In 1988, a group of researchers looked into how people stuck to their New Year’s resolutions. They found that 77% were able to uphold their goals for at least one week. However, only 19% kept at it for two years.
The study also noted how even the successful group experienced at least one slip. The conclusion was that those slips were due to high levels of stress and negative emotions.
So, by eliminating or controlling those factors in your life, you may be able to reach your goals, too.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to reduce the impact of those impediments. They all have to do with giving your brain and body what they need to stay healthy.
To that end, we created this guide on how to achieve your goals with diet, sleep, and exercise. Read on to learn how these natural remedies and strategies can help you stay on top of the things you want and need to do.
1. Get More H2O Into Your System
Scientific literature points out how dehydration can contribute to anxiety and depression. Granted, researchers are still studying what exactly the connection is. However, they found that low water intake seems to raise anxiety and depression risks.
For starters, the body requires a steady water supply for circulation and digestion. It also needs enough water to help lubricate joints and absorb nutrients from food. Moreover, it aids in keeping many parts of the musculoskeletal system nourished.
Keep in mind as well that 75% of the brain’s mass is water. So, it’s no wonder that dehydration can lead to impaired cognitive functions. By contrast, rehydration appears to counter these effects of fluid deficiencies.
All that shows how dehydration can affect your physical and mental well-being. At the very least, you’re likely to feel pain and fatigue; factors believed to lower one’s quality of life. Moreover, being in pain and feeling tired all the time can deter you from doing what you want and need to do.
So, there’s no doubt that water is one of the best natural mood boosters. Only a few things are as natural as water, which is a vital natural resource and makes up 60% of the adult human body. Drinking a glass or two of water when you’re feeling sour is also one of the fastest ways to be more positive.
However, make sure to drink no less than half a gallon (or about eight 8-ounce glasses) each day. Don’t forget to increase your intake if you sweat a lot, as you need to recover all that lost fluid.
2. Pack Your Meals With Serotonin-Boosting Ingredients
Were you aware that the term “gut feeling” is actually scientific and not just metaphoric? Scientists say those instincts and sensations are due to the gut-mind connection. So, it’s no wonder that when the brain takes on unpleasant information, it can cause a sinking feeling in the gut.
Another example of the brain-gut connection is serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood and stress, among many others. The gut, in turn, produces about 90% of this hormone.
The thing is, the body makes serotonin out of an essential amino acid called tryptophan. Essential here means that the body doesn’t produce the amino acid on its own, so you need to get it from your diet. Otherwise, your tryptophan supplies will drop, which can deplete your serotonin levels, too.
Research findings do suggest that tryptophan deficiency can lower mood. It may even increase aggression and contribute to a higher risk of depression. All these are maladies that can stop you from feeling healthy and well enough to reach your goals.
The great news is that tryptophan occurs in healthy, tasty food, such as nuts, eggs, chicken, and turkey. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and milk are also good sources of this amino acid. You can also get it from soy products like tofu and fatty fish like salmon.
3. Feast on Mood Food
Most types of comfort food have a lot of sugar and fat, both of which can stimulate the brain’s reward system. This is how such food options can make you feel more energetic or happier whenever you feel down. Ice cream, fried Oreos, or milkshakes are okay once in a while, but they shouldn’t always be your go-to comfort food.
Besides, many other mood food choices are healthier than those sugary, fatty options. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Packed Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats you must get through your diet. Like tryptophan, these fats are essential since the body can’t manufacture them on its own. Of these, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) seem to affect mood.
Some studies associate DHA and EPA, both of which you can find in salmon and tuna, to lower depression levels. Moreover, omega-3s have roles in keeping the brain’s cell membranes fluid. They also seem to affect brain development.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which aids in the synthesis of some feel-good hormones. These include dopamine and serotonin.
Dopamine, like serotonin, also plays roles in emotions, mood, pleasure, and stress. It also has functions in blood flow, digestion, memory, focus, and even pain processing. As such, it can make you feel alert, focused, happy, and motivated, which are things you need to reach your goals.
Those are also the reasons scientists associate low dopamine levels with mood disorders. For example, studies suggest a relationship between dopamine deficiencies and depression.
As bananas help your body make more dopamine and serotonin, you’d want to add them to your diet. It also contains prebiotics, which are fibers that nourish the good gut bacteria.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, compounds that help reduce or prevent oxidation. Oxidation occurs whenever molecules called free radicals trigger reactions in the body. Having too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants can result in illnesses.
