Prevent The Winter Blues With These Easy Tips

You may be surprised to hear it, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a real condition and it’s not uncommon for people to get the blues during the winter months.  If you feel that happening to you, here are a few simple things you can do to keep your spirits up.

  • Move! – When the temperature outside plummets, it can be all too tempting to just stay under the warm covers, but making yourself get up and move around is key to preventing depression from setting in. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get up and start moving!
  • Pleasant distractions – When you feel the wintertime blues creeping up on you, one great way to keep them at bay is to consciously plan some fun activity to treat yourself with. It could be anything from reconnecting with a friend you haven’t seen in far too long, to a cup of hot chocolate from your favorite coffee shop, or anything else that will bring a smile to your face.  Just give yourself a little treat as a distraction.
  • Talk it out – A good conversation might not be able to fix all the world’s problems, but sometimes, just the simple act of sitting down and having a great conversation can chase the blues away.
  • It’s a matter of perspective – When the wintertime blues start encroaching, it’s all too easy to focus on what’s going wrong in your life. When you feel negativity beginning to take root, press pause, take a deep breath and flip the script.  Focus on, and take stock of the good things in your life.  It’s amazing what even just a little positive thinking can do!
  • Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D! When the sun goes away for the winter, the body misses out on this important vitamin that the sun provides. This not only causes depression in some people, but it decreases the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses and infections. There are multiple ways you can get Vitamin D, including vitamins, drinking milk, or eating certain vegetables!

The bottom line is, you don’t have to let the winter weather get you down.  There are things you can do to improve your outlook, disposition, and mood!

Stay Consistent To Meet Your New Year’s Goals

Perhaps the only thing more common than making New Year’s Resolutions is breaking them.  Everyone starts out with good intentions, of course. However, all too often, those sincerely-made resolutions wind up in the dust bin, not many weeks after they’re made.

If you have resolved to get fit and healthy in the new year, here are some helpful tips to help ensure you keep that resolution:

Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight and start exercising more, don’t focus too much on your ultimate target.  Instead, break it down into bite-sized chunks, and focus on each of those in turn.  Lose two pounds this week, go to the gym at least twice.  Walk at least a mile today. Set small goals as part of your larger goal.

By focusing on the incremental steps designed to take you to your end goal, you’ll be better able to stay on task, and it will give you the opportunity to celebrate the small victories that will lead you to your ultimate goal.  Remember, getting healthy isn’t a “once and done” thing, but rather a conscious lifestyle change.

Don’t Get Discouraged

For most people, exercise isn’t fun or comfortable.  That’s why they call it a work out, rather than a play out.  It’s probably going to hurt when you start using muscles that you haven’t been using regularly.

The important thing though, is not to let that dissuade you!  If you stay at it, your body will start responding, and over time, it’ll turn into the well-oiled machine you always knew it could be. Try to find an exercise that you find to be enjoyable and exciting!

Don’t Forget Chiropractic Care

Many people only visit their chiropractor when something goes wrong or starts to hurt. Actually, regular visits to your chiropractor and a regular schedule of adjustments can help make your transition to a healthier you easier and less painful than it otherwise would be. So make that part of your New Year’s resolution, too!

Why You Should Avoid Yo-Yo Dieting

Yo-Yo dieting, or weight cycling, is an almost tragically easy habit to get into that can cause you no end of troubles.

Essentially, “Yo-Yo Dieting” is when you bounce from one diet to another, trying to lose weight for a period of a few weeks to a month or two. Then, whether you’re seeing results or not, you fall off the wagon for a time, binge eat and gain weight again before jumping into the next diet for a similar period of time.

