Sleep deprivation affects both our physical and mental health. It is also known to contribute to depression. Especially when stressed out, get as much as 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
When facing stressful thoughts, close your eyes and visualize yourself handling the situation in a calm and relaxed manner. Do not pay attention to how you currently feel. Just focus on relaxing and positive thoughts. This technique is coined as “guided imagery” and has been found to reduce stress.
Fight stress by planning for the day ahead. Make a schedule or a to-do list and develop certain habits that make you more productive. So, instead of wasting time looking for things that you need in the morning, try preparing them as early as the night before.
Physical clutter creates mental clutter. This means, a messy workplace can add up to your stress. Take 15 minutes of your time to tidy up your home or workplace. Also, strive to make cleaning a habit to keep yourself stress-free.
Bring a small flask of calming oil wherever you go. Essential oils such as basil, anise and chamomile can help you feel relaxed. They release tension and help you achieve mental clarity.
Breathing exercises are not only for panic attacks. They also keep your stress levels at bay. Short, shallow breaths make you feel more stressed out. On the other hand, if you take long and deep breaths, you are telling your brain to relax.
Kids and animals have an innate ability to play without stressing out about other things. Spare at least an hour of each day playing with your children or pets. You may also offer to take a friend’s dog out for a walk or babysit their child/children for a couple of hours.
Plan for some quiet time when you can completely disconnect yourself from the world. Take some time out even just for five minutes. Turn all of your gadgets off and let people know they won’t be able to reach you.
Research revealed that people with lots of social support react better to stress. This is because socializing stimulates the production of oxytocin, a hormone that helps your body reduce stress levels. Next time you feel stressed out, surround yourself with family or friends. Hang out, go for a walk or simple have a quick chat.
If you are stressing over something, it is healthy to let yourself worry about it only for a certain amount of time. Commit to worry only for a maximum of 20 minutes. Think of the possible outcomes, figure out game plans and after 20 minutes, quit thinking about it. You may also have a friend call or warn you that the allotted time is already over so you won’t go beyond the limit.
Stress can change our appetite. We might crave certain food or lose our appetite. Instead of caving in to stress, continue to keep your body healthy by eating more of food that nutrients such as vitamin B and omega-3s. Vitamin B is linked to good mental health and omega-3s help the body fight stress.
Scientists discovered that meditating reduces gray matter in our brains. This means, meditation allows the brain to release stress. Meditating is also a great way to examine and understand our thoughts.
Instead of stressing out about the future, sit down and create a vision board. It enables you to set concrete goals and take the edge off about the unknown. Take an hour to spend creating a vision board. If you are not the crafty type, you can create an e-vision board using apps like Pinterest.
Research shows that smiling and laughing can reduce stress and prevent depression. So, smile no matter what your circumstances are. It’s always a good idea to take a quick break from stressful situations and get some giggles on your face.
Studies discovered that expressing your gratitude reduces stress. To cultivate the value of gratitude, start a gratitude journal. Every day, write down things that you are grateful for.
Avoiding Sun as Dangerous as Smoking
Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over 20 years.
This indicates that avoiding the sun "is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking," write the authors of the article, published March 21 in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Compared with those with the highest sun exposure, life expectancy for those who avoided sun dropped by 0.6 to 2.1 years.
Pelle Lindqvist, MD, of Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues found that women who seek out the sun were generally at lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncancer/non-CVD diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary diseases, than those who avoided sun exposure.
And one of the strengths of the study was that results were dose-specific — sunshine benefits went up with amount of exposure.
The researchers acknowledge that longer life expectancy for sunbathers seems paradoxical to the common thinking that sun exposure increases risk for skin cancer.
"We did find an increased risk of...skin cancer. However, the skin cancers that occurred in those exposing themselves to the sun had better prognosis," Dr Lindqvist said.
Some Daily Exposure Important for Health
Given these findings, he told Medscape Medical News, women should not overexpose themselves to sun, but underexposure may be even more dangerous than people think.
"We know in our population, there are three big lifestyle factors [that endanger health]: smoking, being overweight, and inactivity," he said. "Now we know there is a fourth — avoiding sun exposure."
Sweden's restrictive guidance against sun exposure over the past 4 decades may be particularly ill-advised, the study finds, in a country where the maximum UV index is low (< 3) for up to 9 months out of the year.
Use of sunscreen is also widely misunderstood in the country and elsewhere, Dr Lindqvist said.
"If you're using it to be out longer in the sun, you're using it in the wrong manner," he said. However, "If you are stuck on a boat and have to be out, it's probably better to have sunscreen than not to have it."
Women with more pigmentation would be particularly well-served to stop avoiding sunshine, he said, adding that many people in India, for instance, follow guidelines like those in Sweden to avoid sun year round.