For example, excessive levels of free radicals can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, in turn, can lead to healthy cell death and DNA damage. All these can then result in inflammation, diabetes, and nerve conditions, among others.
Antioxidants seem to help combat mood disorders caused by oxidative stress. Berries don’t only contain antioxidants; they also have phenolic compounds. Like antioxidants, phenolic compounds may also help counter oxidative stress.
Moreover, many berries are excellent sources of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the substances that give some berries their purple or blue color. A study found that folks who feast on anthocyanin-rich diets have a lower risk of depression.
Besides, berries are scrumptious and versatile, that you can snack on them or add them to salads. You can even make healthier salad dressings using various types of berries. Berry smoothies are also great if you need a quick, pick-me-up treat to help you stay on top of your daily goals.
Dark chocolate’s sugar content can help boost your mood by giving your brain a quick fuel source. It also stimulates the release of feel-good compounds like caffeine and N-acylethanolamine (NAE).
NAEs are fatty acids with a chemical similarity to cannabinoids. Cannabinoids, which you can read more about here, seem to have positive effects on mood. NAEs’ similarities to cannabinoids appear to include these mood-boosting benefits.
Dark chocolate is also rich in flavonoids; substances said to raise blood flow to the brain. Its cocoa content may also help combat inflammation while helping improve brain health. Plus, dark chocolate in itself can be healthy comfort food, so long as you stick to one to two small pieces a day.
Beans and Lentils
Experts say that chili pepper may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease deaths by 26%. They also associate the consumption of this spicy fruit with a 25% decrease in death from any cause.
That should be enough reason to include chilis in your diet, paired with beans and lentils. A perfect example is a bowl of chili, which can be a warm, mood-boosting meal.
Beans and lentils are also excellent plant-based sources of fiber and proteins. They also contain many feel-good nutrients, such as B vitamins. B vitamins can raise the levels of hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
The B vitamins in beans and lentils also have roles in nerve signaling functions. So, it’s no wonder that there’s a link between being low on B vitamins and mood disorders.
4. Change Dietary Habits That Affect Your Mental and Physical Health
Fresh fruits and vegetables are among the densest in terms of nutritional content. They contain many of the essential nutrients that the body can’t synthesize on its own. Unfortunately, 90% of folks in the US don’t get enough of these healthy dietary must-haves.
A lack of fruit and veggie intake can lead to poor nutrition and even undernourishment. Both can make you susceptible to illnesses, such as immunity-related diseases. A lack of proper nutrition can also put you at a higher risk of weight-related disorders.
Either way, all these health conditions can hinder you from being and feeling your best. This may then disrupt your daily activities and result in you failing to reach your goals.
Moreover, being underweight or overweight often has the added effect of lowering self-esteem. This can then cause you to question yourself, and you may start feeling unconfident. A lack of confidence, in turn, can bar you from reaching your full potential, and thus, your goals.
So, as early as today, start eating two to three cups of vegetables per day. You should also take in at least a cup and half to two cups of nutrient-rich fresh fruits. Reduce your consumption of saturated fats, extra sugars, salt, and processed food, too.
5. Invest in No Less Than 7 Hours of ZZZs
An estimated 70 million adults in the US have a sleep disorder. Insomnia and sleep apnea are two of the most common of more than 80 types of sleep disorders. Most of these conditions result not only in more stress but also higher risks of other health woes.
Either way, sleep is such an essential function that a lack of it can impair your physical and mental health. For starters, it’s during sleep that the body produces signaling proteins called cytokines. These compounds play roles in combating diseases, infections, and inflammation.
The more deprived you are of sleep, the more irritable and less focused you can be, too. Your attention and concentration can also experience a significant drop. All these can fuel your stress further, and you’ll unlikely be able to achieve all the goals you set for yourself.
To start getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, limit your smart device usage. Scientists say that the blue light they emit impairs the body’s melatonin production. Melatonin is an essential sleep hormone that aids the body to enter sleep mode.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to stop using your screens two hours before bedtime. These include the TV, computer, smartphone, tablet, and video game consoles.
You should also set dinner time to be three hours before your usual bedtime. This is enough time for the digestive system to do its work of processing your last meal of the day.
6. Get Moving to Relieve Foul Moods
One survey revealed that more than half of adults said they felt good about after exercise. One in three also said exercising put them in a good mood or that they felt less stressed.
The better you feel and the less stress you deal with, the healthier your entire being can be.
