4 Easy Ways to survive Christmas without going insane

Help me, help me! These are the cries at this time of year for many people stressing all over the world, and as 2013 draws to an Untitledend, we focus on four things to help you survive the busiest time of the year – Christmas. Most people probably don’t stop to realize how much they’re doing during December, often overloading their bodies & minds with many stresses.

So what are our BIG 4? Stress, Foods, Spinal Health, Exercise

Stress

Busy, busy, busy, how am I going to fit everything in? There’s the work & social lunches & dinners, organizing the kids, and sometimes dealing with impatient drivers & people at shopping centres for the Christmas rush!

It’s ok, it will get done! Our brains have been shown to not cope well under immense stress, affecting our ability to make logical & calm decisions. Taking some time out to sit quietly for 5-10 minutes can usually help us feel more relaxed and centered. Try starting out your day with this activity and see how it works.

Foods

People can often overindulge, eating a lot of the foods they have probably been avoiding for most of the year & putting on excess weight quickly. Some look at this as a reward, others as letting go for a brief period. Either way, it’s always good to start the new year with a detox (even if it’s for 1-2 weeks).

A simple detox can include avoiding all meats, dairy, wheat, gluten, coffee and alcohol. It’s a great way to help your body get back on track.

Spinal health

Remembering to keep good sleeping, moving & sitting postures is very important during this time of year. With the added stress usually comes increased tension in nerves, muscles and joints and the last thing you want is something to go wrong with your spine!

Exercise

It’s tempting to finish all the gardening in one day, or go for a long run when you’re not used to it. The weather is nice, everybody else is keeping active so why shouldn’t you? Keep in mind your capabilities and level of exercise ability, as this often ties in closely to your spinal health. From there, you’ll make better exercise choices which align (pardon the pun!) with your body and abilities.

Which of these 4 could you improve during December?

Your Values Will Kick Butt Over Goals

goals

Ever wondered why you’ve been unable to achieve something in life? It may be losing weight, getting fitter or stronger, or managing stress better. Many people continuously set themselves up for failure by simply overlooking one critical, yet valuable aspect of achieving their goals. I believe this is the most important thing, and getting it right will make immediate changes. It’s your values.

What do I mean? Simply put, the value we place on something determines how much importance we place on it and want to achieve it. And I mean really want to achieve it. A few years ago I wanted to get stronger in the gym, but I also wanted to run a marathon. Being a previous gym-junkie I found it really hard to run long distances. I loved the feel of lifting heavy weights – as most guys do! But my next “goal” was to run a marathon. Running a marathon was a challenge for me, one that I valued more than getting stronger again. So I began running, and running, and running – much like Forest Gump! Before I knew it I was running 10km, then 13km then 17km without even realizing how. The high value I placed on running got my mind there, all that was needed was some planning to get my body there.

So how can this help you? Begin by writing out your top 10 values below. Be honest. Then look at what your goals are. You may not have any, which you may have your reasons for this. But if you do, look at how these match up with your values. Often when your goal doesn’t match with the value you place on it, it will be very hard to achieve it. This is because you won’t want it bad enough when challenges arise, and they will, and you’ll most likely give up (again!). Try this exercise, you might be surprised at the results.

Portion sizes

When eating many people often look at what they are eating, and may not pay attention to how much they are eating. Whilst what you eat is the most important aspect of healthy eating, how much you eat is also very important. Portion size becomes extra important when aiming to lose weight – which along with being healthier – is often the top reason why people eat a particular way.

To help with how much to eat there are some simple ways to keep this in check. A healthy, balanced meal aims to have protein, carbohydrates and fats. The portions for each component as a general way to remember can be seen below:

Portion sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please remember this is a general guide and may differ if you are avoiding certain food groups. There are healthy & unhealthy options in the carbohydrates, protein & fats category, so always make sure you’re choosing the more healthy option!

 

Healthy Fats

There was a time when fats were considered the enemy of healthy eating. For example, egg yolks used to be thought of as best being 112_9_4_164232374avoided due to their fat content, however that advice is now outdated as the nutritional content in egg yolks is where most of the “good stuff” lies.

A smarter way is to look at consuming the correct portions of healthy fats (usually the tip of our thumb as a portion size being sufficient). So what are healthy fats? Healthy fats can be classified as those which contain adequate nutrients and good fats, such as omega 3.

Some healthy fats to consider: egg yolks, avocados, nuts (almonds, walnuts), fish oil/oily fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil. So consider adding some healthy fats to your meal instead of shunning them altogether!

