Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

8 Nutrients to Help Beat Anxiety

Feeling particularly stressed? Here are some nutrients that may help ease your anxiety

Anxiety can impact your health in numerous ways, from decreased productivity at work, to weight gain, and more. Luckily, a diet rich in these nutrients can help relieve some of the stress.

In fact, research published as recently as this month, confirms the benefit of vitamin D for stress and anxiety. According to the findings of a preliminary study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh, taking vitamin D supplements can improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease. In the study, adults supplementing with vitamin D had lower blood pressure, as well as lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their urine.

related: 8 Ways Eating Better Can Improve Your Mental Health

Extra B vitamins
If you take individual B vitamins, also take a good B complex supplement to help prevent imbalances among these vitamins, which work together. Specific B vitamins have been shown to be deficient in patients with agoraphobia.

In a study of people with panic disorder, OCD and depression the B vitamin inositol in amounts of up to 18 grams daily was as effective and had fewer side effects than an anti-anxiety medication. This reflects my clinical experience, where I’ve found inositol to be very helpful with clients with obsessive and ruminating thoughts.

Vitamin B1 is important for blood sugar control and this has a major impact on anxiety. Vitamin B3 is involved in many enzymatic processes and plays a key role in serotonin synthesis. At does of 1,000 to 3,000 mg a day, it may be helpful for anxiety. Vitamin B5 is very important for the adrenals and therefore helps with modulating stress.

Folic acid and vitamin B12 are important for depression, and given the links between anxiety and depression, they may also be helpful for anxiety. They also support heart health, which is important if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, which stress the heart.

Good food sources of the B vitamins include liver, meat, turkey, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, chiles, legumes, nutritional yeast and molasses.

depression_food

Magnesium and calcium
Magnesium is a calming mineral that nourishes the nervous system and helps prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. Magnesium is also very protective of the heart and arteries; again, this is important if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. Supplemental magnesium, together with vitamin B6, was shown to alleviate anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms, as well as breast tenderness and menstrual weight gain and pain. This study also showed that even a small amount can make a difference; it used only 200 mg of magnesium and 50 mg of vitamin B6. A typical supplemental amount is 400 to 600 mg of magnesium per day, usually with 800 to 1,200 mg of calcium, as it’s typically best to get about twice as much calcium as magnesium. However, taking magnesium alone can be helpful for anxiety, and you may actually need more than the typical dose, perhaps as much as 1,000 mg of magnesium per day. Experiment with different amounts and decide what’s right for you based on how you feel, and cut back if you get loose stools.

Taking magnesium and calcium at bedtime can also help promote restful sleep. A very pleasant and easy way to increase your intake of magnesium is to add about a cup of Epsom salts to a warm bath’you’ll absorb the magnesium through your skin. Add some lavender essential oil and have a wonderful calming soak before bed, and you’ll sleep better too.

Dark-green, leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale and chard, contain plenty of calming magnesium as well as good amounts of the B vitamins. Whole, unrefined grains like oats, buckwheat, millet and quinoa also contain both magnesium and B vitamins. Other food sources of magnesium include legumes, beef, chicken, fish (especially halibut, cod and salmon), nuts, seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes and green beans. Homemade bone broths are rich in magnesium, calcium and other vital minerals, with the added bonus that the gelatin in the broth enhances mineral absorption. Herbs are another source of magnesium. Try chamomile, dandelion, peppermint or sage herbal tea; make a salad using fresh parsley, nettles and dandelion; and add fennel seed, fenugreek, paprika, parsley and cayenne when cooking.

Many high-magnesium foods are also a good source of calcium, especially spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, green beans and sea vegetables. Other sources of calcium include dairy products, sardines, sesame seeds, broccoli and celery. The herbs basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill and peppermint are also good sources of calcium, as is cinnamon.

related: Dopamine Deficiency And Your Mental Health

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in eggs and fatty fish such as salmon ad mackerel (and cod liver oil), but your body can also make its own vitamin D after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, though this is somewhat dependent on the season and your geographic location. It may improve seasonal anxiety and depression that worsen during the winter months. One study showed that vitamin D deficiency was associated with both anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia patients. Vitamin D is also important for immunity, bone health and heart health, and it helps protect against cancer.

