Pets and Your Health

42089792 - woman with her dog tender scene

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I don’t know how I would get through difficult days without my three wonderful cats. Tenshi, Shima, and Kazu are so special to me that I always look forward to coming home and seeing their sweet faces. Those of you who have pets to whom you are closely bonded know how comforting it is to come home to them. Animals are capable of deep, unconditional love which is unparalleled. A pet won’t care that you look all disheveled from battling a grueling day. If you are distraught, a pet will make you smile and perhaps even laugh with cute and silly antics. Pets are natural antidepressants, and create the perfect distraction when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or ruminate over something which is only causing you anguish.

Pets are wonderful for our well-being and spiritual health.

It turns out that owning a pet also confers physical health benefits as well. Pet owners enjoy a reduction in stress and anxiety, which has a positive impact on blood pressure. Another very striking and unexpected benefit to having pets is a decrease in a child’s chances of developing allergies to animals. The decreased chance of developing allergies to animals in small children who live with animals is as high as 30 percent, according to research conducted by pediatrician James E. Gern which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Gern conducted a number of studies on children exposed to pets, all of which concluded that children who were exposed at an early age to animals tended to develop stronger immune systems overall, and were far less likely to develop pet-related allergies.

When I think of friends who have allergies to cats or dogs, most of them did not grow up with a pet in the house. I also did not grow up with a family pet per se, unless you count the two rabbits I had in fourth grade for about six months. My mother was so fed up with them that she sold them to a pet store, and that was that. But I spent extended periods of time petting and hanging out with numerous outdoor cats in the neighborhood, enough so that I had a regular exposure to them. I also spent weekends with my dad’s dog, or with his friends’ dogs, so the exposure was steady.

I honestly believe that early and regular exposure to pets is a boon to immune health in young children. And since there is a large body of scientific evidence to back that up, why not get a family pet for your children to love?

How Sleep Can Revitalize Your Body and Mind

Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com has done it again with another informative article!  Check it out here.

sleep

Image courtesy of Pixabay

When we lose out on restful sleep, our bodies tend to age before their time. If you’re tired or feeling run down and a bit haggard, it might be due to lack of proper rest. After all, nothing replenishes us the way a good night’s slumber does.

 

Why Sleep Keeps Us Youthful

How do you feel after a night of no sleep? Is your thinking slowed and your energy nonexistent, and do you notice new lines beneath your eyes? If so, you’re not alone, as poor sleep can make us feel and look older than we are. Our cortisol levels shoot up, our brains can’t properly restore themselves, and we look as haggard as we feel. Your mind and body both need this time to reset themselves and flush out toxins, which helps us stay healthy and energetic. Unfortunately, trying to force ourselves to slumber through sheer will alone seldom works. Instead, we need to be proactive about our patterns to change our sleep habits.

 

Transform Your Bedroom

If your room is uncomfortable, stressful, or too stimulating, you may not be sleeping as well as you could. If you have a television where you can watch from bed, a lumpy mattress, or curtains that let in every stream of light, then it’s definitely time for a change. Have good bedding, including both linens and your mattress, and add blackout curtains to extend your rests. Every change adds up, so transform your bedroom into a paradise today.

 

Best Sleep Position

Sleeping on your back is the best way to avoid the development of premature wrinkles, but there are options for side sleepers to overcome this problem. Adding a body pillow to take some of your weight, or using a silk pillowcase, can greatly cut down the strain your skin experiences at night. Supplements, meanwhile, can provide vitamins and collagen that our skin needs to stay youthful, which allows us to continue side sleeping without fear. Even a good moisturizer can go a long way to helping your skin fill in lines created from the pull of a pillow.

 

Banishing Tech

Many of us use smartphones into the late hours, but that can deprive us of restful sleep. The light from our phones and tablets signals to our brains that it is daytime, and thereby prevents us from beginning the sleep process. It can be hard to put your phone down at a certain time each night, as tech addiction is very real in today’s society, but we must learn how. Start by removing notifications from your phone, taking off tempting apps and cutting back in increments. All in all, do what you can to eliminate your tech usage before bed.

 

Eat for Good Rest

What we eat can impact the quality of our rest. When we eat poorly or consume foods that cause indigestion, our sleep is interrupted, and we may wake throughout the night. Even drinking coffee in the afternoon can negatively influence how well we slumber. To give yourself the boost you need, reach for healthy carbs over empty ones, and don’t overeat before bed. Cherries, milk, and poultry are also good options to ease you into a refreshingly restful night.

