Tag Archives: health

Celebrate a stress free Christmas this year

Despite all the pretty decorations and celebrations Christmas time can be a stressful time of year for some people. Whether it is rushing to get all of your work tidied up before the close of the office, financial distress about how to afford presents for everyone, worry about how to put on the perfect feast or going off the rails of your summer body plan you can overcome it this Christmas.

Christmas isn’t about giving the most expensive present, preparing the best meal, what you look like or how much work you get done. Christmas is about sharing a laugh with your loved ones, spreading goodwill and Christmas cheer in the community, appreciating others and being kind to yourself. It is about spreading joy, love and peace. So focus on creating an atmosphere of joy, love and peace rather than looking at Christmas as an event to organise. Not only will this leave you feeling less up tight but it will also make you have a better more meaningful festive season.

We do however recognise sometimes it can be hard to focus on sharing the Christmas spirit when you are feeling stressed out so here are some tips to make it easier.

For the waist line:

  • Go easy on the starches such as cereals, rice, pasta, cakes, pastries, biscuits as well vegetables such as potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips and swede. These foods drive our insulin levels up resulting in our bodies storing fat. Instead have an extra slice of turkey and opt for non-starchy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, sprouts, leeks, broccoli and  cauliflower.
  • Go for red wine over white wine, beer or spirits as red wine is higher in antioxidants and contains less “empty” calories than the others. The ideal would be opting for no alcohol – but we have to realistic here, it’s Christmas! Have your large Christmas meal at lunchtime rather than in the evening.
  • No snacking as this is really the way to pack on the extra weight. Try to ensure your meals are sufficiently dense in nutrition to last until the next one. If you must snack try to go for a slice of meat, cheese or vegetables rather than crisps, cakes or biscuits.
  • Prepare desserts with real fruit or dark chocolate over milk.

For the task orientated person:

  • Make a list of achievable tasks then cut it in half. Remember people are going to be impacted more by the feelings of love and joy rather than if you had fancy napkins or not.
  • Share the duties amongst your colleagues, family or friends.
  • Arrange childcare in advance if you can afford it to take the stress out of carting the kids around whilst trying to get everything sorted.

For the stressed out worker:

  • Be realistic with the work you can get done before your holiday, prioritise your work load and flag any tasks that might not be able to get done as early as possible with your manager.
  • Identify tasks that can be pushed back until the New Year and leave them until then.
  • If you are really struggling to get your work done before your break perhaps skip one of the many Christmas get togethers or go but don’t get carried away.
  • Limit your alcohol intake and go home at a reasonable time so you will be refreshed and ready to work at your peak the next day.

For the financially burdened:

  • Shop smart, the only thing more stressful than Christmas is starting the New Year with a mountain of debt. Get to the shops as early as possible to avoid the stressful shopping mall hustle. Online shopping is also a great tool to check out what’s out there and to compare prices without the high pressure of being in store with hundreds of people and a store attendant hovering over your shoulder.
  • Shop around for food and drink. You don’t need to get everything from the one store make the most of local produce on sale at markets and buy drinks and non perishables in bulk from discount stores.
  • Don’t be shy to ask others to bring things.
  • Do a secret Santa.
  • Get the kids to make home made cards for friends and family and even gifts for some like Grandparents who love that sort of thing.

For more Christmas spirit:

  • Invite someone in the community who doesn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with to join you. It may be that lady down the road or someone from work who has family overseas. Put the offer out there for them to decide.
  • Volunteer as a family or group of friends or colleagues to help out a local charity prepare Christmas lunch or hampers for those in need. You will help restore hope to some of the most marginalised and hopeless groups in the community and will be surprised at how good it will leave you feeling. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • If you don’t already have Christmas traditions, establish some. Attend a carol concert, pay a visit to Santa, or go to a service at your local Church or a friends Church even if you are not very religious it can help you focus on the meaning of Christmas is a lovely experience, do some Christmas baking, watch a Christmas movie or leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

We hope the above tips will help you experience a stress free very happy Christmas full of laughter, hugs and smiles. The team at Docmate sincerely wishes you a very happy Christmas and will be raising a toast to all of our followers and supporters. Thank you for your support in 2012 and we look forward to sharing an exciting 2013 with you all!

