Posts tagged with "stress"

Storm illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

This Is How to Sleep Through the Night

Do you have trouble sleeping at night and looking for advice? A lack of sleep each night can increase your risk of serious health problems. 
Some of these might include stomach problems, lack of energy, weight gain, and depression. There are tips that you need to follow to avoid these health conditions and for you to improve the quality of your sleep.
Here’s how to sleep through the night and to wake up feeling energized and rejuvenated.

Relax Your Body With Exercise

Did you know that regular exercise can prepare your body for quality sleep? Physical activity can help you to sleep through the night without disruptions. 

Moderate workout sessions can decrease the length of time it takes for you to fall asleep. Exercise also helps to relax your mind and body, which makes it easier for you to fall asleep.

Exercise is known to reduce muscle tension in the body, reduce stress, and to increase the production of endorphins, which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones. You don’t have to perform a strenuous or challenging workout to get substantial benefits.

You can dedicate thirty minutes of exercise sessions to improve the quality of your sleep. For example, your exercise routine may consist of jogging, brisk walking, swimming laps, washing your car, sweeping, or other simple chores around the house.

Try to avoid physical activities for at least three hours before going to bed. This is a precaution that you can take to give your body enough time to cool off from your workout and to prepare for sleep.

For long-term results, you need to find an exercise routine that you enjoy and stick with it. This is one of the easiest ways for you to overcome your sleeping problems.

Use a Leg Pillow

Are you a side sleeper? Your pillow can be a critical component of your sleep health. Placing a pillow between your legs is an effective technique that increases the quality of your sleep.

When you place a pillow between your legs, you’re helping to eliminate stress on your hips, prevent lower back and leg pains, improve blood circulation, and to improve spine alignment.

This technique might also be useful if you suffer from breathing conditions such as sleep apnea. Positioning a pillow between your legs may help to alleviate this condition.

Using a pillow might seem simple, but it can be very effective for you to sleep peacefully during the night. This is a comfortable sleeping position that you can utilize to enhance your sleep. 

Read this article to learn more valuable information about sleeping with a pillow between your legs.
Make Your Bedroom Comfortable
Be sure to optimize the comfort level of your bedroom so that you can get quality sleep. There might be issues in your bedroom that you’re not even aware of.

For better sleep, you might need to adjust your lighting, so that it’s not too harsh to disrupt your sleep. You can also keep your bedroom completely dark when you’re sleeping.

You might need to remove your television set from your bedroom and move it to another room. Watching television before you fall asleep might prevent you from getting enough sleep during the night.

So, you need to turn off your television screen or remove it from your room.

The electronics in your bedroom could also interfere with the quality of your sleep. Your radio, tablet, laptop, cell phone, and other items in your bedroom can be problematic.
So, it is beneficial for you to remove your electronics from your bedroom. 

Another important bedroom makeover is to change your mattress. Be sure to get rid of your old, lumpy mattress. Replacing your old mattress can be an effective way for you to get the quality sleep that you deserve. 
These are simple tweaks that you can use to turn your bedroom into a better sleeping environment. 

Avoid Smoking

Less smoking might help you to sleep better. Smoking is detrimental to your health, but it can also cause you to have sleeping problems. It might cause sleep apnea, snoring, and a host of other sleep-related issues.
Nicotine found in cigarettes could be the main reason why you’re unable to get a full night’s sleep. This is a chemical that is known to be responsible for insomnia and other issues.

When you’re trying to fall asleep, your nicotine cravings might be too intense, especially if you’re in the habit of smoking before bedtime.
Too much smoking tends to disrupt the patterns of your normal sleep cycle and might keep you awake for most of the night. Due to these problems, you should consider quitting your smoking habits. 

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a common stimulant that might prevent you from falling asleep. Once it enters your bloodstream, it might cause insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbance.

Try to avoid caffeine intake to improve your sleep. You need to avoid drinking coffee, tea, and soft drinks before bedtime. These are essential steps for you to sleep better. 

Follow a Guide to Learn How to Sleep Through the Night

When you learn how to sleep through the night, it will be easier for you to adapt to a strategy that improves your sleeping patterns. Instead of waking up in the middle of the night, you have the chance to get the beauty sleep that you deserve.

Do you want to discover more helpful tips? If you want to read more useful articles, you can check out the rest of our website.

