Sometimes, you need to take a break from your daily grind. And your body will tell you when it is time to take that break. And taking a break is no sign of weakness, but is instead a sign that the mind needs to be refreshed so that it can come back stronger. So, when my work was becoming a grind, I stepped away, and now I feel great!
What can you if you need a mental health break? The actions you can take are very simple:
1. Recognize something isn’t right. That sounds easier than it really is. We train ourselves to push through barriers, to maintain mental and physical stamina, and to fight! And that is good because you should do all those things and fight. But what if that fight is no longer good enough? Then you need to recognize you need a break. And be honest with yourself, because if you take a break just because you feel lazy, the little voice in your head will start talking to you, and you will begin to feel guilty, and that is a whole other can of worms.
2. Do something physical. You may not feel like doing something physical, but action at this point is exactly what you need. Get some movement in your body, get the blood pumping, and clear your mind. We’ve discussed in other posts how physical activity is good for mental health.
3. Take some time to get away and break your current routine. Go to lunch, visit the mall, call a friend, but whatever it is, make sure it is something that is outside of your regular daily routine 4. Then get back to work. Your break doesn’t need to be multiple days or even all day. The break is just that, a break from your regular routine. You’ll find once you are back at work, your mind will fresh and you will likely have new energy and ideas.
If you have additional thoughts, please share them here. We look forward to hearing from you
Coffee drinkers REJOICE!!! Today, September 29th, is NATIONAL COFFEE DAY!!
In honor of National Coffee Day, let’s review some of the health benefits of sipping your favorite cup of Joe.
7 Health Benefits of Coffee
Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes– Solid data here suggests that those who drink more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk — a 28% lower risk — for people who drank 4-6 cups a day. The findings held regardless of sex, weight, or geographic location. There is good news in that decaffeinated coffee is as effective as caffeinated coffee.
Lower risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Arrhythmias – There is a relationship between type 2 diabetes and heart disease and strokes, thus by lowering the risk of diabetes, you lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Call it a medical two for one special! Studies have also shown that people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.
Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease – Interestingly, the science is pointing to caffeine being the reason for a decrease risk of Parkinson’s, though science is unsure why.
Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia– A Scandinavian study showed those who reported drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
Prevention of Liver Cancer – Studies are showing a strong association between regular coffee consumption and a reduced risk of liver cancer.
Improves Your Mood – Caffeine is a well-known stimulant, giving you a boost in energy. The caffeine in coffee enters the blood stream and travels to the brain where it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. Once blocked, the brain produces other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine, which in turn improves your mood, as well as other brain functions such as memory, alertness, and reaction times.
Fight Depression – This is related to the point made above about coffee improving your mood. A Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed, and another study in 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to die by suicide.
Down sides to coffee?
This article is not intended to encourage you to swim in a vat of coffee. There are known issues with the over consumption of caffeine, and they include anxiety, fatigue, addiction, high blood pressure, insomnia, and digestive issues.
For most people, it will be the ingredients they add to their coffee that will take away from the benefits listed above. An enormous amount of sugar and saturated fats is found in specialty coffee drinks. These drinks eliminate any benefit of coffee and lead to a higher risk of diabetes, weight gain, higher blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. These specialty coffee drinks should always be avoided.
Bottomline, if you enjoy drinking coffee, continue to do so as there are tremendous for doing so. But if you add large amounts of sugar or fats to your coffee, you are likely negating all those benefits and potentially causing more harm. Consider replacing your sugar with a non-sugar solution such as plant-based stevia.
Kudos to the folks at Healthline and WebMD for the information I was able to collect for this article.
This week, we focused on gut health and the food that would promote gut health. Some of the more adventurous foodies may be considering making your own sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha. If you want to start making these foods at home, I’ve chosen the below list of recipes because their instructions were easy to follow.
Have you been feeling more anxious than normal? The reason may not be in your head, but in your gut.
During the pandemic, medical professionals have reported higher than normal incidences of patients feeling anxious and less mentally focused than before the pandemic. While feeling stress during this time is understandable, it turns out that the foods we eat can also impact our mental wellbeing.
Most of us known the importance of gut health, i.e. a healthy gut equals a healthy body. This is what the University of California at Davis Health says about gut health, “All food is ultimately broken down in the gut to a simple form that can enter the bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout our bodies. This is only possible with a healthy digestive system. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being.”
The Brain-Gut Connection
The fact that there is a brain-gut connection is something many folks don’t know or understand. At the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, research is showing that the gut plays an even greater role in our overall mood that we ever suspected. The enteric nervous system (ENS), comprised of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum, has the main role of is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination. It turns out that the ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. Science originally thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems, but research now appears to show it is the other way around. This new research is leading scientists to consider that the gut also plays a larger role in our cognition (thinking skills and memory) too.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Gut Health
Probiotics: Foods high in probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. This helps good break down completely, allowing better absorption of nutrients into the body. Food high in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and fresh sauerkraut. NOTE: Yogurts and kefir tend to be high in sugars because that makes the taste more palatable, thus they may not work in many diets. Kombucha carries a trace amount of alcohol. For most people, the alcohol is minimal and not a concern, but it could be a concern for those taking certain prescription drugs. When buying kimchi and sauerkraut, you need to buy these fresh and with active enzymes. Canned products have been pasteurized and thus the healthful bacteria is dead. Look for fresh products in a cold produce section of your local grocer store.
