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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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This Year, Consider Giving Presence Instead Of Presents

During the holiday season, many of us feel pressure to find our loved ones the “perfect” gift. Why? Because gift-giving has long been considered a prime way to express love. However, recent research suggests that gestures don’t need to be large or have a hefty price tag to feel meaningful. The study, published this summer in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests that small acts of kindness, not grand overtures, make people feel most loved and supported.

“Our research found that micro-moments of positivity, like a kind word, cuddling with a child, or receiving compassion make people feel most loved,” says Dr. Zita Oravecz, a professor in human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University and one of the study’s researchers.

In the study, 495 men and women between the ages of 18 and 93 completed a questionnaire evaluating 60 possible ways that people can feel love. Each question began with, “Most people feel loved when…” The scenarios included situations like spending time with friends, receiving gifts, and spending time in nature. The survey also included negative interactions, like being controlled and criticized by others. Oravecz says the findings highlight the psychological benefits that intimate relationships can offer. In fact, study participants ranked human interaction as a more significant expression of love than receiving material items, like presents. Connecting with others was also rated more highly than getting positive feedback on the internet, indicating that people derive the most support from personal human contact. In fact, other studies suggest more time on social media leads to increased feelings of isolation. Yet despite the findings that spending time with friends and family makes us feel good, during hectic times like the holidays, these social interactions can feel burdensome instead of fulfilling. Fatigued from an overload of shopping, spending, and travel, most Americans describe this time of year as stressful instead of magical. In fact, a telephone survey conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that compared to other times of the year, 44 percent of women and 31 percent of men (out of 786 individuals polled) feel more stress during the holidays. In addition, 51 percent of women and 42 percent of men said purchasing and giving gifts added to their distress.

Esther Lui for NPR

Small acts of kindness are what make us feel loved.

Any kind of stress can strain relationships and cause us to withdraw from others, but small stressors can be just as trying as larger burdens. A 2015 research study found that daily hassles like working, running errands, and money troubles negatively impact romantic unions, causing people to feel less satisfied and more alone in their relationships. When we’re anxious and fatigued, it can also be more challenging to see someone else’s point of view, which might explain why family feuds seem more likely to arise during the holidays. While prioritizing one’s self-care during the months of November and December may be difficult, adopting a mindset of being present in the moment may help lessen the stress of the season.

“During the holidays, anxiety rises, making it harder to remain present with ourselves and others. However, the power of spending time with another person is a gift we can give at any moment,” says Dr. Carla Naumburg, a mindfulness coach and social worker in Newton, Mass.

While we may associate presence with mindfulness meditation, we don’t need to be Zen masters to create a calmer holiday. Naumburg says we can cultivate presence by cutting back on social media (which helps limit distractions), getting plenty of rest, and taking a pause (and remembering to breathe).

“For everyone, breathing is a small but powerful act that can keep us connected to ourselves by shifting our awareness to the present moment,” she says.

According to The American Institute of Stress, focused breathing elicits the body’s “relaxation response,” slowing one’s heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and helping muscles relax. This physical process aids in repairing an overactive nervous system, helping us to enter a calmer physical and emotional state. Although it can be challenging to forgo doing extra errands during the holidays, Naumburg suggests balancing party planning and online shopping with moments of human connection. Activities like reading to a child, meeting a friend for a walk, or taking a moment to call a family member, are ways to express love and care and can keep us emotionally grounded. While the idea of offering loved ones the gift of our time may pale in comparison to giving them a lavish present, recent empathy research shows shared human experiences can tighten social bonds. Oravecz and her colleagues also found that despite personality differences, most people agree on what makes us feel loved — the presence of our loved ones.

Juli Fraga is a psychologist and writer in San Francisco. You can find her on Twitter @dr_fraga.
December 9, 2017    JULI FRAGA
source: www.npr.org

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Fun Fact Friday

  • Some studies suggest that eye contact must be made for about 8.2 seconds for that “Love At First Sight” feeling to occur.

  • People who generally walk fast tend to live longer.

  • Avocados, raspberries, almonds, broccoli, spinach, salmon are among the healthiest foods on the planet.

  • Telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve your health.


~ Happy Friday!~

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This Is What Happens To Your Brain After A Breakup

“Turning on the reward neurons releases repeated floods of the neurotransmitter dopamine. And the dopamine activates circuits inside the brain that create a craving…In the case of romance, the thing you need more of is your beloved.” – Diane Kelly

We’re going to assume, at least for the sake of this article, that someone you once loved someone did not end up becoming “the one.”

Many people reading this article will concede that a such an unfortunate occasion has happened at least once.

The underlying concept you’ll see throughout the article is this: the brain’s complex – and often, unknowable – intricately woven circuitry produces complex feelings that arise from any and all situations; whether positive or negative.

Of course, this includes any relationship that has gone awry.

The motivation behind this article is to explain what happens to the brain following a painful breakup. The benefit of such knowledge is noteworthy in the sense that we will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the neurocircuitry that accompanies a hard felt separation.

It is our hope, then, that this knowledge will enable you to understand why such emotions occur – and what you can do as a rational being to make the best out of a tough situation.


Anyone remember the 1980’s commercial “This is your brain on drugs?” This commercial was a well-intended (though rudimentary) depiction of what occurs in the human brain during drug use. Whether or not one is a fan of this ad, it is challenging to object its effectiveness. Following extensive research, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reproduced a more intensive version of the commercial following a sizeable decrease in drug abuse cases.