Recent research on vitamin D indicates that many people are deficient in this key vitamin. I recommend that all of my clients have their vitamin D levels checked and have found that the majority have low levels. Vitamin D status can be measured by a simple blood test, 25-hydroxy-vitamin D. Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, considers the new vitamin D guidelines released in November 2010’600 IU for adults up to age 70’to be too low. He recommends taking 5,000 IU daily until your level is between 50 and 80 ng/mL (nanograms per milliletre), the midpoint of the current lab reference range of 32 to 100 ng/mL.

Don’t be surprised if your doctor prescribes 50,000 IU per week. Once your levels are ideal, a typical maintenance dose ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day. It’s a good idea to test your level every three months. When supplementing, be sure to take vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is the synthetic form and not effective. Recent research suggests that it’s most effective to take vitamin D with your largest meal. Also, keep in mind that a great deal of research is being conducted on the health benefits of vitamin D, and it’s a controversial topic, so recommendations in regard to ideal level, dose and timing may change. The Vitamin D Council is a good resource for recent findings.

Omega-3s and omega-6s
It’s well known that omega-3s from fish oil (EPA and DHA) are effective for alleviating depression, and one study looking at substance abusers with low fish consumption found that supplementing with fish oil for three months resulted in less anxiety and anger. I recommend that you eat fish, including some oil fish, such as salmon and sardines, and only supplement with fish oil if you know for sure that your levels of omega-3s are low. A good starting dose is 1,000 mg daily. Fatty acid tests are available from labs such as Meametrix; results will indicate whether you need to supplement with omega-3s, omega-6s or both, and will also indicate your levels of damaging trans fats. Many anxious people with pyroluria don’t need to supplement with omega-3s but do seem to need the omega-6 GLA, ideally in the form of primrose oil.

 

related: The Unexpected Connection Between Gut Bacteria and Depression and Anxiety

Theanine and lactium
L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, has a calming effect and reduces physiological responses to stress. It also raises levels of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter. It also has properties that offer protection against environmental neurotoxins. A typical supplemental dose of theanine is 50 to 200 mg.

Lactium, a supplement made from the casein protein in milk, has been shown to reduce stress-related symptoms, including anxiety, emoyinal and social problems, and digestive issues. This product also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

November 27, 2015           Source: Excerpted from The Anti-anxiety Food Solution, Trudy Scott
Advertisements


Leave a comment

How to Listen with All Four of Your Ears

New research shows how to get your ears to listen through all their channels.

When we think about communication, we generally divide it into two categories—verbal and nonverbal behavior. But, according to the “four ear” model of communication, we speak and listen through four separate channels. The question is, when you communicate through one of those channels, what will your listener hear? A new study that used behavioral neuroscience to investigate the factors that influence how your message is received focused on the role of the hormonal neurotransmitter, oxytocin. Although it’s based in neuroscience, this study provides an understanding of how to make sure your listeners actually hear what you want them to hear.

University of Munich’s Michaela Pfundmair and colleagues (2016) based their work on the four-ear model theory, which proposes that each verbal message contains four different dimensions of communication:

  1. Factual content: Actual, specific, “mere” information.
  2. Self-revelation: Information about yourself that you wish to share with the other person.
  3. Relationship: Terms that express how you feel about the other person and about your relationship with that person.
  4. Appeal: A request that you are making of the other person.

This model suggests that what you communicate to others depends on which message you hope they will receive. If you want to address relationship issues, that’s the dimension you’ll emphasize. You wouldn’t provide a weather report to your intimate partner when you’re trying to get through a conflict about whether your partner loves you as much as you love your them.

