. Are you one of those people?

If so, there are simple ways to improve your happiness. Have you heard of happiness chemicals? Your brain releases these happy chemicals that make you feel good.

It is common to think happiness is a destination that you have to find either through material items, relationships, or career status. But happiness is the journey and something you can create on your own.

Improving your happiness can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. It is known that people who are sleep deprived have a harder time remembering positive ideas and an easier time remembering negative ideas.

What are the Happiness Chemicals

When you feel good, your brain is releasing one of the happiness chemicals or happy hormones. There are four main happiness brain chemicals:

  1. Dopamine
  2. Oxytocin
  3. Serotonin
  4. Endorphins

Each chemical has a job to do and when your brain releases one of these chemicals, you feel good.

It would be great if they all surged all the time. However, it does not work this way. Once the chemical has done its job, it will turn off, leaving you with a desire for more.

By understanding how these chemicals work, we can better improve our overall happiness by tapping into each of the four happiness chemicals.

Dopamine

Dopamine enables motivation, learning, and pleasure. It gives you the determination to accomplish goals, desires, and needs.

It’s similar to the, “I got it” feeling when you accomplish something. Once you achieve those goals, desires, or needs, dopamine gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure.

However, the overstimulation of dopamine can become a real problem because of its addictive nature. It is closely tied to developing bad habits or addictions.

The effects of dopamine are fleeting due to its instant gratification feeling, which leaves you desiring more.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin gives a feeling of trust, it motivates you to build intimate relationships and sustain them. It is also known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” because it plays a role in bonding.

This hormone gives you the desire to stick together with those you “trust”, which creates a feeling of safety or comfort. It helps your body adapt to several different emotional and social situations.

Oxytocin can boost your immune system which makes you more resistant to the addictive qualities of dopamine. Unlike dopamine, oxytocin gives you a lasting feeling of calm and safety.

It can help fight stress, improve relationships, and promote long-lasting positive emotions.

Serotonin

Serotonin rewards you with a good feeling when you feel significant or important. It is the pleasure you get when you experience social power, loyalty, or status.

It results from finding opportunities to assert or prevail. This is not aggressive, rather it is a calm form of confidence and accepting yourself within the people around you.

Serotonin is what motivates a leader to excel and grow. It not only motivates you but your peers to do the same. The feeling of not letting down their leader, parent, or teacher is what causes this motivation.

Endorphin

Endorphins release a brief euphoria that masks physical pain. It is a response to pain and stress which also helps alleviate anxiety and depression. Any kind of physical distress can trigger endorphins.

However, you can also get a release of endorphins when you experience “runners high”. Runners high only occurs when you exceed your limits.

The release of endorphins acts as a natural pain killer and diminishes your perceptions of pain.

The Effects of Happiness Chemicals

At least 1 in 3 people in the world who were surveyed in 2020 were unhappy. That’s a huge portion of the population.

happiness chemicals

Happiness or lack thereof affects everyone and can contribute to poor overall health. There have been numerous studies linking depression to the reduction of happiness chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

One study found people with clinical depression have increased levels of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A). This is an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters.

We will discuss how neurotransmitters play a role in the happiness chemicals later in this article, but simply this means you will get less dopamine or serotonin, thus, less happiness.

This deficiency can lead to various effects that could contribute to mental illnesses like depression.

How Deficiency Affects You

Low levels of happiness chemicals can lead to various symptoms such as fatigue, lack of motivation, and feeling anxious just to name a few.

Here are some of the common symptoms due to the deficiency of the happiness chemicals.

Dopamine Deficiency

  • procrastination
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of motivation or enthusiasm
  • low energy or fatigue
  • inability to focus
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling hopeless
  • mood swings

Oxytocin Deficiency

  • feeling lonely
  • stressed
  • lack of motivation or enthusiasm
  • low energy or fatigue
  • a feeling of disconnect from your relationships
  • feeling anxious
  • insomnia

Serotonin Deficiency

  • low self-esteem
  • being overly sensitive and emotional
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • mood swings
  • depression and feeling hopeless
  • social phobia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • insomnia

Endorphin Deficiency

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • aches and pains
  • insomnia
  • impulsive behavior

For those who have difficulty dealing with these symptoms and are feeling stress and overwhelmed, consider taking the window of tolerance self-assessment to identify your symptoms and how to self-regulate.

Benefits of Happiness

Happiness not only plays a role in making you feel good but contributes to:

1. Improved overall health

    • improved heart health and lower risk of heart disease
    • the ability to combat the stress hormone cortisol
    • stronger immune system so you’re less like to get sick
    • a healthier lifestyle such as physical activity and sleep habits
    • can help reduce aches and pain of those with chronic conditions
    • increase life longevity

2. Improved creativity and problem-solving skills

3. Benefiting the community through involvement with charities

4. Having more positive relationships with those around you

5. Being able to enjoy life more and get through life challenges easier

6. Being happy with what you have

How to Increase Happy Brain Chemicals

Most people don’t get enough of each of the happiness chemicals. I know I certainly struggle with this. If you have a full-time job or studies it can be challenging.

This deficiency can make you feel sad, depressed, hopeless, and anxious. Especially those who suffer from depression or experience downward spirals. Thankfully, they’re many simple ways to naturally boost each of the happy brain chemicals.

Below are some of the many natural ways you can get your daily happiness chemicals. Pick a few to start and remember that continuous practice is what makes a difference.

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

  • meditate regularly (increases dopamine by 65%)
  • make a daily to-do list & long term goals (each time you tick off a task or goal you increase dopamine levels)
  • eat foods that are rich in L-Tyrosine (avocados, fish, eggs, cheese, banana, and pumpkin seeds)
  • exercise regularly (whichever form of exercise you enjoy the most will give you the most increase in dopamine levels)
  • create something such as writing, music, art & crafts (“if I create something, I am also creating dopamine”)

How to Increase Oxytocin Levels Naturally

  • physical touch, cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands
  • socializing (connecting or talking with friends and family reduces cortisol and stimulates your vagus nerve)
  • touching your pet (research shows it lowers blood pressure)
  • getting a massage (reduces stress hormones)
  • acupuncture (elevates oxytocin concentrations)
  • listening to music (has a calming effect on the brain, slow-tempo music has also been shown to increase oxytocin)
  • exercise (stimulates the vagus nerve)
  • cold showers (stimulates the vagus nerve)
  • meditate

How to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally

  • exercise (increases serotonin and dopamine, but also helps balance them)
  • cold showers (2-3 mins of cold showers can be unpleasant but offers great benefits that have longer-lasting effects than compared to caffeine)
  • sunshine (10-15 minutes of sunlight a day can increase serotonin and vitamin D)
  • eating foods such as banana, eggs, omega-3 fish, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and probiotics
  • getting a massage (increases serotonin and decreases cortisol)

How to Increase Endorphin Levels Naturally

  • laughter and crying
  • creating music or art
  • eating dark chocolate and spicy foods
  • exercise or stretching
  • high-intensity interval training
  • getting a massage
  • meditate

Getting your daily happy chemicals seems pretty straight forward. But if you are struggling with happiness because you suffer from negative thinking patterns, I recommend learning to challenge negative thoughts first.

daily-dose-happiness-infographic

These are just some of the many ways you can get your daily happy hormones. If you have some that already work for you, continue doing those. If you don’t try picking a few from the list.

