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Fun Fact Friday

  • You have a 96% chance of surviving a plane crash.

  • Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup.

  • Crying is good for your health, flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.

  • Adding salt to pineapple will actually cause it to taste sweeter.

~Happy Friday!~
source: @faccccct 


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Why Your Phone And The ‘fear Of Missing Out’ May Negatively Impact Your Mental Health

Electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, are a necessity of day-to-day life; but that reliance on devices may be taking a toll on Canadians’ mental health.

A new survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests, on average, Ontario adults spend more than 11 hours per week using social media or communicating via email, and nearly four hours per week playing screen-based games. That’s 15 hours a week not including the amount of time spent on devices at work or in school.

CAMH’s study suggested nearly one in five respondents between the ages of 18 to 29 showed signs of reliance on electronic devices, based on questions like, “Have you missed school, work or important social activities because of your use of devices?”

Overall, seven per cent of those surveyed had a problematic relationship with devices, according to the survey. Of those, 24 per cent said they had tried to cut back on their use and 14 per cent reported family members expressing concern about the amount of time they spent on their device.

Ten per cent reported feeling an “irresistible urge or uncontrollable need” to use their devices and seven per cent had experienced anxiety that could only be relieved by using a device.

“It’s clear that, for most of us, our use of electronic devices has skyrocketed over the past five to 10 years,” said Dr. Nigel Turner, scientist at CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, in a press release.

“While our understanding of problematic use is evolving, we know that some people do end up harming their career or educational opportunities by excessive use.”

How to cut down on your device use and improve your mental health

When Canadians talk about limiting screen time, the conversation usually revolves around children – but experts say it’s equally important for adults to consider putting tech restrictions on themselves for the sake of their mental health.

“Technology prompts us to respond – those beeps and buzzes gets our dopamine flowing,” Lisa Pont, therapist and educator with CAMH. “The fear of missing out is huge.”

family tech phones computer

As Pont points out, all of those text messages, Facebook Likes and Instagram notifications lighting up our devices provide us with a hit of dopamine – which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centre. This often leads to people constantly being tuned in to their devices.

“There is this expectation of people in our lives to be immediately responsive because everyone knows you have your smartphone on you,” Pont said.

Pont says it’s important for adults to reflect on their tech use to see how it’s affecting their day-to-day lives and attitude – do you feel the pressure to respond right away; do you feel anxiety due to information overload, or do you feel FOMO (fear of missing out) when you aren’t using your device; have you argued with your partner because they feel you are disconnected?

“You have to look at the consequences. If it’s affecting your work, or its impacting relationships, those are negative consequences,” she said. “This idea that I have to know what’s going on, it sounds so benign, but I think it truly affects our stress level.”

If you feel your device is impacting your mental health, try imposing limits on yourself – for example, no devices after 8 p.m., turn phones off during family dinners, or no phones in the bedroom.

“Consciously not using it at times when you want to be present,” Pont said. “We have anxiety detaching from technology, but you might discover you like it.”

Another important habit to break: using your phone as your alarm. Although sleeping next to your device may not seem like a big deal, Pont said those beeps and vibrations have the same effect our sleeping brain, causing you to lose sleep – and a lack of sleep can contribute to stress.

The light emitted from a smartphone or tablet, for example, can suppress the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates a person’s circadian rhythm – and multiple studies have shown that using blue light-emitting, like smartphones and computers, before bed can lead to poor sleep.

Of course, cutting down on your screen time might be hard to do if you have a job that requires you to be available after-hours.

That’s why France banned work emails outside business hours earlier this year, Germany’s labour ministry banned managers from calling or emailing staff outside of work hours in 2013, and Volkswagen made it so that its servers would shut down the ability to send emails 30 minutes after an employee’s shift ended in 2011.

No such bans have been implemented in Canada, however.

These latest survey findings are based on the 2015 CAMH Monitor, a collection of survey data which allows researchers to track long-term trends in the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, as well as identifying problematic behaviours related to mental health within Ontario’s population.

Another alarming issue in the survey: 37 per cent of respondents reported they had texted while driving at least once during the past year, while 11 per cent admitted texting behind the wheel 30 or more times over the previous year.

If you have the urge to text and drive, Pont suggests turning your phone on “Airplane Mode.” If you have a hands-free solution in your car and want to keep your phone on for emergency situations, then try leaving it in the backseat or somewhere out of reach.