What the recipient of your message hears, however, is less clearly determined. Your partner is potentially listening with all four ears and will have to decide which dimension your message is intended to convey. The weather example is perhaps a little extreme, but consider what might happen while trying to overcome a conflict about how you and your partner handle household finances. Your partner might think you’re providing factual information (what’s in your bank account) when instead you’re hoping that the conversation will lead to more openness and better communication about your finances in general.

communication

Another example, taken from the Pfundmair et al study, involves a communication in which you’re trying to send a message containing an appeal, such as seeing if your friend will watch your cat while you’re out of town for a few days. Your recipient can decide to ignore the appeal and instead figure that you’re simply talking about how much you care about your cat (self-revelation). The authors believe that messages intended to communicate an appeal are the most difficult to get across to produce the desired result. They argue that this is because appeals take the most effort to process by recipients: “Its underlying presumption is a concept of communication as social exchange or even unilateral donor action on behalf of the recipient” (p. 63). The appeal message attempts to create an effect. The listener has to decide whether to help realize this effect. As a speaker, you also know that such messages may not lead to that desired result, so you may not communicating them so successfully.

To determine whether people would be more receptive to appeal messages when their empathy is aroused, the researchers augmented the socially responsive channels in participants by giving them intranasal doses of oxytocin. One of this hormone’s primary effects is to increase empathy. If their empathy is aroused, participants should be more willing to accommodate an appeal message.

To examine the effect of oxytocin vs. a placebo on the interpretation of appeal messages, 43 male participants (with an average age of 30) completed a four-ear communication questionnaire. The questionnaire contained 16 scenarios for which participants were asked to rank-order the extent to which they represented one of the four types of messages. One scenario involved asking participants to imagine that a friend told them about having a fight with his girlfriend. The participant had to rank which of four interpretations they thought the statement communicated. In this example, the message could contain factual content (“I had a fight with my girlfriend”), self-revelation (“I’m worried about my relationship”), relationship information (“I feel that I can talk to you about my girlfriend”), or appeal (“Please listen to me and give me advice”).

Across the board, participants who were given oxytocin ranked the appeal dimension as highest of the four possible interpretations. This finding fit with the belief of the authors that messages that communicate appeal are the most likely to lead to social bonding. Although it’s true that appeals require more effort on the part of the listener, by communicating your desire for help, you stimulate the recipient to respond in a more prosocial manner. The oxytocin worked because it primed participants to hear the message as a request for help rather than a statement of fact.

We can’t routinely give our friends and family members oxytocin to help them focus on our appeals, but we can still learn from this study: By making clear that an appeal is an appeal, you can open the channels of reciprocity between you and the people with whom you interact. For example, if you want your partner to help out more with those financial balancing acts at home, instead of saying how much time you’ve spent (information), let your partner know that you’d like some help. When you communicate more clearly, you make it more likely that your partner’s appeal “ear” will be tuned in to that channel.

Similarly, when trying to completely understand what others are saying to us, take the extra effort and judge whether you’re receiving an appeal message that’s disguised as one of the other three dimensions. Having more fulfilling social interactions means that we must all try to communicate, and listen, through all four of our ears.

Fulfillment at Any Age        Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.        @swhitbo        Posted Jan 17, 2017    

References

Pfundmair, M., Lamprecht, F., von Wedemeyer, F. M., & Frey, D. (2016). Your word is my command: Oxytocin facilitates the understanding of appeal in verbal communication. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 7363-66. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.213


Leave a comment

Outsmart The Food Companies To Become A Healthier, Savvier Eater

Like many people, I crave something sweet after every meal, no matter how full I am, to the point where it feels like an addiction. A colleague told me it wasn’t an addiction, but a habit.

Still, the thought lingered: Do we experience true food cravings, perhaps as a result of an “addiction,” or is it simply out of habit? And who’s driving that habit — me or the food companies?

It’s actually both: It’s human nature for consumers to develop habits and seek out foods that satisfy our intense cravings. And so companies create products that meet people’s sensory needs.

“Food companies are interested in selling products that people want,” said Gail Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.

