Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


2 Comments

Keep Busy! Stay Sharp!

Study suggests a full schedule may enhance your mental prowess

By Amy Norton    HealthDay Reporter   WebMD News from HealthDay

TUESDAY, May 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) – Although people complain when their schedule gets too busy, new research suggests that being overbooked might actually be good for the brain.

The study of older adults found that those with packed schedules tended to do better on tests of memory, information processing and reasoning.

Researchers said the findings don’t prove that “busyness” makes us smarter. For one, sharper people may seek out more mental stimulation. These people may also have more resources, such as higher incomes, that allow them to lead active lives.

On the other hand, past research has found that learning new skills can improve older adults’ overall mental acuity, said study leader Sara Festini.

“We think it is likely that being busy is good for your cognition,” said Festini, a researcher with the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas.

She and her colleagues reported the findings in the May 17 online issue of Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The results are in line with those from many previous studies, the researchers said.

Past research has found that older adults who are more active — mentally, physically or socially — tend to have better mental function and a lower risk of dementia. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends all three types of activity for maintaining better brain health.

According to Festini, busyness could be a proxy for people’s “cognitive engagement” in daily life.

For the study, she and her colleagues had 330 men and women rate their “busyness” levels — asking questions such as, “How often do you have too many things to do each day to actually get them all done?” The study volunteers were between 50 and 89 years old.

The researchers also gave the volunteers a battery of tests that gauged memory, information processing speed, reasoning and vocabulary.

Multi-ethnic group of adults practicing tai chi in park.  Main focus on senior man (60s).

Multi-ethnic group of adults practicing tai chi in park. Main focus on senior man (60s).

Overall, the study found, the busier people were in their daily lives, the better their test performance — especially when it came to remembering specific events from the past. The findings were not explained by age or education level.

Still, there are other potential explanations for the connection, said Debra Fleischman, a professor of neurological and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago.

“Occupation, income, ethnicity and race are all important factors that can influence accessibility to resources that support an active lifestyle,” said Fleischman, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Plus, she added, people’s health – physical and mental – could affect both their daily activities and their scores on tests of memory and thinking (“cognition”).

Festini said she was interested in studying the subject because people often talk about their tight schedules, but there’s little research on how our “busyness” relates to health.

On one hand, a packed schedule could cause unhealthy levels of stress; on the other, busy people may have more “effortful engagement” with life, the researchers suggested.

According to Fleischman, it would be interesting to know whether the busy study participants were stressed out by their schedules. And that, she noted, could vary by age.

Older adults might tend to see a hectic schedule as a good thing – a sign that they have purpose in life, Fleischman said. But, she added, it’s possible that younger people could view busyness in a more negative light.

The current findings say nothing about the types of activities that are related to sharper mental skills, Fleischman pointed out. But past studies have already shown there may be benefits from physical exercise, mental tasks — such as crossword puzzles and reading — and social activities, she said.

“Daily activity is important to promote cognitive health in people over age 50,” Fleischman said.
Festini agreed. “[This study] provides further motivation to seek out additional activities and to keep learning new skills throughout adulthood,” she said.

Article Sources 
SOURCES: Sara Festini, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, Center for Vital Longevity, University of Texas at Dallas; Debra Fleischman, Ph.D., professor, neurological and behavioral sciences, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; May 17, 2016, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, online

source: HealthDay www.webmd.com


Leave a comment

A Beautiful Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Shubhra Krishan    April 10, 2015

In Japan, people famously get to enjoy their great grand children and often die peacefully in their sleep.

What’s their secret?

Yes, they eat plenty of fish, fresh vegetables and fruit. And yes, they eat small portions, cook their food lightly, and present it beautifully. All of these are indeed conducive to a healthier and longer life.

But there is something else–something way more powerful and deep–that holds the key to their longevity.

It’s called ikigai, and it is not a health food you can buy or a martial art you need to learn.

Ikigai simply means “a reason to wake up in the morning.” It is a gentle way of nudging you toward nurturing; inspiring you to care for life other than your own. It could be the life of a plant, a pet, or your great-grand children. The philosophy of ikigai is simple: caring for others brings deep satisfaction to your own life and helps you discover the meaning of your existence.

mirror

The concept is beautifully illustrated by this popular story from Japan:

In a small village outside of Osaka, a woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up to heaven and stood before the Voice of her ancestors.

“Who are you?” the Voice said to her.

“I am the wife of the mayor,” she replied. “I did not ask whose wife you are but who you are.” “I am the mother of four children.” “I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.” “I am a school teacher.” “I did not ask what your profession is but who you are.”

And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “Who are you?”

“I am a Shinto.” “I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.” “I am the one who wakes up each day to care for my family, and nurture the young minds of the children at my school.”