Moreover, exercise stimulates the brain to release chemical messengers called endorphins. These neurotransmitters play interactive roles with the brain’s opiate receptors. It’s in this way that they can boost pleasure and feelings of well-being while reducing pain.
Exercise also helps trigger the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Moreover, it helps you sweat things out and keep your weight under control.
Experts say that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, is enough for a week. You can go for 75 minutes a week if you do more vigorous activities like cycling, running, or swimming.
Reach Your Goals by Staying Healthy From Inside To Out
Enough water, healthy food, sleep, and mobility are critical to survival. As such, you’d want to pair exercise with hydration, nutritious meals, mood food, and sleep. Having all these present in your life is key to better health, which, in turn, is crucial for you to reach your goals.
Ready for more inspirational guides like this to help boost your health and wellness? Feel free to stick around then to check out our other educational resources!
Yoga: Benefits Beyond Fitness
We’ve all heard the long laundry list of physical and fitness benefits that come with practicing ancient arts like Hatha-Raja yoga and other forms of yoga. We’ve come to know that the practice is a great way to build muscle strength, boost flexibility and a whole host of other physical and fitness benefits. But what else is there to yoga? Does it begin and end with the physical?
What is there in yoga beyond the fitness dimension?
1. Healthier Self-Awareness and Body Image
At the core of the philosophy of yoga is a sense of self-awareness and in particular awareness of the unity between mind, body, and spirit. Yoga practitioners are, by and large, and as a result of their practice, much more self-aware of the state of their physical body, its abilities, and its weaknesses. Understanding their own bodies better also helps yogis to be less critical of their own bodies in that very harmful way in which many other people have become regarding their body image.
Where most people’s body image is informed by comparison to supermodels and celebrities, yoga practitioners tend to focus more on just themselves and the way they feel. If things feel good, then that’s all they need.
2. Better Mindfulness
Along with self-awareness, yoga also teaches its students to be mindful of everything around them and what they are experiencing in the present moment. You might think this starts and stops in the yoga studio, but in fact it frequently spills out into a yogi’s real everyday life. They start to become more mindful of other areas of life that turn out to be very beneficial.
One interesting area of everyday life where this manifests itself very clearly is in diet. Those who practice yoga are acutely aware of their bodies and their feelings towards various stimuli around them. It allows them to better savour their food, appreciating and understanding the smells, tastes and textures of every bite. It also makes them very well tuned to when it’s time (and not time) to eat. In other words, yogis are less likely to eat just for something to do or because they feel bored, as many others might, nor will they continue to eat when they feel full.
3. Benefits to Cardiovascular Health
Besides giving those special muscle groups and your core a great workout, yoga is also said to be beneficial to one’s cardiovascular health. It reportedly helps to reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension by restoring what is known as “baroreceptor sensitivity,” which is the body’s own sense of imbalances in blood pressure. Yoga can apparently help the body restore equilibrium more easily on its own.
Another key benefit that has been proposed is that of improved lipid profiles in patients with coronary artery disease, as well as lowering excess sugar levels in people with diabetes. For this reason, yoga has been incorporated into various rehabilitation programs designed to help people recovering from cardiac irregularities and disorders.
4. A Great Stress Reducer
It seems that there is also some consensus on the value of yoga as a stress reducer, and therefore a key component of improved mental health. It might even go as far as to help people with symptoms of depression and anxiety when facing stressful and difficult situations as many have done during the times of the global pandemic, lockdowns, working from home, and potentially losing income.
Both 2020 and 2021 have been stressful years, and yoga is something that most people can practice in the comfort of their home or yard. It’s therefore a great tool for people to start healing.
How to Choose the Right Psychologist
It’s hard for anyone to admit even to themselves when they need some help with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or dealing with past trauma. Even when we can admit that we need the help, to find the right clinical psychologist in Melbourne can also be challenging when there are apparently so many setting up shop offering their services.
How can we distinguish between the many providers to find the right one for us? Below are some useful tips and advice:
1. Credentials and Personality Fit
Some might consider these as two separate factors, but we’ve put them together because you absolutely need to assure both simultaneously. Your psychologist first needs to have the right education and training background for you to know that they are in a position to help you at all. That’s a fundamental and essential requirement. Therapy isn’t just talking to people, it’s a serious discipline and training.
Secondly, psychologists are people, too. They do have different styles and personalities and it’s important you find someone with whom you won’t clash on a personal level. Finding someone you can connect with on the personality level helps to build trust and foster better and more authentic communication between you. This can’t be overlooked.