When choosing things that will help increase happiness levels, think about how each of them affects your health. There are three states of health (physical, mental, and social health).

Make sure you choose activities that don’t all contribute to one aspect only. Try to pick a few that can contribute to different aspects so you can reap the full benefits of the happiness chemicals.

If you are unfamiliar with the three aspects of the Health Triangle, I recommend taking the self-assessment first to see which areas you are lacking so you can choose activities that target that aspect.

Overstimulation of the Happiness Chemicals

Ever hear the saying…

“too much of a good thing is a bad thing

Well, it’s true. Overstimulation of each of the four happiness chemicals in the brain can lead to desensitization.

This in turn leads to an increased desire for those happiness chemicals which creates an addiction cycle. This addiction cycle can affect anyone, especially those who suffer from a mental illness such as depression.

Thankfully, there are ways we can manage or reduce overstimulation. For example, let’s take a look at dopamine as it is commonly known for its addictive nature.

How Dopamine Receptors Work

Dopamine itself is a type of neurotransmitter. The receptor is the receiver of the neurotransmitter. Each type of neurotransmitter has a unique receptor to match it.

To simplify, think of the receptor and neurotransmitter as a lock and key. A specific type of neurotransmitter will only fit into the correct receptor.

Once the dopamine attaches to the dopamine receptor it delivers a chemical message which gives you the effects of the neurotransmitter, in this case, dopamine.

Overstimulation of Dopamine Receptors

If your dopamine receptors are overstimulated, you can become desensitized to the effects of dopamine.

Overstimulation occurs when you experience prolonged periods of dopamine stimulation. This leads to the brain protecting itself by destroying some of the receptors.

Remember, happiness chemicals are only meant to be experienced for a short period before turning off.

Your dopamine levels should remain at an off or low state for some time before being stimulated again. This is a normal up and down experience with dopamine.

However, when you override your natural satiation mechanism by continually feeding yourself dopamine, then Supernormal Stimuli occurs.

This is what happens when you have a normal experience with dopamine versus supernormal stimuli:

stimuli

The supernormal stimuli is an overstimulation of dopamine which leads to desensitization. This tolerance then encourages us to feed our desire for dopamine even more which creates a cycle of addiction.

Here are some common activities we are all guilty of which leads to overstimulation:

  • eating fast food regularly
  • scrolling through social media feeds non-stop
  • binge-watching your favorite tv show all weekend with little to no breaks

Prevent Overstimulation

Preventing overstimulation can allow your dopamine levels to drop back to a normal level before the next stimulation.

This helps to maintain our sensitization and does not create an addictive attitude towards dopamine. By doing so this will allow you to feel the full effects of dopamine when you experience it.

Here are a few simple ways to prevent overstimulation:

  • limiting your use by stopping after some time (this allows enough time to drop to a normal level)
  • limiting the frequency of use (eating fast food once or twice a week versus every day)
  • not using it like a drug
  • not using it as an escape mechanism

This is especially important when you have a mental illness such as depression.

The desire to feel better or wanting to escape the pain you experience creates a higher risk for addiction due to the desire for happiness chemicals like dopamine.

Everything in moderation is important to maintain reasonable levels of happiness chemicals.

How to Increase Dopamine Receptors

Overstimulation causes dopamine receptors to be destroyed. Abstaining from the activities that cause overstimulation will allow the number of dopamine receptors to increase.

The increase of dopamine receptors will then increase the effects when dopamine is released. Thus, more happiness!

Here are a few other ways to increase dopamine receptors:

  • high-intensity interval training is the most effective form of exercise
  • digital detox (taking time off from technology for a week or two)
  • cold showers or ice baths

Hack Your Happiness Chemicals

To recap, there are four happiness chemicals that your brain releases to make you feel good:

  1. Dopamine: Enables motivation, learning, and pleasure
  2. Oxytocin: Gives you a feeling of trust to build intimate relationships
  3. Serotonin: When you experience social power or confidence in accepting yourself
  4. Endorphin: Brief euphoria to mask physical pain

How to Increase Happy Hormones Naturally:

  1. Understand how deficiency affects you by recognizing what symptoms you may experience
  2. Identify what activities you would enjoy doing to increase happiness
  3. Consistency is key, ensure you are regularly doing those activities
  4. Be aware of overstimulation and abstain from any activities as required

There are plenty of activities that can increase happiness hormones naturally. Choose a few you enjoy, either from the list or ones you already enjoy doing. What’s important is that you enjoy doing it, otherwise it won’t stick.

Remember, we’re looking to achieve long-term happiness so doing an activity once or twice will not make an impact on your lifestyle.

When you are dealing with an existing mental illness, addiction, or trauma, it can be difficult to increase your happiness chemicals.

Consider building up your window of tolerance first to help you deal with the stress, anxiety, or trauma you may have. Then when you come to increasing happiness, it becomes much easier to do.

source: MindPeelings


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4 Ways To Create And Maintain Inner Peace

4 Steps to Create a Lasting Inner Calm

When it seems like the world is in complete disarray, is it possible to create inner calm?

Is our well-being at the mercy of external events, exclusively affected by circumstances? Many people believe this to be true—or at least live their lives as if it is. The problem with this mindset is that it creates a massive sense of lacking something, of unrest and of overall stress. We cannot possibly feel like we are in control of our lives if we let the environment we live in rule our inner tranquility. The truth is, you’re greater than your surroundings and the events that are happening around you. You have the ability to create inner harmony regardless of situation or circum- stance. The key is to unlock your inner power and knowledge. As the founder of The Positive Change Group, I help clients find balance. And as an expert in the field, I know that understanding the following simple steps and staying true to them will create lifelong positive changes.

CREATING LASTING INNER CALM

1. YOUR TIME

Time truly is your most precious commodity. When clients I work with say they don’t have time, they’re expressing a false reality. We all have the same amount of time in a day. The difference is that people who are truly happy and have inner peace are very discerning about with whom and how they spend their time. You have time for anything that you make a priority. The key is to reassess your priorities and make sure they are in alignment with what is right for you.

It is simple, really. Where you spend your time can either drain you or energize you. When was the last time you asked yourself questions such as these: Why am I doing this? How is this serving me?