By Nicole Bogart       National Online Journalist, Breaking News Global News
source: globalnews.ca


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A Technique You’ve Never Heard Of To Help You Combat Fear For Good

by Megan Wycklendt   OCTOBER 13, 2015

The Challenge: We are driven by fear in work and our personal lives.
The Science: Research provides a simple technique to combat fear and live happier lives.
The Solution: It’s something you may never have heard of before.

We all live in fear: fear of getting laid off, of being left, of getting sick, of losing a loved one. We are driven by fear and so we live in constant stress. In order to feel more secure, we end up buying more things, overeating, overworking and so on. However, there is a science-based technique you’ve probably never heard of that can help you achieve freedom from fear.

Contemplating impermanence.

The fact that everything comes to an end can sound like a dark topic but research suggests it actually can help us live a richer, happier and more fulfilled life in 5 distinct ways:

You will stop postponing your happiness.

We need to work to live, but some of us are so afraid of losing what we have that we stay too long in stressful work environments that drain us and don’t allow us to use our talents. Or we work instead of spending time with our family, for example. We stay in relationships that aren’t good for us for fear of not finding someone else. We postpone our happiness (Do expressions like “I’ll be happy when I get a new job, a new relationship, a new car” sound familiar?). We put our enjoyment of life on hold. Happiness always somehow depends on something that will happen in the future. A moment that actually never ends up coming because we’re always hankering after the next thing after that.

As we age, there is an increased chance for multiple chronic medical conditions, career shifts, job insecurity, and a rising age of retirement with eligibility for full benefits. Be aware of a tendency to postpone your happiness until you reach a professional or personal goal. Once it is reached, there will always be another goal you will strive for. Before you know it, years will have passed and did you really allow yourself to enjoy the journey?

Enjoy your life now. Savor your relationships and experiences. Find a work/life balance that brings you happiness now.

You will spend your time and money in meaningful ways.

Financial security is a goal for all of us. We’re afraid of losing money so we save it. We spend all our time working just for fear of losing our job or to gain more financial security. Research, however, suggests that having more money doesn’t always lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.  A worldwide survey found that after having basic needs met for food and shelter, along with simple conveniences and psychological needs, long-term happiness did not correspond to increased wealth.  Society tells us we need to keep buying more things to feel happy and secure.  The hard truth is that no matter to which someone is, all of us die as equals. Your money (or lack of) will not protect you from the inevitable. So, what is most important to you? What will you spend your money and time on?

Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows that “Wealth and abundance may undermine appreciation and reduce the positive emotions associated with everyday experiences.” Reflect on what defines you and your life. Most of the time when we die, we leave the difficult and time consuming task of going through our junk for our loved ones. Although this process can be healing, why not leave things that are simple, meaningful, and tell a story of who you were and what you loved, not where you shopped.

You will find more fulfillment in your daily life.

What would you do if you had one more week to live?

*Pause*

Really think about that question.

Now what if you die tomorrow? What was your last week like?

dancing

No one is immune to bad days. Life happens. When it becomes bad weeks, months, or years, we need to start taking more responsibility. We have to stop blaming our life roles, jobs, and especially other people. Make changes now. If I were to die tomorrow, I don’t want my last week to have been overly stressful or uneventful for no good reason than having let life control and consume me.

That being said, sometimes it’s much more complicated than just deciding to always have a good day. To the millions on antidepressants, and those who are not accounted for, you may think about death even more than the average, and for you, it’s that much more important to talk about it out loud. Holding it in and denying your feelings can make it worse. The biggest lie is that vulnerability is a weakness. It is where we find our strength and the strongest thing you can do is not put on a forced smile and suffer alone but to seek help. Its out there. Let people in. You’re not quite done here yet. It gets better.

You will create deeper connections with friends and family.

Do you know how the people around you feel about death? Have conversations with loved ones on their thoughts, wants and spiritual beliefs. My beautiful mother, and best friend, has Parkinson’s. Although she doesn’t like bringing attention to herself, her lovely soul has allowed me to tell our story in this article. As you can probably imagine, it was difficult for her to accept this diagnosis and as a family we tip-toed around the issue for quite some time. She also feared and delayed telling her very loving and supportive group of friends with a concern of not knowing what they would say or if they would treat her differently. Her process of accepting the diagnosis is not unique. It’s uncomfortable to talk about chronic or terminal illness and coming to terms with the fact that we will die, even if that was the fact all along. Eventually, the conversation broke. Having her friends aware has immensely decreased her stress. It has arguably been the best thing for her health.