“They run tests with consumers and ask them, ‘How much do you like this one? Or that one?’ The companies are trying to figure out what consumers want, and then they do testing to make sure the product has those elements in it – and people like salt, fat and sugar.”
It’s no surprise that food companies would aim to give consumers what they want in an effort to optimize sales. But the process behind product development is quite sophisticated. For companies, the key is finding a food’s “bliss point.”

Discovering the ‘bliss point’

The key for companies is finding the “bliss point” of a food, or the product formulation you like most, according to Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychologist who did pioneering work on bliss points and their role in product development when he was optimizing menus for soldiers in 1971. He’s since helped major food and beverage companies such as Dr Pepper and Prego find bliss points for their products.

Starbucks’ menu, as selected by a nutritionist

He offered this example: “Let’s just look at coffee with milk. Make some coffee, and pour it into seven cups. Start with no milk, and add a certain amount,” such as you’d find in the tiny plastic containers at a diner.
“Do this so you have zero, one, two, three, four, five and six added containers. The one at the left has no milk; the ones to the right have six different but increasing levels of milk. One of these is the ‘tastiest’ for you.” This is your bliss point.

How does bliss point play out behind the scenes, when it comes to product design and development? For new products, like pickles or pasta sauce, the company may systematically vary the ingredients and test these variations. It’s not just one ingredient alone, but a set of them. Some ingredients appear at different levels. Others appear in different types (such as flavoring A or flavoring B).

“The careful product developer makes the combinations, tests them and builds a mathematical model showing how the ingredients interact to drive liking,” Moskowitz said. “The bliss point — that’s at the top. Sometimes, there are different bliss points, or ‘optima,’ say for people who like strong ‘dark roast (coffee) brews’ and those who like the regular or weaker ‘lighter brews.’ “

Bliss points have been discovered for many foods – even hummus and orange juice – in order to appeal to consumers’ sensory preferences. And this can help explain why, over time, foods evolve to have more sweetness.

The mindful way to distract you from your cravings

“Each generation of food marketers wants to increase acceptance, and the easiest way to do this for many foods is to add sugar,” Moskowitz said. But it’s a slippery slope.
“You add just a little bit each time, so over the course of a decade, there’s a bigger change.” Thus, foods like condiments, tomato sauce and bread – foods that we might not necessarily think of as sweet – often contain added sugars.

Tomato sauce can have 12 grams, about 3 teaspoons, of sugar per half-cup. That’s more than you would find in a chocolate mini doughnut. Barbecue sauce can have 16 grams of sugar – or 4 teaspoons in a 2-tablespoon serving – more sugar than the amount in four chocolate chip cookies or eight sugar wafers. It’s no wonder our palates have evolved to the point where we don’t necessarily know what natural sweetness is anymore: Our taste buds have been, to some degree, externally manipulated over the years.

Heading off food burnout

Although bliss point may be used to find how much pulp an orange juice should contain or the optimal amount of fat for the tastiest ice cream, it has other applications, too. Bliss point has also been used to figure out at which point during a consumption period a person is most sated. But the two applications don’t necessarily work together, because the same sensory characteristics that make your taste buds most excited can run the risk of burnout with each additional bite.

The concept, known as sensory specific satiety, refers to a temporary decline in pleasure derived from consuming a certain food. The result, according to a study in the journal Appetite, is a decrease in a person’s liking and desire for a specific food after eating it.

“The more powerful your experience with the first couple of bites, the less satisfying each additional bite is,” said Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and author of “Slim by Design.” The result: You get bored of eating relatively quickly. “When you eat salted caramel ice cream, the first two bites are incredible. But then there’s a big jump by the time you get to bites six and seven. … By then, you may be saying, ‘Eh, this wasn’t as good as it was initially.’ ”
Interestingly, sensory specific satiety can be thought of as a human protection element – and a way the body adapts in order to avoid sensory overload, according to Civille, of Sensory Spectrum. Imagine stepping slowly and carefully into a very hot bathtub. “At first, you feel HOT, HOT, HOT! But then your body adapts to the hot temperature in order to protect itself from having too much stimulation, as the brain cannot process all of the messages at once,” Civille said. “In the case of food, adaptation results in fullness.”