Do I really want to be doing this?

All these questions are necessary to ask because the answers lead to the next vital point: When we understand how precious our time is and how it directly relates to our self-love, then we’re more careful about whom we spend it with. And this is key to having what I call healthy boundaries.

Healthy boundaries are essential to finding inner calm. Many people can attribute the lack of healthy boundaries to a feeling of depletion and disharmony. How can you possibly have inner harmony if you are not able to say no to what doesn’t serve you? Many of us often feel a sense of obligation or duty to say yes to things that make us miserable.

Positive Change Exercise #1: Do a Time Audit

Take a week and look at the things you do and whom you spend your time with. Decide what brings you joy and what depletes you. The simple act of bringing consciousness to how you spend your time is the first step toward making change.

Once you become aware of how your time is being spent, then you can start to create healthy boundaries and choose when you need to politely say no. This may mean making small changes or starting out with only what you feel comfortable doing, working forward from there. And don’t worry about feeling selfish. The reality is that everyone around you gets the best version of you when you take care of yourself and cultivate that inner calm.

Emotional_intelligence

2. YOUR THOUGHTS

They can be the hardest things to change because thoughts are so powerful. But let’s just look at it in a simple way. Thoughts hold energy. For instance: Think about a time in your life when you felt like you weren’t enough or when you felt you were a disappointment. How does that feel?

Now I want you to think of a time in your life when you felt joy, love, or a sense of accomplishment. How does that feel?

Notice the difference in your body when thinking of each moment. Our thoughts are powerful and have energy.

Calming tip: When you’re in a difficult situation or feeling stressed, breathe in deeply, filling your body completely; on the exhale, intentionally release the stress. Now, in this moment, take yourself to that place where you felt love or joy or accomplishment. Sit in that energy and know that it exists in all moments. Then, take another deep breath, let the stress go and inhale love. Look at the situation you’re currently in and understand how your inner state can impact the outer environment, either by fueling stress or eliminating it. Keep breathing, and let your mind shift.

3. YOUR WORDS

The next key step is paying attention to your words. Do your words lift your spirits? Do the words you say create calm or promote the opposite reaction? It is impossible to feel a sense of inner peace when the words you speak are negative, judgmental or aggressive. Words carry energy. Where do you want your energy to be? Make sure your words match your desire.

Positive Change Exercise #2: Do a Vocabulary Audit

Notice some of the common phrases you use that create stress or struggle. I used to always say, “I am so busy.” It was an easy go-to when talking to people until I decided that I hated saying this and I hated the way it made me feel, as if I didn’t have time and was always on the go. Once I started to eliminate this phrase from my vocabulary, it was amazing what shifted. I felt more in control of my life and my time. “Busy” can be a choice. It takes practice to change, but the more you work on it, the easier it becomes.

4. YOUR ACTIONS

Finally, our actions need to create calm, too. This active part is one of the biggest aspects of creating change. But it is easier to carry out calm and harmonious behaviours when our words and thoughts are also in line with the goal of inner peace. When we train our brain to think and speak calmly, it becomes easier to do.

Positive Change Exercise #3: Do an Action Audit

Create a list of all the things you love to do that nourish your body and soul. Now look at that list. How many times a day or a week are you actually doing the things on your list? The simple act of bringing a conscious awareness to what you do is the first step toward accomplishing change.

  • Activities that can create inner calm:
  • Spending time in nature
  • Moving your body
  • Eating healthfully
  • Finding quiet time for self
  • Reading or journaling

Activities that can drain your energy:

  • Watching or reading the news
  • Eating unhealthy food
  • Surrounding yourself with toxic people
  • Spending too much time on social media

Think of other things you can add to your calm list and what you can eliminate or do less of from your energy drain list. This is what I call being in alignment.

The effort is in the inner work. When we realize the power we have within us to improve our thoughts, words and actions, we can see the results of these efforts in our own reality. We realize that we have some choice, regardless of what is going on around us. We get to choose what we think, say, do and feel.

May 11, 2021                   By: Julie Cass

source: www.canadianliving.com


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7 Things to Help You Sleep Better

FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES 

‌Sleep is an important part of every person’s life. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body eventually stops working properly. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that adults should get about seven or more hours of sleep each night. Young adults may need nine or more hours of sleep. A regular sleep schedule can help promote an overall healthier lifestyle. So if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, read on for things you can do to help.

1. Find Your Sleep Schedule

‌Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important ways to improve your sleep. You should aim for around eight hours of sleep a night. Getting up and going to bed at around the same time every day will help you develop a schedule. You should avoid sleeping in or staying up late, even on the weekend.‌

‌By sticking to a schedule, your body’s sleep-wake cycle will begin operating with more consistency. This will help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep through the night. ‌

2. White Noise Machines

‌If you’re having trouble falling asleep because of the noise around you, a white noise machine might help. When you’re trying to fall asleep you may become distracted by sounds like:

  • Cars honking
  • Doors closing
  • Children crying
  • Animal sounds
  • Common city sounds‌

‌A white noise machine in your room can help block the other noises that are bothering you. White noise masks disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound. You can create white noise with the following:

  • ‌A sound machine
  • A fan
  • Crowd noise on your laptop‌

Since there are different types of white noise, you’ll need to find one that’s right for you. Some machines and apps will let you choose different sounds to fall asleep to. ‌

3. Soothing Sounds App

‌One way to add white noise is by using your phone. There are plenty of apps out there for this purpose. Some of these will let you choose from sounds like:

  • Rain
  • Waves crashing
  • Trees blowing in the wind
  • Hairdryer
  • Whispering
  • Gentle humming‌

‌While these apps provide noise to help you fall asleep, there are some downsides. Research has shown that blue light coming from your phone or laptop can slow the production of your sleep hormones, making it harder for you to fall asleep. So keeping your phone near you may be counterproductive to your sleep schedule. ‌

4. Try Meditation For Sleep

‌Meditation uses techniques to help you relax both your body and mind. This in turn prepares you for sleep. You can meditate in bed right before you plan to go to sleep. ‌

‌Some relaxation techniques include:

  • Visualization
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Traditional meditation‌

‌There are other ways beyond meditation to help you wind down your mind at night. These include:

  • Quiet reading
  • Low-impact stretching
  • Soothing music
  • Lowering the lights
  • Disconnecting from electronics 30 minutes before bed
sleep

5. Make Your Room Sleep-Ready

‌Another important part of a good night’s rest is sleeping in the right environment. The first step to making your room sleep-ready is making sure it’s dark enough, as your brain releases melatonin in the dark. This creates a calm and sleepy feeling. You should start reducing your light exposure before bed. It might be a good idea to keep the following out of your room:

  • Television
  • Computer
  • Smartphone
  • Other devices that distract and/or emit light‌

If you need something to do while you fall asleep, try keeping a book nearby. Reading a few pages before you fall asleep can keep you engaged so that you don’t reach for your phone. ‌

‌Other ways you can make your bedroom more relaxing so that it’s a good place to fall asleep include: ‌

  • Pick a quality mattress and pillow. Proper support will keep your body from aching when you wake up.
  • Choose good bedding. Make your bed look inviting with the right sheets and blanket. You should also make sure your bedding will keep you at a comfortable temperature through the night.
  • Block out the light with blackout curtains in your bedroom. You can also use a sleep mask over your eyes.
  • Create a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. In addition to a white noise machine, you can try headphones or earplugs to block out disrupting sounds.
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only. To ensure it’s a relaxing space, don’t do work, play, or other activities in your bed.