And because melanomas are rare among women with darker skin, benefit goes up in those populations when weighing sun exposure's risk against benefits, Dr Lindqvist said.
Age and Smoking Habits
The researchers studied sun exposure as a risk factor for all-cause mortality for 29,518 women with no history of malignancy in a prospective 20-year follow-up of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort.
The women were recruited from 1990 to 1992 when they were 25 to 64 years old. Detailed information was available at baseline on sun-exposure habits and potential confounders such as marital status, education level, smoking, alcohol consumption, and number of births.
When smoking was factored in, even smokers at approximately 60 years of age with the most active sun-exposure habits had a 2-year longer life expectancy during the study period compared with smokers who avoided sun exposure, the researchers note.
The authors do, however, acknowledge some major limitations. Among them, it was impossible to differentiate between active sun-exposure habits and a healthy lifestyle, and they did not have access to exercise data.
Role of Vitamin D Still in Question
The results add to the longstanding debate on the role of vitamin D in health and the amount of it people need, but this study doesn't resolve the question.
"Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to ultraviolet radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted," the authors write.
"From Irish studies we know that vitamin D deficiency makes melanomas more malignant," Dr Lindqvist said.
"This is in agreement with our results; melanomas of [those not exposed] to the sun had a worse prognosis."
This study was supported by the Clintec at the Karolinska Institute; ALF (Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Region Skane); the Swedish Cancer Society; and the Swedish Medical Research Council. Funding was also received from Lund University Hospital; the Gustav V Jubilee Fund; the Gunnar Nilsson Foundation; the Kamprad Foundation; and the European Research Council. The authors declared no relevant financial relationships.
J Intern Med. Published online March 16, 2016 www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860805?src=wnl_mdplsnews_160325_mscpedit_wir&uac=82117MZ&impID=1037740&faf=1
10 Choices You Will Regret in 10 Years
“If only…” These two words paired together create one of the saddest phrases in the English language.
Here are ten choices that ultimately lead to this phrase of regret, and how to elude them:
01. Wearing a mask to impress others. – If the face you always show the world is a mask, someday there will be nothing beneath it. Because when you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you really are. So don’t fear the judgments of others; you know in your heart who you are and what’s true to you. You don’t have to be perfect to impress and inspire people. Let them be impressed and inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.
02. Letting someone else create your dreams for you. – The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are; the second greatest is being happy with what you find. A big part of this is your decision to stay true to your own goals and dreams. Do you have people who disagree with you? Good. It means you’re standing your ground and walking your own path. Sometimes you’ll do things considered crazy by others, but when you catch yourself excitedly losing track of time, that’s when you’ll know you’re doing the right thing.
03. Keeping negative company. – Don’t let someone who has a bad attitude give it to you. Don’t let them get to you. They can’t pull the trigger if you don’t hand them the gun. When you remember that keeping the company of negative people is a choice, instead of an obligation, you free yourself to keep the company of compassion instead of anger, generosity instead of greed, and patience instead of anxiety.
04. Being selfish and egotistical. – A life filled with loving deeds and good character is the best tombstone. Those who you inspired and shared your love with will remember how you made them feel long after your time has expired. So carve your name on hearts, not stone. What you have done for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for others and the world remains.
05. Avoiding change and growth. – If you want to know your past look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future look into your present actions. You must let go of the old to make way for the new; the old way is gone, never to come back. If you acknowledge this right now and take steps to address it, you will position yourself for lasting success.
06. Giving up when the going gets tough. – There are no failures, just results. Even if things don’t unfold the way you had expected, don’t be disheartened or give up. Learn what you can and move on. The one who continues to advance one step at a time will win in the end. Because the battle is always won far away and long before the final victory. It’s a process that occurs with small steps, decisions, and actions that gradually build upon each other and eventually lead to that glorious moment of triumph.
07. Trying to micromanage every little thing. – Life should be touched, not strangled. Sometimes you’ve got to relax and let life happen without incessant worry and micromanagement. Learn to let go a little before you squeeze too tight. Take a deep breath. When the dust settles and you can once again see the forest for the trees, take the next step forward. You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going to be headed somewhere great. Everything in life is in perfect order whether you understand it yet or not. It just takes some time to connect all the dots.
08. Settling for less than you deserve. – Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait for what you deserve. Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been to stand up taller than you ever were before. Sometimes your eyes need to be washed by your tears so you can see the possibilities in front of you with a clearer vision again. Don’t settle.
09. Endlessly waiting until tomorrow. – The trouble is, you always think you have more time than you do. But one day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to work on the things you’ve always wanted to do. And at that point you either will have achieved the goals you set for yourself, or you will have a list of excuses for why you haven’t.
10. Being lazy and wishy-washy. – The world doesn’t owe you anything, you owe the world something. So stop daydreaming and start DOING. Develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Take full responsibility for your life – take control. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now; the somebody the world needs is YOU.
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