Today’s Extra: Why Is ADHD on the Rise?

Why Is ADHD on the Rise?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition characterized by symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It can persist into adulthood and affect a person’s social, academic and professional life.

The cause of ADHD is unknown. ADHD is linked to genetics and brain biology, but these factors don’t explain the dramatic rise in ADHD diagnoses over the past 2 decades. A 2018 study found that the estimated prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents in the United States (US) rose from 6.1 percent in 1997 to 10.2 percent in 2016. That means 1 in every 10 children in the US has now been diagnosed with ADHD.

Researchers continue to debate what has caused this trend, but these are some of their key findings on what may be contributing to the rise in ADHD diagnoses.

1. DIFFERENT CLINICAL DEFINITIONS

ADHD has no known cause or biological markers to assist with diagnosis. This has caused different definitions of the condition to arise, which can affect the number of diagnoses. A 2015 study found that the estimates of ADHD prevalence vary greatly depending on what definitions and criteria for ADHD are used.

Another study found that the definition of ADHD in the US is different than internationally. Psychiatrists and doctors in the US use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for diagnosing psychiatric disorders.

Whereas, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is preferred internationally.

The ICD has a much narrower definition of ADHD than the DSM, which may be one reason why ADHD is diagnosed less often in other countries. Although, the study found that the DSM definition is catching on, which may be fueling a rise in ADHD diagnoses globally.

2. FOOD ADDITIVES

No evidence exists that any food additives cause ADHD, but research has shown a few that may increase hyperactivity and make the condition worse. These are some food additives to watch out for:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial colors and dyes
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Pesticides
  • High-fructose corn syrup

Most of these are added to junk foods and soft drinks, which are best avoided whether you have ADHD or not. A well-balanced, whole foods diet is consistently recommended by health professionals for everyone, and it has also been shown to be helpful for those with ADHD.

3. LACK OF EXERCISE

Children in Western countries are getting far less exercise than they did a few decades ago. This lack of exercise may contribute to the rise in ADHD. When you exercise, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released. Among other benefits, dopamine enhances attention and focus. Medications used for ADHD do the exact same thing—they increase the amount of dopamine your body produces.

Research has shown that children with ADHD who exercised regularly did better on attention tests, and had less impulsivity and aggression. This was true even for children who weren’t taking medications. Other studies have discovered that exercise also improves working memory, academic performance and flexibility when switching between tasks.

4. DIGITAL DEVICE USE

A 2018 study concluded that teens who are heavy users of digital devices are twice as likely to show symptoms of ADHD. The study followed nearly 2600 teenagers for two years and focused on the mental health consequences of modern digital diversions, such as social media, streaming video, text messaging, music downloads and online chatrooms.

Researchers chose to study teenagers because adolescence is a common time for ADHD diagnosis, and they specifically started with teenagers who did not have pre-existing ADHD symptoms. Considering that 43 percent of high school students use digital media three hours or more per day, the study’s findings could highlight a concerning trend that’s contributing to the rise in ADHD symptoms.

5. GREATER AWARENESS & PROMOTION

ADHD advocacy groups spread and promote information about ADHD, as well as pharmaceutical companies that produce medications for ADHD. This is helpful for raising awareness about the condition and encouraging those who may have ADHD to seek professional help and get properly diagnosed.

Providing public information about ADHD and possible treatments is important, but experts warn that this wide spread promotion could have a downside. Now you can easily fill out a self-test online that may falsely conclude you already have ADHD. Or you may read an advertisement that suggests you can simply take a drug and ADHD symptoms will disappear.

Some doctors are concerned this could trivialize a serious condition and lead to unnecessary diagnoses. Extensive drug advertisements may also promote the use of medications instead of other treatment methods. In addition, research has found that the current abundance of information, and sometimes misinformation, may put pressure on doctors to diagnose ADHD more often.

ADHD is far more complex than a simple online quiz can tell you. If you have any concerns that you or someone you love has ADHD, speak to your doctor or a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD. And keep in mind there are many other effective treatments for ADHD to try before medications.

6. MODERN EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS

In his book The A.D.H.D. Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance, Dr. Stephen Hinshaw’s research suggests that the US education system and government-dictated academic standards may contribute to the country’s higher rates of ADHD diagnoses.

For example, when the US introduced the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, education funding suddenly became dependent on collective student test scores in each state. Dr. Hinshaw found that there was a surge in ADHD diagnoses soon after the Act was introduced.