6. Try Different Methods

‌One thing that helps someone else sleep better might not help you in the same way. It’s okay to try different methods and routines. The most important part is that you get to sleep and stay asleep for seven hours or more. ‌

‌Keeping a sleep diary can help you track how you’re sleeping. You can write down what you did before bed, if you wake up in the middle of the night, and how you feel when you wake up. This will help you notice any problems or areas that need fixing.

7. Supplement Sleep With Melatonin

‌If you’ve tried everything listed above and you’re still having trouble sleeping, try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. If your body isn’t releasing melatonin as it should, you will need a supplement. There are plenty of over-the-counter options available in your local pharmacy. Buying the same brand is important when taking this supplement. Since melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA, you may get different dosages with different brands. ‌

‌You should talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements — especially if you’re taking other types of medication. Your doctor will be able to tell you the right dosage for you.

SOURCES:

‌American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Sleep FAQs.”

‌Consumer Reports: “Sleep Gadgets to Conquer Insomnia.”

‌HelpGuide: “How to Sleep Better.”

‌John Hopkins Medicine: “Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep.”

‌Mayo Clinic: “Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep.”

‌Mayo Clinic Health System: “5 ways to get better sleep.”‌

National Sleep Foundation: “Will a Sound Machine Help You Drift Off?”

‌Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips,” “Technology in the Bedroom.”

By Martin Taylor          Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021

source: WebMD


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Mindfulness May Improve Brain Health And Cognition In Older Adults

Although mindfulness is typically geared towards improving mental health and well-being, it may also provide additional benefits to brain health.

Mindfulness may provide modest benefits to cognition, particularly among older adults, finds a new review of evidence led by UCL researchers.

The systematic review and meta-analysis, published in Neuropsychology Review, found that, while mindfulness is typically geared towards improving mental health and well-being, it may also provide additional benefits to brain health.

The study’s lead author, PhD student Tim Whitfield (UCL Psychiatry) said that “the positive effects of mindfulness-based programs on mental health are already relatively well-established. Here, our findings suggest that a small benefit is also conferred to cognition, at least among older adults.”

The researchers reviewed previously published studies of mindfulness, and identified 45 studies that fit their criteria, which incorporated a total of 2,238 study participants. Each study tested the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention delivered by a facilitator in a group setting, over at least four sessions, while excluding mindfulness retreats in order to have a more homogenous set of studies.

The majority of studies involved a certified instructor teaching participants techniques such as sitting meditation, mindful movement and body scan, generally on a weekly basis across six to 12 weeks, while also asking participants to continue the practices in their own time.

The researchers found that overall, mindfulness conferred a small but significant benefit to cognition.

Subgroup analysis revealed that the effect was slightly stronger for people over 60, while there was not a significant effect for people under 60.

elder_senior

Tim Whitfield commented that “executive function is known to decline with age among older adults; the improvement in people over 60 suggests that mindfulness may help guard against cognitive decline, by helping to maintain or restore executive function in late adulthood. It might be easier to restore cognitive functions to previous levels, rather than to improve them beyond the developmental peak.”

When they investigated which aspects of cognition were affected, the researchers found that mindfulness was beneficial only to executive function, and more specifically, there was strong evidence of a small positive effect on working memory (which is one facet of executive function).

The researchers also analyzed whether mindfulness outperformed other ‘active interventions’ (such as brain training, relaxation, or other health or educational programs) or only when compared to people who were not offered any alternative treatment. They found that cognitive benefits of mindfulness were only significant compared with an ‘inactive’ comparison, which means they cannot rule out that the benefits may have been at least partly derived from an expectation of treatment benefits, or social interactions.

The researchers say that more research is needed into which characteristics of mindfulness training may be more likely to confer cognitive benefits, or whether delivering interventions over longer periods, or in intensive retreat settings, might yield greater cognitive benefits.

Senior author Dr Natalie Marchant (UCL Psychiatry) said that they “know mindfulness-based programs benefit mental health, and our paper now suggests that mindfulness may also help to maintain cognitive faculties as people age. Mindfulness practices do not share much in common with cognitive test measures, so it is notable that mindfulness training’s impact appears to transfer to other domains. While our review only identified a small benefit to executive function, it remains possible that some types of mindfulness training might deliver larger gains.”

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychology Review (Whitfield et al., 2021).

August 25, 2021

Story source: UCL  PsyBlog


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The Most Unexpected Barrier To Weight Loss

Weight loss is hard enough without this surprising barrier.

People trying to lose weight often face criticism from their own family, surprising research shows.

Losing weight is hard enough without loved ones failing to be supportive.

Women criticised by their family about their weight ended up putting on more weight, the study showed.

In contrast, those that received unconditional acceptance from their family lost over five times as much.

Professor Christine Logel, the study’s first author, said:

“When we feel bad about our bodies, we often turn to loved ones — families, friends and romantic partners — for support and advice.

How they respond can have a bigger effect than we might think.”

The Canadian study involved hundreds of young women followed for around 9 months.

They were asked about their weight, how they felt about it and what their loved ones thought.

The results revealed that women who did not receive many messages of acceptance from their family put on an average of 5.5 pounds.

Those that received acceptance from loved ones, though, lost an average of 1 pound.

Professor Logel said:

“On average, the women in the study were at the high end of Health Canada’s BMI recommendations, so the healthiest thing is for them to maintain the weight they have and not be so hard on themselves.

But many of the women were still very concerned about how much they weigh, and most talked to their loved ones about it.”

Feeling better about themselves likely encouraged people in the study to eat more healthily.

Acceptance may also reduce stress, leading to less weight gain.

Professor Logel said:

“Lots of research finds that social support improves our health.

An important part of social support is feeling that our loved ones accept us just the way we are.

We all know someone who points out our weight gain or offers to help us lose weight.

These results suggest that these comments are misguided.”

The study was published in the journal Personal Relationships (Logel et al., 2014).