As you might expect, this doesn’t lead to consistent weight loss. The problems run much deeper than that.  Here are a few of the other negative effects you’ll see:

  • It makes it harder to lose weight – This is especially true if you put yourself on very restrictive “starvation diets” followed by a period of binge eating. When you’re on an extremely low-calorie diet, your body essentially goes into emergency mode and tries to store as much as it can as fat, which works against your weight loss goals.  Then, when you binge, the excess calories are also stored as fat, giving you that much more weight to ultimately lose.
  • It can cause headaches and fatigue – This is true of not just yo-yo dieting, but any time you present your body with rapid changes. It doesn’t quite know how to react, and so, it rebels, and you wind up paying the toll.
  • It can dampen your sex drive – This by itself should be enough to dissuade most people from yo-yo dieting. A plummeting sex drive can really damage your ego and self-esteem. In addition, sex can be a very fun way to exercise! You don’t want to miss out on having fun while you work out!
  • It fosters bad eating habits – If your eating habits are in an almost constant state of flux, it makes finding a sensible diet and actually sticking with it for an extended period that much more difficult. Some habits are notoriously hard to break!

If you’re interested in losing weight and keeping it off, the best approach is a sensible diet you can stick with in the long term, coupled with a good exercise regimen.  There’s no magic to it, but it does take time and discipline.

 

Avoiding Injuries When Starting Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year means, among other things, New Year’s Resolutions. One of the most common resolutions people make is to get in better physical condition in the year ahead.

It’s a great goal, but unfortunately, the burst of enthusiasm can often lead to injury. The most common types of injuries are those born of repetitive use or strain and it’s not uncommon for doctor’s offices and chiropractors to see a sudden influx of patients suffering from bursitis, shin splints, stress fractures and the like. Here are some quick tips to help you minimize your risk of injury as you begin your journey toward better health:

Technique Matters

Sometimes, people get so caught up in the excitement of getting fit that they don’t pay sufficient attention to technique. Proper technique is essential, and can go a long way toward minimizing pain and injury when exercising.

Be mindful of your posture. If you’re using some type of equipment during your exercise routine, be sure you’re using it correctly!

Don’t Overdo It

If you’re new to exercising, then your strength, endurance, and flexibility aren’t what they could be.  It’s important to be mindful of your limitations as you start to exercise, so you don’t overexert yourself. Over-exertion can lead to pulled or strained muscles, or painful sprains.

Also in this category, it’s important that when you expand or increase your workout from one week to the next, you don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Don’t increase your exercise by more than 10% (distance, weight, or time) from one week to the next.

Warm Up and Cool Down

This is something that a lot of people overlook, but both are important!  Before you begin exercising in earnest, be sure to perform a short stretching routine to limber your body up for the exercises ahead.

In a similar vein, once you’ve completed your exercise routine for the day, another short round of stretches before you stop will help minimize your post exercise discomfort.

While following this simple advice won’t allow you to magically avoid exercise-related injuries, it will greatly reduce your risks. In turn, you will increase the chances that you’ll stick with your New Year’s Resolution and start seeing a healthier you!

 

 

 

 

The Positive Effects Of Smiling More

Want to know a secret? Smiles have powers that border on being magical. It’s true! Here are just a few of the benefits that smiling more will have on your life:

  • Smiles ward off depression – The act of smiling floods your brain with feel-good chemicals while simultaneously lowering your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone that controls your stress levels, so smiling will destress you in addition to making you feel better.
  • Fake it till you make it – Building on the first tip, your brain can’t tell the difference between a fake smile and a real one, so if you’re feeling down, smile anyway. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better.
  • Smiles make you more attractive – There have been numerous studies that have proven that people are more at ease around smiling faces than sour ones. They regard people who smile as being more open, honest and attractive, so not only will your interactions with others be more pleasant, but your ego and self-esteem will be boosted as well.
  • You can improve the mood of everyone around you – A recent Swedish study proved that people’s moods echo the moods of those around them. If you’re surrounded by sad, frowning people, then inevitably, sufficient exposure to that will make you sad. If you’re around smiling, happy people, the reverse is true, and inevitably, you’ll find that your mood starts to improve.
  • Smiling lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition to that, the feel-good hormones that get released when you smile also act as natural pain killers.

As you can see, the simple act of smiling has a whole raft of benefits and no downsides at all. There’s no quicker or easier way of elevating not just your mood, but the mood of everyone around you, so say cheese and smile! You’ll be glad you did. Literally.

Start Meditating For A Healthier Lifestyle

As stressed out as most people are these days, it probably comes as no surprise that meditation is becoming increasingly popular. While there are a number of things you can do to get and stay healthy, given how much of an impact meditation can have on your stress levels, it’s something you should strongly consider adding to your daily routine. The question, then, especially if you’ve never done it before, is how?

Fortunately, that’s an easy question to answer. Below, you’ll find a few meditation techniques that are incredibly easy to use and won’t take up a huge chunk of your day:

  • Visualization – Turn your mind inward. Close your eyes and visualize your life exactly as you want it to be. Where are you? Sitting on a beach? In a hammock? Enjoying the beauty of a sunset? Whatever your personal ideal is, see it vividly in your mind’s eye and enjoy the way it makes you feel. When you open your eyes, you’ll be calm, centered and focused.
  • Music Therapy – Fifteen minutes a day spent listening to your favorite soothing music can do wonders not just for your soul, but for your stress levels as well. If you don’t enjoy soft, lilting music, try nature sounds, which have the same impact.
  • Gazing – Instead of turning your thoughts inward, turn out all the lights and focus on a single point. A candle works wonders in this case. Clear your mind and focus exclusively on the candle until the whole world seems to fade away, and nothing but the candle exists. Clearing your mind in this manner will relax and refresh you in ways that almost defy explanation.

Meditation can be as simple or as complex as you’d care to make it. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on your floor chanting mantras, but if that sounds appealing to you, you certainly can! Whatever form your meditation takes, the important thing is that you do it every day.

Prevent Your Next Headache With These Tips

Nobody likes having to endure headaches. Not only are they painful and distracting; they can hurt your productivity at home and at work, and in the worst cases, they can be absolutely debilitating.  Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to drastically reduce your chances of getting one.

  • Have some water instead of coffee – Did you know that most American adults suffer from mild dehydration? It’s true. Coffee is the main culprit here, and one of the first warning signs of dehydration is a painful headache.
    Try a simple alternation experiment. Drink one cup of coffee, and then an equal-sized cup of water before enjoying your next cup of coffee. It makes a huge difference!
  • Catch some Z’s – Your body needs an average of eight hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, Americans average less than seven, and one of the side effects of chronic sleep deprivation is headache. This one’s easy to fix. It simply requires that you make sleep a priority. Set a bed time designed to give you the eight hours your body needs and stick to it!
  • Work on your posture – It pays to make note of how you sit when you spend long hours at your computer, and to make sure your monitor is elevated sufficiently that you’re not spending the whole day looking down. Doing so can lead to awful headaches centered in the neck and the base of your skull, which are pure agony. Again, this one’s very easy to fix!
  • Don’t stress! – Stress is one of the leading causes of headaches, so anything you can do to reduce it will go a long way toward reducing your risk of a headache. Fortunately, we know a lot about what causes stress: cortisol, your “fight or flight” hormone.
    The simplest way to reduce your cortisol levels is to spend fifteen minutes a day walking in the woods. Research has shown that doing so will lower your cortisol levels by as much as fifty percent. Even if you don’t have any woods near you, a fifteen-minute walk in an urban setting will still lower your cortisol levels by up to 25 percent.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely banish headaches from your life, but by adopting these simple strategies, you can greatly reduce your risk of suffering one.

Getting More Sleep Could Have Huge Benefits

Most people are pretty good project managers. They juggle their daily schedules and manage to get an amazing amount of work done each day. Unfortunately, in this 24/7, “always on” world we live in, the one thing that seldom gets prioritized is sleep.