As it turns out, the human brain reacts similarly to love. According to Psychology Today, “love has probably started more schoolyard fights, adult feuds, and outright wars than every other catalyst combined – money, alcohol, drugs, politics, sports, etc.”

Simply put, the numerous effects of love on the brain are strikingly similar to those produced by drugs. Similar to how drugs can induce a stagnant effect on the human brain, love (especially deep love) can result in the same – if not exacerbated – neurological effects.

A neuroscientist at the Einstein College of Medicine explains love’s effect on the brain as follows: “Other kinds of social rejection are much more cognitive…(Romantic rejection) is a life changing thing, and involves systems that are not at the same level as feeling hungry or thirsty.”

In other words, when someone we love rejects us, it is as harmful, if not more so, to the brain than social needs (friendships) and primal needs (sustenance).

Wow…can’t say we saw that coming. Wonder what Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil would say on the matter. Anyway, digression aside let’s get down to it.


When we separate or reject somebody who we love, the physical effects – shallow breathing, nausea, chest constriction, etc. – are all very real phenomena.

Studies demonstrate that individuals in the midst of a breakup show disproportionate activity in the brain regions that determine the body’s response to physical pain and distress. This is potentially dangerous; and again, the more intimate the relationship, the likelier that adverse and extreme harmful physical side effects arise.

Unfortunately, this counterproductive cognitive response negatively affects other physical channels; including higher blood pressure, weakening of the immune system, and complications of the digestive system. These physical symptoms may persist for days, weeks, or months following a separation; with the duration of such effects highly dependent upon the individual.

Perhaps the most tragic response to heartbreak is a condition known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (aka, “Broken Heart Syndrome) which produces stress hormones in extreme excess, which can, sadly, result in a heart attack, stroke, or even death.



From birth to death (and perhaps beyond), human beings desire to be loved. Regardless of the rapid advancements in neuroscience, we cannot – nor should we presume to – understand the complex mechanisms of love on our brain, body, and soul.

Experience (and science) tells us that love and human existence are inseparable. On the positive side, this inseparability enables us to love and cherish those we hold dear despite any and all circumstances. On the not so positive side, such findings elaborate upon – for better or worse – our dependence on others for connection, friendship, love, and nourishment.

For those currently going through the heartbreak that many of us have endured, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Human beings, by evolutionary design, are resilient creatures. Our brains have the superlative capability of learning, adapting, and rewiring to any past, present or future situation.



Fun Fact Friday

  • If someone truly loves you, they tend to hug you for at least 5 seconds or more.

  • Changing how you walk affects your mood.

  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses, which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.

  • Emotions are contagious. Unpleasant or negative emotions are more contagious than neutral or positive emotions.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth after oil.
  • 1% of people are addicted to exercise.

  • Long distance relationships are as satisfying as normal relationships in terms of communication, intimacy, and commitment, studies show.

  • It takes your brain approximately 90 seconds to decide whether or not you like someone.

  • Laughter helps increase memory and learning. Incorporating humor into education leads to higher test scores.


Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact

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Fun Fact Friday

  • It takes about 7 minutes for the average person to fall asleep.
  • A “gut feeling” is a chemical signal that your stomach creates to warn the brain of danger.
  • Fast food restaurants use yellow, red, and orange because those are the colors that stimulate hunger.
  • In the next 30 seconds, you will, on average, produce 72 million red blood cells, shed 174,000 skin cells, and have 25 thoughts.
  • Studies show those who don’t eat breakfast, or eat it only sometimes, are twice as likely to be overweight as those who eat two breakfasts.
  • It only takes 0.2 seconds to fall in love.


Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact

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Fun Fact Friday

  • The downside of being shy is that people misjudge you as thinking you’re better than others just because you’re quiet.
  • 91% people skip the first slice of bread, just because it’s ugly.
  • Popcorn is by far the healthiest snack. It builds bone, muscle, tissue, aids digestion, and is good for the teeth.
  • Generally, you should never forget what a person says to you when angry because that’s when the truth finally comes out.
  • According to a study, wishing someone luck makes them do better.
  • A sleeping human brain can still understand the words being spoken around it.
  • Bottling up your emotions can lead to depression.
  • Studies have found that smiling is 69% more attractive than wearing makeup.
  • It only takes 0.2 seconds to fall in love.
  • Focusing primarily on the person you’re talking to rather than yourself and the impression you’re making lessens social anxiety.


Happy Friday  🙂


source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact

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Fun Fact Friday

  • North American school buses are yellow because humans see yellow faster than any other color, which is important for avoiding accidents.
  • People fall in love on average 7 times before marriage.
  • Studies have shown that eating food without preservatives can improve I.Q by up to 14%.
  • Psychologists have found that whenever you’re in a bad mood, you can feel better just by forcing yourself to smile.
  • A teaspoon of honey is actually the lifework of 12 bees.
  • Washing your hands makes you more optimistic.
  • Shy people tend have great observational skills, making it easier to recognize the core of a problem then solving it.
  • Pineapples are not a single fruit, but a group of berries that have fused together.
  • Pumpkin is not a vegetable, scientifically it is a berry.

Happy Friday  

 source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact