Sunday, 4 July 2021
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Reflection - A poem by Nancy Amon (jnr)
Tuesday, 27 October 2020
|Exercise to help boost wellness: Photo credit Unsplash|
These days, an increased majority of people are tapping into healthy habits to change and improve their lives for the good. Living a lifestyle steeped in stress can lead to ill-health and concerns that may hamper wellness.
But thankfully, there are some good habits to follow. These little changes can help to improve your wellness on a large scale.
Why do healthy habits matter?
Getting into healthy habits will benefit you and your family in many ways. When you eat and live healthily, you may avoid health conditions that develop as a result of bad eating choices and other negative practices.
Healthy habits matter because it leads to:
• Better health
• Improved wellness
• Improved weight-loss
• Weight control
• Higher energy levels
1. Healthy eating
It’s important to maintain not only an active lifestyle but also a healthy diet. Bearing this in mind you can consider starting off wit breakfast. Let’s face it, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and starting your day with a good breakfast will fuel and help you to get through your day.
When you’re eating healthily with your kids, you teach them from a young age to practice these healthy habits. Not only you will benefit, but your children too.
Healthy breakfast examples:
• Oats topped with fruit and nuts
• Bran cereal with fruit
• Muesli and yoghurt
• A fruit smoothie
• Protein such as eggs, bangers and or a strip of bacon (opt for less greasy)
**Tip: Eat healthily throughout the week and spoil yourself with treats on the weekend. Never deprive yourself of your favourite foods as it will only lead to binging.
2. Plan your meals
|Eat for wellness: Photo credit Unsplash|
Good eating habits come with carefully planned meals. Preparing your meals ahead of time will not only reduce the prep time on the day, but it gives you a better perspective about ingredients and what you’ll eat throughout the week.
Preparing your meals will also help you to have a better handle on ”what you put into your body.” In other words, you won’t feel the urge to buy that greasy cheese burger and chips if you’ve packed a healthy, tasty lunch.
**Tip: You can prep breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinners a week ahead of time.
3. Habits of health includes drinking water
|Drink more water, the fresher the better. Photo credit Unsplash|
Water has so many positive benefits for your health and because our bodies are primarily made up of water it is crucial to stay hydrated. Water also helps to supress hunger because feeling hungry can also be a sign that you’re dehydrated.
**Tip: If you’re not sure how much water you’re drinking, try measuring via flasks. 8 glasses a day is very good. You can also drink warm to hot water to help clean the gut of toxins.
4. Good health habits through exercise
Moving more is what your body needs to be healthy. Our bodies are such amazing creations it has the ability to maintain itself and heal when injured or infection occurs. It’s important to lead an active lifestyle by exercising more often. If you can’t go to the gym, simply incorporate 5 minutes of brisk walking into your day, every day.
If you have more time then walk longer, 10 to 15 minutes a day. It will do your mind and body wonders of good. Putting it into practice or routine is another way to keep the momentum going.
**Tip: Make exercise part of a daily healthy habit.
5. Unplug from online activity
|Take a break from the screens: Photo credit unsplash |
Unplugging your mind and body from the digital world is extremely important. Our lives are very involved with digital activities like social media, messaging, emails, video calls, cute cat videos, and the list goes on.
Digital aspects form part of our personal and professional lives and this is even more reason to unplug from it all.
*Tip: Set a time to unplug from social media and screen time. Instead of these, you could take part in therapeutic activities like drawing, listing to music, and spending time in nature.
6. Quit smoking
|Kick the bad habit: Photo credit Unsplash|
Smoking doesn’t have any positive effects on our health. There are many health studies that show smoking can lead to heart disease, cancer, lung disease and lots more health conditions. If you are a smoker, try to quit ASAP. If you’re not a smoker, don’t be tempted to start.
**Tip: If you’ve quit, try and manage weight gain. Oftentimes people who quit tend to gain weight.
7. Get into a healthy habit of sleeping well
Insomnia is one of the number one reasons we feel even more exhausted the next morning. A lack of sleep is often the cause of increased feelings of agitation or irritability and even feeling under the weather.
Getting enough sleep is a very important healthy habit to practice.