Despite this scientific reality, the notion of sensory specific satiety doesn’t stop companies from prioritizing taste experience, with the hope that you won’t be able to stop after just one bite.

“Companies are developing products for that initial ‘Oh, my goodness!’ with the first couple of bites,” Wansink said. And even if the level of sensory satisfaction drops, if you start high enough, it won’t necessarily matter.
“The seventh and eighth bite of the salted caramel ice cream will still be pretty good,” he said. “You’re still far ahead of the grapefruit.”

 

coke-obesity

How the sugar industry sweetened research in its favor

In order to extend the amount of time it will take before you get bored of eating a food, its maker may include ingredient variety – for example, making a raisin bran with yogurt puffs or oatmeal clusters. Wansink explains how: “If you mix popcorn with M&Ms, you can eat a lot more than you would if you ate either food alone, because the M&Ms counter the salty flavor of the popcorn, and the buttery popcorn counters the sweetness of the M&Ms.”

Civille agrees. “Without texture and flavor variety, you become full or burnt out. Any new input is not interesting.” This phenomenon helps explain why kids – and adults – can say “I’m so full” after a meal but still have room for dessert. “Dessert is sweet and interesting.”

No wonder I need my sugar fix, even when I’m stuffed from a larger-than-usual meal. Perhaps I’m not truly addicted to sugar, but rather, my body has succumbed to the science of sensory specific satiety.

Becoming an empowered eater

The psychology that goes into finding a “bliss point” and coping with sensory specific satiety is significantly helpful for companies’ bottom lines, but the practical takeaway can have implications for consumers’ health, particularly when foods and beverages are consumed in excess.

Changing kids’ palates – which already prefer sweet tastes – toward sweetness can lead to weight gain, obesity and other health problems. In a world of such abundance, how can consumers become more educated and make the right choices? Here are some tips and tricks to help become savvier,

1. Find a food mantra. “What if we could find the messages to repeat to ourselves, almost like self-advertising, to get us to eat healthily?” asked Moskowitz. In fact, that’s what the bliss point pioneer is working on now: messages that work for consumers. “The science is of words, but it’s still looking for the bliss point. But now the bliss point is the combination of messages that a person will find compelling.” You might ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Do I really want this food? Or am I bored or stressed?” External motivation works too, he says. “Many people will remind themselves of goals, like, ‘I want to look good in a dress for my daughter’s wedding.’ ”

2. Have a decent breakfast. It will help you avoid cravings, especially sugar cravings. “If your blood sugar is low (from skipping breakfast), you’re going to start eating anything and everything,” Civille said. But a bagel with nothing on it? You’ll be hungry again by 10:30. “The key is to manipulate your own body’s cravings by giving it the right kinds of foods to start with,” she said. And different foods may work better for different people. “If I eat a bowl of oatmeal at 6:30, I’m not hungry until lunch.”

3. Wean your palate. You can change your palate to crave less sweet, salty, fatty foods. “Once people learn to like skim milk, whole milk is too much for them,” Wansink said. One of the ways you can make it happen, he says, is to make sure you pair the product that contains less sugar, salt, fat, whatever – with something that you do like.

“Let’s say you drink way too much Coke. You tell yourself you’re going to drink Diet Coke instead, but you hate the taste of diet soda. So you pair it with something you do enjoy, like taking a walk.” By doing this, he says, you don’t experience the switch to diet soda as such a sacrifice, and eventually you will like it more. Or try making the switch from a sugary cereal to a more protein-rich breakfast. Something as simple as pairing cheese or ketchup with eggs can make a protein-rich breakfast more appealing, and eventually, you won’t even crave the sugar.