Research has shown that treatment of ADHD can improve academic performance. Dr. Hinshaw believes many schools pushed for more ADHD diagnoses so children could receive treatment, which could boost test scores and local funding. After 2007, when the Act was changed, the rate of diagnoses tapered off in the same schools.

ADHD is a serious medical condition, but we need to be careful that we aren’t over-diagnosing ADHD simply because a child is not performing well in school. Perhaps we need to look at other ways of educating children who naturally have more energy and creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson gave an excellent TED talk discussing how important it is to build an education system that encourages all children to flourish, rather than trying to fit everyone into the same mold. Check out his talk here.

 

Published on Care2

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Today’s Extra: 15 Wooflicious Dog Biscuit Recipes for the Holidays

15 Wooflicious Dog Biscuit Recipes for the Holidays

Everyone loves delicious, homemade treats, and your canine pal is no different. Why not spoil them with some wooflicious dog biscuits these Holidays? You’re in the kitchen anyway and besides, they deserve it.

Baking your own dog treats is a great way for kids to hone their kitchen skills. It’s an opportunity for family time too, since you can get cracking on the Christmas cake, while the youngsters make biscuits for Fido. It will also save you money, which is always nice.

WHY STORE-BOUGHT DOG TREATS AREN’T A GOOD IDEA

There’s another, even more compelling reason for baking from scratch for Fido. Store bought dog treats aren’t always safe for your dog to eat. The FDA polices the pet food industry retroactively, which means it will only investigate a brand once a complaint has been made.

The dark truth behind these seemingly harmless treats is sobering to say the least. Earlier this year four pet food brands were recalled after dogs and cats fell ill and died. Last year the FDA issued a warning saying that store-bought dog bones could be fatal.

Fortunately, not all dog treats are toxic. The Spruce Pets put together their top pick of healthy dog treats for 2018 that they claim are nutritious and delicious. Their review process is thorough, so you can rest assured you’re buying the best.

Bottom line: if you are going to buy dog treats, make sure you know what they’re made of. These guidelines from Healthy Pet offer some insight into what you should look out for. But if you have the time, making your own is first prize for Fido.

DOG BISCUIT RECIPES

The recipes outlined below are easy to make and you’ll find you probably have most (if not all) of the ingredients on hand already. The one thing you might not have is a dog bone cookie cutter set, which (IMHO) every self-respecting doggie biscuit chef needs.

Disclaimer: A lot of these recipes sound similar, but the pooches featured in the post photos were so adorable I couldnt resist including them all.

1. Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats / Eating Bird Food

Taste-tested by Olive, the cutest pup ever, these four-ingredient treats take only half an hour to make (including bake time). Check out the video to see how to make them (and meet Olive).

2. Apple Oatmeal Homemade Dog Treats / Brownie Bites

Hounds Dexter and Dewey gave these fruity biscuits two paws up. Using only six ingredients (one of which is water), these chewy treats sound like something I’d happily dip in my morning coffee.

3. Homemade Frozen Pupsicle Treats / Good Housekeeping

Frozen pupsicles aren’t biscuits, but they’re still a treat. All you need is yoghurt, banana and peanut butter and some human grade dog treats to use for sticks.

4. Mega Healthy Dog Biscuits / The Daring Gourmet

These mega-healthy dog biscuits sound mega-delicious, too. The ingredient list is slightly longer, but the recipe is pretty straightforward. You’ll still be done in under and hour, including bake time.

5. Apple Crunch Pupcakes / Miss Candiquik

If I had a dog, I’d make these just because of the name. I mean, pupcakes, right!? Adding the icing decorations is obviously more for you than your pooch, but it’s still a nice touch. I’m sure Lola and her office pals appreciated the effort.

6. Sweet Potato Fries for Dogs / Beagles and Bargains

Also not biscuits, but who doesn’t like sweet potato fries? Nobody, that’s who. The recipe is super simple, and your dog is guaranteed to love them. Why? ‘Cos Luna pup says so, and she should know.

7. Banana Almond Puppy Treats / Pretty Fluffy

Four ingredients and a grand total of five minutes in the oven and you’ve got the happiest puppy ever. What’s not to love? The only problem I can foresee is stopping yourself from eating them.