Good vs. Bad Stress

Good stress is that which comes & goes, stimulating us to achieve more. An example is when we are excited or inspired after watching a movie, going to a seminar or having a productive meeting. During this time we may be creative, energetic and motivated.mind_2011_09679649

Bad stress is that which is chronic or long lasting. This is when the negative effects begin to show up and ultimately poor health. In fact most chronic health conditions today are associated with bad stress. Chronic stress is not healthy, and many people are chronically stressed that they don’t even realize how much, until they go on a relaxing holiday or leave their stressful environment (e.g. work or relationship).

Tips to help deal with chronic stress:

– Relaxing activities (yoga, meditation, classical music)

– Therapies aimed at inducing relaxation (Chiropractic, massage)

– Removing the stressful contributor or minimizing your exposure to it

– Colour therapy (choose colours in the green, blue, violet shades)

– Exercise (generally increases cortisol, however is counteracted by the release of endorphins – “feel good hormones”)

Importance of Stress

When we think about stress, we often associate it to a negative response. Maybe because we are conditioned in society to look out for stressful situations or the negative effects stress can have on our health. Either way, we actually need stress. Here’s why…stress

Simply put, without stress we would die! Stress is part of our survival mechanism. When we encounter a stressful situation, our body automatically goes into “fight” mode, which involves various bodily functions aimed at dealing with the stressful situation. An example is if a pedestrian suddenly appears on the road in front of you whilst driving, you automatically go into a state of readiness by activating the sympathetic nervous system (“fight” mode). Things like the dilation of your pupils so you can see better & increase in heart rate and blood flow to the muscles so you can use them quicker. Once the stressful situation has passed, the body settles back to it’s previous state – unless of course we allow the stress to remain!

So intermittent, short acting stressful responses are quite healthy, but don’t let them take over your life.

Is getting sick healthy?

This opinion piece looks at the benefits of getting sick, specifically related to the common cold. Many of us are taught that when Untitledwe get sick it’s a bad thing, but what if this article challenged that notion and showed why getting sick could actually be a healthy and good thing?

We’ve all felt first hand the unwanted symptoms of feeling unwell when encountering the common cold, things like a runny nose, sore throat & congestion. But would we prefer that this didn’t happen, and that our body automatically dealt with it without letting us know about it, possibly at the detriment of something else internally? Well this clever design called the human body, has reasons for doing many things. Some things occur consciously, most occur on an unconscious level (things like digestion and breathing). Alerting us when something is wrong is quite a normal and healthy response. It’s our body’s way of showing us that we should take notice of what’s going on, listen to the signals our body is telling us & take appropriate action. This may be to deal with excess stress, get adjusted, eat better, sleep better or exercise more. This response shows we’re human, but more importantly it allows us to take appropriate action in the best interests of our body. Similar to your car’s warning signal light coming on when something need attention, our body’s “light” comes on too.

No one likes to feel the symptoms of a common cold, and we don’t like seeing our children and loved ones in discomfort either. But take comfort in knowing that our body is merely doing what it’s suppose to (alerting us when something is wrong), encouraging us to take appropriate action, showing that we are human & this is a normal response.

The buzz about Olive Leaf Extract

Whilst many people are aware that supplements like vitamin C & D, and zinc may help boost immunity, many may not know about the Olive-leaves-handseffects of Olive leaf extract. In particular one study showed olive leaf extract to have an antioxidant capacity almost double green tea extract and 400% higher than vitamin C. (Dr Stevenson, L,. et. al Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Report on Olive Leaf Australia’s Olive Leaf Extracts, Southern Cross University, 2005)

Olive leaf also has antioxidant properties that help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive chemical substances that can cause cell damage if left unchecked. Recent research on the olive leaf has shown its antioxidants to be effective in treating some tumors and is especially potent when used in combination with other antioxidants. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_leaf#cite_note-Stevenson-5)

Another study at Australia’s Southern Cross University (SCU) has 
identified olive leaf as the most powerful, free radical-scavenging antioxidant of 55 medicinal herbs.

Keeping your fluids up is also important during times when your immune system is under attack, so always make sure you are taking in plenty of fluids.

Going Shoeless: The Pros & Cons of Barefoot Running

Barefoot running has become quite popular these days, and the theories behind it’s effects make sense. This is a great article looking at both sides when it comes to choosing to go barefoot running.barefoot-runner-five-finger-166s80v

There main message from these studies is:

– When it comes to injury prevention and running efficiency, it’s much more important how you run than what you run in. Heel strikers, regardless of shoe, will sustain more impact injuries than those who land on their mid or forefoot and allow their arches to act as natural shock-absorbers. The most efficient and least-injury-prone runners shorten their stride, land on the forefoot, and keep the running motion smooth, light and flowing.

Read more here: Going Shoeless The Pros & Cons of Barefoot Running