August 22, 2021

source: PsyBlog

scale

 

~ Related Links ~

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The Weight Loss Diet That Automatically Stops Overeating

The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds


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Counselors Explain Emotional Intelligence and 3 Ways to Use It

Emotional intelligence is a concept that has been on the rise for a couple of decades. But it has existed as an idea since the 1960s. It promotes the idea of an alternative intelligence to IQ, creating the idea that book smarts and socially normative views of intelligence may not be all there is to our brains and life.

So, what is emotional intelligence? Is it important? Is it necessary? Can it be built? Do you have it, and if you do, what can you do with it? And if you don’t, is that a bad thing? Read on to find out what emotional intelligence is and three ways to use it!

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

Let’s look at the hallmarks that define this concept.

1.    DEFINING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence, often shortened to EQ or EI, refers to the ability to use, handle, perceive, manage, and understand different emotions. This idea applies to both yourself and others. Its use as a term surged in popularity in the mid-1990s. More recently, it has been touted as a highly positive and valid form of intelligence.

Someone with high EQ would presumably handle awkward situations, social environments, and interactions with others with grace. Someone with low EQ may struggle to understand why someone is sad, angry, or happy, even if the reasons seem perfectly obvious to others. This is a common experience of neurodivergent individuals who struggle with social cues or “normal” emotional affairs.

Having low EQ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, most people do want to increase their emotional intelligence. Indeed, there are many positive things that research has associated with high emotional intelligence, such as:

  • Better job performance
  • Improved leadership skills
  • Higher levels of positive thinking
  • Better mental health
  • Improved relationships
  • Positive influence over others

There has been a fair bit of controversy about emotional intelligence over the years, with questions about whether or not emotional intelligence is valid when compared to or used in tandem with the Big Five personality traits or standard IQ. Luckily, research has found that emotional intelligence maintains its validity even with those factors accounted for.

2.    COMPONENTS OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence seems like a pretty abstract concept, but there’s more theory behind it than you may think. Experts have even been able to properly identify emotional intelligence features across different people, leading to what we know about the composition of EQ.

Daniel Goleman is credited with coining the term “emotional intelligence,” and his book about his research and theories on the subject identified five components of emotional intelligence. Here are those components:

·         SELF-REGULATION

Self-regulation allows you to take note of your emotional responses to things and ensure that they are appropriate and proportionate to the inciting incident. It means being aware of the consequences of your actions, being able to pause before deciding on behavior, and pushing yourself to bring out your own best.

·         EMPATHY

Emotional intelligence does have to make you focused on yourself and your actions, but that doesn’t mean it makes you self-centered. Those with high EQ can put themselves in the shoes of others and understand where they come from, even if they’ve never been in that situation before. You don’t judge people, using your own experiences as a guide.

·         SELF-AWARENESS

Being aware of your motivations, patterns, and thoughts is a crucial part of emotional intelligence. It allows you to be mindful of how your actions affect the world and the people around you, as well as yourself. You know what you feel, you know how to understand what you think and their triggers, and you’re under no illusions about your strengths and weaknesses.

·         SOCIAL SKILLS

You don’t need to be a social butterfly to have the social skills necessary for emotional intelligence. Mostly, this component means you can work with other people, are capable of conflict resolution, and develop positive communication techniques like active listening and welcoming body language. You would likely also know how to build relationships with others.

·         MOTIVATION

Emotional intelligence requires a degree of intrinsic motivation – a desire to do well and improve for yourself and your development. Your idea of success is defined by you and you alone, not by what other people try to push you into. You’re more likely to seek out goals that improve your personal growth over material goals, though there’s also nothing wrong with seeking material goals at the same time.

If you’re looking to build or increase your emotional intelligence, these are the five factors you’ll likely want to focus on improving the most. Although some people believe that emotional intelligence is innate and unchangeable, it can certainly be built and improved on, like any other skill or form of intelligence.

It is worth noting that – as is with all research and theories – there are some criticisms of Goleman’s explanation of these five components. As such, it is advised that you do some of your research or seek a professional opinion as you try to build your EQ!

Emotional_intelligence

THREE WAYS TO USE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Here are three ways to put EI to work to improve your life.

1.    STOP BEING REACTIVE

It’s easy to immediately follow an impulse to react to the situations unfolding around you, whether they’re positive or negative. In cases of conflict, adverse events, or unexpected life changes, you may jump straight to a defensive mode instead of pausing to think about things.

You can use your emotional intelligence to control these impulses. Instead of reacting to things, respond to them. Use your knowledge of actions and consequences, your empathy skills, and mindfulness of your emotions to take a pause and think of how to respond to different situations.

The goal of any adverse event is to resolve it. While you can’t always tackle these events with positive thinking, you can certainly think about how to best move forward instead of simply reacting based on your emotions. With your EQ, you can consciously adjust your response to fit the situation and work towards solving problems instead of responding to them and accidentally exacerbating them in the process.

2.    LEARN ABOUT OTHERS

High emotional intelligence allows you to learn more about the people around you more quickly than those with low emotional intelligence. Better yet, the more you know about others, the more likely you are to develop even more emotional intelligence! Here are some ways to learn about others:

·         UNDERSTAND WHAT OTHERS WANT AND EXPECT

Different people are driven by different things and want other things out of their world and goals. Understanding those driving forces and desires is crucial to gaining a complete picture of the people around you. It can show you how to best communicate with, relate to, and appeal to those individuals. If you’re in a leadership position, this will also help you work better with your team and cooperate with those around you!

·         ASK ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES

Emotional intelligence can drive you to be genuinely curious about other people, their lives, and what they’ve been through. Use that to your advantage by showcasing your genuine interest and asking questions. Demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in hearing about other people and what advice they have to share, and you’ll get to expand your horizons and impressively widen your worldview.

·         PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING

If you want to get people to talk to you, you have to show that you’re engaged, and emotional intelligence equips you with the ability to be! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go the extra mile to make people feel heard. Use open body language, turn towards the people that speak, make good eye contact, and indicate your understanding.

3.    FOCUS ON “WE” INSTEAD OF “ME.”

As human beings, we’re all in the same boat – just trying to navigate life in the best way possible. Use emotional intelligence to keep that in mind as you go through your daily experiences and interact with the people around you.

When you connect to other people, it becomes evident that things aren’t really about you. Besides that, they’re certainly not about you versus them. Instead, there’s a collective sense that everyone in the world is in this life together.

People with low emotional intelligence may struggle to be there for other people or charitably view others because they consider their fate and life entirely isolated from those around them. Your EQ can remind you that this is not the case.

We’re all on a ship sailing through the tumultuous sea of life. If someone’s side of the ship gets damaged, you don’t shrug and say, “that’s your side, so I’m staying out of it.”  Instead, you recognize that we all need to work together and keep each other afloat and healthy. Otherwise, we all go down!