8. Homemade Dog Treats / Pinch of Yum

These holiday pup treats are smothered in a bacon PB glaze which you may want to rejig, if your pooch is vegan (or on a health kick). Check out the video to see how to make them (and watch Sage devouring a biscuit):

9. Healthy Homemade Dog Treats / Bren Did

Okay, so these are also just one-ingredient sweet potato treats, but the photos of Gus snacking on them are so sweet. Also, the post includes a link to an upcycled dog treat jar tutorial. What dog wouldn’t love to find one of those under the Christmas tree?

10. Homemade Dog Treats / Love from the Oven

Jack’s human reckons he’s a big fan of her homemade dog treats, and if the photos are anything to go by, she’s absolutely right. This seven-ingredient recipe is kindergarten easy and includes peanut butter. Yum.

11. DIY Pumpkin Oatmeal Dog Treats / Good Housekeeping

It’s that time of year where pumpkin features in just about everything, so why not your furry best friend’s treats as well? I’m sure I was a dog in my previous life, because these sound really delicious. There’s also a how-to video featuring a fluffy mutt.

12. Ginger Apple Dog Treats from Lola the Pitty

Combining brown rice flour, apples, Greek yoghurt, ginger and coconut oil impressed the heck out of Lola and Rio, so chances are these treats will have a similar effect on your canine pal, too. They sound so good, I think I’ll make a vegan version for myself.

13. Simple Pumpkin Cookies / My GBGV Life

Staying with the pumpkin theme, Emma the French Scent Hound shows us how whip up some simple (yet clearly tasty) pumpkin cookies. Click here for the actual recipe. Be sure to check out her YouTube channel as well.

14. Pumpkin Carrot Bites / Pawsitively Pets

Hopefully you’re not ‘pumpikinned’ out just yet, because this recipe is super simple. Mix up the four ingredients, roll into small balls and bake for 30-35 minutes. You’ll end up with four dozen crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-in-the-middle treats for Fido.

15. Pumpkin Squeaks / Care2

We’re on a roll, so let’s end off with one final pumpkin-inspired recipe to wow your pooch. These cinnamon-infused treats have loads of peanut butter that’s sure to have your hound howling for more.

There you have it, a bunch of tail-wagging dog biscuit recipes that are sure to keep Fido coming back for more. When you’re done snacking, you can work off those extra holiday pounds together.

By: Angela Horn

Care2

Today’s Extra for December 3: 6 Habits Guaranteed to Trigger Holiday Stress

6 Habits Guaranteed to Trigger Holiday Stress

Movies and social media make it seem like holidays are a perfect season filled with fun, love, and laughter. Unfortunately, trying to keep up with this image can lead to stress.

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of the women in the U.S struggle with stress during the holiday season, which increases the risk of diseases. Most Canadians also report the holiday season to be the most stressful time of year. And the worst part is, most use food and alcohol to deal with the stress.

HABITS THAT TRIGGER HOLIDAY STRESS

Your holiday season can be more fun and less stressful for you if you avoid the common habits below that trigger holiday stress.

1. Overspending

Many of us end up spending more than we would like to during the holidays, and most times we spend our money on things that have a very low emotional return on investment.

Even though every expenditure feels equally important, you have to weed out the ones you’re unhappy with. Restrain from making purchases simply because everyone else is, and make a plan to manage your money during this pricey time of year. You can go further and ask family members to break from expensive holiday traditions.

2. Striving for Perfection

Trying to create the perfect experience for the kids or the entire family can be stressful. Perfect holidays only exist in movies and novels.

Look out for signs of holiday perfection—such as making sure all gifts are handmade, prepping meals the entire day and doing too many things—in order to enjoy the holiday to the fullest.

You can overcome holiday perfection by relaxing your standards and being easy on yourself. It’s possible to have fun even when everything isn’t perfect.

3. Family Arguments

Have you ever vowed not to argue, only to find yourself in the middle of a heated family disagreement? Certain issues always seem to rear their ugly heads, despite our best efforts to avoid them.

With a little self-control, you can avoid engaging in arguments that will leave you feeling miserable. Since you can’t control what others say, plan on how to deal with disagreements when they arise.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

With so much to do during the holiday season, you might fail to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. The unhealthy activities we engage in, such as drinking too much wine or high caffeine intake, also contribute to sleeplessness.

Try to maintain a regular sleeping schedule during the holidays, and avoid eating two hours before bedtime.

5. Skipping Workouts

Exercise eases stress, but most of us slack during the holidays. We spend most of the time eating unhealthy foods and sitting down, which leads to weight gain and low energy levels.