My mother and I have recently become much more open about the diagnosis. I’ve found that every time we talk about it, it gets easier. The conversation is allowed to broaden to more general topics of death, happiness, and faith. Our conversations have brought new understanding about what my mother appreciates in life, how she wants to be remembered, and what she hopes for me in my life. Admittedly, I don’t live anywhere near a ‘bubble life’. I’m an adventurer, thrill seeker and am currently spending the next couple years of my life cycling from Alaska to Argentina. If I died, how would she survive? I am comforted that she knows I want her to not only survive but live and celebrate knowing that we share the same faith and beliefs that we will be together again. We shouldn’t be so scared to have these meaningful conversations. And often. They don’t need to bring dread. They can bring peace, enlightenment and closeness that had never before been experienced.

You will become more self-aware.

Don’t wait to be on your deathbed to figure out what is important to you in life. Let’s take advantage of the many studies and articles that provide us with common reflections of people at the end of their life. Let’s listen and learn from them so that instead of reflecting on our regrets, we can look back and smile in contentment. Check out the above links and find that they continue to say the same things! “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” “I wish I had lived my own life rather than how society taught me to live.” “I wish I’d allowed myself to love.”

We need to move from an intellectual, one-dimensional understanding of the life cycle to a deep realization  that we all will die. It is indeed the only guarantee of life. We will all not be so lucky to have that transition time used for looking back on our life and finding peace. Reflect on everything now. What is important to you? Are you a spiritual being? In what ways? What do you believe? This can evolve and strengthen over time. You don’t need to have all the answers but start searching now so that you don’t wait any longer to enjoy what you find.

How do you want to be remembered?
Start living that way today,
as this article is much more about living  than dying.

Megan Wycklendt
Megan received her Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, with the hope of being a School Counselor, Wilderness Therapist, Wellness Director or some combination of the three. She finds life balance through breathing, yoga, and meditation, and is actively involved in the Art of Living community to spread the sense of connection and peace. Megan loves to incorporate sarcastic humor and movie quotes into daily conversations, but more often will engage in deep discussions about life, philosophy and spirituality. Although she has strong opinions on various topics, she appreciates being exposed to different perspectives to continuously grow and evolve her opinions. After having her first article published in the Washington Post, she thought to herself, “Hmm, maybe I do have something to say…” and has since been trying her hand at science journalism and blogging. She has managed to successfully balance her life of work, school, and daily showers with frequent stints as a dirty backpacker. As a globe trotter and a program leader for the non-profit Operation Groundswell, she proudly identifies as a backpacktivist and seeks to promote responsible travel and authentic, self-critical, ethically-oriented service abroad. She is currently taking her thirst for travel full time and embarking on a cycling adventure across the length of the American continents, from Alaska all the way to the southernmost tip of Argentina! Follow her journey at http://www.bikelivingtheamericas.com or via facebook, Instagram or twitter.


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5 Tricks to Transform Fear Into Fortitude

“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do.” ~ Wayne Dyer

This statement makes you think, doesn’t it?  How can something not exist if there are so many cases of it causing trouble in our own physical world?  It’s a perfect example of something from the non-physical world creating itself through self-destructive thoughts and choices.  Awareness of this is paramount.

Without the regular practice of positive thoughts and positive choices, our lives can go into a tailspin in a hurry.  If you’d rather create a life path that takes you toward building a strong, confident inner self that can’t be shaken, Touch base with each of the following points, every day if needed.

1. Get fresh air

Not much beats a walk through the park or countryside to collect your thoughts.  As you venture into a peaceful environment, a peaceful environment seems to venture its way into you.  It doesn’t matter how you get out there either – you can even take a walk around a garden or conservatory if you don’t have immediate wilderness.

Smell the flowers, listen to the wildlife, be one with what was put here in the beginning.  Your stress is going to melt away. All you have to do is get your mind wrapped around the idea of letting everything go, including the fear – just enjoy the serenity nature has to offer.

2. Exercise often

You know that feeling you get when you WANT to exercise, but just can’t seem to slide your butt off of the couch?  It’s more than the lack of motivation, it is fear looking you straight in the minds’ eye and telling you that you can’t do it.  I’ve got news for you; you can do it right now.