Mina Tocalini illustration for 360 MAGAZINE HEALTH SECTION.

Reduce Covid Stress

 The millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought globally are creating stress over everything from personal health to employment, lifestyle, and finances. Given these difficult circumstances, it’s more important than ever for people to know about coping mechanisms to better manage stress, protect their immune system, and increase their chances of staying healthy, says Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS, author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living.

“COVID is maximizing stress for so many people,” Dr. Patel says. “It has a far-reaching impact into every part of our lives, and if we don’t manage the stress, it severely affects our bodily systems – causing burned-out adrenals, high cortisol, and thyroid issues, to name a few consequences of high-stress levels. Thus, the immune system is lowered, and we are more vulnerable to illness.

“This era we are living in is very traumatic, and it’s very concerning. In dentistry, gum disease, sleep disturbances or apnea, and teeth breakage can all be evidence of stress. Poor oral health, as studies show, can be a gateway to medical issues. People often don’t identify how much stress they’re under, and how it’s affecting them physically, until they actually get sick.”

Dr. Patel has the following suggestions people can incorporate into their daily lives to better deal with stress. 

5 Ways To Cope And Protect Your Health:

  1. Adhere to a healthy diet. While in quarantine or a new normal in which people are spending the vast majority of their time at home, having healthy foods at home and not over-snacking are vital considerations. “We must be more mindful of the foods we put in our bodies,” Dr. Patel says. “Eat as many greens and whole foods as possible. Avoid dairy products as they increase mucus production in the sinus and the chest, leading to lots of sneezing and congestion. The coronavirus enters the nose and makes a home in the sinus, and to increase immunity, it’s important that the sinus and chest are not inflamed. Food prep makes it easier to eat healthy while working from home. Prepare salads and other healthy meals in advance.”
  2. Don’t over-indulge in drinking. “For some people, drinking is the only source of enjoyment during the pandemic,” Dr. Patel says. “And we see people who are isolating having Zoom calls with friends while drinking wine. The problem is that one glass turns into two or more, and with the sugar content of wine, you may wake up during the night. This disturbs sleep, and sleep is when the immune system regenerates. Restorative sleep is essential to our health.”
  3. Take vitamin supplements. “Often, those with adrenal fatigue don’t take in enough essential nutrients as stress increases their body’s nutritional demands,” Dr. Patel says. “To address adrenal and cortisol burnout, take multivitamins in order to get trace minerals.”
  4. Develop a morning ritual. “Deep breathing exercises can be calming and get you out of the hyper state,” Dr. Patel says. “You want to get rid of the ‘fight or flight’ mode and enter the ‘rest and digest’ state of mind.”
  5. Find a stress management activity that works for you. Many people don’t like to exercise, but Dr. Patel notes exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be effective. “A type of exercise one enjoys doing at home like walking, running, or yoga goes a long way toward releasing stress hormones,” she says. “And for those who like intense workouts, it’s all good in terms of reducing stress. Another good stress management technique is using biofeedback mechanisms like alpha state meditations to increase immunity.”

“The disruption of daily life by COVID-19 has caused us to rethink many things that we do,” Dr. Patel says. “How we deal with stress needs to be a priority now, and it’s not overly difficult if you develop good daily habits.”

Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS operates a practice called Green Dentistry in San Francisco and is the author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. A graduate of the University of California’s School of Dentistry, she is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. Dr. Patel focuses on helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health.

Follow Green Dentistry: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Covid and health illustration

Tips for Thriving During a Pandemic

By Michael Ungar, Ph.D.

“While there is much to be worried about during this pandemic, it is also an opportunity to build resilience individually and as a family.

Jessica and Faizal have been married for eight years. On the outside, their lives looked good before the pandemic. Jessica owned a small chain of salons, Faizal was an accountant in a large international firm. When they weren’t working, they travelled or golfed. They had one child, and though Faizal wanted a larger family, Jessica was hesitant to become trapped in the role of mother. Then COVID-19 happened. Jessica’s salons closed, and Faizal’s firm was hinting there’d be no bonuses this year. Without the distraction of work or travel, the couple’s relationship sputtered, and both were secretly speaking with divorce lawyers.