You don’t have to stick to your regular routine during this period, but stay active by engaging in simple exercises like walking and jumping rope.

6. Unpreparedness

Unpreparedness usually leads to holiday stress, because you end up overwhelmed by shopping, cooking, activities and visiting friends. Make shopping lists early enough, and assign duties to different people before the D-day.

How do you avoid stress during this time of year? Do you know what triggers holiday stress for you? 

Source: Care2

Today’s Extra for December 2: What Produce is In-Season in December?

What Produce is In-Season in December?

Because of modern agriculture and our ability to ship produce all over the globe, most foods are available year round. But just because we can eat a tomato in the dead of winter, doesn’t mean we should be doing it.

Eating seasonally is one of the best things you can do both for your health and for the environment. Not only does it promote a genuine connection with the earth’s resources, eating locally-grown, seasonal foods helps limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we generate by shipping foods where they don’t naturally belong. Not to mention seasonal produce is more nutritious!

Once upon a time, eating seasonally was the only way to survive. Today, it’s a choice — and one that has both environmental and physical impacts. Ready to start? Here’s what’s in-season in December. Yum!

FRUIT

1. Apples

2. Dates

3. Citrus fruit

4. Pears

5. Bananas

6. Pomegranate

7. Persimmons

VEGETABLES

1. Broccoli

2. Leeks

3. Brussels sprouts

4. Cabbage

5. Onions

6. Parsnips

7. Potatoes

8. Winter squash

9. Sweet potatoes

10. Rutabagas

11. Parsnips

12. Pumpkins

13. Kale

14. Garlic

15. Celery

16. Beets

17. Radishes

18. Turnips

No excuse to avoid those veggies now!

 

Source: Care2

Today’s Extra: Anger’s Surprising Upside

Anger’s Surprising Upside

Sometimes, a burst of anger can be productive and have health benefits.

Anger is usually considered a negative emotion — something that needs to be restrained or at least “managed.” Our aversion to anger makes sense. Persistent rage can take a toll on our mind and body, and on our relationships: Studies link chronic anger to depression, back pain, sexual dysfunction, and more; other studies find fiery outbursts can spark heart attacks and strokes.

All anger is not equal, however. There are destructive and productive forms of anger.

Anger-management expert John Schinnerer, PhD, who served as the psychological consultant for the animated Pixar film Inside Out, differentiates chronic irritability — a long-term outlook characterized by perceiving the world through a hostile, persecutory lens — and the momentary angry response, which we all exhibit from time to time.

Anger of the flash-in-the-pan variety is not only normal; it has some real benefits.

That burst of anger triggers a battery of physiological responses, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, which are crucial to keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. If we learn that our child is being bullied or we catch a pickpocket snagging our wallet, reacting with anger can be both adaptive and productive.

Anger is helpful not just in moments of duress but also in the broader scheme of our relationships. For one thing, exasperation may compel us to say how we feel instead of bottling it in. And when we express those feelings respectfully (think taking a deep breath, saying our piece, then listening to what the other person has to say), our anger is helping to promote growth and change and may even contribute to a longer life.

Asserting anger productively requires some back and forth, but if we do it calmly and assertively, says Schinnerer, “it helps us speak up for what we need and let others know when our boundaries are being violated.”

Anger also deserves credit for providing a proverbial kick in the butt, especially in comparison to the paralyzing effect of other negative emotions.

Take sadness. Feeling blue generally leads us to view life through what psychologists call an “external locus of control,” or a belief that good or bad things occur because of factors beyond our control. Anger does the opposite, corresponding with an “internal locus of control” — the belief that we have a say in what happens to us.

“Being mad can [also] be good for society; it motivates us to work toward positive change,” notes Schinnerer. “Things like #MeToo or the civil rights movement wouldn’t exist without anger.”

Still, it’s important to distinguish between anger as an impetus for positive change and anger as a catalyst for heart disease, damaged relationships, or a fist-size hole in the wall.

To differentiate between normal, healthy anger and chronic irritability, Schinnerer encourages us to consider three elements of our anger:

  • Duration, or how long the emotion lasts.
  • Frequency, or how often it happens.
  • Intensity, or how strongly you experience it.

Intensity is especially important, explains Schinnerer, because it helps us think about anger in context.

“There’s a difference between being intensely angry about something like racial injustice or sexual harassment and flying off the handle every time you get caught in traffic. One way to maintain perspective is to ask yourself, ‘Will this matter in five years?’”

