COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged health

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6 Exercising Myths

1. If you’re not sweating then it doesn’t count. All forms of exercise are good for the body. If you’re sweating it just means that the body’s cooling down.
2. Stretching prevents injuries. This is a very common exercising myth. In fact, it’s general warm ups that prevent us getting injured (like gentle jogging or some jumping jacks).
3. No pain no gain. Although it’s normal to feel pain when you’re exerting yourself, exercise need not be painful if it’s part of a regime. In fact, pain may be a sign that you have injured yourself.
4. Workouts turn fat into muscle. Fats and muscles have different cell structures so you can’t turn fat cells into muscle cells! What you are changing is the body’s ratio of muscle to fat.
5. The more exercise the better. Half an hour day will help keep your body in good shape. You don’t have to do hours and hours of exercise. Also, be aware that high amounts can undermine the immune system. Hence, be sure to rest between your times of exercise.
6. Cardio burns more calories. It’s generally assumed that a cardio workout like jogging, kickboxing, and going for a cycle, are the most efficient ways of burning excess calories. However, other types of exercise (like lifting weights) can increase your metabolism for about a day - so those have a beneficial long term effect.

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Emotional Wellness

If you want to boost your emotional health then build the following into your life:
1. Develop a good group of friends. If possible, try and have quite a wide group of friends. That then means if someone moves away, or you change your school, your hobbies and so on, you’ll still a healthy support system in place.
2. Learn to appreciate solitude. Isolation isn’t the same as solitude. Isolation is being cut off from others for negative reasons; solitude is enjoying space and time for yourself – so you can recharge your batteries, and enjoy just being “you”.
3. Invest time in get fit. People who are fit and healthy generally feel better about themselves. Also, exercise releases feel good hormones so we feel happier, more optimistic and relaxed.
4. Allow yourself to “goof off” and have a laugh – as too much work will drain your energy.
5. Discover your passion and invest time in that. We all have something that brings us alive, and seems to resonate with who we are inside … So investing in your passion is extremely satisfying!
6. Plan for difficulties and problems. We all encounter problems and hard times in this life. Expecting that to happen helps us feel more in control - as we understand it’s normal - so we don’t just fall apart.
7. Work on increasing your self-awareness. As above, we all have blind spots and idiosyncrasies. If we can learn about ourselves, and our natural tendencies, we can learn to master weaknesses, and work to change and grow.
8. Be willing to take risks. Though it’s hard to step out into unknown territory, you’ll find it’s more rewarding to stretch yourself and grow.
9. Watch out for energy vampires. There are plenty of people who will drain your energy so learn how to say “no”, and to set some boundaries.
10. Ask for help when you need it. We all need support and encouragement at times … And offer help to others when things are tough for them.

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Avoid some of the Main Brain Damaging Habits

1. No Breakfast – People who don’t eat breakfast have lower blood sugar levels. This can lead to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain (and to underperformance in terms of thinking, processing , retrieval and memory skills).
2. Overreacting – This can flood the brain with chemical which interferes with clear thinking, logical analysis and memory.
3. Smoking – This can cause a shrinkage in the brain, and possibly lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
4. High Sugar Consumption – Consuming too much sugar interferes with the absorption of proteins and nutrients. These are essential for healthy brain development.
5. Air Pollution – The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain. Again, this can reduce and interfere with the brain’s healthy functioning.
6. Sleep Deprivation – Sleep allows our brain to rest and rejuvenate itself. Long term sleep deprivation accelerates the death of brain cells. It interferes with putting down new memory traces, effective problem solving and memory retention.
7. Exercising your Brain in Times of Illness – Working or studying during times of sickness can lead to a ineffective thinking, poor processing, and to poor memory and retention.
8. Lack of Stimulation – Thinking is the best way to train our brain. Lack of stimulation can prevent new neural pathways from forming. It can also prevent us from reaching our potential in terms of creative thinking and analytical thinking.

Source: The World Health Organisation

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How to Practice Conscious Eating

There are a million reasons behind what and why eat. Conscious eating is where we stop ourselves and choose to take control of this aspect of our lives. The following tips can help with this:

1. Do your own grocery shopping and pack your own snacks and meals.

2. Don’t eat while you are doing other things.

3. Be aware of the nutritional content of food. Decide to mainly eat for nourishment and health.

4. Only eat when you are hungry. (Learn to identify genuine hunger pangs.)

5. Learn to separate emotions and food. Don’t eat because someone asks you to, or has prepared food for you (eg if you are at a social event), or because you want to get your money’s worth (in a restaurant), or because you feel you should finish what’s on the plate, or because you’re bored, or for emotional reasons.