Like any crisis, this pandemic has forced us to examine our relationships and our values. It has stripped the veneer from dysfunctional patterns of coping. We are questioning the sanity of long hours at work or our penchant for living with high levels of household debt. While that reflection can make it seem our life is spiralling out of control, this pandemic is also forcing people to reconsider the things they need to be resilient, not just now, but in the future too.

As tragic as Jessica and Faizal’s lives may seem, the real tragedy is that they hadn’t put in place the personal, social or economic resources they needed for resilience. Resilience is most often described as our personal capacity to bounce back from hardship, and likened to thinking positive thoughts, or persevering under stress (the term ‘grit’ is common). The science of resilience, however, says something quite different. While rugged individuals can cope when their lives are stable, paychecks steady, and family conflict low, people with plenty of resources do much better when times get tough. Jessica might not have been able to control the pandemic, or its impact on her business, but she might have been able to put aside a rainy day fund. Faizal couldn’t have anticipated his loss of annual income either, but he might have invested more energy in his home life as a hedge against the emotional toll a future crisis would have on him and his family.

While research on the pandemic is now being done everywhere, there is plenty of evidence from studies of resilience during natural disasters which shows that most of us are poorly prepared for a major change. As we wait for a vaccine to become widely available and we can open up our economies without risking the lives of those with a compromised immune system, there are steps we can take to thrive during this difficult time.

  1. Put more effort into your relationships. Our individual resilience depends on the security of our relationships with others, including our family, friends and colleagues. The more we pay attention to the needs of others, the more they will pay attention to ours.
  2. Keep your days structured and maintain healthy routines. As the days go on and we struggle with change, one way to maintain good mental and physical health is to impose structure and accomplish the things we should accomplish. Structure and routine are a great way to make our lives feel predictable and increase our feelings of hope for the future.
  3. Get your finances in order. Thinking positive thoughts and being optimistic is easier when our finances are less stressed. If you have been accumulating debt, it is time to reconsider priorities and ask yourself, “Do I want to live with this much pressure?” and “What do I really need to feel happy?”
  4. Find new and powerful identities. As the pandemic continues and we spend less time at our places of business, it is important that we find new ways of showing others the things that are special about us. This is the time to explore hobbies, develop new talents, and share with others the things we like to do.
  5. Look for the spaces and places where you feel you belong. Making a contribution to the welfare of others pays a dividend in goodwill. It also makes us feel like we are part of a community, family, or workplace. The more we feel like we belong, the less likely we are to experience depression or anxiety.

Each of these steps has been shown to help people weather a crisis. For Jessica and Faizal, becoming more resilient has meant putting down their smartphones and eating dinners together as a family. It has meant asking each other for help, first with cutting up credit cards, then with making it possible for each of them to take time every day to exercise and be with family and friends. Jessica used to try to squeeze a walk in between running home to make dinner. Now she asks Faizal to cook dinner so she can spend some time looking after her own needs. If it works, she may even agree to having a second child as the family’s new pattern of caring for one another won’t mean all the responsibility for that decision falls on her shoulders.

Faizal, meanwhile, is taking control of the family’s bank account and rethinking where they live. A large home in the suburbs may bring with it some benefits, but it has also made the family vulnerable and placed them too far in debt. Change is coming, of that he’s sure. The couple are no longer seeking marriage counseling to break up. Now they’re seeing a life coach, together, to rebuild their family and their lives.

The pandemic is taking its toll, but like other disasters, it is causing many of us to rethink what we value and change the world around us so we can come back stronger.”

Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is a Family Therapist and Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience at Dalhousie University. His latest best-selling book is Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success. More about Dr. Ungar: www.michaelungar.com

360 MAGAZINE, Nicole Avena, PhD

Top Five Tips For Avoiding Colds and Flu This Season

1. Take It Easy. Stress is a sure way to compromise your immune system. Be sure to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and making time to rest and restore in order to keep your stress levels at a minimum.

2. Take Vitamin C. Supplementing your diet with Vitamin C is a great way to ward of colds and flu. We don’t typically get enough Vitamin C from our diets alone, so a supplement is often the best way to go. Vitafusion makes a Vitamin C gummy that is easy to take, and a great way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C.

3. Avoid Closed Places. Cold and flu viruses spread via the air, so try to avoid spending too much time indoors where there may be people who are sick (like shopping malls). Try to get outdoors as much as you can, as the brisk air can be great for your health and also very refreshing.

