Hugging is a simple act that is extraordinarily powerful. From adolescence to adulthood, hugs show of comfort, love, friendship and support when we need it most. This is not just an imaginary change in our emotions; according to the National Institute of Health there is scientific evidence that supports indulging in a warm embrace.
Affection, such as a hug, releases the hormone oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin has a powerful effect on our mood and mental health. It is the love hormone that allows us to bond with others. Oxytocin reduces stress, depression and irritability while allowing us greater trust in others.
Hugs increase our sense of belonging and vastly improve relationships with those we love. Like laughter, hugs give us the opportunity to bond and strengthen relationships. Expressing painful emotions is easier in the safety and comfort of hug.
Hugs are also beneficial to our physical health. Research suggests regular hugs lasting around 10 seconds boost the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease.
If we don’t have someone to give and get hugs from, there are other options. There is a reason why little kids get attached to toys, and why our dogs and cats feel like our best friends; it is a result of the bond we have built with them. Therefore, studies suggest that even hugging a teddy bear or pet has shown to be comforting, successfully reducing our fears and anxieties.
Next time you are comforted by a loving hug, take a moment to note its mental, emotional and physical effects.
This last week I was faced with the exhausting task of moving. Well, actually I moved five months ago. During my move from a tiny apartment I shared with my sister, who was still living there, I left a room full of boxes, clothes and random things that I promised myself I would come back and look through, deciding what to keep and what to part with. Last week she was finally moving and I had to figure out what I was going to do with what I left behind.
I thought I would be able to part with most of the remaining stuff, since it had been five months since I even thought about them… Unfortunately, this was not the case. I ended up cluttering my new place, my new life, with more unnecessary boxes and clothes.
After this move I felt defeated, my mind was cluttered and my mood was weighed down. All of this stuff I had now forgotten about was at some point new and exciting, but now was just a burden. I was getting along just fine without these extra items, but for some reason I chose to carry them into my present life, only to add unnecessary frustration.
As we continue our life journey it is easy to accumulate more stuff than we need, and evaluating what is essential and what is baggage is critical if we want to keep moving forward. Not every item, person or memory is meant for longevity. Sometimes what once served a purpose is no longer useful to carry with us.
Whether it is the tangible box of clothes or the heavy memories of the past, before we continue to carry and house these belongings, feelings and thoughts, we have to make a decision: Will they improve my emotional and mental health, or will they just add stress and anxiety?
“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”
Self-care isn’t just about taking the time to care for ourselves. It is also about being mindful of the way we nurture our physical and emotional selves. Part of this involves careful attention to the ingredients in our cooking and skincare. Knowing what is in our skincare can put us at ease when we know exactly what we are putting in our bodies.
This simple cream made of three ingredients works exquisitely for rejuvenating the skin under your eyes. It is calming and hydrating, and its sensual aroma is similarly soothing.
You will need:
Mix coconut oil well. Make sure the oil is not too soft or too hard. Add in the liquid from 2 vitamin E capsules. Add 2-3 drops of rose oil. Mix well. This recipe makes plenty, so store the rest in a mason jar.
Coconut oil is gentle enough for the thin skin that surrounds your eye. It is a natural moisturizer that is rich in fatty acids. It also reduces breakouts and spots thanks to its antibacterial properties.
There are plenty of store-bought items that we choose to substitute for homemade cooking. However, oftentimes the uniqueness of a recipe is in the smallest detail. Pesto is one of those minute elements of a larger dish, and opting to make it from scratch has the power to boost both the flavor and your mood.
Cooking is known to be a great stress reducer. As we focus all of our attention on one task, we distract ourselves from becoming overwhelmed with anxiety, anger and depression. So for your next dinner, try re-creating this classic Italian sauce.
Pesto is all about balancing fresh herbs, like basil, with the distinct flavor of garlic. This freshly made pesto is full of flavor and can be added to almost any dinnertime favorite. Pesto is a staple Italian ingredient that’s superb tossed in with pasta, spread on a pizza or drizzled over juicy Roma tomatoes.
When storing pesto in the refrigerator, add an extra layer of olive oil to help preserve its freshness and keep the color from turning to dark green too quickly. You can also freeze it.
Source: Extra Virgin
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in your intestinal tract. These natural gut flora are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system. About 70-80% of your immune system is found in your gut, so keeping it healthy is critical for good health. Beneficial bacteria produce lactic acid, which inhibits the over growth of bad bacteria, keeping your digestive tract healthy. If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects could include: digestive disorders, skin issues, autoimmune disease and frequent colds and flu.
Historically, people consumed plenty of probiotics in their diet by eating fresh foods grown in quality soil, as well as by fermenting their foods to keep them from spoiling. However, today because of refrigeration, pasteurization, and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics and most foods today actually contain antibiotics which kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.
By adding more probiotic foods into your diet, you could see all of the following health benefits:
For the second time this year Malaysia Airlines is the subject of headline news, as a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia was shot down, killing all 298 people on board. This means not only did nearly 300 people lose their lives, but also the parents, spouses, children and best friends of 298 people are all left to somehow cope with this sudden devastation.
News stories and headlines surround us daily, focusing on the lives lost in this tragic event; but what about those who are left picking up the pieces? Tragedies have a wide reach. With every life lost, there are dozens more affected.