**Tip: Try to go to bed at night at the same time every evening to help get your body into a rhythm.
8. Keep your muscles healthy
|Keeping muscles strong: Photo credit Unsplash|
Our muscles play such a huge role in us being able to move and do things. When the muscles become weak, it can lead to easy injuries and even weight gain. Weight training can help you to build and strengthen your muscles. At the same time, you’ll burn fat.
**Tip: You don’t have to use weights when exercising, but you can use the weight of your body as well.
9. Go out and enjoy nature
Nature is beautiful, a creation so amazing it can literally uplift our mood. What better way to improve how you feel than to step out and enjoy some sun on your skin, the breeze of the wind and fresh air into your lungs. Breathe deeply and unwind.
**Tip: Go for a walk on the beach, or enjoy a picnic with the family. Make it a weekend ritual or habit.
10. Learn a new skill
|Enjoy nature an learn new skills: Photo credit Unsplash|
This may not sound like a healthy habit, but learning a new skill will help with mental and overall wellness. You may want to improve on an existing hobby or learn a brand new thing. Again when doing this think about the therapeutic benefits that some activities have to offer.
**Tip: Learn to dance, sing, play an instrument, paint, arts and crafts. Have fun and enjoy every moment.
The Conclusion about incorporating healthy habits into your life
I cannot stress it enough that balancing life, work, and healthy habits is what’s needed for a positive way of living. It isn’t always easy to simply “slide” into healthy habits but it is possible. While not everyone is able to implement big changes, you can go ahead with smaller changes first and progress from there.
What are you doing to include healthy habits into your life?
Wednesday, 14 October 2020
|Photo credit: Unsplash - Strong back muscles|
Your back is one of many crucial components of the body. Not only does it help with balance and posture, but it also connects various parts of the body such as the torso with the hips, the shoulders and neck, and the buttocks.
Still, while the back is a very important muscle, it is often taken for granted and neglected. Strengthening your back has a multitude of benefits which I will mention a bit later on in this post.
What causes back pain?
|Photo credit: Unsplash - Back pain treatment|
Why is back stretches for flexibility a good thing?
|Photo credit: Unsplash - Flexible back|
Flexibility is essential for all muscles in the body, but for this post, I want to focus on the large back muscle. Daily poor posture can result in muscle strain. This includes sitting for long periods of time. The strain exerted on the back can cause shoulder and lower back pain.
Back stretches for flexibility has many pros.
Reduced risk for injuries
When your back is more flexible and you practice proper posture, then the chances of injuries to your back is reduced.
It may speed up the healing time of back sprain
If you've hurt your back by straining it, it takes very long to heal and hampers your normal movement abilities. But, when it comes to spinal flexibility, you'll notice a faster healing time.
Better posture and balance
With spinal flexibility, it helps to improve your posture naturally as well as balance. This is good news and thus reducing the risk of falls especially in the elderly.
Easy back stretches for flexibility: Beginners are welcomed
This gentle back pose is excellent for beginners and intermediates. To do the sphynx pose:
• Lie on your stomach
• Lift your arms up under your shoulders and rest your forearms on the ground (similar to a plank)
• Stay in the pose breathing 5 to 10 breaths
• On all fours hands and knees get into this position
• With an inhale flex your back towards the ground turning your gaze towards the ceiling
• On the exhaled breath, arch your back extending it towards the ceiling
• Do this for 5 breaths
• Lie on your stomach and bring your legs up at the back to grab your ankles
• With your chest lifted away from the ground make sure the knees are apart
• Hold this pose for 5 breaths or longer if you can
• While lying on your back, lift your hips and support your weight with your feet
• The bridge pose with support should have a block underneath your hips to create support
• You can hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths
Senior yoga or chair yoga
|Photo credit: Pexels - Senior yoga|
Age is just a number and you can still take care of your wellness throughout your years. The wonderful practice of senior yoga is excellent and improves posture, balance and range for elderly folks. What's more is that there isn't strain and overexertion during the poses because it is low impact yet effective.