4. Wash Your Hands, and Face. Washing your hands is a no-brainer, but don’t forget to wash your face! We often touch our face with our hands, and germs can be sitting there just waiting to invade. 

5. Use Sanitizer. Keeping your work and home areas clean of viruses is important. Use sanitizer to wipe down the places where germs might be lingering, such as door knobs, bathrooms, faucet handles, and keyboards.

Nicole Avena, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is the author of several books, including Why Diets Fail, and What to Eat When You’re Pregnant. 

360 MAGAZINE, Vaughn Lowery

5 Ways Your Relationship Can Hurt Your Health

By Robert Oldman

Anyone who clicked on a site like http://www.flirt.com and is now in a meaningful relationship as a result may well face their fair share of ups and downs. For most people, dating relationships are new and exciting uncharted territory. The experience will more typically be exemplified by happiness, contentment, fun nights out, cozy nights in. With all that going on, surely there can’t be any negatives associated with being in a relationship or dating someone? Actually, that’s not always the case at all. Your relationship can actually damage your health, in a variety of different, sometimes surprising ways. Here are five you may not necessarily have considered.

Stress

In any relationship, there will inevitably be times when you are less satisfied than others. It is pretty much impossible to coast along without there ever being moments of friction, whether this is anything to do with yourselves, or external factors have come into play.  Everything from worrying about family to money issues to work can impact your stress levels, but having doubts about your partnership can be especially concerning. If you are unduly bothered about anything at all, this can have a negative affect on everything from your blood pressure to your libido. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to even more potentially harmful problems, such as mental ill-health. After all, her aspiration can lead to his perspiration.

Overeating

There can be a direct correlation between stress and eating. What is known as comfort eating is a well-known medical condition, leading to people compensating for feelings of inadequacy by over-indulging, often in fatty or fast foods which are bad for your cardiovascular system. When couples are enjoying a healthy, relatively hassle-free relationship, they might not be aware of it but they can also do damage by spending excessive amounts of time dining out or going on regular restaurant dates. Drinking too much is another potentially risky side-effect for partners who relish each other’s company a bit too much!

Insomnia

While sleeping together and enjoying all the fruits of an active love life are all well and good, the fact you are sharing your bed with somebody can have its downside. Some partners can be restless, tossing and turning, or hogging the covers. One of the commonest issues in the bedroom department is when one of the parties has a snoring habit. Many factors can trigger this unfortunate activity, from eating late at night to drinking too much coffee to smoking, but the bottom line is hours of interrupted sleep for their other half. Insomnia brings several other issues, including impacts on mental health.

Partying

People who are enjoying a healthy and fulfilling partnership will often feel like letting off steam after a long working week. This is something which could well commence when they are at home, fortifying themselves with a few drinks prior to heading out to the bar, club or party. When couples get into the habit of indulging in liquid refreshments on a regular basis, they may well get to the stage where they no longer need the excuse of kickstarting their evening with pre-date drinks. It’s not uncommon for this type of behavior to begin on ‘school nights,’ too. People can all too quickly lapse into problematic drinking patterns, and if there are two susceptible individuals hovering near the supply of bottles, this could become something they share.

Depression

Many things can cause a relationship to slide off the rails, whether there are temporary disagreements or profound arguments. Disaffection can lead to more negative symptoms, and if these remain unchecked, the end result can be depressive illness. When one partner succumbs to any form of depression, the relationship can be tested to its breaking point.

About Robert Oldman

A Chief Writer of a relationship blog. He posseses a degree in Psychology from Kent State University and specializes in the field of interpersonal relationships as well as communication.

Avoid Clinical Entrepreneurial Syndrome

Whether you are running your own business as an entrepreneur – or running someone else’s business as an executive – there is an enormous amount of demand on your resources. You are likely to be playing the role of project manager, human resources liaison, accountant, and marketing specialist. You are the one who gets called on to extinguish fires as well as create new opportunities. All this and more, while remaining positive and energetic.

As enthusiastic as you may be about keeping the business afloat, it’s a fact that humans have a limited amount of resources available. When the demands upon us begin to exceed the energy levels that we have, we experience stress. This feeling is akin to a form of panic – and has a way of creeping into our daily operations. It lies under the surface of our consciousness, and slowly eats away at our resolve. In small doses, it can help us to accomplish great things. In large doses, and if left unaddressed, it can result in our physical and mental decline.

