Thriving During the Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year filled with wonder and excitement. However, with all the hustle and bustle, they can quickly become stressful, anxiety-inducing, and even depressing. Holidays can be full of nostalgia and endless expectations. It’s a time when we can be overwhelmed with family get-togethers, yet our hearts can ache for those who cannot be there. Our schedules start to overflow with events, and our healthy habits tend to go out the window as quickly as our budget for the season. With all these demands and constantly changing feelings, it can be difficult to get through the holidays, let alone enjoy them. Let’s look at several ways to make this season less frightful and more delightful. Make a Plan Schedules and emotions are always easier to manage when you have a plan. Prioritize your list of [...]

Mindful Breathing

We breathe all day long without thinking much about it. But what if we were to stop and pay attention to our inhaling and exhaling? How could that impact our health? Let’s take a look at mindful breathing and how it can enhance our well-being. What Is Mindful Breathing? Mindful breathing combines parts of deep breathing with practicing mindfulness. The aspects of this breathing style bring focus to the present moment. It’s more than just breathing in and breathing out. It’s paying attention to how you feel with each breath. Positive Psychology states, “You are not trying to change your breathing in any way, and because of this, there are no expectations; you are merely aware of the breath from moment to moment.” Mindful breathing can take practice because it doesn’t always come naturally. You’re intentionally drawing your concentration to [...]

Sleep, Stress, and Your Immune System

Days can pile up with stress and lead to nights of little sleep. We’re all too familiar with how frustrating this can be. Did you know that it can also cause our immune system to take a hit? Our stress and sleep have direct correlations with how our immune system functions. Prioritizing sleep and stress management is an integral part of staying healthy. How Does Sleep Affect Your Immune System? Sleep is necessary for your body to ward off sickness and infection. It can also help to reduce recovery time whenever you’re fighting sickness. While sleeping, the body ramps up the production of cytokines. According to the American Cancer Society, “Cytokines are small proteins that are crucial in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. When released, they signal the immune system to do [...]

5 Tips for Managing School and Your Stress

  A new school year is a busy and exciting time for students of any age. However, all that excitement can bring a lot of extra stress. Settling back into a routine can be a breath of fresh air after the summer break, but between changes in schedules, homework, tests, and day-to-day responsibilities, life can start to feel overwhelming quickly. We’re going to explore five different ways that can help you manage stress this school year. Stay Organized Nothing makes stress levels spike like losing an assignment or completely forgetting about a test. Clutter of the mind or physical clutter around you can leave you with your wheels spinning, unsure of what to do next. Even if you don’t consider organization one of your strong suits, there are several easy habits you can incorporate to keep your school responsibilities in [...]

Hydration and Mental Health

  Staying hydrated is an integral part of health and wellness. However, it is often overlooked, especially when water is out of sight and out of mind. You’re probably familiar with how hydration is necessary during exercise, fighting a cold, or proper digestion. But did you know that adequate hydration is important for our mental health too? Let’s take a closer look at how it can affect us mentally. Improved Brain Performance According to the National Council on Aging, “even mild dehydration – as little as 2% fluid loss – can affect memory, mood, concentration, and reaction time.” Getting adequate hydration throughout the day can balance all these areas and positively impact our brain performance. As you age, the risk for dehydration increases, and cognitive function can decrease. This shows that proper hydration and water intake are key factors in [...]

Spending Time Outdoors to De-Stress

Our days can be full of hustle and bustle, from long hours at the office to shuttling kids around all evening. It’s easy to see why stress can increase as our free time decreases. While we can’t always control the stress that comes our way, we can work to manage it better. Spending time outside is a beneficial strategy for stress management. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, even just a few minutes, can positively impact the body and mind in many different ways. Lift Your Mood Vitamin D is certainly important for maintaining strong bones, but did you know that recent studies have found it to help improve mood? According to Healthline, research has shown that Vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. If you need a little [...]

Nutrition and Mental Health

  Eating healthy can help us to look and feel our best physically. But little is discussed about how the food we eat can affect our mental health. Eating a diet rich in nutritious foods can help us to feel more alert and think clearly. Well-balanced meals and snacks can also help us to concentrate and improve attention span. On the other hand, eating a diet high in unhealthy foods can affect our brain in a negative way. An inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, impair decision making skills, and slow down reaction time. A poor diet can aggravate or lead to stress and depression. Stress and Depression It has been shown that sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation throughout our bodies. Chronic inflammation can contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to the Academy of [...]

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 1949. Mental health refers to our emotional or psychological wellbeing, and many argue it is the most valuable aspect of health. Mental Health Month was instituted to raise awareness about mental health and signs and symptoms of imbalance that require help from a professional. Mental illness can affect people of any age, including children and adolescents. Our physical and emotional health has been increasingly challenged by the pandemic and other recent events, so maintaining psychological balance is as difficult as it has ever been. Mental illnesses, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, are among the most common conditions in the United States today, affecting one in five Americans at any given time. Despite the huge numbers, many people with emotional illnesses often feel [...]

Make Mental Health a Priority

  May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), “1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.” Mental health affects all ages, from children to adults, and it is part of our overall health and well-being. Let’s explore why mental health is so important and how we can make it a priority. What is Mental Health? First, let’s start by defining mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a “state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Taking care of your mental well-being does not mean an absence of negative emotions or feelings, but it does mean practicing healthy [...]

Stress Eating

The strongest food cravings seem to hit when you are at your weakest point. I’m sure we can all think about a time when the stress of life was piling up, and in turn we coped by eating a pile of cookies. Many people experience stress eating, but making a habit of it can be detrimental to our weight loss goals. There is much power behind the term “stress eating”. Stress, the hormones it releases, and coping strategies involving comfort foods, all can factor into overeating. Research has shown that both stress and weight gain go hand in hand, which is alarming when nearly a fourth of Americans rate their stress as an 8 out of a 10-point scale. So, why do we turn to food in times of stress? Stress Eating, Hunger, and Hormones Appetite can react to stress [...]