Furthermore chair yoga can also:
• Reduce muscle and joint stiffness
• May help improve blood pressure
• Improves blood circulation
• Improve coordination
• May help to reduce inflammation and arthritis pain
• May improve spinal flexibility
The conclusion about why you aught to embrace back stretches for flexibility
|Photo credit: Unsplash - Exercise for back pain|
Sometimes when working an office job, sitting behind a desk is part of the process. But when you change your seating area and create a more ergonomically comfortable space, your posture and back will thank you later.
If your regular exercise routine doesn't feature these back strengthening and flexible exercises, then implementing it will help. You can add it to your routine along with the breathing techniques following through.
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
|Deep breathing is good for your wellbeing |
Mental wellness is very important and during the current age and times we're living in, there is a huge concern for the mental wellness of people. Often, adapting to some kind of new normal is harder than it looks.
Part of what makes these difficult times harder includes people having lost their jobs, businesses forced to shut their doors, an inability to freely go out, the coronavirus, and things are just not the same way as what we could relate to before.
Focusing on natural ways to lower stress levels, anxiety, and depression will go a long way to help improve mental wellness. There are various ways to cope and manage stress and anxiety without resorting to extreme measures. This includes different types of lung exercises, or yoga breathing.
Mental wellness has an effect on our physical wellbeing - Breathing techniques are very important
When our mental wellness is effected, it tends to have a bearing on our physical wellbeing. For example, anxiety may increase stress hormones which leads to even more stress and emotional instability.
Oftentimes, people develop chronic health conditions as a result of stressful jobs or lifestyles. These can include high blood pressure (hypertension), insomnia, headaches, palpitations, and may increase allergies.
Sometimes it's easy to forget how important breathing techniques are or the fact that a simple few deep breaths can lower stress and anxiety levels. One of the reasons yoga makes us feel so relaxed because yoga breathing helps to improve wellness on a wide scale.
Some factors that contribute to stress include financial stress, poor health, sedentary lifestyles, unemployment, low income, and a lack of education to name a few.
By changing your lifestyle, it improves the chances of better health and overall wellness. This is often easier said than done, but slowly implementing positive changes will produce positive results.
Why do we need oxygen and how does breathing techniques fit in?
|Oxygen into your lungs: Unsplash|
Breathing is a natural response of the body. We breathe and inhale oxygen into our lungs. Oxygenated blood travels through to the organs and provides it with essential O2 helping it to function. O2 also contributes to the process of energy production and the breaking down of sugars and fats.
But how we breathe also plays a very important role in how we feel. For example, shallow breaths or (chest breaths) increases cortisol and adrenalin. These chemicals are needed in fight-or-flight responses and not as part of regular breathing.
But because when we're faced with difficult situations, our body tends to respond in this manner. The best way to adjust this is to practice proper deep breathing or what's also known as "diaphragmic breathing."
You'll notice in yoga or martial arts for that matter, that deep breathing plays an integral part of focus and energy.
Breathing techniques for wellness
#1 Take deeper breaths (deep breathing)
While breathing properly is very important, breathing deeper is highly recommended for it's health benefits. Full diaphragmatic breathing is when you feel your stomach and chest expand upon inhalation and contract when exhaling.
• It can help to lower your stress levels naturally by redirecting or altering the chemical reactions.
• Deep breathing is also invigorating and may improve your ability to feel awake and energised.
• It helps to manage pain by increasing serotonin and dopamine hormones
#2 Alternate nostril breathing exercises for anxiety and more
Alternate nostril breathing is an effective way to instil a sense of calmness and focus. This is a wonderful practice and one of many good breathing exercises for anxiety, as well as improved mental focus. It's easy and can be done at anytime and anywhere.
• It works to help your body to calm down
• You'll feel less anxious
• It may improve cardiovascular function
#3 "Ujjayi Breath" aka Victorious breath (yoga pranayama breathing)
|Breathing (pranayama) yoga breathing: Image Unspalsh|
This is a very good breathing exercise and is usually paired with yoga vinyasa. The Ujjayi breath is a relaxing practice with many advantages. Along with the yoga poses or vinyasa, the breath helps to create focus and mental clarity.