Stress Leads To Burnout

This doesn’t happen overnight. Those who are aware of the possibility of burnout may be able to feel it developing. Burnout is the eventual result of unresolved stress, and it is a warning sign from the mind and body that enough is enough. It is the point at which we decide that we can no longer perform the job functions in which we once took pride. We may begin to avoid work, produce lower quality work, or suddenly quit the job altogether.

The signs of stress which contribute to burnout include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, changes in weight, problems with digestion, becoming forgetful, and inability to concentrate. If you notice that these symptoms are becoming part of your daily experience, take it as a sign that something needs to change. If you aren’t able to change your workload in the face of stress, look into ways of changing your behaviors during your valuable time off. Failure to do so can mean the end of your venture as a successful business manager.

Avoid Burnout Through Being Proactive

As the stress that leads to burnout tends to attack us on three fronts – physical, cognitive, and emotional – the following are three ways to mitigate its negative effects.

Combat Stress on the Physical Level

The adrenaline and cortisol that the body produces in response to stress are responsible for activating our flight-or-fight response. These hormones prepare our bodies for action. When we fail to use this energy in an active way, it can turn on us and wreak havoc with our physical health. To disseminate that energy in a way that is best for the body, try engaging in similar actions as experienced in emergency situations – like going for a run or boxing it out at the gym.

Master Stress on the Cognitive Level

Much of what we interpret as being stressful depends on our perspective. What we have defined as our values and aspirations can fuel our sense of purpose, and that purpose can become an obsession. If we have tied our sense of self-esteem into our occupational achievements, we can become overwhelmed with producing results. To reduce that stress, which we experience over job demands and deadlines, we need to create a mental space where we are able to separate from those types of thoughts. Consider finding mental relief through engaging in meditation or mindfulness techniques on a daily basis. Venting that stress through consulting with a good therapist each week is another possibility.

Diminish Stress on the Emotional Level

Human beings need to have fun. When we engage in pleasurable activities, our body responds through releasing endorphins such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. Unlike the urgent feelings which stress hormones produce, these types of natural chemicals result in our feeling happy, calm, and content. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will be able to remove all the stress associated with running a business by having fun. But you can counteract some of it by making sure to schedule time in your busy calendar for engagement in recreational activities.

About Dr. Jeff Nalin

Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D is an award-winning licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Chief Clinical Director at Paradigm Malibu Treatment Center. The center has locations in both Malibu and San Francisco.

Majority of Adults Stressed by Mass Shootings

ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS SAY FEAR OF MASS SHOOTINGS PREVENTS THEM FROM GOING TO CERTAIN PLACES OR EVENTS

Hispanic adults more than twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they experience mass shooting-related stress often or constantly

A large majority of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events, according to a new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association. “It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”

To better understand the impact of mass shootings on stress and health in the aftermath of the recent tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, APA commissioned the nationally representative survey. It was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S. The survey found that more than three-quarters of adults (79%) in the U.S. say they experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. Additionally, many adults report that they are changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings. Nearly one in three adults (32%) feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, while just about the same number (33%) say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.

When asked which places they are stressed about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring, adults most commonly say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. “Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”

Hispanic adults (32%) are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Hispanic adults and African American adults also are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults to say they do not know how to cope with the stress they feel as a result of mass shootings (44% of Hispanic adults and 43% of African American adults vs. 30% of white adults). Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults). Women report feeling stressed more often than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.

7 Things To Give Up To Help You Get Pregnant This Year

by Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at Yale University

Unfortunately, a simple do-it-yourself plan doesn’t exist, but fertility specialists and women’s health experts agree that certain measures can create the best possible chances for fertilization to occur. So, without ironclad guarantees, here are 7 things to give up to help you get pregnant this year:Every couple mired in infertility, every woman who has ever spent hours scouring the Internet for new breakthroughs and conception tips has had the same wish: For a clear-cut, easy-to-follow program that would guarantee a healthy pregnancy. 

    • Alcohol. Studies focusing on alcohol’s effect on conception have produced mixed results, with some indicating that pregnancy is more likely if women give up drinking entirely and others suggesting that those who drink moderately might increase their chances of conception – perhaps because an occasional glass of wine makes them more relaxed. But experts agree that women who give up alcohol will increase their chances of a healthy baby once conception does happen, and that alone is reason enough for most women to quit.