She passed the examination, and was sent back to earth. The next morning she woke at sunrise, feeling a deep sense of meaning and purpose. She tended to her children’s lunches, and planned fun lessons for her students that day. The woman had discovered her ikigai.

I am inspired to reflect on my ikigai. Are you?


3 Comments

20 Ways Changing Your Space Can Change Your Life

BY DANA CLAUDAT      FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Without space, where would we exist? Space is THAT important to life.

Not only is space vital, but we see and feel its importance even when we don’t know exactly how to articulate it. You know the places you avoid. We all know when something is “off” or “not right” or feels “haunted,” even if we don’t know why or how to fix it.

We’re inextricably tied to space and the energy of that space.

Take a moment to imagine the place where you’ve felt most at home in your life.

It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it?

Do you feel that feeling now at home? If not, you can. You just need to make the connection.

Feng shui is the ancient art and science of creating incredible environments to support incredible lives. The more of a connection you can make to your own personal space, the more that space can help you to change your life.

Here are 20 of the most common ways I’ve seen lives change when spaces change:

1. You’ll have more energy.

When you adjust your home in ways that eliminate basic obstacles and clutter, you create more flow in your life.

2. You’ll clear away emotional blocks.

Get rid of just a few bits of emotionally loaded clutter and you’ll feel the emotional weight associated with that clutter leave your life as well.

3. You’ll amp up your personal style.

It’s called “lifestyle” for a reason. Not “life obligation.” Not “life rules.” Beautification is also self-betterment.

4. You’ll feel at home when you’re at home.

Rather than simply being a place to live, a home reflects your confidence, security and deeper sense of belonging in life.

5. You’ll become more creative.

A home filled with things that you love will inspire you to synergize new ideas, and even explore new ways to communicate.

6. You’ll live with more depth.

The feeling of superficial existence — largely digital and fast-paced — melts greatly in the soft textures of a home that is a sanctuary.

7. You’ll launch your dreams.

When you’re organized and clear of clutter, you have a solid foundation to build a life that’s so much more stable.

8. You’ll break habits.

Going on vacation is a great way to help you break bad habits, as you remove common triggers to behavior when you go away. A home makeover can be just as effective, year-round.

9. You’ll relax more.

Serene spaces — especially ones filled with nature — are intensely relaxing.

home-sweet-home

10. You’ll sleep better.

Simple adjustments to your bedroom can help you sleep much more soundly.

11. You’ll expand your social life.

Having a space to entertain instantly opens up your social life directly, but simply having a decluttered home that welcomes in fresh energy also opens up your life to more connection.

12. You’ll make more money.

Money is energy. The more you can clear clutter and live in a high-energy space of beauty, the more abundance tends to come naturally.

13. You’ll have more healthy boundaries.

Being drained by energy vampire personalities or overly committing yourself can leave you in last place; a clean, clear and organized home helps you put yourself first in an empowering way.

14. You’ll think clearly.

Sit in chaos and darkness, and try to make important decisions. Now, go to a beautiful, light, refreshing space. Big difference, right?! A clear space reflects a clear mind.

15. You’ll feel more wellness in your life.

Wellness is about connection. Connecting to your body, your emotions, your breath and your determination all fuel your well-being. Making this connection to your space will powerfully support your wellness revolution.

16. You’ll make a fresh start.

In some sort of transition? Changing your home can help guide you through a time of big change, supporting you through a fresh start!

17. You’ll become more grounded.

Imagination, ideas, vision and dreaming are all vital, but a grounded life helps you to put those ideas into action in a much more concrete way.

18. You’ll risk bigger.

It’s way easier to take a big risk if you’re feeling great and supported by your life rather than when you’re feeling stifled and confused.

19. You’ll live with more purpose.

If your home is designed specifically to support and encourage your dreams, every step you take though that home you’ll be reminded of your purpose!

20. You’ll love more!

Ultimately, it’s all about love, right? Love for your life, love for everyone in it, attracting love, living in love … all of it! From filling a room with colors that inspire you to decluttering objects from a brokenhearted era of the past, your environment can be a catalyst for so much more self-esteem and love every day.

Are you ready to make a space shift of your own? You can start small and open some windows for a few minutes, burn a candle and clean your house. That is a great feel-good step. You’ll see and feel the difference instantly.

Want to really make a space shift of greatness? I’ve created a video course, Your Guide To DIY Feng Shui: Change Your Space To Change Your Life, to help you overhaul your space and your entire experience in the world. When you have a little guidance, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel!