This is, of course, not to say that you should feel responsible for other people and their decisions. Instead, it is a reminder to use your emotional intelligence to form team-like bonds with others instead of competing with the people around you or judging them for their struggles.

Of course, this also goes for accepting criticism. Many people struggle to accept criticism in their lives. Don’t let that be you! You can learn so much from the feedback that the people around you provide, so don’t react to any constructive statements that sound bad at first. Put on your positive thinking, absorb what’s being said, and use that information to improve.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOME WAYS TO USE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is a valuable tool, and it can make your life, interactions, and career better in many ways. It’s a great skill to build and showcase, and it can help you build stronger, healthier relationships with others and feel more fulfilled with your situation.

If you have low emotional intelligence, don’t feel discouraged! People can improve their emotional intelligence to some degree, at least on a cognitive level, and you certainly can, too.

If you struggle with some aspects of emotional intelligence, you can also communicate your difficulties with it; for example, difficulty comprehending social cues or emotions, as a symptom of neuro-divergence, is something that the people in your life can learn to accommodate.

The bottom line is that emotional intelligence, while necessary, doesn’t have to be something innate, and it’s okay if you have trouble with some of its components. Learning to work on the things you can change, especially with a therapist or similar professional, works wonders!

Lakeisha Ethans      August 13, 2021


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3 Mental Problems Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 6, 2021        source: PsyBlog

vitamin

Vitamin D Reduces the Need for Opioids in Palliative Cancer

Patients with vitamin D deficiency who received vitamin D supplements had a reduced need for pain relief and lower levels of fatigue in palliative cancer treatment, a randomized and placebo-controlled study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet shows. The study is published in the scientific journal Cancers.

Among patients with cancer in the palliative phase, vitamin D deficiency is common. Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may be associated with pain, sensitivity to infection, fatigue, depression, and lower self-rated quality of life.

A previous smaller study, which was not randomized or placebo-controlled, suggested that vitamin D supplementation could reduce opioid doses, reduce antibiotic use, and improve the quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.

244 cancer patients with palliative cancer, enrolled in ASIH, (advanced medical home care), took part in the current study in Stockholm during the years 2017-2020.

All study participants had a vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study. They received either 12 weeks of treatment with vitamin D at a relatively high dose (4000 IE/day) or a placebo.

The researchers then measured the change in opioid doses (as a measurement of pain) at 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the start of the study.

“The results showed that vitamin D treatment was well tolerated and that the vitamin D-treated patients had a significantly slower increase in opioid doses than the placebo group during the study period. In addition, they experienced less cancer-related fatigue compared to the placebo group,” says Linda Björkhem-Bergman, senior physician at Stockholms Sjukhem and associate professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Sciences, and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

On the other hand, there was no difference between the groups in terms of self-rated quality of life or antibiotic use.

“The effects were quite small, but statistically significant and may have clinical significance for patients with vitamin D deficiency who have cancer in the palliative phase. This is the first time it has been shown that vitamin D treatment for palliative cancer patients can have an effect on both opioid-sensitive pain and fatigue,” says first author of the study Maria Helde Frankling, senior physician at ASIH and postdoc at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Science and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

The study is one of the largest drug studies conducted within ASIH in Sweden. One weakness of the study is the large drop-out rate. Only 150 out of 244 patients were able to complete the 12-week study because many patients died of their cancer during the study.

The study was funded by Region Stockholm (ALF), the Swedish Cancer Society, Stockholms Sjukhems Foundation and was carried out with the support of ASIH Stockholm Södra and ASIH Stockholm Norr.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Maria Helde Frankling, Caritha Klasson, Carina Sandberg, Marie Nordström, Anna Warnqvist, Jenny Bergqvist, Peter Bergman, Linda Björkhem-Bergman. ‘Palliative-D’—Vitamin D Supplementation to Palliative Cancer Patients: A Double Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Multicenter Trial. Cancers, 2021; 13 (15): 3707 DOI: 10.3390/cancers13153707

source: ScienceDaily     August 5, 2021
 


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Trauma Is Probably The Reason You’re So Tired Right Now

Feeling more drained than usual lately? It’s not just you. Here’s what’s going on and what to do about it.

Exhaustion can occur after a period of intense stress or trauma.

You might expect, after a year of living with restrictions and extreme uncertainty, that at this point in the coronavirus pandemic ― with vaccines available in the U.S. and cities and businesses reopening ― people would be full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to get out and do things.

But instead, many people are finding themselves particularly exhausted and fatigued. Simple activities and socializations are followed by a real need to rest and recoup. Reinstatements of mask mandates following an uptick in COVID-19 cases are causing a resurgence of anxiety.

Trauma specialists aren’t surprised that people are feeling the weight right now. It isn’t until after the trauma starts to subside that people even begin to experience and become aware of the physiological aftershock.

A year-plus of chronic stress and trauma can take a massive toll on our health ― it damages the immune system, disrupts our circadian rhythms and makes us seriously fatigued. Our bodies have been through a lot. It’s no wonder we’re so tired.

How trauma causes fatigue

We’ve all experienced some kind of trauma as a result of the pandemic. Many people experienced direct trauma — they got sick themselves, or a loved one was diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. We constantly faced the threat of becoming seriously ill, and for those most at risk, dying.

We have also been repeatedly exposed to death and illness via the media, and it’s known that exposure to distressing news is associated with traumatic stress and other mental health symptoms. And due to pandemic-related restrictions, people haven’t had access to the support systems and coping skills they would normally turn to, said Sarah Lowe, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health.

When our stress systems are chronically activated — as they have been throughout the pandemic — our bodies start to experience some wear and tear. Traumatic experiences run down the immune system, affect our circadian rhythms and impair our digestive health, Lowe said. When we’re actively going through a traumatic experience, our bodies produce a surplus of energy to combat mental and physical stressors. The body goes into survivor mode, and without time to recover, this can deplete our energy reserves.

computer

Often, it isn’t until after the traumatic event passes, and our bodies transition out of survival mode, that the physiological effects hit us and start to wreak havoc. Through her research on disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Tonya Hansel, an associate professor with the Tulane University School of Social Work who specializes in disaster mental health and trauma, has found that people generally don’t have the time or space to address their mental health needs during disasters, because they are too busy figuring out how to get through it.

“It isn’t until the stressor starts to be removed that we can really see what that toll has taken,” Hansel said.

On top of all this, while we are at a turning point in the pandemic, there is still some level of uncertainty. Unvaccinated people remain at risk from the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, and scary headlines may have vaccinated people fearful about how well they’re protected (which, according to data, is very well overall). And change of any sort, even good change, can be distressing.

“Even though these are positive changes and people are getting out into the world, it still is a change, in that I think it can be stress on the body,” Lowe said.