Fiber: Lots of Fruits and Vegetables each day. Think leafy greens and legumes like beans and lentils. Fiber is a bulking agent that moves food down the line like a train. This movement is important because while the body is absorbing nutrients, it is also attempting to eliminate what it doesn’t need in waste. Think of waste as poison, and you don’t want to be holding poison in your gut. A large salad contains several portions of the fiber your body wants.
Water: Water combined with fiber is like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of good gut health. Working together, they keep everything moving. Note that the best way to determine how much water you need each day is determined by your weight. The rule of thumb is 1oz of water for every two pounds of body weight. If you weight 100lbs., you should drink 50oz of water. If you weight 200lbs, then 100oz of water. If you regularly drink from a popular branded 30oz tumbler, count the number of times you fill the tumbler with water during the day, and you’ll get an idea how much water you drink in a day. Remember, caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you, so don’t add coffee, tea, carbonated beverage, or alcoholic beverages to your count.
Exercise: Exercise assists in the movement within your gut.
Sleep: Folks who sleep irregularly also experience nausea, bloating, and constipation. Get your sleep!
Stay away from processed foods and refined grains: Processed food, i.e. food that has been made to fit in a bag and is then shelf stable for an extended period, typically has little to no fiber nor nutritional value. Eating food like this causes harm to your gut.
Limit your consumption of fried foods: The fats used to fry food can lead to constipation because your body has a difficult time processing the fat. Besides constipation, the bad fat stays in the body, leading to bloating. To the point made earlier, you want to move the poison out of your body.
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve made changes to your diet and how you are feeling.
Many folks are still not able to go into a gym, so we need to search for alternative ways to exercise. If you are wanting to do something other than using your home gym, running, biking or swimming, have you considered playing tennis? Here’s why you should pick up a racket today:
Availability – Tennis courts are readily available in most parts of the United States, as well as over parts of the world. If you don’t have courts in your neighborhood, you will likely find them in a local park.
Inexpensive– If you play at a neighborhood or city park, you will likely not a fee. Your only costs are a racket, tennis balls, and the time is takes for you to get to the court.
Play the game at any age – Tennis is a wonderful game at any age. It can also be easily learned at any age. Don’t let the fact that you’ve never played stop you from starting. Plus, if you have never played, you will likely find a partner who will happily “show you the ropes” on how to get started.
Social Distance – The nature of the game creates distance between you and your opponent, thus alleviating the concern of being too close and potentially spreading pathogens.
Those are the reasons why to pick up a racket, today. What are some of the benefits of playing tennis?
Full body workout: Your lower and upper body are in constant motion
Improved aerobic and anaerobic health: Get your heart rate up, increase your oxygen intake, and your body will begin to build a better cardio system, as well as more efficient muscles.
Burns calories and fat: Playing tennis can burn between 400-600 calories an hour. For a comparison, I walked 3.5 miles, it took me an hour and 10 minutes, and I burned 390 calories. I could have burned more in less time.
Improves bone health: I recently wrote about how exercise improves bone health, and since tennis is an overall body work out, it would obviously benefit bones through your body.
Heart healthy: This one is self-explanatory; if you consistently raise your heart rate, you will build a stronger cardio system.
Enhances flexibility, balance and coordination: Eye hand coordination is critical in tennis. You can develop your coordination, which will in tun develop your balance, which is an important thing to maintain as we age. And because the game entails movement, reaching, and stretching, your flexibility improves, which also helps you prevent injuries.
Boosts brain power: Tennis requires you “to think on your feet”, make adjustments in split seconds, to develop strategies and ever-changing tactics. studies show that exercises that require a lot of thinking can improve brain function in ways that aid memory, learning, social skills, and behavior.
Is great cross-training for other sports: The short speed burst associated with tennis translates well into cross training for other sports and a thus speed up your pace and endurance.
Boosts mood: Exercise has been shown to improve your mental health, alleviating anxiety and depression, while improving self-esteem and optimism.
I hope this inspires you to pick up a racket and start playing. Let us know if you are regularly playing tennis and grab a partner to play a match with you.
And if you enjoyed this post, please leave a message below and subscribe to this site. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Since many of us are still unable to go into a gym during this pandemic, I’m staying within the theme of how you can attain a complete workout without leaving your home.