Ultimately, the key to using anger productively rather than destructively lies in being mindful of our feelings and finding a healthy way to release them before they get too big. Schinnerer encourages us to cultivate a habit of rating our anger as it arises, using a scale of 1 to 10.

“I tell clients to express themselves before they reach a 5. That way they speak up for what they need while they’re still relatively calm.”

When we channel our frustration instead of letting it fester, we can turn what seems like a negative emotion into something powerful and productive. Sometimes that may not amount to much more than a sternly worded email to customer service, but as long as we get it out somehow there’s no reason to fear angry feelings.

“It’s not about anger being good or bad,” explains Schinnerer. “It’s what you do with it that matters.”

PRODUCTIVE OR DESTRUCTIVE ANGER: FIVE WAYS TO TELL

  1. How does your anger affect others? Productive anger leads to positive outcomes like compromise, empathy, even intimacy. Destructive anger leads to others feeling afraid, disrespected, or hurt.
  2. On an anger scale of 1 to 10, can you differentiate between level 2 and level 9? This requires cultivating awareness around how anger feels in your body at every stage. (For instance, at a low level, your teeth might clench; at a medium level, your hands might shake; at a high level, it might be difficult to breathe).
  3. Do you consistently wait until you’re at a 5 (or higher) before you say how you feel? If you frequently let yourself stew — or stew then spew — your anger is likely more destructive than productive.
  4. Do you frequently blame others for your angry feelings — or the consequences? Anger can be empowering, but only if you take ownership of it.
  5. Do you accept anger as a natural, human emotion or do you push it away? If you feel ashamed of yourself every time you experience anger, you’re more likely to shut out the underlying messages your anger is trying to communicate (That isn’t fair! This doesn’t feel right!)

by Alexandra Smith, LPCC

Today’s Extra for November 28: 5 Cozy Ideas for Winter Self Care

5 Cozy Ideas for Winter Self Care

Winter is such a love-it-or-hate-it time of year. For some of us, winter is snowflakes, hot chocolate and cable-knit sweaters. For others, it’s dry skin, cold feet and getting up early to scrape the windshield.

Whether you’re looking forward to autumn leaves turning to frost-adorned branches or counting down the days till spring, it’s impossible to argue that winter doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. Dark winters can take their toll, physically, mentally and emotionally. Fortunately, we have some whole-body self care ideas that will help see you through

1. TRY RESTORATIVE YOGA.

Winter might be the hardest time of year to get moving, but it’s as vital as ever. If your body starts to feel heavy and tired from a lack of exercise, try engaging in a stretching or yoga practice on a daily basis.

2. EMBRACE HIBERNATION.

Winter is a wonderful opportunity to retreat inward and enter “rest and reflect” mode. If the sun going down at 5 p.m. makes you want to bundle up in pajamas and enjoy a bowl of soup on the couch, you’re not the only one. Winter was made for cozy moments like this!

3. START DRY BRUSHING.

Cold temperatures and dry winter air have the tendency to suck the moisture right out of our skin. Dry brushing can help remedy this by boosting circulation, stimulating the lymphatic system and removing dead skin. Follow with a coconut oil massage. It’ll feel delicious!

4. GET FESTIVE.

Whether or not you enjoy the holidays, there is something truly special about celebrating the changing seasons. Start by making your home smell more festive ━ light a beeswax candle, warm cinnamon sticks on the stove ━ or turning on a seasonal playlist.

5. WARM YOUR BELLY.

Feel chilled to your bones? Indulge in a nourishing hot drink. We especially love this Hormone-Balancing Hot Chocolate and this Turmeric Chai Latte. Bonus points if you make one for a friend and go for a long walk outside.

Today’s Extra For November 27: 5 Ways Sitting Too Much Can Harm Your Health

5 Ways Sitting Too Much Can Harm Your Health

Are you sitting down? You might want to stand.

Experts long have warned that able-bodied people are sitting too much. And that can have some serious consequences for your health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued new physical activity guidelines, advising people to sit less throughout the day. So why should you stand up and get moving? Here are five ways sitting can harm your health — as well as some tips to add more activity into your life.

1. YOUR MUSCLES GET WEAK AND STIFF

Use them, or lose them — your muscles, that is. Sitting all day might result in muscle stiffness and weakness in your lower body. And this can even lead to pain, numbness and something called “dead butt syndrome.”