6. Chew your food very slowly and deliberately. Feel the texture and savour the taste.

7. Stop when you feel full, or have consumed enough calories for the meal. (Learn to identify feelings of satiation.)

8. Avoid addictive foods and super-size meals.

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Sensible Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

1. Eat foods that are as close to nature as possible. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s highly processed then it’s bad for you.

2. Don’t focus on calories (and, related to this, avoid dieting). Those tend to lead to an obsession with food. Instead, eat plenty of raw fresh fruits and vegetables, go for smaller portion sizes, only eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are full.

3. Make sure you have some protein at breakfast. That will help stave off the hunger pangs and stop you reaching for quick and empty calories before lunch (like donuts and pastries).

4. Don’t eat after 7pm – unless it is some fruit or veggies. Food eaten late at night tends to lie in the stomach, and is much more likely to be converted into fat.

5. Pay attention to the kinds of fats you eat. It’s crucial that you include the essential fatty acids in your diet – but avoid saturated fats when you can. The former are critical for your health and cannot be produced by the body; the latter clog up your arteries!

6. Eat foods that you enjoy. You only live once, so take pleasure from your munching! There are plenty of options so don’t fixate on a few foods. Also, indulge and splurge on whatever you enjoy – as long as you restrict it to once or twice a week.

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Tips to Stop Emotional Eating

1. First, listen to your body and learn the difference between physical hunger and mindless snacking. In the former, your stomach growls and you begin to feel lightheaded. In the latter, you eat because you’re bored, to give yourself an emotional boost, or to calm yourself down.

2. Eat slowly, listen to your body, and decide to stop when you’ve had enough. Make that a habit, instead of always eating.

3. Don’t have food around when you’re sitting mindlessly in front of the TV. If you have to do something to relieve the boredom, then go on tumblr, or send some texts to friends.

4. Don’t say “no” to food you love as you will start to crave for foods or snacks that are forbidden or framed as being “bad”.

5. Also, exerting self-control for too long can lead to bingeing. So, allow yourself a snack at times – but  limit what you have.

6. Decide to only eat at the table, from a plate. Don’t eat straight from a packet or an ice cream container. Also, don’t eat on the sofa, in your bedroom, or while standing. If you implement that change then it will really make a difference.

7.  Look for patterns and connections that highlight when you’re weak and vulnerable to over-eating. Simply noticing these patterns can help you, in advance, to brain storm different strategies to bolster your defenses.

8. Related to that, identify the triggers that make you reach for food and deal with the issues – instead of masking them.

Filed under counselling psychology therapy food over-eating binge eating self improvement self help online counselling college health diet

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Tips for Improving your Health

1. Eat a piece of fruit before you sit down for a meal. It will help to take the edge off your appetite.

2. Avoid buying food from vending machines.

3. Try switching to wholegrain pasta, rice and bread.

4. Always carry a bottle of water with you.

5. Try to cut down on those high calorie speciality drinks (smoothies, lattes, frappaccinos etc).

6. Drink water instead of soda.

7. Walk part of your commute to school, college or work.

8. Include at least 20 minutes of activity into each day.

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Top diet and nutrition tips for women

· Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Fill most of your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables. Also include a variety of whole grains, beans, and legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find minimally-processed or locally-grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.

· Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So also consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.

· Don’t eat too much protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but eating too much animal-based protein—such as the levels recommended in many low-carb, high-protein diets—is particularly dangerous for women. Eating lots of protein causes calcium loss. Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bone density and osteoporosis.

· Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.

· Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_women_nutrition.htm

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Insomnia Tips

1. Avoid taking naps in the late afternoon or early evening.

2. Don’t use your laptop or watch TV in bed. (Avoid bright lights and screens.)

3. Try and wind down before you go to bed. (For example, don’t exercise or check your emails.)

4. Sleep in a cool, comfortable room.

5. Avoid liquids for at least 2 hours before going to bed. (If you waken up to empty your bladder it’s often hard to fall asleep again.)

6. Avoid stimulants in the evening – like coffee, tea or cigarettes.

7. Try and establish regular bedtimes, and a set bedtime routine.

8. Get up and do something if you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes.

9. Redirect your thoughts if you’ve had a nightmare, or if you find that you’re fixating on your anxieties.

10. Try and relax your body and mind by listening to calming music, white noise, or slowly and deliberately relaxing your muscles.