• Activates energy for mental focus and clarity
• It increases concentration throughout the yoga practice
• It may help to release tension in the body
#4 7/11 Breathing or 2:1 breathing techniques
You've probably heard of this breathing exercise because it does wonders to create a feeling of instant calmness. This is especially effective when you're anxious and it can help you to feel more relaxed. Hyperventilation is also sometimes due to anxiety amongst other possible contributors.
When our breath is shallow and rapid it's often due to stress or feeling anxious. As mentioned, to help reduce this reaction, its important to breathe properly.
Two-to-one (2:1) breathing is breathing in for a shorter count and exhaling on a longer count. This is the same principal for 7/11 or 3/5 breathing. It's a long breath in and longer exhale to almost empty your lungs as much as possible.
• 2:1 enhances relaxation and prolongs the parasympathetic responses throughout the breathing practice
• It helps to quiet the mind and improve focus
• May help the body to manage and reduce hypertension
Conclusion about breathing techniques for a healthier lifestyle
|Your body starts to find balance: Image Unsplash |
While stress, anxiety, and depression form part of the most common mental conditions in the world, following a road to healing and wellness is important. 2020 Is and has been a very difficult year and for many of us, and as a result, an increase of emotional stressors.
Practicing these breathing exercises for anxiety and wellness may not be an overnight change, but will definitely improve your life and wellbeing. The key is to help condition the body to tap into its already present ability to "heal" itself. At the same time your body will adapt to finding balance.
Thursday, 13 August 2020
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
What are the key characteristics or genetic imprints that make lemons so healthy?
Lemons contain riboflavin (Vitamin B2) as it is also known. Vitamin B has many good properties including that of uplifting a low mood. Riboflavin helps with cellular respiration (chemical and oxygen conversions inside the body as needed).
Antimicrobial features making it good for detoxing and cleaning. Another thing to note on why lemons are so special is that they are also naturally deodorising and works great to freshen the air as well as a natural breath fresher.
|Photo credit: Unsplash - lemons are a superfood|
The limonene (oil found naturally in citrus fruit skins) is used as a fragrance and also to help flavour food dishes. We know how important staying hydrated is. Combining water with lemon juice adds double the benefits for your body.
1. It is a natural skin cleanser
Drinking warm lemon water also has fantastic benefits for your skin and complexion. This is another reason beauty industries manufacture products containing real lemon juice or oil. It gives the skin a toned, matt finish.
You have even more reasons to enjoy the benefits of lemon for your skin because of the high levels of vitamin C. Not only an immune system strengthened, but also helps with collagen production.
When you drink warm water with freshly squeezed lemon in it, you can enjoy the cleansing benefits from the inside out.
2. It improves the body's ability to absorb iron
Anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body. Iron plays an important role in oxygen production inside the body through the blood. Having lemons helps this process and it can be combined with foods rich in iron like lentils, red meat, fish, and dairy products.
3. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory
Because of the limonene present in lemons as mentioned earlier, it can thus contribute to reducing inflammation. While doing so, it is also a strong source of antioxidants which is essential at protecting the body against disease causing "free radicals" amongst other.
4. Drinking warm lemon water in the morning has its benefits for your nervous system
|Photo credit: Unsplash - benefits the immune system|
Lemons contributes to the wellbeing of the nervous system and is good for brain function. As mentioned before this is because of the ingredients that it is comprised of.
5. It adds to the fibre needed in your diet
|Photo credit: Unsplash - Fibre for your diet|
Drinking lemon juice squeezed into water is excellent, but you can go a step further by eating the lemon slice or pulp. This is excellent. Our bodies need both soluble and insoluble fibre. Fibre is found oats, whole fruit, broccoli, lentils, nuts, wheat, seed and beans to name a few. It helps with digestion and maintaining blood sugar levels.
6. It helps to reduce cholesterol
While the body can do with good cholesterol, its the bad cholesterol that is usually the problem. Because lemon is rich in soluble fibre, it aids in lowering bad cholesterol.
7. Regulate your apatite with some lemon infused water
Water itself is a natural apatite suppressant, but when pairing it with lemon, it goes on to kickstart your day in an even healthier way. You'll get the hydrating benefits of H2O plus all the good stuff in lemons for your wellbeing. This is good news if you want to maintain your weight because it will help you to feel fuller.