 

Keep a Routine

When you go to bed at different hours, and when you wake up irregularly too, you’re setting your body up for failure. It has no ability to learn when it should get sleepy or when it will awaken. That’s why setting a nighttime routine and sticking to it even when you don’t work the next day is beneficial. By teaching your body to rest at a specific hour, you give yourself a higher possibility of falling asleep when you lie down.

 

To keep your complexion flawless and to have more energy during the day, get the sleep your body craves. It may take some training, and you may need to rearrange your bedroom, but you can get more rest. Each and every one of us deserves a good night of slumber.

 

Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being

Sheila Olson is at it again with another fantastic article which I am sharing here. Let Sheila guide you towards optimal well-being!

Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being
by Sheila Olson

Being healthy is a goal that we all have, and we are frequently exposed to countless trends that promise to drastically improve our well-being overnight. Of course, that isn’t realistic on any level. What our minds and bodies need is long-term commitment. If you’re interested in improving your entire well-being, check out the following tips.

Center Yourself

When left unaddressed, stress can occupy our thoughts throughout the day and leave us restless at night. Unfortunately, our physical health is directly connected to our mental health. After all, stress can disrupt sleep, impede focus, and leave us with a host of physical issues. Yet, with the right tools, you can learn the proper ways to manage it.

A good starting point is meditation. Mindfulness habits can balance our emotional states, leaving us physically and mentally healthier as a result. Beginning a practice can be as easy as spending 10 minutes in a quiet place every day. Thanks to the internet, you can also use guided tutorials to help you learn that process. How you explore meditation is up to you. You may want to focus on breathing exercises, or you might prefer a room dedicated to emotional centering.

Clean Your Air

It’s natural to assume that our homes are a refuge from pollutants, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We may have pets that shed, or we use cleaning chemicals that do more harm than good. This decline in air quality can cause many health issues, such as asthma or allergies. Fortunately, you can drastically cut pollutants by investing in an air purifier. These devices filter air at the microscopic level. They won’t purge our homes completely of contaminants, but you can notice marked improvement in both your health and air quality. Before you choose a specific model, learn more about the products on the market. There are several different kinds of purifiers available, so know what you need before you buy one.

Contextualize Fitness

Being active shouldn’t be a chore; if it is, then you need to find routines that you enjoy to make healthier living more sustainable. Don’t rely on bruising sessions at the gym to achieve your goals, as this can lead to burnout. Instead, remind yourself that all activity counts. That might be walking through a park or playing basketball with a group of friends. Do you work out best with others? Join a sports team, or take up regular jogs with your buddies. Above all, give yourself manageable goals that you can work toward, and make sure you follow through with them. By having a positive mindset, you can keep your fitness moving forward.

Focus on Sleep

Having a good night’s rest is easier said than done. However, sleep recharges one’s emotional and physical batteries. So, get to the root cause of any restlessness and find a solution. Do you drink caffeine? Limit it as best you can, and consider a cutoff point in the early afternoon. Are you using electronics? They may seem ideal to help you unwind at the end of the day, but they can override your body’s sleep processes. Don’t overlook your environment, either. If it’s bright, invest in blackout curtains. Likewise, keep your room cool to help your body prep for sleep. Identifying the source may mean replacing your mattress or changing your decor. Whatever the cause, though, you can rejuvenate your health with sleep.

Embrace Positive Living

Unhealthy habits can be a significant obstacle to wellness. They are hard to stop, but doing so can be transformative. Negative habits can have various underlying causes, so it’s important to determine what they might be. This can help you understand certain patterns and avoid them in the future. However, don’t just try to drop an unwanted habit “cold turkey.” Instead, challenge them by adopting positive alternatives. If you smoke when you’re feeling stressed, find a substitute that you can use to manage your anxieties. Don’t end your nights on a stressful note by checking social media or email. Positive living is a strategy that adds up over time and can become a central part of your day-to-day life.