“Constant sitting weakens the gluteus medius, one of the three primary muscles in the buttock,” according to Cleveland Clinic. “It also tightens the hip flexors.” The gluteus medius stabilizes your hips and pelvis. And weakness can cause hip and lower back pain, as well as nerve compression. Cleveland Clinic recommends standing for at least 20 minutes per hour to help prevent this problem.

2. YOUR SPINE HEALTH SUFFERS

If you’re not sitting with perfect posture, you’re at a higher risk of aches, pains and degeneration in your spine. “Sitting for prolonged periods of time can be a major cause of back pain, cause increased stress of the back, neck, arms and legs and can add a tremendous amount of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs,” the UCLA Spine Center says. “Additionally, sitting in a slouched position can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the spinal discs.”

For instance, if you work on a computer and your monitor isn’t at the correct height, you can put an incredible strain on your neck. “When your neck is bent to 45 degrees, your head exerts nearly 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of force on your neck,” according to Mayo Clinic. “In addition to straining joints and muscles in your neck and shoulders, the pressure affects your breathing and mood.” So it’s important to constantly check in with your posture and stretch your spine as often as you can.

3. SITTING MIGHT LEAD TO MEMORY LOSS

A recent study from UCLA researchers found sedentary behavior might influence brain health. The study’s 35 participants reported their activity levels, as well as how many hours they sat per day. Then, they received MRI scans of their brains.

The researchers found regardless of physical activity, the people who sat the most showed thinning in the part of the brain that’s involved in memory formation. But because this was a preliminary study, further research still must be done to explore these results.

4. YOU’RE AT A GREATER RISK OF MANY DISEASES

There are many health conditions that studies have associated with prolonged sitting. “They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome,” according to Mayo Clinic.

You’re also at a higher risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. In fact, one study found people who sit a lot have a 147 percent higher risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event — e.g., a heart attack, stroke, etc. Plus, prolonged sitting can lead to dangerous blood clots forming in your legs.

5. SITTING MIGHT SHORTEN YOUR LIFE

You might be knocking some time off your life if you stay seated. One study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found “sitting for more than three hours per day is responsible for 3.8% of all-cause mortality deaths.” And the researchers estimated that sitting for fewer than three hours per day would increase a person’s life expectancy by an average 0.2 years. If you can’t cut your sitting by that much, the study fortunately found even a 10 percent reduction in sedentary time lowered death rates.

Another study on older women found those who reported the most sedentary time had a higher risk of dying from any cause. And that was true even for participants who exercised regularly if most of their other hours were spent sitting. So getting consistent activity throughout your day is key to reducing that risk.

HOW TO ADD MORE MOVEMENT INTO YOUR LIFE

t can be extremely difficult to break a sitting habit. Office jobs, health conditions and many other factors make it all too easy to sit too much. But if you’re able to add more movement into your life, you should.

Harvard Medical School offers a few tips to reduce your sedentary hours.

  • Move every 30 minutes. Set an alarm, use an activity tracker or partner with a friend to move more. Do whatever you need to avoid sinking into your chair, losing track of time and realizing you haven’t moved all day.
  • Pace during phone calls. Even taking a few steps back and forth is better than remaining seated. And if you can, hold walking meetings with friends and colleagues instead of sitting at a table.
  • Don’t binge-watch TV. Use those commercial breaks (or the pause button) to your advantage. Get up to grab some water, do a quick chore or simply stretch. If you’re really feeling ambitious, take those minutes to do a few exercises, such as squats or lunges.
  • Walk wherever you can. If a destination is within walking distance, get out and pound the pavement. Or park as far from an entrance as possible to get in some more steps. Plus, take the stairs whenever you can. And for extra motivation, use a fitness tracker to log your daily steps.

Every step counts toward your health. And when you do finally take a seat, make yourself comfortable. You’ve earned it.

 

Source: Care2

Today’s Extra: Why Should You Start The Practice of Meditation

Meditation is the art of silencing the mind. When the mind is silent, concentration is increased and we experience inner peace in the midst of worldly turmoil. This elusive inner peace is what attracts so many people to meditation and is a quality everyone can benefit from.

What are the Benefits of Meditation?

I’ve been meditating twice a day for the past 9 years because I enjoy it. It may seem strange, but I feel happiest when sitting in perfect silence. The experience is difficult to express in words. It is akin to the “peace that passeth understanding”. It is also true that every meditation is not the same. Sometimes meditation is a struggle to control the mind, while at other times it feels effortless.