 


1 Comment

8 Truths To Accept Before You Can Be Happy

BY SHANNON KAISER   AUGUST 22, 2014 

Many of my coaching clients first come to me looking for the epiphany: that instant moment when you have it figured out, and all of the emotional pain is wiped away with clarity. Sometimes it happens for them. They return with excited emotions and they say, “I had my aha moment!”

It’s great to have an epiphany, but what you do with that new clarity is what matters most.

Most of our habits are so ingrained in our lives that changing behaviors causes regression. Most epiphanies force us to see situations and ourselves in a new light. The next step is courage. And taking that step to live out your epiphany is when real transformation happens.

In my own life I’ve had some powerful moments. But the ones that have impacted my life the most are the ones I’ve put into practice.

Below are eight epiphanies everyone should have. They have certainly changed my life for the better, and maybe they can help you.

1. You aren’t what people say you are.

What matters most is what you say and feel about yourself. You get to choose; you can let others define you and tell you who you are, or you can show them who you are. Be you. The world needs you as you are.

2. Plan B is often better than Plan A.

The most freeing moment in your life is when you let go of what you think is best for you and allow the universe to show you what you really need. Stop holding on to what is no longer working: that job, that relationship, that dream. If it feels like hard work and is causing you more pain than gain, it is time to release it. Instead, follow your heart.

follow-your-heart

3. You are not the number on the scale.

At the end of your life the weight struggles, the food wars, or the obsession with new diets and trying to look a certain way will have no relevance. The only thing that matters is what is in your heart. How you make people feel and how you make YOU feel is more important than how you look.

4. The journey is more important than the goal.

Yes reaching goals are important, but the actual process of becoming, growing, learning, and morphing into who we need to become is the real sweet stuff that makes a wonderful life. Enjoy the journey as much as the reward.

5. Being alone doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely.

The fear of being alone strikes the heart and makes many people settle. But when you learn to love your own company, you will see that you are never really lonely.

6. It will never be all done.

The to-do lists, the chores, the things we race around to get done, will never be done. It is called life. Situations, chores, to do lists will always unfold. Instead of focusing on the end result, be in the process and celebrate what you have accomplished.

7. Emotional pain shows up to show us what we need to change.

Sadness, depression, and heartache are gentle reminders to probe deeper into our life. Look at what is not working and be open to living your life in new ways. You will see that one day it will all make sense.

8. You don’t have to find your purpose; it will find you.

The transition period between you were and where you are going can be painful, but on your journey of finding purpose. Recognize that there is purpose in the pain. Each step you take is helping you carve out more of how you really are. Instead of regretting or resisting, try turning inward and embrace the journey into joy.


3 Comments

11 Ways To Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

BY JO CASEY    JANUARY 7, 2014 

Do you ever get frustrated that the world seems to be on a downward spiral? It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of war, environmental damage and inequality. But there’s a way you can take back your sense of control and power and, as the saying goes, be the change you wish to see in the world.

1. Be grateful.

Not just for the things you have in your world, but for the people too. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

2. Show it when you’re thankful.

Had a great service in a restaurant? Did someone say something kind to you just at the very moment you needed a lift? Thank them. Why not give those around you (yes, even those you don’t know very well) the gift of a positive comment?

3. Be joyful.

It can seem like there’s so much negativity in the world: news programs that only show disasters, corruption and arguing politicians, illness, relationship breakdowns, layoffs, conflict. Many of us can get into a funk or worse when we see all the conflict and drama. So provide a counterbalance for those around you, and become a role model for joyful living. This doesn’t mean being a Pollyanna, ignoring pain or laughing at misery. Nor does it mean pretending to be happy when that’s not how you feel inside. But it does mean not being afraid to share your joy. Look at the Dalai Lama — exiled from his country, witness to so much horror and cruelty in his lifetime, yet smiling and joyful.

4. Be kind.

I don’t know why, but kindness seems to be out of fashion in lots of circles, replaced by tough love and blaming people for their misfortunes. It would seem the milk of human kindness is in short supply, according to many newspapers and reality TV shows I see. But I refuse to believe it to be true. Reach out when you see someone fall. Give the kind word. Help with the groceries. Compliment people. Be compassionate. Just be a bit nicer. Don’t let the world grind you down and harden you. Put out what you’d like to get back.

children-hugs

5. Beware of judgment.

We all judge. We all look down on people. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Don’t beat yourself up for it — just be aware and make sure you don’t act on it. Make sure you challenge yourself when you do. And make sure you’re aware of WHY you judge. When we judge, we dehumanize and reduce someone down to her actions. We do it to make ourselves feel better. Instead of judging, try a bit of empathy. It works wonders.

6. Let go of the need to be right.

How many times have you found yourself in an argument and forgotten what you were arguing about? Ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Where can you find some common ground? Would you rather be right than be happy?