4. Add fat. “You should have some fat in your diet, because fat is interesting and satiating. It holds flavor and releases the flavor in a different way than a water-based system,” Civille said. Consider the difference between a teaspoon of vanilla extract in heavy cream (that’s so good!) versus skim milk (awful). The satiety and satisfaction that the fat offers will ultimately allow you to eat less. Spread peanut butter on apple slices or top a mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

5. Choose portion-controlled snacks. Here’s a case where package design (think 100-calorie packs) may be more costly, but they help you eat less, because they slow the pace of eating. “Having to open up three 100-calorie packs to get 300 calories of chocolate takes a longer time to eat and makes you less sated than if all 300 chocolate calories were in front of you,” Wansink said. The result: People usually give up — and consume fewer calories overall. To save money, buy snacks in bulk and make your own portion-controlled snacks at home using small plastic bags.

6. Drink a glass of water. “Having a glass of water with you all the time is one way of dealing with sensory specific satiety,” Civille said. “The sense of fullness reduces hunger and keeps us hydrated. Often, we eat when we, in fact, are thirsty or dehydrated.”

7. Choose cheese over chips at a party. “People immediately go to the bowl of chips, but you should be looking for the more protein-rich appetizer, which will give you more satiety,” Civille said. A cube of cheese, shrimp or even a slider is a good choice.

8. Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach. “When you go to the supermarket hungry, you buy things that you crave … and those are typically not good choices, like ice cream, doughnuts and cookies, as opposed to buying more vegetables,” Civille said. Wasnick agrees. “You buy more of the ready-to-eat convenience food, the stuff you can eat in the parking lot,” he said.

Here’s food for thought: Simply eating a piece of fruit 30 minutes before going into a grocery store can significantly change your purchasing habits for the better. “Even just a piece of an apple before you leave – or even a sample of one – dramatically increases how much fruit you buy and decreases the amount of junk food,” Wansink said.

9. Divide your cart in half. “An easy thing that we’ve discovered is the half-cart rule,” Wansink said. “Divide your cart in half with a coat, purse or briefcase. The front half of the cart is reserved for fruits and vegetables. The back half of the cart is for whatever else I want. Simply doing this increases the amount of fruit and vegetables people buy by 25%-30%.”

10. Distract yourself. “There’s a really neat study we did: We had people only eat a quarter as much of a snack as they usually eat in the afternoon,” Wansink said. “So let’s say you usually eat eight Hershey’s Kisses, and we gave you two. We found that 15 minutes later, people rated themselves as equally full, satisfied and happy – and less guilty!” But here’s the important part: “After they had their first two bites, they had to put the food away – they couldn’t stare at it – and they had to do something (active) for those 15 minutes to distract themselves, like cleaning the office or returning phone calls. They could not sit at the computer.”

The results were encouraging. “All they could remember is that they still tasted that chocolate, apple pie or potato chips — and they realized they didn’t deny themselves anything.” But getting their minds off of the food was key. “They realized they can have what they enjoy — as long as they can distract themselves enough to not think about it.”

By Lisa Drayer, CNN           Mon November 21, 2016


2 Comments

Tips For Beating Anxiety to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping. That’s a problem. Too little sleep affects mood, contributing to irritability and sometimes depression. Vital functions occur during different stages of sleep that leave you feeling rested and energized or help you learn and forge memories. Sleep usually improves when an anxiety disorder is treated. Practicing good “sleep hygiene” helps, too. Here are some steps to take:

insomnia

 

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Daylight helps set sleep patterns, so try to be outdoors while it’s light out for 30 minutes a day.
  • Exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime). An afternoon workout is ideal.
  • Keep naps short — less than an hour — and forgo napping after 3 p.m.
  • Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, many teas, chocolate, and many soft drinks), which can take up to eight hours to wear off. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if you have panic attacks; many people who experience panic attacks are extra-sensitive to caffeine.
  • Review your medications with a doctor to see if you are taking any stimulants, which are a common culprit in keeping people up at night. Sometimes it’s possible to switch medicines.
  • Avoid alcohol, large meals, foods that induce heartburn, and drinking a lot of fluid for several hours before bedtime.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking causes many health problems, including compromising sleep in a variety of ways.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions like TV or a computer. Avoid using an electronic device to read in bed; the light from the screen can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime. If your mattress is uncomfortable, replace it.
  • Reading, listening to music, or relaxing before bed with a hot bath or deep breathing can help you get to sleep.
  • If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of turning in (or if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep in 20 minutes), get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
    sleep_depravation