 

    • Tobacco. Unlike alcohol, the data smoking’s correlation to pregnancy is undisputed. Both primary and secondhand smoke are detrimental to a woman’s chance of conceiving and to a developing fetus as well. Quitting is never easy, but resources and support to help you find a plan and stick to it.

 

    • Caffeine. As the daily substance of choice for most Americans, dependency on those morning cups of coffee is difficult to break. Try cutting back on your intake if you drink multiple cups a day- a recent study confirms ACOG guidelines that one standard 12 oz. cup of regular coffee (200 mg of caffeine) is safe for pregnancy. 

 

    • Your Spot on the Couch. In other words, get up and move around! Couch potatoes aren’t helping any aspect of their health, but women who are trying to conceive have an extra-compelling reason to kick it into high gear. Experts agree that women who stay within their ideal weight have a better chance of becoming pregnant, and a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women who exercise 30 minutes or more a day had a reduced risk of ovulation disorders, which often lead to infertility.

 

    • Junk food. Generally speaking, any change that moves you toward a healthier lifestyle will promote fertility. But when it comes to diet, advice seems to fall all over the map. Specific fertility diets advocate for eating foods like oysters, garlic and yams, but an extensive 2009 study advised women to follow simpler guidelines – healthy fats, selective proteins, whole grains and plenty of iron and other vitamins. It’s important to start taking supplemental folic acid to help prevent birth defects. The sooner you can start taking a prenatal vitamin with sufficient folic acid like vitafusion, the better! You should begin taking prenatals even before you begin trying to conceive. And, obviously, putting down the potato chips and the candy bars is an excellent first step to take to help you get pregnant this year. 

 

    • Excessive Stress. Granted, this step is easier said than done, especially when the chief cause of the stress is the infertility itself. But if external factors are causing undue anxiety, a woman’s chance at conception can decrease, and the stress of waiting for that positive pregnancy test month after month could be the last straw for her emotional health. Give up extra responsibilities whenever possible, talk to your boss about reducing your job stress and work in regular “mental health” days to be refreshed by activities and people you enjoy.

 

  • Lubricants Containing Glycerin. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) “Guidelines for Optimizing Natural Fertility”, several leading vaginal lubricants (e.g. K-Y) may decrease fertility based on their observed effects on sperm survival. Another study showed that lubricants containing glycerin had an adverse effect on sperm motility. Fertility experts recommend using a fertility friendly lubricant like Pre-Seed that is specially formulated without glycerin that will not harm sperm and allows sperm to swim freely. 

Like we said, there is no checklist you can complete that guarantees a healthy pregnancy, but giving up these 7 things can help you get pregnant. It’s all about creating the ideal environment for the pregnancy to happen; a healthy, happy and active lifestyle is a solid base and giving up the aforementioned things will get you there.

Six Ways to Cut Down on Alcohol

by Tara Yombor, LMHC and clinical director at Pathway to Hope, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility.

Social (moderate) drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, tolerance, and dependence. This is the typical pattern of progression for drinking that leads someone to think of him or herself as needing to cut down on alcohol. Some might think they are prone to alcoholism. Within that progression, the time for someone to cut down on drinking is based on the individual’s idea of what is causing dysfunction and unmanageability in their life.

Why is it so easy for someone to become addicted to alcohol, and what does it mean to have
an alcohol use disorder?

First of all, alcohol does not have an adverse social stigma, which makes the dependence for it more likely, and the consumption of it more acceptable. Alcohol is typically used to celebrate happy events and sooth the sad events in life. Think about a celebration. What do most people imagine? Alcohol, champagne, and a “toast to the New Year!”

During times of mourning or stress, alcohol can be used to ease the emotional pain of a loss or as a stress reliever. Social (or moderate) drinking is seen as a normal and perfectly harmless way of socializing, relaxing, or a form of celebration.

A binge drinker is defined as a man who drinks more than four to six drinks in a two-hour period, and a woman who drinks more than four to five drinks in a two-hour period. Someone with alcohol use disorder is typically a person with a long-term addiction to alcohol. This person is typically unable to control how much they consume or when to stop drinking and spends a lot of time thinking about the next drink.

It can be easy for someone to transition from a social drinker to a binge drinker to having an
alcohol use disorder. A binge drinker is someone who has more than the above allotted
acceptable drinks in a short amount of time.