In this post, I’ll be discussing strength training (also known as weight training or resistance training) because according to the Mayo Clinic, strength training will help you:
Develop healthy bones: By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Build lean muscle mass: As we age, we lose muscle mass and it is replaced with fat. Building lean muscle mass also gives us more energy throughout the day.
Manage your weight: Strength training will increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
Improve your balance: Improved balance reduces the risk of falls, allowing you to maintain independence as you age and improving your quality of life.
Manage chronic conditions: Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Sharpen your mental skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.
Improve our mental wellbeing: Studies show that strength training reduces symptoms of depression and thus improves our sense of well being
To get started, you don’t need to break the bank buying equipment. There are a few pieces that would be helpful and you can find them at a major athletic retailer or online. If you enjoy bargain shopping, you maybe able to find some equipment in used but excellent condition. Here’s a list to consider:
an exercise mat
resistance bands or tubing
a stability ball
a medicine ball
A basic lunge works the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Start by standing up tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
Step forward with your right foot, and lower your hips toward the floor until your right leg is at a 90-degree angle and your left knee is parallel to the ground. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
Lengthen your spine to keep your torso upright.
Hold this position for 5 seconds or longer.
Then step your right foot back to meet your left, and repeat this movement with your left leg.
Repeat 10 to 12 times, then rest briefly and do another set.
Squat To Overhead Press:
This exercise not only works your glutes and leg muscles, it also works the muscles in your core, back, and shoulders, as well as your triceps.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your arms alongside your body.
Slowly lower your hips down into a squat position.
Press up to come back into standing and raise your arms overhead.
Return to the starting position.
Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
Planks are an excellent exercise for improving your core strength and stability. This exercise can also strengthen the muscles in your back, chest, and shoulders.
Rest on your forearms and toes only, keeping your body in a straight line with your buttocks clenched and your abdominal muscles engaged.
Try to hold this position for 30 seconds. If that’s too hard, start with 20 seconds.
As you gain strength and fitness, try to hold the plank position for 1 minute or longer.
Standard pushups work the chest muscles (pectorals), as well as the shoulder muscles, triceps, and abdominals.
Start in a plank position with your palms directly under your shoulders.
Keeping your back flat and bracing your core, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest almost touches the floor.
Immediately push your body back up to the starting position.
Repeat 8–12 times. Start with 1–2 sets, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
A less challenging version of the pushup can be done by putting your weight on your knees instead of your toes.
Free Weight Exercises
Dumbbell Shoulder Press:
This exercise targets the muscles in your shoulders and arms, and can also strengthen your core and chest muscles.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Pick up the dumbbells and raise them to shoulder height. Your palms can face forward or toward your body.
Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended.
Pause in this position for a few seconds, and then bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback:
This exercise works your triceps as well as your shoulder muscles.
Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand.
Bend your torso at a 45-degree angle, and bend your elbows so they form a 90-degree angle.
Then straighten your arms out directly behind you, engaging your triceps as you go.
You can either do one arm at a time, or both together.
If you’re a beginner, start with 1–2 sets of 8–12 reps, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
Resistance Band Pull Apart:
This exercise works the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
Stand with your arms extended out in front of you at chest height.
Hold a resistance band tautly with both hands. The band should be parallel to the ground.
Keeping your arms straight, pull the band toward your chest by moving your arms outward to your sides. Initiate this movement from your mid-back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and keep your spine straight, then slowly return to the starting position.
Do 1–3 sets of 15–20 reps.
This exercise works the muscles in your hips and legs. You’ll need a light- to medium-resistance band to do this exercise.
Loop the resistance band around both your ankles. You can use a chair or wall for balance.
Keeping a straight line in your body, pull your left leg back as far as you can, keeping it as straight as possible.
Slowly return to the starting position.
Complete 12 reps with your left leg, then repeat with your right leg.
Complete 2 sets on each side to start, and work up to doing 3 sets as you build up your strength.
Resistance Band Leg Press:
This exercise works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Like a leg press on a weight machine, this exercise makes you work against gravity.
Lie on your back and lift your feet off the ground.
Bend your knees, creating a 90-degree angle. Flex your feet, pointing your toes upward.
Wrap the resistance band around your feet and hold the ends.
Press your feet against the bands until your legs are fully extended.
Bend your knees to return to a 90-degree angle.
Do 1–3 sets of 10–12 reps.
You want to incorporate strength training like this into your routine at least three times a week. If yourself a day of rest between muscle groups and allow them to recover. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday plan for strength training can work well.
If your current exercise routine is primarily cardio focused, don’t stop the cardio, but modify the routine. For instance, if your normal cardio routine is an hour long, and your strength training is 30 minutes long, on the day you strength train, also do 30 minutes of cardio. You ultimately want to be shooting for 1 hour of exercise per day, 5 days a week. You may not be able to achieve this in the beginning, but that should be your goal.
Let us know how you a doing with incorporating these tips into your exercise routine.
Kudos to the folks at Healthline for these helpful exercise ideas.