2. Specific Experience and Expertise
On top of training, it’s important to know what kind of psychological therapy they specialise in. Are they a generalist helping all kinds of people? Or do they focus on one area like marriage counseling, behaviour disorders, trauma counseling, etc. You are most likely seeking the help of a psychologist for a specific thing, and so the professional having some experience and background in that area is a great help, and an added comfort and reassurance, too.
3. Treatment Methods
Next we come to the preferred treatment methods of the psychologist in question. Not every psychologist or therapist uses the same methods, and so it’s important to find one with whom you can work positively and without resistance. Some might prefer CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns. Alternatively, others may use DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) which aims to manage emotions and distress and build problem-solving skills.
There are many more methods used, including exposure and response therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, person-centred therapy and others. You should take time to learn about different therapies, which ones a psychologist favours, and then find one that aligns with what you think might work best for you as a treatment. If you’re going to be resistant or hesitant on treatments, then the process of therapy won’t be as effective for you.
It’s unfortunate to have to bring up the issue of cost, but it’s an undeniably important factor. Hiring a psychologist invariably means spending money, so you have to be well informed on costs. There’s no point going with someone who appears perfect but is miles out of your price range, because seeing that practitioner will just put you in financial trouble, or leave you with just a small handful of sessions that you can afford before being forced to stop.
The final factor to consider is the availability of a psychologist. This is another balancing act. On the one hand, you might not want someone who is wide open all the time because it suggests they have no one else in their books, which in turn raises questions on their quality of service. On the other hand, finding the busiest psychologist is counterproductive because he or she might not be available when you need them most. Strike a balance by finding the right qualified person with a good track record who can guarantee that your session will be at the right time for you.
Signs of a Great Dentist
Does anyone really like going to the dentist? Regardless of what we think, we do need to go, and we need to go regularly to be sure of healthy teeth and gums. Let’s say we’re looking for a new dentist in Frankston, and we want of course to choose the best dentist in Frankston, but how can we be sure of achieving that?
Here are some things you need to be looking for as signs of a truly great dentist.
1. Clean, Tidy and Organized Office
First impressions are important and a good dentist knows that. This is why a truly great dentist puts a lot of attention and effort into making their reception and waiting area somewhere that’s pleasant and somewhere people don’t mind waiting. They make good provision for their customers, perhaps a water dispenser and a great selection of up-to-date magazines and publications. Is there anything more depressing than finding a 10-year-old fashion mag and a completed crossword puzzle book strewn about with a few newspapers?
On top of that, the environment will be well cared for, and will include flowers, air fresheners, pleasant but not overbearing lighting, and so on. The more a dentist has done to make their front-end as attractive as possible, the more they clearly care about their client experience.
2. They Listen and Connect with You
One thing people worry about at the dentist is being told they need unnecessary work done to their teeth, which then inevitably costs a fortune. They are convinced that some dentists are just trying to make as much money as possible, even if it harms you. A good way to avoid this is to find dentists who focus more on listening to you rather than trying to get you to listen to them.
Yes, a dentist needs to give you feedback on your oral health, and they need to advise you on a good course of action, but they should be listening more and laser-focused on your questions and concerns first and foremost. A dentist who listens and connects with you on that level is likely a great one.
3. They Offer Practical Advice
When you meet with different dentists, you’ll notice a difference in styles of communication. One type of dentist is more critical and tells you everything that’s wrong with your teeth and gums. Another kind of dentist may first inform you of problems but then is more focused on providing you with helpful solutions and advice on how to remedy the situation. They are not surprised, nor do they offer judgement on the situation, but just focus on getting you a solution that will help.
4. They’re Good with Kids
Most of us are a bit scared of the dentist, but it’s even more pronounced with kids. A great dentist makes special provision for kids in their charge, and has a manner with kids that helps put them at ease. A lot of adults hate the dentist because of a bad experience they had when they were kids, among other things. Dentists who work hard at getting kids to understand why the dentist matters, and why they don’t need to be afraid are the ones who are committed to providing a better service for all their clients.
5. They Want to Build Long-Term Connections
Customers don’t want to be just another file in the folder. Dentists that can take the time to really connect with and get to know their patients are much better. They don’t just pressure you to get work done and make more appointments, but follow up with reminders of when it’s the right time to come see them, inquire about your well-being and show an interest, and most importantly give signs of recognition to established patients.
Yoga: Benefits Beyond Fitness
How to Choose the Right Psychologist
Signs of a Great Dentist
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