What’s the benefit?  You’ll do even better tomorrow.

Don’t think twice; don’t worry about where you are right now, because that’s not going to change unless you do. What’s important is that you JUST DO IT.

3. Nourish your body

Nutrition is the perfect complement to exercise.  If you want to treat your body properly with physical activity, you’ve got to feed your body the optimal octane that it’s going to need.  Let’s start thinking about that, shall we?

Think of the human body, broken down into the smallest pieces. It all comes down to single cells doesn’t it?  How you treat these cells is what’s vitally important.  Eat living food, receive life.  Eat dead food, well I’ll let you figure the rest of that out…

4. Craft Change

“What can I do about the people around me that are negative?”

This is the most frequent question I’ve ever been asked about retaining a positive mindset in a negative atmosphere.  There may be certain people floating around in your experience that try to plant the seeds of fear and negativity in your mind when you’re around.  You’re better than that; you’re seeking divine destiny, not defeat.  Do you want to turn the tables with me?

Let’s follow the rules here, step by step. If your thoughts can supposedly alter your reality, then you can change that reality through your thoughts, right?  Someone once said:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

See how that quote only STARTED with your thoughts? That’s right; you can’t cross the finish line if you don’t start running when the gun sounds. It’s completely up to you (since we’re in this physical world and all), to follow up with words, actions and so forth to create your destiny.

Do you want to change the attitude of the person or people around you?  Here’s how to do it, just in case your own positive “ripple effect” hasn’t yet started to take place:

Start thinking about how they can be happy.  Next, talk to them about what makes them happy.  This could be as simple as simply asking them what makes them happy. You might be surprised if they don’t start talking about what actually does make them happy.  Congratulations my friend, you’ve planted the seed of thought.  It all starts with the thought about being happy to ultimately create a happy life.  That’s the Power of Positivity!

Know that you can make positive experiences happen in your own life and in the lives of others.  Be like the lion – fearless, knowing that you are the king of your own jungle.

5. Affirm, Affirm, Affirm!

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Affirmations:  We’ve all heard of them.  Repeat this or that to yourself and believe in it. It will magically just find itself to you.  Don’t ask me HOW it works, I’m not a quantum physicist; I just know it works. How?  Because every time I ask someone how they’ve earned their massive success, they say “I focused on my dreams and didn’t let anything get in the way.”  That’s even how it started for me!

Here’s the trick:  Wherever you feel you are lacking or whatever “moans and gripes” you have are what is holding your attractive vibration in place. Start repeating daily the exact opposite of those moans and gripes (i.e., “I’m broke all the time.” vs. “My income is constantly increasing.”).  You will notice in time, with repetition and belief in yourself that changes will start taking place.  At first, it may be minor changes, but if you’re steadfast you’ll see more, too!


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The Best Way to Conquer Fear? Sleep on It

By Maia Szalavitz     Sept. 23, 20130    

A new technique makes it possible to sleep away your fears.

The research, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed for the first time that the power of emotional memories — specifically, fearful ones — can be weakened with sleep-based tactics, which offers hope that something as simple as a good night’s slumber may reduce phobias and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers led by Katherina Hauner, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral student at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, studied 15 participants who were taught to fear images of particular men’s faces by receiving mild but uncomfortable shocks whenever these faces were shown. Each of the target visages was accompanied by a recurrent odor that the participants chose because they didn’t have any prior emotional associations. (Smells are especially linked with memories of feelings.)

The participants then took a nap. While they slept, the researchers repeatedly reintroduced the odors, including the ones linked to the target faces and a shock — but this time, without the shock.

It was obvious that the smells affected the sleepers. Although they weren’t awake, when the fear-linked odors were wafted in their direction, their skin conductance, which measures emotional arousal, rose. But over time, with repeated exposure, that response declined. (The scientists intentionally chose smells that don’t normally activate pain nerves — like strong peppermint — that can wake people up.)

When the participants faced the scary images after their nap, they were less likely to flinch. In other words, their fear response had been reduced while they slept. And the longer they slept and were exposed to the scent, the less afraid they were when they awoke.

“Individual memories related to fearful events can be specifically targeted and changed during sleep,” says Hauner. “To my knowledge, this is the first [experiment] to show that emotional memories can be manipulated during sleep in humans.”