Good health is not a fad. It’s perfectly achievable by making easy adjustments to our lifestyle and outlook. Make your well-being a priority every day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Happy Moments

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Copyright : anyaberkut

All too often, we carry around feelings of negativity and allow them to color our days. If we are feeling anxious, dejected, or angry, then we will create that environment for the day. And then what happens? we may say, “well it figures” or “I knew this was gonna be a crappy day”, because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, we will have to deal with bad days every now and then, but if we can start every single day with good intentions and a positive mental attitude, we’ve won half the battle against challenges and upsets.

So this is what I want you to do today, especially if your day is especially frustrating or challenging:

I want you to call to mind one of the happiest moments in your life, a moment in which you felt pure joy, pride, elation. Bring it into view. Remember how you felt.

Now I want you to carry that memory with you throughout your day. Allow yourself to bask in that moment, to reminisce. See how it changes your attitude towards the day. Take note of how you respond to minor irritations today.

You know something? You can take that happiness, carry it with you every day. If your happy moment had something to do with an accomplishment, then allow that feeling of pride to shine through, to empower you today.

We all have the power to transform our days, our lives. Simply by harnessing positive, happy thoughts, we become powerful, we become strong.

Move Like A Child

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Have you ever given any thought to how children move? The most fidgety of kids will move constantly, and will exhibit a freedom of movement. Children as a whole are far more active and naturally athletic than most adults. Movements such as swaying from side to side, swinging arms, fidgeting, jumping, and skipping are all the dominion of the child. Ordinarily, if an adult dares to move in that manner, he or she would be regarded, and often rightly so, as bonkers.

So what happens to an adult when he or she is allowed to move freely like a child, allowing whatever impulse emerges to direct movement of body parts?

There is one yoga instructor at the yoga studio I frequent who has a habit of encouraging the students to move and shake their limbs, wiggle their hips, and just let loose during one portion of her kundalini yoga class. Do students feel silly when they begin to move? Absolutely. Does everyone begin to enjoy the freedom that such movements can confer on the body, mind and spirit? Oh yes. It is incredibly liberating to be able to shake it like you just don’t care, all in a comfortable and non-judgmental environment.

I think the next best thing to being in a kundalini yoga class with a cool yogi like the one I mentioned, would be to take a dance class, or take part in freestyle dancing at a local club. It’s a great way to de-stress and have fun in the process.

Overcoming The Daily Grind: How Women Can Focus On Their Health

Photo via Pixabay by Stocksnap

Attention ladies…how can you focus on yourself in the midst of a hectic lifestyle? Read on to see what Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com has to say!

– By Sheila Olson

For many women, finding the time to focus on their overall well-being can be a challenge. Busy work schedules, spending time with family, and personal projects can sometimes prevent us from taking the time we need to take care of our bodies and minds, leaving us feeling exhausted and without the defenses we need to stay healthy. While having a routine can be a great thing, it can also become monotonous, leaving you with the feeling of being stuck in that “daily grind” everyone talks about.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to boost your health and overall well-being without sacrificing the time you need to spend on other things. Making small changes to your lifestyle and routine will help you boost your energy, immune system and self-esteem, all while ensuring that you stay efficient and productive.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.

Ask for help

No matter how productive you are, there’s just no way you can do everything by yourself, so don’t even try! Ask for help now and then, especially when it comes to managing your time. Not only will this help you get everything done, it will reduce stress at the same time. Think about the small things that will have a big impact, such as delegating chores to the kids or hiring a dogwalker to take care of your pup while you focus on other things.


Get in a daily workout

It may seem easier said than done, but it’s actually not that hard to fit in a workout if you know where to look. Many people think that their exercise routine needs to be done in a gym, for at least an hour at a time, with fancy equipment and gear, but the truth is, you can break up your workout into two fifteen-minute increments and get some nice results. You can also try yoga or simply use the tools you have around you including stairs instead of heading to the gym.

Eat well-balanced meals

Eating healthy isn’t always easy when you have a packed schedule; many women find themselves settling for fast food or even finishing what’s left on their child’s plate rather than making something good for themselves. If time is an issue, consider preparing some healthy meals ahead of time such as on a Sunday night and freezing them for the week. It will also help to keep quick, easy foods like pre-mixed salad, fruit, granola and oatmeal at the ready so you can make a healthy meal even when you don’t have much time.

Fuel up at work

When you spend long hours at the office, it can be hard to focus on your needs. Schedule breaks in which you can meditate, read a good book, go for a walk around the block, or eat a healthy snack. This will not only help you stay physically healthy, but mentally as well.