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6 Bad Habits and How to Overcome Them

1. Snacking between meals – Reaquaint yourself with hunger; don’t eat when you’re stressed or for comfort; stop eating before you feel full; ban unhealthy foods from your kitchen; put anything you’re planning on eating on a plate.

2. Wasting hours mindlessly watching TV – Don’t channel surf; only watch specific programs; deliberately limit yourself to an agree amount of time each day; plan to go out and do activities with friends; join a gym or commit to an exercise program.

3. Piling on the debt – Go on a money management course; set up a budget; be accountable to someone you trust; keep track of how much you spend; only pay cash, don’t use credit cards.

4. Having a lifestyle that creates chronic stress – Examine your relationships and how you spend your money - and try and remove as much stress as possible; learn strategies for helping your relax; learn to say “no” and work on healthy boundaries.

5. Drinking too much alcohol – Reserve alcohol for meals; know and stick to healthy limits; don’t hang out with people who like to drink too much; at parties, be the person who’s the designated driver.

6. Overusing pain killers and sedatives – Talk to your doctor about chronic pain or an ongoing need any form of medication; talk to a counsellor if you’re feeling stressed or are finding it hard to cope with problems and life.

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Some Factors that Contribute to Excessive Sleepiness

1. Poor sleep habits. Inconsistent or irregular sleep patterns; trying to function on too little sleep; taking long naps throughout the day; taking naps too close to bedtime.

2. Dietary factors. There are certain foods that make us feel more sleepy. These include candy, pop and desserts, peanuts and peanut butter, dairy products, turkey, bananas and apples. Also having a late lunch seems to contribute to mid-afternoon sleepiness.

3. Crash diets and weight loss pills may cause sleep abnormalities, which leave you feeling tired and drained.

3. Sedating drugs and alcohol. This includes many prescribed and over the counter medications. Also, not following the instructions properly can lead to bouts of sleepiness. This includes not paying proper attention to timing and dosages.

4. Having the cold or flu, or suffering from a minor infection.

5. Feeling anxious or depressed saps and drains your energy.

6. Having your period. Some women also report feeling more tired and sleepy just before their period or during ovulation.

7. Being physically active. This uses up our energy reserves.

8. Doing boring, monotonous, repetitive tasks.

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You are What you Eat

Eating fruit is beneficial to your health. For example:

Cherries – Relax the nervous system and help to calm us down.

Grapes – Help to purify the blood, and fight disease.

Apples – Promote healthy hair and skin. They also boost the immune system.

Watermelon – Helps to control the heart rate so that we feel more balanced and calm.

Oranges - Promote healthy skin, assists with vision, and helps fight colds and infections.  

Strawberries – Potentially fight cancer and the aging process.

Bananas – Provide energy and have a calming effect.

Blueberries – Fight infection and disease, and help to boost the immune system.

Mangos – Are believed to help the body fight cancer.

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Stress Management Tips

1. Breathe slowly and deeply: Shallow chest breathing makes your heart beat faster, and tenses your muscles, so you feel more stressed. In contrast, breathing slowly and deeply helps you feel much more relaxed.

2. Visualize yourself being calm and relaxed:Imagine all your stress being washed away; or try and visualize yourself in a peaceful scene such as lying on the beach or in a garden, with a book. As you focus on the details, you’ll start to feel less stressed.

3. Smile: Research shows that when we force ourselves to smile it actually improves the way we feel.

4. Don’t grit your teeth: We tend to hold stress in certain parts of our bodies - the teeth and the jaw are one typical part. So when you start to feel stressed, repeat the following exercise: Put the tips of your fingers on the joints below your ears. Clench your teeth - inhale - hold your breath – and then exhale, saying “Ah-h-h-h” . Unclench your teeth and repeat the exercise.

5. Write your feelings down on paper: Writing gives us a way to express how we feel, and it helps to release our pent up emotions.   

6. Count to 10: Give yourself some distance and time before responding. If you react right away you might regret it later on.

7. Take a sniff: There are numerous healing oils that can help to calm you down so take a sniff from a bottle of soothing, healing balm. (For example, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose and thyme.)

8. Go for a walk: Endorphins are released by any form of exercise – and these improve our mood and help us keep things more in balance. Just going for a walk will help to moderate your breathing, reduce your blood pressure, and help to calm you down.

9. Soak in a hot bath: There’s nothing like relaxing in a hot bubble bath to reduce your stress levels and improve the way you feel (especially if you light some scented candles, as well).

10. Turn up the music: We all have favourite music that distracts us from our problems, that grounds us in the present, and helps us feel less stressed.

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