For additional tips and strategies for living with anxiety, buy Coping with Anxiety and Stress Disorders, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

July 25, 2016          Originally published: June 2016
 


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • More than one-third of married couples in Canada sleep in separate bedrooms. 
  • Having a low opinion of yourself is not modesty. It’s self-destruction. 
  • People who eat fish at least once a week have thicker, stronger and more resilient brains.
  • 71% of breakups happen because of mood swings.
  • Every year, about 86,000 people are injured by tripping over their pets. 

 

ingredient_label
Ranch dressing (and many other foods) contain titanium dioxide to keep it white
– Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
  • When soft music is playing in the background, people are able to focus better.
  • Kissing can increase your lifespan.
  • Studies have proven that driving in city traffic is just as stressful as participating in extreme sports like skydiving.
  • Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide to keep it white – Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
Happy Friday!

 source: https://twitter.com/faccccct


Leave a comment

Is Social Media Good For You?

Using social media can have benefits for your mental health, but only if you use it in the right way

Whether I’m standing on the tram, sitting in a café, or walking down the street, I’m struck by the sight of so many people looking down at their phones, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a myriad of other social media platforms.

I immediately ask myself, in this increasingly technological age, what is the impact of constant social media use on our mental health?

On one hand, it allows us to stay up-to-date and connected. I can find out what friends in America and around the world are doing at any time of day or night.

On the other, it’s hard to carry on a normal conversation without someone compulsively checking their feed, rendered paranoid by FOMO (fear of missing out). A person might have thousands of “friends”, but feel completely alone.

So is social media good or bad for us? In a new study published in the Journal of Mental Health, PhD student Elizabeth Seabrook, Dr Nikki Rickard from Monash University and myself found that it is not as clear-cut as you might think.

We reviewed 70 studies that have examined how social network use relates to depression, anxiety, and subjective well being. Results were mixed. Some studies found social media users were happier and more connected with other people.

But other studies found that social media users had more signs of depression or anxiety. So we also looked at various factors that had an impact on when it is beneficial or harmful.

socialmedia-mentalhealth

Studies were conducted between 2005 and 2016, mostly with adolescents and young adults. Most focused on Facebook, with a few studies centred around the use of Twitter, MySpace, or social media in general.

These studies examined a variety of themes, including how much time people spent on social media, the number of friends they had, and whether or not they liked and felt accepted by their friends.

Also examined were the words they used, how much personal information they shared, whether they compared themselves with others, and how much they felt addicted to social media.

social_media_health
Someone can have thousands of online ‘friends’ but still feel alone.

Across the studies, it appears that it’s not so much that social media causes anxiety and depression, but that people have different ways of using social media, which may be more or less helpful.

For example, Chris, who reported high levels of wellbeing, liked to use Facebook to catch up on the latest gossip and share with others fun things that happened during the day.

Meanwhile, Carey, who suffers from depression, spent hours browsing the newsfeed, and bemoaning how nice everyone else’s life seems.

For many, social media appears to have a range of benefits. It provides a way for many of us to connect with others. We can support other people and feel supported by them. It may even be a useful way for those with social anxiety and those who have a hard time with face-to-face interactions to connect with others.

But for those with depression or anxiety, it could make their symptoms worse. Indeed people who often compared themselves to their friends, ruminated about life, or had negative interactions with others, were at greater risk of depression and anxiety.

Notably, the number of hours that people spent on social media didn’t make a clear difference – it was more the feeling of being addicted to it. It seems like what a person writes about is more indicative of their state of mental health than the number of hours spent online.