There are a few self-care methods that can help address trauma-induced fatigue.

How to deal with trauma-induced fatigue

The biggest step is to practice good sleep hygiene. Give your body the rest it needs. Lowe’s three tips for this: Avoid caffeine at night, don’t exercise before bed, and shut off your devices an hour before bedtime.

During the day, carve out some time for restoration. Meditate, do some yoga, go for a walk or spend time with some loved ones. Don’t feel like you need to pack your schedule with activities now that society has reopened.

“Try to take it slow and have compassion for oneself that these positive experiences might be taxing, and make space for rest and recovery,” Lowe said.

Set smaller goals and find new coping methods. The last thing you want to do is put more stress on your body because you aren’t getting back to normal as fast as you’d like, Hansel said.

“Start small and make small changes that bring joy in your life,” she advised.

There is no clear timeline for how long it will take each of us to recover. Some people may notice improvements relatively soon, but a lot of people will likely continue to struggle in some way, shape or form for the next several months.

If you’re feeling really exhausted, and that fatigue is affecting your job, relationships, or school or home life, consider seeking help from a counselor or mental health professional, Lowe said.

Above all, be patient with yourself. “It’s not fair if we hold our bodies accountable to just change overnight,” Hansel said. “Just as this was a slow process building up to that stress, fatigue is also going to be a slow process in bringing that stress down.”

By Julia Ries   07/20/2021 

source: HuffPost Life


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Why Socializing Is More Exhausting Now—and How You Can Get Your Mojo Back

The fatigue is real.

There seems to be a lot more napping involved in post-COVID socializing. At first, I thought it was just me needing to rest up before a cookout, or dozing off in the midst of a movie night with friends.

But I’m not alone in feeling fatigued from a socializing schedule I would have handled just fine pre-pandemic. For most people, getting back to the new normal is a lot more tiring than they expected. “In my own life and amongst my friends and colleagues, I have heard people report that they feel exhausted, or that they have to dig deep to socialize,” says Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., author of How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety.

You can chalk that up to the massive sea change we’ve all experienced over the past year. “I think it’s part of the rebooting of our society,” says Ken Yeager, Ph.D., clinical director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “I don’t think we have ever really experienced this before—and thinking through all these processes and what socializing looks like now, is creating stress.”

cheers

Why socializing is a lot more tiring post-COVID

It’s not your imagination—you need to work a lot harder to socialize now than you did in 2019. And there are several reasons for it

1

We’re rusty at it

After more than a year of Zoom calls and small backyard get-togethers, we’re out of practice at how to handle social events—and it takes more energy to deal with the novelty of it all. “We’ve fallen off our normal pace and intensity,” Hendriksen says. “When that momentum grinds to a halt, breaking that inertia requires extra energy and motivation.”

And while we’ve been still getting together with our nearest and dearest, we haven’t had to make small talk with strangers in a while. “You’re moving around more, seeing more people and that requires interaction,” Yeager says. “That’s an expenditure of energy that hasn’t really been happening for a year.”

2

There’s more anxiety about getting together

Everything about getting together has been stressful for more than a year—with social distancing, masking, and trying to figure out how to safely eat or drink around people outside our household.

That stress isn’t necessarily going to disappear overnight—especially as we still have concerns about variants and outbreaks. “Do I have to wear a mask; do I not wear a mask?” Yeager says. “We’ve never had to worry about these things before.”

3

More of us have mental health issues

The pandemic has unleashed a wave of anxiety and depression, and that has impacted every aspect of our lives.

According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression skyrocketed during the pandemic. “Nearly half of the American population reported anxiety, depression, or both,” Yeager says.

4

It’s hitting both introverts and extroverts

You might think that this fatigue would be more closely linked to introverts, who have always had to muster up the energy to head out when they’re perfectly happy to chill at home. But fatigue can come for the extroverts, too, as they try to make up for lost time. “Extroverts might wear themselves out going all out, and still experience fatigue,” Yeager says.

How to get back into the social groove

Fortunately, the socializing slump you might be feeling right now will eventually disappear, as we get more used to being around people. But there are a few strategies to get you over the hill—and back to your friends and family.

1

Give yourself more down time

You may have had a go-go-go mentality pre-pandemic, but now’s the time to (slowly) ramp up to that schedule. (So yes, set aside time for that pre-party power nap!)

“Build in some down time so you can rest and recuperate,” Yeager says. “Find time and space in your schedule to recharge batteries and relax, getting outside and getting some fresh air into your lungs.”

2

Set boundaries

To help reduce the stress of social interactions, set boundaries that’ll help you feel comfortable.

“Articulate what you’re willing to do and not willing to do,” Hendriksen says. “Our family is not all vaccinated yet, so we’re not doing indoor dining. If someone invites us to go to an indoor restaurant, we would suggest eating outdoors or ask, ‘Would you like to come over for takeout in the backyard?’ You can set boundaries and still be friendly and compassionate.”

You might even want to set time boundaries—like suggesting meeting up for coffee for an hour, rather than a more open-ended invite.

3

Start small and build on it

Your first post-quarantine outing probably shouldn’t be a big, indoor wedding or a crowded restaurant. Look for ways to start small (a small get-together in someone’s house), and work your way up to bigger or more complex get-togethers.

“Take it slow and simple,” Yeager says. “People may be experiencing anxiety going back into events. Instead of jumping into a week’s vacation with friends or a full-stadium sporting event, practice a little bit and ease yourself into it with smaller interactions.”

4

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

If you’re feeling anxious about getting together, you could be putting too much pressure on yourself to make a reunion even more memorable.

“You don’t have to be your best self to be yourself,” Hendriksen says. “Don’t try to overcompensate by telling extra-zany stories, being extra-entertaining, or otherwise trying to carry the conversation. Take pressure off yourself and turn the attention spotlight onto the people you’re with.”

If you’re hosting, you might find yourself being rusty at hospitality. (Both Hendriksen and I have had people at our houses for more than a half-hour before offering them a drink!)

“As long as you have good intentions and repair the situation upon noticing, it’s fine,” Hendriksen says. “Try a line like ‘I’ve gone feral, so if I forget, help yourself.'”

5

Don’t forget your healthy habits

If you aren’t eating or sleeping well, that’ll make mustering the energy to socialize even harder.

“Your sleep patterns may be disrupted if you’re going back into work,” Yeager says. And look for healthy snacks with plenty of protein to help you avoid a sugar crash that’ll sap your energy.

6

Fake it until you make it

After a year-plus at home, it’s going to take a lot of energy to put ourselves back out there—and we might sometimes have to just force ourselves to make it happen, even when we’re tired.