These are some of the benefits of meditation:

  1. Improved concentration – A clear mind makes you more productive, especially in creative disciplines like writing.
  2. Less bothered by little things – Do you sometimes allow yourself to get upset by little things? It is the nature of the mind to magnify small things into serious problems. Meditation helps us detach. We learn to live in the here and now, rather than worrying about the past or future. We do not worry about meaningless things, but see the bigger picture.
  3. Better Health – There have been numerous studies pointing to the health benefits of meditation. The reason is that meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits follow.
  4. Knowledge of Self – Meditation enables us to have a deeper understanding of our inner self. Through meditation we can gain a better understanding of our life’s purpose.

Is Meditation Religious?

The great thing about meditation is that our philosophy/religious belief is not importanct. Meditation is about consciousness. The beliefs of the mind become trivial. We dive deep into the heart of the matter to gain access to our soul – our inner reality. Therefore, mediation can (and is ) practiced by people of different religions or no religion.

But I don’t have time To Meditate

Many people like the idea of meditation, but feel they don’t have enough time. When you really want to do something you can find time. Get up earlier or watch 30 minutes less TV. Meditation requires an investment of time, but clearing the mind makes the the rest of the day more productive. Nothing is better than the feeling of inner peace. What is the point in being tremendously busy but unable to enjoy it? Meditation is not about retreating from the world; it gives us inspiration. Whatever you do, if you have peace of mind, your work will be more enjoyable and productive.

How To Meditate

Like anything worthwhile, meditation requires practice. To get the most from meditation you need to do it every day. This requires a place and time where you will not be disturbed. Check out this cool mindmap pdf for inspiration: meditation.pdf

  1. Sit with a straight back. Don’t try to meditate lying down because you are likely to fall asleep. Meditation brings relaxation and peace but at the same time this is a dynamic peace. Meditation is quite different than the relaxation of sleep. When we really meditate, we are fully alert and conscious. Our sense of awareness is heightened. Afterwards you’ll have a positive feeling for the world and a renewed sense of dynamism.
  2. Don’t eat before meditating. After a heavy meal your body will be lethargic with digestion.
  3. It is not necessary to mediate in the lotus posture. It is fine to meditate in a chair, as long as the back is straight.
  4. It is helpful to take a shower before meditating.
  5. Burning incense and having a candle are not necessary, but they can add a little extra inspiration.
  6. It is good to meditate early in the morning. It is said the best time is 3am, although, I feel it is more important to be awake and not sleepy, I meditate at 6.30am.

One Pointed Concentration

However you learn to meditate, you must learn to concentrate on one thing at a time. Usually, the mind tries to hold several different thoughts and ideas at once. When you sit down to meditate for the first time, you realize how cluttered the mind is. Mediation teachers have described the mind as a “mad monkey”. However, the mind can be tamed and forced to concentrate on a single thought.

One helpful technique is concentrating on a candle flame. Narrow your gaze to the small tip and block out all other thoughts. When you get distracted, go back to focusing on the candle flame. You can also use other objects like a small dot or flower. The important thing is that you concentrate only on one thing at a time.

Mantra

Another way to learn concentration is through the use of mantra. A mantra is the repetition of a sacred word. For example, you might repeat the mantra AUM a certain number of times. Repeating a mantra forces the mind to focus on a single thought.

Silent Mind

After you’ve practiced concentration and learned to focus on one thing at a time, you can proceed to the next stage: no thought at all. Achieving a silent mind is difficult, but when to attain it the experience is powerful. A technique I advise is viewing your thoughts as separate from your self. When a thought appears, make a conscious decision to throw it out of your mind. Over time you realize that you are capable of allowing or rejecting thoughts. Your real “I” is not a collection of thoughts, but something far deeper. This is the most significant realization of meditation – that you do not have to be a slave to your thoughts.

Through meditation, you attain the power to control your thoughts, and on occasion stop them completely. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t attain a silent mind straightaway. It takes time and practice. There is nothing really else to it; meditation is a simple and spontaneous action. Unfortunately, our mind is used to complication and it takes time to unlearn bad habits.

Tejvan Pettinger is a member of the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. He lives in Oxford where he works as a teacher. He also offers mediation classes as a community service and updates a blog at Sri Chinmoy Inspiration, a collection of articles on meditation and spirituality.