Those with symptoms of depression were more likely to be jealous of their friends, compare themselves to others, and use negative language when using social media. This is similar to what I’ve seen in some of my other research, which points to the power of the words that we use.

A growing number of studies suggest that we might be able to use data from social media use to identify people suffering from depression or anxiety, thereby providing the possibility for offering support and resources for those who might not otherwise get the help they need.

social_media_health

So what can we take away from the study? We each have unique patterns in how we use social media, in terms of the language we use and how we behave when we are using it.

Do you keep your friends updated on your activities? Post pictures of your family? Complain about work or other people? Passively browse news feeds without commenting? Do you feel like it helps you connect with others, or do you feel addicted and controlled by it?

As a whole, our review suggests that it is valuable to pause and consider what our behavioural patterns are. By understanding them better, we potentially can make better choices about how to best use social media, as well as use it to promote good mental health.

By Dr Peggy Kern, University of Melbourne


Leave a comment

Canada Needs a Comprehensive Mental Health Strategy

Mental illness is the most common illness found in Canada’s children and teens. We all know a young person who struggles with depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder. Mental illness causes high levels of distress in children and can significantly interfere with their lives.

But mental illnesses can often be prevented from developing, or becoming more severe and difficult to treat.

A new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that 14 per cent of all children and teens in the province were diagnosed by a doctor with at least one mental disorder during the four-year study. These are diagnosed cases, so if we included all children who experienced a mental disorder, the percentage would be higher.

Other provinces report similar findings. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario found that 34 per cent of high school students had a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress and 12 per cent seriously thought about suicide in the past year. A report prepared for the British Columbia government found that 12.6 per cent of four-to-17-year-old children experienced a clinically significant mental disorder at any given time.

What struck us, in completing the Manitoba report, is that mental illness touches children from all corners of the province and across all socio-economic levels.

But children in families with many parenting challenges — like poverty, being a teen mom or being involved with child welfare services — are at greater risk of developing mental illness. Our results also suggest children from rural areas may not have adequate and timely access to mental health services.

Manitoba records over a four-year period show that 74 out of 100,000 teens died by suicide. And these tragic deaths are only a fraction of those with mental illness. For every teen suicide, there are another 200 or more teens who struggle with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addictions or schizophrenia.

Suicide most often occurs when mental illness — and the conditions that place children and teens at risk for mental illness — are not addressed. It’s crucial to instil hope in our young people and build awareness of the many solutions to their problems.

mental health

So how can we better support children with mental illness? How do we create hope and better lifelong health and success for this future generation?

It’s essential to develop and invest in a comprehensive child and youth mental health strategy at provincial and national levels. We need strategies to promote positive mental health and provide supports and services early in the illness. Home visiting in early childhood, for example, reduces depression, anxiety and use of substances in children.

Children require a warm, nurturing environment. High levels of stress damage the mental health of children. Prevention programs include positive parenting, home visiting, antibullying initiatives and mental health promotion in schools — all aimed at preventing mental illness from developing.

More than half of mental disorders have their roots in childhood, so increasing resources for children will reduce the burden of mental illness in adulthood.

Our study found that children with mental illnesses are more likely to have lower grades and less likely to graduate. They’re also more likely to be accused of a crime or to be victimized. They’re more likely to be from families living in social housing or receiving income assistance.

Increasing the mental health knowledge and skills of people working with children across education, social services and justice systems would mitigate the untoward effects of mental illness.

Canada spends too little on mental health compared to other developed countries. The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends that nine per cent of health budgets should go to improving mental health services.

Investments in mental health and wellness for children and teens will go a long way toward creating hope and a brighter future.

Jan 17, 2017        Waterloo Region Record       By Mariette Chartier and Marni Brownell

Mariette J. Chartier, RN, PhD, is a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Chartier has published in the area of population health, mental health and prevention and early intervention programs for children and their parents. Marni Brownell, PhD, is an expert adviser with EvidenceNetwork.ca and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She is also a senior research scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and a research scientist with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. © 2017 Distributed by Troy Media