While she cautions that this technique is not yet ready for clinical use, if other scientists repeat and investigate the process more deeply, it could one day be added to exposure therapy, which is the most effective treatment for phobias and is also used for PTSD. Exposure involves having people engage in their feared experiences gradually — while they are awake — until they learn not to overreact. But because they are conscious of having to face their fears, many patients refuse even to try it. If some of this exposure work could be done while they were asleep, more people might benefit from the therapy.

“[Exposure therapy] is extremely stressful, especially at the beginning,” Hauner says. “It’s very effective for specific phobias and not as good for PTSD. It can be a very difficult process, so anything we can do to enhance it would be good.”

Why would sleeping on a fearful experience diminish its power? Researchers believe that one of the main functions of sleep is to consolidate memories so they can be stored to make room for new memories, therefore freeing up more brain capacity. (Dreams, in fact, may be the replaying of those memories during this processing and storage.)

One element of a memory involves emotion, which flags the memories that should be kept and those that are filed away or even deleted. But each time a memory is brought up, recalled and stored again, it can be changed in subtle ways. That’s why an unconscious experience like smelling a scent during sleep can reshape the memory so its emotional poignancy — in this case, fear — is attenuated so the next time it is activated, it’s less emotionally powerful.

Other research also suggests that emotional memories may be processed in different ways than neutral ones, and that sleep tends to reduce emotional intensity. “In general, the idea is that maybe sleep helps to increase our memory but reduce our worries,” says Bjorn Rasch, a professor of cognitive biopsychology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, who was not associated with the research, noting that this may be why anxiety disorders and depression are often accompanied by sleep problems.

The new study suggests we may be able to hack this mechanism to fight troubling memories — and get closer to one day sleeping them off.

source:  Time


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5 Risks That Are Always Worth Taking

By  Jo Beth Richards

Life is short and brilliant. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back, tap into your courage and walk into the unknown with an open heart.

Here are five risks that are always worth taking…

1. Love.

Love makes you vulnerable & can hurt, but it is always worth taking. Without love we are nothing. With love we become who we are meant to be.

2. Follow your DREAMS. 

We only live once — ONCE! So why would you waste your time doing something that didn’t cultivate your passion? Follow your dream; it may be a bumpier path, but that path will lead to sunshine.


3. Forgive.

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but, it can be the biggest release. When we hold onto grudges, we’re only hurting ourselves. Even if you can’t actually tell a person you forgive them, forgive her in your own heart, and your spirit will be lighter as a result.

4. Move to a new city. 

Moving is scary, and packing up all your stuff is a pain. But it is worth it if you feel your heart being called to a new place for a new opportunity, for a fresh start.

5. Say what you feel.

Holding everything in is overrated. Yes, we should try our best to always speak with compassion, but use that compassion to help you say what your heart is crying out. Believe in your own voice!

Risks are scary, but they often lead us to great things. Breathe in courage and breathe out a new adventure!


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Why Society Doesn’t Change: The System Justification Bias

“Society’s tendency is to maintain what has been. Rebellion is only an occasional reaction to suffering in human history: we have infinitely more instances of forbearance to exploitation, and submission to authority, than we have examples of revolt.” (Zinn, 1968)

Have you ever wondered why society hardly ever changes? I think most of us have.
One answer is that humans have a mental bias towards maintaining the status quo. People think like this all the time. They tend to go with what they know rather than a new, unknown option.
People feel safer with the established order in the face of potential change. That’s partly why people buy the same things they bought before, return to the same restaurants and keep espousing the same opinions.
This has been called the ‘system justification bias’ and it has some paradoxical effects (research is described in Jost et al., 2004):
  • Poor people don’t strongly support the sorts of political policies that would make them better off. Surveys find that low-income groups are hardly more likely than high-income groups to want tax changes that mean they will get more money. Generally people’s politics doesn’t line up with their position in society.
  • Oddly, the more disadvantaged people are, the more they are likely to support a system that is doing them no favours. This is because of cognitive dissonance. In one US example of this low-income Latinos are more likely to trust government officials than high-income Latinos.
  • Most disturbing of all: the more unequal the society, the more people try to rationalise the system. For example in countries in which men hold more sexist values, women are more likely to support the system.
People seem to rationalise the inequality in society, e.g. poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough and rich people are rich because they deserve it.
Incredibly, this means that some (but not all) turkeys will keep on voting for Christmas.
source: spring.org      Image credit: kris krug