7. Accept things for what they are.

Fighting the things that can’t be change is the surest route to unhappiness. Instead, accept and make the best of your situation, even as you try to make changes.

8. Practice self-compassion.

Being good to yourself will help you to be a kinder, more compassionate person all around. You can’t give to others what you don’t give to yourself.

9. Don’t take your sh*t out on other people.

We all have bad days. We get stressed out. It doesn’t help anyone if you’re snapping, snarling and generally discharging to everyone around you. If you need to blow, take yourself off somewhere quiet and deal with it. Don’t be the cause of someone else’s bad day.

10. Connect with your sense purpose.

When you live and work to your values and purpose, you build joy, resilience and passion. You discover strengths you never knew you had and become a beacon of possibly to others.

11. Look for the good in the world.

It’s all around you. Smile. That’s infectious.


Leave a comment

A Sense of Purpose Helps You Live Longer

“Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.”

Feeling useful and having a sense of purpose in life are clearly beneficial psychologically, but now research is revealing that there also physical benefits.

No matter what your age, new research finds, having a sense of purpose helps you live longer.

However, the earlier you find a sense of direction and purpose, the better.

The findings come from a study of more than 6,000 people who were followed over 14 years (Hill & Turiano, 2014).

The results showed that people who strongly agreed with statements like the following were less likely to die over the course of the study:

    “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.”

The researchers were surprised that these findings held, even for younger people.

Lead researcher, Patrick Hill, said:

    “There are a lot of reasons to believe that being purposeful might help protect older adults more so than younger ones.

For instance, adults might need a sense of direction more, after they have left the workplace and lost that source for organizing their daily events.

In addition, older adults are more likely to face mortality risks than younger adults.

These findings suggest that there’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity.”

These findings are not isolated.

Recent studies have pointed to both the physical and psychological benefits of finding meaning in life, especially with advancing years:

    A 2009 study of 1,238 elderly people found that those with a sense of purpose lived longer.

A 2010 study of 900 older adults found that those with a greater sense of purpose were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Survey data often links a sense of purpose in life with increased happiness.

No matter what your age, then, it’s worth thinking about what gives your life meaning.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have the whole thing planned out, but a sense of direction is clearly beneficial both psychologically and physically.

source: psyblog


1 Comment

5 Ways to Have a More Meaningful Life

January 22, 2014     By Sally Wadyka

If someone asked you whether you wanted your life to be meaningful or happy, chances are you’d say “both.” A recent study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, takes an interesting look at whether or not that’s truly possible. Researchers analyzed 397 adults over a month-long period, using self-assessment questionnaires to determine whether people thought their lives were happy or meaningful. They found that while the two states aren’t synonymous, they’re not mutually exclusive either. A rich life, ultimately, seems to need healthy doses of both short-term happiness and lasting substance. To get you started, here are five ways to make your life more meaningful.

1. Get connected
Having a busy social life with lots of friends may help keep you happy, but it’s your deeper relationships (family, close friends) that will truly add meaning to your life, according to the researchers. Spending time with your close ties can sometimes be tough—they force you to focus on big issues, not just small talk—but the rewards are worth it.

2. Don’t shy away from stress
The things that add the most meaning to your life—a high-pressure job, raising kids, caring for a loved one—are often the same things that add the most stress to your day-to-day existence. But don’t assume that taking the easy road is the better option. “Often those biggest challenges in life (those that cause stress in the short term) lead to the biggest gains in the long run,” says Jennifer Aaker, Ph.D., a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and one of the authors of the study.

3. Think about the past, present, and future
According to the findings of this recent study, happiness is something that’s experienced mainly in the here and now. “Meaning, on the other hand, seems to come from assembling past, present, and future into some kind of coherent story,” Aaker says.

4. Be a giver
Not surprisingly, the study found that doing things to help others will help add meaning to your life. (Happiness, on the other hand, was linked to being a “taker.”) By helping someone else, you’re ultimately doing something positive for both parties involved.

5. Find a sense of purpose
Fulfilling short-term desires may provide a bit of happiness, but in the long run, finding things that feed your soul will bring the most satisfaction. The study found that people who spent more time pursuing activities that reflected their sense of self rated their lives as more meaningful. “Our findings suggest that happiness is mainly about getting what one wants and needs, including from other people or even just by using money,” the study authors wrote. “In contrast, meaningfulness was linked to doing things that express and reflect the self and in particular to doing positive things for others.”

But the good news is that pursuing meaning over straight-up happiness can help you in more ways than one. “There is research to suggest that when people add more meaning to their life, happiness is a result,” Aaker says. So maybe you really can have it all.


source: news.health.com