That matters because our bodies require 8-9 hours of sleep every night to maintain optimal health, and Americans average less than seven hours a night. It matters because getting enough sleep provides a whole raft of health benefits, including:

  • Bolstering your immune system – Sleep helps regulate all the body’s systems, including your immune system. Chronic sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, making your body less capable of warding off diseases. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can bet you’ll wind up taking more sick days than you otherwise would have.
  • Heart health – Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for heart disease and tend to have higher blood pressure than those who regularly get a full night’s sleep. If you want to guard against these conditions, a good night’s sleep is a super simple way of doing so!
  • Brain defense – Not only does a good night’s sleep help ward off conditions like anxiety and depression; it also has the effect of flushing out the toxins that tend to build up in your brain during the course of a typical day. Both very good things.
  • Weight management – This comes down to simple math. The more time you spend sleeping, the less time you have to eat. If you’re prone to enjoying “midnight snacks” which invariably consist of sugar-laden foods, simply going to bed before snack time will do wonders for your diet and your weight.
    In addition to that, people who don’t get enough sleep have higher than average levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone that stimulates appetite. If you want to lose weight, get more sleep.

The bottom line is that sleep is extremely important to your overall health.  If you’re not getting enough, you can do wonders for your mind and body by remedying that.

Sprain Or Strain – How Can You Tell?

Many people use the words strain and sprain interchangeably. It’s not hard to see why. They are similar conditions, but they’re not the same, so if you hurt yourself, how can you tell which one you’re suffering from? The guidelines below will help you sort it out!

Strains are injuries to your muscles and/or tendons. They’re most commonly caused by simple overexertion, and are characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Inflammation
  • And Cramping

As painful as they are, most strains are fairly mild, and with proper care, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. In a few particularly serious cases, though, a strain can cause a tendon to tear or be completely ripped apart, which is debilitating and much more serious. You’ll be able to tell the difference because you can still use the limb in question if you’re suffering from a mild strain. It’ll make you wince, but you can do it. If you’ve torn a tendon, though, that limb is out going to be out of commission for a while. The pain of trying to use it will simply be unbearable.

Sprains, on the other hand, have everything to do with your ligaments, which are the connective tissue between the bones in your body. You’ve got 360 joints, and if you suffer from a sprain, it’s going to be centered on one of these.

The symptoms of a sprain are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • And Bruising

When you suffer a sprain, you’ll usually (but not always) feel or hear a distinct popping sound.

In both cases, the recommended course of treatment is the same. RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Here’s where a lot of people go astray, because most folks are inclined to apply heat to strains and sprains. While that might feel good in the short term, it’s the completely wrong approach to take. Stick to RICE, and you’ll be back on your feet before you know it.

Of course, if you fear that you’ve suffered from a serious strain or sprain, forget self-treatment and see your doctor immediately!

Be Careful When Decorating For The Holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching, and lots of people are already making plans and decorating, with many more to follow on the day before and in the days following Thanksgiving.

As fun and festive as this time of year is, though, at the risk of sounding like a buzzkill, it’s important to remember a few basic safety tips that can keep you out of the ER and chiropractor’s office this year. Don’t let a moment’s carelessness turn you into a statistic, as more than 15,000 people were injured in holiday and decorating-related accidents last year. Here are a few simple tips you can use to avoid the most common pitfalls:

1) Basic ladder safety – This is hands down the biggest culprit of holiday injuries and mishaps, and here, the trouble takes two forms:
Either people misuse the ladder they have, climbing too high on the rungs or not following basic safety precautions like having someone steady it while you’re on it. The other just as common situation is that people forego the use of a ladder altogether, not wanting to drag it out of storage.
Instead, they’ll climb on chairs or other furniture in order to gain the height they need to hang those last few decorations. Both are recipes for disaster, so just say no!

2) Basic electrical safety – Before you string those dazzling lights all over your house, be sure to go through each strand and check for shorts, frayed wires and burned out bulbs. Failing to take this simple step can result in burns or shocks in the best case, and fires in the worst. Burning your house down for lack of prep work is an even worse way to ring in the holidays than getting hurt, so take your time here.

3) Your Christmas tree – If you get a live tree every year, be sure to keep it well watered and don’t overload it with lights (again, the fire hazard). If you’re using an artificial tree, be sure to get a flame resistant one. In both cases, be sure to keep them well away of any heat source.

Following these simple tips won’t guarantee you an accident-free holiday season, but they’ll go a long way toward helping you avoid the most common types of holiday-related injuries.