Someone who is a binge drinker or struggling with heavy alcohol use may find that people close to them begin to notice negative patterns of behavior during times of drinking. Friends and family may start to become worried about the person’s drinking patterns and negative outcomes that have begun to arise from their drinking. A person who begins to engage in
binge drinking may find themselves calling out of work the day after drinking due to a hangover; they may miss important deadlines, get into arguments with their loved ones, or lose track of daily responsibilities.

Tolerance for alcohol means that a person needs more and more alcohol to feel the desired effect than they previously would not have needed. Someone who has a pattern of binge drinking may find themselves drinking even more alcohol in a short time to feel drunk.

Once tolerance increases, the possibility of dependence increases. Dependence can be defined as relying on alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, a person is controlled by their need to ingest alcohol to feel “normal.”

During any of these stages of alcohol use, someone may feel the need to seek treatment. The need for treatment varies for each person based on how dysfunctional or unmanageable their life has become due to their drinking.

Here are six things you (or anyone) can do to cut down on alcohol. Most of these mean a change in behavior.

1. Acknowledge the problem – in order to stop the behavior, you must first acknowledge what the negative behavior is and make a conscious effort to commit to changing that behavior. Also, put the goal in writing and make a list of reasons why you want to cut back on drinking. For example, if the behavior is drinking too much during celebrations, you have to determine what “too much” means to you and, next, set a goal to decrease the amount you are drinking during celebrations.

2. Set a realistic goal for drinking alcohol – if you struggle with binge drinking, set a realistic, and achievable goal. The next time you’re out during a social event, make it a goal to cut back to three to four drinks in two hours instead of five to six. Or perhaps instead of going to a happy hour on Friday or Saturday night, pick one night to go out and stay in the other night. Cutting back by making realistic and achievable goals will keep you on track and make you feel better about the fact that you are keeping your goals.

3. Write it down – make sure to keep a journal of the times you drink, how much you drink, and any negative outcomes related to the times you drink (for example, drinking and falling down or making an inappropriate comment to a friend). By keeping a journal, you will hopefully be able to see patterns of behavior. You can also share this journal with someone you trust and ask them to look out for any patterns you may have missed.

4. Don’t keep alcohol in your house – it is easier to come home after a long day of work and pour a glass of wine rather than going out to the bar on a Wednesday when you may have other obligations at home such as taking care of a child. When you don’t have alcohol in the house, it eliminates the desire or temptation to drink.

5. Stay busy – by having non-alcohol related activities to engage in, you are more likely to say no to drinking, as you’ll want to be present for the activity. Do things that keep you active, such as riding a bike, hiking, going for a walk as the endorphins from engaging in exercise may eliminate the desire for alcohol.

6. Ask for support/Talk to someone – tell people you trust about your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable during times when you may be struggling or find yourself surrounded by temptation. Also, there are therapists who specialize in alcohol/substance use who you can talk to that can assist you with your goals and process through any underlying emotions that may be related to drinking.

Remember that the above tips may not work for everyone. Some people may be into the stage of alcohol tolerance and dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, reach out for help from a professional or call a treatment center in your area. Alcoholism and dependence look different for everyone.

Top Supplements to Keep you Healthy While Traveling

  1. Immune Support – Vitamin C with Bioflavinoids Vitamin C is a great travel add-on. It helps with free radical damage, boosts your immune system before you travel, and supports heart health.
  2. Stress and Energy Support – Cordyceps are great for their enhancing effects on immunological function which can be weakened by stress. They enhance cellular energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), molecules that use chemical energy created from the breakdown of food molecules to fuel other cellular processes.
  3. Digestive Support – Digestive Enzymes when you’re traveling, you’re probably not making your own food. This can mean eating things that you normally wouldn’t, causing some stomach upset. Add this enzyme to help digest those extra tasty, but maybe not on your normal dietary plan, meals.
  4. Sleep Support – Herbal Rest and Melatonin the Sound Slumber support is a one-two punch of herbal support and melatonin to help you rest easy while you are away from your own bed. While melatonin helps ease you to sleep, the herbal rest will help keep you asleep with its unique herbal blend. Daily Greens Support-Prefer trying a green superfood supplement instead? Superfood supplements are a great option for ensuring you have sufficient veggies each day when tr avelling. You can check this site for a round up of some of the best greens powder supplements.