“Push yourself to do the things that you have enjoyed in the past, with people you know you like and want to spend time with,” Hendriksen says. “Experiencing anxiety about our social life doesn’t mean something is wrong or dangerous. More often than not, you’ll be glad you went.”

By Lisa Milbrand

source: www.realsimple.com


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Sleep Helps Protect Against Dementia, According To Recent Study

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia risk mostly depends on factors like genetics. But new research shows rest can be a good prevention strategy.

New research suggests getting sufficient sleep may help curb dementia risk later in life. 

The bulk of the risk factors for dementia are utterly out of our control, like age and genetics. But growing scientific evidence says there are measures people can take to mitigate their risk of developing the condition, which impacts an estimated 50 million people around the world.

A large new study published this week in the journal Nature Communications points to one relatively straightforward prevention tactic: Get enough high-quality sleep when you’re in your 50s and 60s.

The study, which followed nearly 8,000 participants in the United Kingdom for 25 years, found that people who regularly slept for six hours or less in middle age had about a 30% higher risk of developing dementia than those who clocked seven or more hours per night.

How sleep may help decrease risk of dementia

The new study is by no means the first to draw a link between sleep quantity and quality and dementia, but it is one of the largest to do so, according to Stephanie Stahl, a sleep disorder specialist with Indiana University Health.

“We know that getting insufficient sleep or getting poor quality sleep increases the risk of dementia,” Stahl, who was not involved in the new research, told HuffPost. “This is a larger scale study, so it definitely adds value to the evidence.”

Researchers are still unraveling how exactly the sleep-and-dementia connection might come together, but they have several theories in mind.

“During sleep, our brain is allowed to clear toxins and that includes beta- amyloid,” Stahl said. Beta-amyloid is a brain protein that can clump together and is often (though not always) a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Also, our sleep is really important for us to consolidate our memories,” Stahl added. In addition, “sleep disruption leads to inflammation and that can lead to clogging of the arteries, and that includes those arteries in the brain.”

The small changes that will help you get more sleep

The researchers behind the new study point out that more investigation is needed before they (or any scientists) are able to recommend really specific and powerful “windows of opportunity” for intervention when it comes to sleep and dementia. So it’s not as though experts can say, “Sleep for X hours a night, for X number of years, and your risk will decrease by X amount.”

But sleep doctors like Stahl say there really is no downside to pursuing more high quality rest — even if further research were to show there is not a direct connection between lack of sleep and dementia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults aged 18 to 60 get seven or more hours of sleep per night; adults age 61 to 64 should clock seven to nine hours; and those 65 and up should aim for seven or eight hours.

“Getting seven hours versus six hours of sleep may not sound like a big difference, but if you’re one hour short every day, by the end of the week you’re seven hours — or one full day — short.””

“As far as improving quality of sleep, there’s a whole host of things that can be done. Avoidance of alcohol is really important. Alcohol tends to cause sleep disruption and leads to reduced total sleep time,” Stahl said. “You also want to avoid caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime.” She noted that both caffeine and alcohol can reduce the amount of restorative slow-wave sleep people have throughout the night.

Another relatively simple — though not necessarily easy — change is to avoid electronics at night. Phone and laptop screens emit blue light, which can mess with sleep. If you can’t ignore your phone completely before bed, try adjusting its light in the settings or using your phone to listen to meditations or sleep-inducing sounds.

You should also try to get regular exercise, Stahl said. Research shows that consistent exercise in the morning or afternoon can significantly improve sleep quality. Exercise can also reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia by about 30%.

As is often the case with preventing illness, healthy changes can impact the body and mind in many different but connected ways.

It’s never too late to get more rest

While the new study may be compelling to clinicians and researchers looking to help their patients prevent dementia, it may also be a source of some alarm to people in their 50s, 60s and beyond who may not have been able to prioritize sleep before.

But experts like Stahl emphasized that it is never too late to make changes, and that sleep is cumulative.

“At any point, working toward getting adequate sleep is one of the most important takeaways,” Stahl said.

Surveys suggest that less than half of Americans get the recommended amount of sleep every night.

“I always tell people that getting seven hours versus six hours of sleep may not sound like a big difference, but if you’re one hour short every day, by the end of the week you’re seven hours — or one full day — short,” Stahl said. “Over the course of the year, you’re now 52 days short of the sleep you should be getting.”

 

By    Catherine Pearson     04/22/2021 

source: www.huffpost.com

 

 
 

Why Do We Have To Sleep?                        by It’s Okay To Be Smart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mufsteNrTI&ab_channel=It%27sOkayToBeSmart

 
 

The Reason People Now Sleep Worse Than Ever

Why people spend less time asleep than they used to and have more trouble getting to sleep.
 
People are sleeping worse then ever, a new US survey has revealed.
 
Up to five million more North Americans could be experiencing sleep problems than they were five years ago.
 
People also spend less time asleep than they used to.
 
These are the results of a study that looked at how sleep health is changing in the US.
 
Professor Zlatan Krizan, study co-author, said:

“Indeed, how long we sleep is important, but how well we sleep and how we feel about our sleep is important in its own right.
Sleep health is a multidimensional phenomenon, so examining all the aspects of sleep is crucial for future research.”
 
The study surveyed almost 165,000 people between 2013 and 2017.
 
Across the five years of the study, there was an increase in 1.43 percent in the number of people reporting difficulties falling asleep and an increase of 2.7 percent in those with problems remaining asleep.
 
The survey cannot reveal the reason for the increase, but Dr Garrett Hisler, the study’s first author, thinks it is partly down to technology:

“We know from our previous research there is a correlation between smartphone use and insufficient sleep among teens.
If we’re on our phone before bed or we’re receiving alerts in the middle of the night that can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.”
 
As a result, many are now advocating a form of ‘digital detox‘, involving reduced exposure to devices, especially before bedtime.
 

Spaced out

Poor sleep can increase the risk of many mental and physical illness, such as depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.
 
Professor Krizan said:

“We know that how well people sleep is generally very reflective of people’s health and may be an indicator of other conditions.
If we want a full picture of the population’s health, it’s important to measure and track these changes in sleep trends over time.”

Sleep deprivation disrupts communication between brain cells, a previous study has shown.
 
These disruptions can lead to temporary lapses in memory and even hallucinations.
 
This helps to explain why sleep deprivation leaves people feeling so spaced out.
 
The study was carried out on patients who had electrodes implanted in their brains prior to surgery for epilepsy.
 
The results showed that as they became more sleepy, the communication between their brain cells slowed down.
 
This caused a decrease in their reactions to cognitive tests.
 

How to improve sleep

Having a regular sleep schedule, bedtime routine and prioritising sleep, all help people sleep better, scientists have found.
 
The advice is based on recommendations by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
 
Stimulus control therapy can also be beneficial.
 
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
 
source: PsyBlog