8. Helps to keep joint pain under control
As already mentioned in this post, lemons have anti-inflammatory properties and this is what makes it so good when it comes to pain management.
Now while you may not be able to feel the difference by only drinking lemon water alone. You can, however, go on and do a self-massage using arnica or another menthol infused rub. This, together with a glass of lemon water can help manage pain.
9. It can help to lower blood pressure
|Photo credit: Unsplash - lemons can help to regulate blood pressure|
Hypertension is very dangerous if not monitored and treated. Yet it is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. According to the World Health Organization, over 1billion people have high blood pressure. Doctors usually prescribe special medication and along with that a patient should try to adapt their lifestyle and diet.
Lemons can help to lower high blood pressure and when having lemon water along with regular exercise and or regular walking, it can improve blood pressure.
10. It acts as a natural diuretic
Water retention is common and also occurs because of the foods that we eat, hormonal imbalances and changes as well as lifestyle choices. Foods rich in sodium and alcohol drunk in excess can lead to bloating. Some medications may also cause bloating.
There are prescription medicines that act as a diuretic to help keep excess water out of the body, but having fresh lemon water can do this naturally. Prescription diuretics also tend to cause dehydration which seems to be the case for a number of OTC and prescribed meds. Lemons or lemon juice in water, on the other hand, will keep you hydrated.
How to have your lemon water?
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
If you drink it first thing in the morning, it is highly beneficial to boost your digestive system before you eat anything else.
Simply boil some water and let it cool down a bit. You don't want to drink it scalding hot because this will be hard for the body to process. In the same way, iced-cold water with lemon in is hard for the body to process.
Take a fresh lemon and cut it into halves or quarters. Squeeze the juice of the quarter or the half (depending on the size) of the lemon.
You can sip this concoction at your own pace.
You can also use room temperature bottled or purified water for your lemon juice drink.
*Remember to "swoosh" your mouth with regular water afterwards because lemons have high acidic levels. This doesn't always bode well for the enamel of your teeth. So, do this at the end of your drink.
The conclusion on why drinking lemon water is good for your health?
It's clear that lemons are an amazing "superfood" and one that is needed in a healthy diet. But for those who are sensitive to citrus or have other abdominal conditions, it would be better to find an alternative. There are some lemon swaps you could try out like lavender water.
Lemons are affordable and available in nearly every grocery store, mini market and vegetable and fruit outlet. While they are very beneficial, it should not be the only thing you rely on in your journey to a healthier you. You must also consider daily exercise and eating a balanced diet.
Do you drink lemon water at the start of your day? How have you felt since doing so?
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
Feeling anxious every now and again as influenced by circumstances is one thing. But when you're always anxious in a "crowded" setting then you might be dealing with social anxiety. In fact, a venue doesn't even have to be crowded to warrant feelings of anxiety and fear of the other people.
Anxiety has many different categories, and phobias are one of these. As a whole, anxiety affects millions of people in the world, yet not everyone are getting the help they need to manage it.
Let's have a closer look at social anxiety
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
In short, social anxiety is feelings that overcome individuals when they are around other people. These can include but are not limited to shyness, worry, and difficulty speaking. In children, this may be a part of growing up, and they tend to "outgrow" it.
But when it persists and even becomes worse with time, then there are steps to help manage it. In bad cases, social anxiety tends to disrupt a person's life and makes it hard for them to be around people. It can easily lead to self-isolation and "disconnecting" with friends and family. This could have many negative mental effects on an individual.
Some people experience the following social anxiety symptoms:
In some cases, the psychological symptoms are so severe the person may worry for days, even weeks before an event they have to attend.
There is sometimes a need or reliance on alcohol to help muster up the courage to go somewhere or to "mix" with other people. Another common psychological fear is worrying you'll embarrass yourself in front of everyone.
How does the nervous system influence this?
The nervous system consists of a "parasympathetic" the one responsible for calming effects and the "sympathetic" nervous system which focuses on fight-or-flight.
The aim of getting your anxiety under control is by stimulating this nervous system. This is what breathing techniques does as well as practicing sounds such as "Aum" (Om), singing, or humming which activates your vocal cords and stimulates the "vagus nerve".
When stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system it helps to slow down the the rapid heart rate and blood pressure drops. At the same time, the O2 levels of consumption decreases. All of these things taking place helps to clear the mind and allows it to become still or quiet.
What can you do if you're having a panic attack?
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
Stop for a moment and take a few deep breaths.
Breathing deeply stimulates dopamine and serotonin which helps the body to relax. At the same time deep breathing lowers cortisol or stress hormones in the body which are elevated under stressful situations. In this case, when you're experiencing a panic attack.
What causes social anxiety?
Oftentimes it's related to upbringing. Adults who were bullied as kids, often find it harder to cope with their anxieties. Another one with consequences that we often see is family conflict. No home is perfect, but if family conflict is severe for example parents getting a divorce, or often fighting it can lead to an individual developing emotional difficulties.
This comes in the form of depression and anxiety. Sexual abuse is another factor that leads to depression, loss of self-esteem, and anxiety to name a few.
Social anxiety can also be caused due to an imbalance of mood stabilisers in the brain. One of these hormones includes "serotonin." Various hormones (chemicals) influence mood and some control "fight-or-flight" sensors while others stimulate relaxation and calmness.
Treatment and methods of coping with social anxiety
Social anxiety is not uncommon and based on statistics from "Our World Data" recorded in 2017, 2.8% are males and 4.1% are females. Roughly this indicates an international total of 284 million people with some sort of anxiety disorder. That being said, there are many options for treatment. Some individuals may have to change their lifestyle because these could have factors that trigger their anxiety.
Exercising is able to help increase uplifting mood chemicals which in turn reduces stress hormones like cortisol. It also helps to increase serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is the body's "natural pain reliever. This has an effect by positively reducing inflammation in the body and thus pain related to stress such as headaches and tension or knots in the body.
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
The doctor may prescribe medication to help stabilise the chemicals in the brain and to help reduce anxiety and even symptoms of depression. Some meds may include fluoxitine, setraline, and buspirone, clomipramine, and selegaline to name a few.
These medications also have side effects as do all drugs. Some users experience dry mouth, low libido, nausea, dizziness, and headaches amongst others.
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
Breathing exercises are very effective in helping people to calm down even when in a state of shock. Regularly breathing properly can help to improve the body's response to certain situations.
Meditation is another effective way to instil a sense of calmness and clarity within the "whole person" since it effects the mind and body together. This, along with breathing exercises is a very good and natural way to combat anxiety, depression and stress.
Teas, herbs and essential oils
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
Aromatherapy has long been part of the medicinal history of mankind. In fact, this along with special herbs sourced from trees and plants bear potent properties. Chamomile tea for example, is known to help ease and relax the person drinking it. That's why this is often good at night time before you go to bed.
Herbs like lavender, roman chamomile, spearmint, Frankincense, and Myrrh are just some of the essential oils that can help you on your relaxing journey.
Reduce your caffeine intake
|Photo credit: Unsplash|
You know how it seems the logic thing to do and to sip some energy (high-caffeinated) drink to help feel more awake?
This can seem plausible after a restless night of no sleep. But what caffeine does is just aggravate the situation. Limit your caffeine consumed and try to keep away from energy drinks.
Foods rich in vitamin B are excellent to help boost your energy naturally. Some people rely on vitamin B supplements if they're not getting enough in their diet. As mentioned, exercise can also uplift mood as well as boos energy levels naturally.
Enjoy some sunlight
|Photo Credit: Unsplash|
Sunshine helps our body to produce vitamin D which helps us maintain healthy bones as well as uplifting our mood. It will also help your body to produce melatonin (the hormone that stimulates sleep) so that you'll get a better night's rest.
The conclusion on coping with social anxiety
Take things in your stride. Try and make breathing exercises part of your daily routine. In this way, you'll be lowering those stress hormones and will be able to manage the situation better.
It is also a good idea to practice other relaxing techniques such as meditation and yoga because this will also help your mental and physical well-being.
Speak to someone if your anxiety is overwhelming. It is important to get the help you need before it progresses.