Getting over the daily grind and focusing on yourself is a must in today’s busy world. No matter what kind of job you have, or what responsibilities await you at home, it’s important to remember that your health matters. Find small ways to reduce stress as much as possible, and don’t forget to ask for help! Learn to say no if it takes away from some much-needed self-care; you’ll thank yourself later.

The Magic Of Kundalini Yoga

I fell into kundalini yoga quite by accident earlier this year, when I decided to sign up for a class at a local yoga studio which was listed on ClassPass. From the first class, I was deeply moved, intrigued, and interested in continuing the practice. I hadn’t been aware of the fact that kundalini yoga is considered to be the most powerful and spiritual form of yoga, but I am grateful that it is now a part of my life. Kundalini yoga also complements my daily meditation practice.

How is kundalini yoga different from other forms of yoga? While it can be VERY physical, kundalini yoga is incredibly spiritual and meditative. You will spend a decent amount of time in “easy pose”, which is a standard pose for meditation. Kundalini yoga consists of chants, repetitive movements, and coordinated breathing techniques which are all designed to increase consciousness and activate the body’s energy centers. Because this type of yoga targets energy blockages, sessions can be emotional, intense, sacred, and filled with a sense of connectedness to everyone.

An article by James McCrae states that the objective of kundalini yoga is “decentralized and selfless – help people actualize their Higher Self”. The practice of kundalini yoga has been around since approximately 1,000 B.C. – 500 B.C. during the time in which the Upanishads were written. Kundalini, or “coiled snake”, refers to the energy of creation which sits at the base of the spine, and which can be activated and made to move up the spine and throughout the entire body. It was brought to the western world in the late 1960’s by Yogi Bhajan.

Kundalini yoga can be regarded as the fast track to spiritual enlightenment, and can bring about immense positive changes to one’s life. It increases awareness, brings a sense of well-being, and also creates a stillness and calmness which help to deflect the stresses of the modern world.

My Just Float Experience

What is Floating – Just Float, The World’s Largest Float Therapy Center

Yesterday I had a pretty remarkable experience, floating for an hour in a room devoid of light and external noise. The 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt which saturated the pleasant, tepid water caused my body to float effortlessly. Since I meditate daily, I welcomed the release that came with being untethered by my senses, gently hovering in a state of incredible relaxation.

For those of you who are wondering what the process is, you shower before entering the chamber to remove oils, lotions and pollutants from your skin and hair. Then you step into the tub which is softly illuminated. Once you lie in the water and adjust to your body’s buoyancy, you can turn off the lights and allow the soothing music to lull you into a state of stillness. The music fades away, leaving your breathing as the only steady sound.

At the end of your session, the music and lights slowly return. You exit the tub and rinse off the salty water.

Forty dollars (intro price) and an hour later, I definitely think the experience was well worth it.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you would like to try floating, please click on this link: http://justfloat.com/

There’s Always Time To Breathe

breathing

As I was speaking with one of my patients earlier today, I was struck by the fact that she said she had no time to do anything, and that her work schedule was so stacked that she felt like she was unraveling. I suggested that she take a moment at some point in her day to just sit still and BREATHE, without any task or agenda. Her reply? “Oh, I don’t even have time for that!”

It seemed unreasonable to me that this woman wouldn’t even take a few SECONDS for herself just to breathe, take momentary break from the maddening rush of her life, and just be in the moment. It’s not that people can’t stop and breathe, they WON’T, because they have been led to believe that remaining on the hamster wheel of life all the time is a necessary sacrifice for all the success they hope to achieve. The sad truth is that those brief moments of stillness enable the spirit to reset and restore balance to mind and body as well.

If you are like my patient, you are doing yourself a major disservice by constantly moving and not allowing yourself to rest, even for a few seconds. Even the most creative and driven people in the world find time to enjoy their surroundings, pause in the midst of chaos, and realign with themselves. All you will do if you insist on going full guns all the time, without a moment to rest, is burn out your adrenal glands, damage your immune system, and set the tone for depression and anxiety.

For only a few seconds a day, you can enjoy the gift of being in the moment. What’s even better is that you can indulge in such moments throughout the day, between projects, meetings and chores. You can even do it upon waking, right before you start the ignition in your car, while standing in line at the grocery store, or just about anywhere.