Published On Pick The Brain

Today’s Extra for Nov. 25: Why You Should Fulfill Your Resolutions BEFORE the New Year

Today’s Extra:

Why You Should Fulfill Your Resolutions BEFORE the New Year

The start of the new year is generally a time of optimism: This is your year. Youre going to lose that 10 pounds. Youre going to read 30 books. Youre going to start waking up and going for a run every single morning, rain or shine.   

But here’s the deal—millions of us commit to adopting new, better habits on January first. Millions of people, all striving to make massive self-improvements all at the same time. There is this sense of urgency, having come off a fun whirlwind of holiday festivities, to get back on track. Yet, a mere month later, 80 percent of us are unsuccessfully back at the drawing board. Failure.

Here’s the issue. Setting a New Year’s resolution puts too much pressure on the resolution-maker. Trying to make a major shift in your life cold turkey is ineffective. Lump that in with the social acceptability of failure (since the vast majority of us always fail to keep our resolutions), and you’re almost destined to achieve mediocrity. Everyone fails. Why bother?

That’s why you should start working towards your New Year’s resolutions NOW.

Use the month of December to gradually increase the amount of vegetables on your plate, work up to an intense workout schedule or take those painting classes. Improve your life now, and you’ll start 2019 by actually accomplishing something, not by focusing on “fixing” the areas where you feel like you’re lacking. Think about it. No pressure. No pomp and circumstance. By January 1st, you’ll be sitting pretty, feeling great about the progress you made, no stress. What a great way to start a year!

Also, be realistic with your expectations. Have you heard that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit? Well that’s only kind of true.

According to the original research conducted by Dr. Maxwell Maltz in the 1950s, it actually takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit or become adjusted to a new version of reality. Yes, minimum. The truth is, there is no magic number. If you’re still struggling with your new habit or goal after three weeks, don’t give in. Some habits just take longer to set in.

Be patient with yourself, start small, and start now. Think of all the progress you will have made by the time the February blues set in and throw everyone else into a resolution tailspin. The small shifts that you started in December will be strong, full-fledged habits by then—February be damned! Don’t put your goals off until January. It really pays to get a head start on your dreams.

Essentially, the key to a successful New Year’s resolution lies in not treating it like one. We should always be working to improve ourselves, and taking conscious small steps in December—before the hyped up New Year’s rush—can make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself and your potential for progress when 2019 hits.

 

Source: Care2

Today’s Extra: 50 Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

50 Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

A time to think of all your blessings

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching us and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re excited for a day off school or work and lots of food. However, Thanksgiving is way more than just that. This holiday is special because it’s a time to spend with your loved ones and think of all your blessings in life. So when you go around the table this Thanksgiving and say what you’re thankful for, what are you going to say? Here are 50 things you should be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

1. Family

2. Friends

3. Education

4. Health

5. Love

6. Shelter

7. God

8. Happiness

9. Support

10. Success

11. Time

12. Laughter

13. Growth

14. Holiday specials on TV

15. Nature – especially the leaves changing colors

16. Simple comforts

17. Dogs

18. Hugs

19. Sweater Weather

20. Christmas season is just a short couple weeks away

21. Friendsgiving- a chance to have two Thanksgivings!

22. Your career

23. Sunshine

24. Freedom

25. Opportunities

26. The colors of Thanksgiving

27. Holiday sales

28. Good stories

29. Football

30. Holiday music

31. The memories you create and reminisce on

32. A hot meal in a cozy place

33. Vacation day from school and work

34. Another day on earth

35. Fuzzy socks

36. Holiday sales

37. Playing in the leaves

38. Rest

39. Forgiveness

40. Family traditions

41. Safety

42. Warm blankets

43. Difficult times that have turned you into the person you are today

44. Yourself

45. Pumpkin flavored everything

46. And the beginning of peppermint flavored everything

47. All the thanksgiving leftovers and potlucks about to take place

48. Dreams come true and to come

49. A day to take time and think of all that you’re thankful for

50. Turkey!

As you can see, there are plenty of things to be thankful for and there are probably even more. Make sure to use this holiday in the best way you can. But also remember that although Thanksgiving centers around giving thanks, you should be giving thanks every day not just on Thanksgiving. One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is that it’s our eye-opener to all of the good in our life. It’s a day to be happy and grateful rather than thinking of the stress and difficulties of life. So use this holiday to keep positive the rest of the year and start of 2019 the best way we can.

Originally published on Odyssey