Intense feelings of shock, anger, guilt and disbelief can shake our foundations. The traumatic death of a loved one can complicate the already difficult grieving process and can trigger mental health illnesses, even in someone with no history of psychiatric disorders. Disbelief during the first part of bereavement is a natural response. It is our body’s natural way of safeguarding us from feeling the loss all at once. However, when grief refuses to subside and the pain, depression and anxiety last for months, seeking professional help may be necessary. After a trauma, the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance abuse rises substantially.
Every loss is distinct and creates a grieving process that is unique to each individual. Traumatic loss creates extra stressors on the body as survivors struggle to understand this tragedy. Family members, friends and even strangers are left feeling vulnerable and unnerved.
It is all too easy to wake up every morning with only enough time to do the essentials. If you are like me, every minute is designated to getting ready for the day with little wiggle room for deviation. This plan makes my morning super stressful and unproductive.
We have all heard the saying “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.” Mornings are often an indication of how the rest of our day will be. Rushing in the mornings sets up our whole day to be filled with anxiety, stress and forgetfulness. By waking up just 30 minutes earlier, you can dramatically improve your entire day!
How to get the most out of your early mornings:
Drink a glass of water. Sleeping for hours can dehydrate you, making it even more difficult to wake up and get going. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning rehydrates your body and helps you feel more awake!
Stretch. When you’re rushing to get ready you don’t have time to get your body prepared for the day. Rising 30 minutes earlier gives you plenty of time to stretch your muscles. This enhances blood flow, boosts energy and improves your posture throughout the entire day.
Indulge in a cup of coffee or tea. Coffee and tea have become on the go items, and are no longer served in charming cups and cozy mugs. Early mornings give you the chance to sip slowly and appreciate the warm comfort.
Make a delicious breakfast. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if so, making time for it should be a priority. Reward yourself for getting up early by indulging in a delicious breakfast full of nutrients that gives you energy and helps you stay fuller longer.
Listen to your favorite song. While you are getting ready, wake up with your favorite song. An upbeat tune can jumpstart your morning and give an incredible boost of happiness.
Although it may already seem nearly impossible to get up in the mornings, just remember: The loss of 30 minutes of sleep is rarely felt, but rising 30 minutes early can offer tremendous advantages to your emotional, physical and mental health.
Lemons aren’t just for lemonade this summer. This vibrant citrus is actually a brilliant, all-purpose fruit. From keeping insects at bay to deodorizing the garbage, lemons serve a variety of unique and useful purposes.
Along with cleaning and refreshing the house, lemons also rejuvenate our skin and improve our mood. They are high in calcium, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, all of which provide tremendous benefit to overall wellness.
As women, we often become too busy prioritizing our spouse’s, children’s and friends’ needs that we regularly neglect our own. But, caring for your self is an important part of overall wellness. It helps you relax, de-stress and boosts self-esteem. There are numerous ways you can use lemons as part of your self-care regimen; here are four of them:
“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure”
Air travel can be a major vacation stressor. Aside from the generalized fear of flying that affects roughly 20 million people, there is also the anxiety and stress of a missed flight. From a broken alarm clock to a delayed connecting flight, starting your vacation or trip off by missing your flight can set you up for a rush of anxiety, depression and stress. After you have asked for help from the airline and your fate of waiting is sealed, follow these helpful tips to relieve the emotional and mental stress.
Accept the situation. Of course this is easier said than done, but try not to panic. This situation happens to people all the time. It is certainly frustrating, but it is maneuverable. Part of maintaining good mental health is to practice distress tolerance and accepting the situation. Criticizing yourself and others or dwelling on what you could have done does not help you deal with the situation.
Ask yourself what you have control over. After you have accepted that you have missed your flight, figure out what is in your control. Have you asked the airline for any additional help? Have you contacted anyone who will be affected by your delay, such as business associates, friends or the hotel? By taking control of the situation you are able to reduce anxiety and regain power.
Distract. If your next flight doesn’t leave for a few hours find a way to relax and distract yourself from the anxiety and stress. Many airports offer a variety of shops and restaurants. So, take a moment to enjoy a bite to eat from your favorite restaurant or splurge on a clever airport souvenir.
Enjoy your wait. It can feel like your trip will never start after you’ve missed a flight, but many airports in Europe and Asia offer transit tours. These tours are ideal for layovers longer than six hours and give you a quick glimpse of a city you never expected to explore. Before spending hours waiting for your next flight, check with the airport and see if they offer a way to enjoy your setback.
Relax. Aside from restaurants and shopping, many airports offer relaxation stations. These days airports are expanding their services from just providing flights to offering beds, massages, spas and even oxygen bars that help passengers relax and unwind from their travel stresses.
Although a missed flight is hardly the great start to a vacation or trip we all hope for, it is possible to avoid becoming overwhelmed by anxiety, depression and stress by practicing these helpful tips.
There is a lot of focus on the importance of enjoying the summer sunshine and getting outside in nature to boost mental health! But we often forget that summer also means a lot of rain, rain and more rain. It can be hard to stay happy and positive on those gloomy, wet days that regularly ruin our outdoor plans.
Although fighting the rainy day blues is a challenge, it is not impossible. There are many relaxing and enjoyable ways to get the most from your rainy day.