The Five Keys To Optimal Brain Health

Sharpens-Your-Brain

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Even if your genetics put you at risk for developing dementia, there are numerous lifestyle and behavior adjustments which you can make in order to protect brain function and fight dementia. The five keys listed below are proven to improve brain health and keep your mind vital and sharp for decades.

1. MOVE YOUR BODY

Scientific research has proven that overall physical health is closely linked to brain health. Regular exercise aids in the maintenance of a healthy weight range, normal cholesterol levels, while also optimizing blood flow throughout the body and the brain and supporting the growth of new brain cells.

The benefits of physical health stem not only from regular exercise, but also from other good health practices. Support your brain’s health by doing the following:

• Exercise at least 30 minutes daily to relieve stress.
• Make sure to get between seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
• Refrain from using tobacco.
• See your doctor regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.

2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Research studies indicate that diets which are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients like lutein and vitamin E, may have a protective effect on brain cells and overall brain health.

Brain-healthy dietary changes:

• Opt for healthy fats which are found in olive oil and fatty fish like salmon. Avoid saturated and trans fats.
• Consume a diet which incorporates milk, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, and dark leafy greens like spinach, all of which are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is an important nutrient which supports brain health. If you can’t get vitamin E from foods, you can take it in supplement form.
• Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, aiming for nine fist-sized servings each day. Select colorful fruits like cranberries, blueberries and tomatoes which are packed with powerful anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols. Keep the skin on fruits and vegetables to maximize their nutritional benefits.
• Add lutein. Lutein is a potent antioxidant which is critical for eye and brain health. Foods which are rich in lutein include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, egg yolks, corn, and peas. You can also take lutein in supplement form.

3. EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN

Extensive research has proven that the brain continues to learn new skills and information throughout life, and benefits from frequent intellectual stimulation. Make sure to pursue new activities, education and games to challenge your mind. Read books to elevate your knowledge base.

How to stimulate your brain:

• Engage in regular sessions of a mental activity you enjoy, such as reading, word games such as crossword puzzles, or learning a foreign language.
• Get into a daily habit of learning a new word or fact.
• Master a new skill or subject each year.
• Manage stress and balance your energy by meditating. Meditation may help to reduce stress and body inflammation by soothing the vagus nerve, an important nerve which controls the body’s immune response.

4. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS

Though we know that relationships with family and friends are key factors in a person’s happiness, regular social interaction promotes the formation of new brain cells and aids in brain repair. One study revealed that men and women who had the most social interaction had less than half the rate of memory loss as those who were the least socially involved. By visiting friends and family and being involved in community activities, you will protect brain health.

Social brain boosters:

• Spend time with your family and friends regularly, and make them a priority.
• Volunteer for an organization which surrounds a cause which you are passionate about.
• Work for as long as you can, and for as long as you feel motivated to do so.
• Join clubs and become involved in religious or spiritual activities which resonate with you.

5. BALANCE YOUR NEUROTRANSMITTERS

Brain function relies on important molecules known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter levels affect mood, behavior, cognitive function, social function, digestion, sleep, weight regulation, and many other processes.

The problem with current society is that the vast majority of people have overly stimulated sympathetic nervous systems, which over time can drain the body of serotonin. The excitatory part of the nervous system dominates once the inhibitory neurotransmitters are depleted, resulting in anxiety and an inability to “wind down”. Eventually, even the excitatory neurotransmitters such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and GABA are also depleted, and severe depression or chronic fatigue usually develop.

Conventional drugs cannot replenish these neurotransmitters, and in fact, tend to cause depletion of the neurotransmitters. This is the reason why some depression medications do not work on some individuals. The good news is that supplementation with amino acids can help to replenish deficient neurotransmitters.
How To Nourish Neurotransmitters:
• Eat a healthy diet. Neurotransmitter imbalance is aggravated by poor diet. Diets high in protein supply the brain with the amino acids it needs to replenish neurotransmitter levels.
• Consume branched chain amino acids to ensure a rich supply of neurotransmitter precursors.

REFERENCES
Neurotransmitter Assessment Brings Light to Management of Psychiatric Problems
Monday, 15 August 2005 00:59By Erik L. Goldman | Editor in Chief – Vol. 6, No. 3. Fall, 2005