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The importance of taking a real lunch break

As important as it is to bring a nutritious lunch to work, it is equally vital to take a step away from your desk to take a mental break. Most work places contractually allow an hour for lunch however recent studies suggest that one in four people are too busy to take a break for lunch, one in three eat lunch at their desk and the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from their desk (Gandhi, 2012). Many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late however it rarely works to their benefit.

If you don’t take a lunch break you may want to reconsider after reading this post because there are definite health and productivity advantages in doing so. Of course, to a degree, the need for breaks definitely depends on the demands of your job. The more intense and demanding your job, the more necessary it is to take breaks.

Taking a lunch break and nourishing the brain with food and fresh air will not only boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed thus increasing your afternoon productivity levels it will also help you maintain your weight. If you habitually eat while you’re working or at your desk, elevated stress levels lead to increase cortisol, which leads to fat accumulation in the body. There is also more of a chance you will overeat, because the distractions from work cause you not to realise that you’re full until you’ve over eaten (Gandhi, 2012).

Making a conscious effort to take a lunch break improves your productivity as it energises and refocuses you. It also encourages you to work more effectively as you are working towards a short term reward. It will also leave you feeling happier and less prone to mood swings, therefore being a more pleasant and motivated employee. Many workers worry about what their boss and co-workers will think if they take a break. You will need to get over this and allow yourself to detach psychologically as well as physically. If you are so stressed out that you are worried about work the entire time you are taking a lunch break, there won’t be any benefit. So as hard as it is to let go of the stress and get over about what others will think, it will be well worth it and you will be pleasantly surprised at your mood lift and increased productivity.

Once you master the art of taking a decent lunch break we dare you to step it up a notch and boost your endorphin’s by taking an express gym class or going for a power walk in a nearby park. Many gyms offer express thirty minute classes at lunch or gather some workmates or friends that work in the same area to do a thirty minute power walk.

So take the plunge of getting into a regular habit of taking a lunch break. Even if it means taking fifteen minutes more than you usually do to step outside for some fresh air. Fifteen minutes is better than nothing.

Make taking a lunch break a New Years resolution. Go on we dare you. You will be surprised at how your productivity and mood increases. We’d love to hear your feedback, tips and experiences of how taking a lunch break benefits you.

References

Gandhi, Kumud. 2012. The importance of lunch. Retrieved 24 November 2012 from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/lifestyle/food/the-importance-of-lunch.html

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Back to basics with Bach Flower Therapy

Bach flower remedies is a system of 38 flower remedies that are said to correct emotional imbalances. Considered alternative medicine you can pick or choose what you like from this blog post but we thought it would be interesting to check out.

Doctor Bach(1886-1936), a British Doctor set out to research immunology but developed an interest in homeopathy and joined the laboratories of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in 1919. He felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases rather than the people who were suffering them. Bach believed that illness is the effect of disharmony between body and mind and that symptoms of an illness are the external expression of negative emotional states.

In 1928 he began work on his own remedies made from plants and two years later at age forty-three he gave up his lucrative practice in London to pursue his vision. This boldness resulted in the 38 different types of Bach remedies. Each remedy is associated with a basic human emotion. Mimulus, for example, is the remedy for when we are anxious or afraid about something specific. Taking the remedy helps to overcome the fear and face it with courage.

The 38 different remedies and their bundled mixes are available in liquid form at most health stores, pharmacies and online. The Bach flower remedy most people know is arnica, a plant from the sunflower family, used to treat bruising, muscular strains, wounds and swelling.

The bundled mixes of remedies commonly y known as “Rescue Remedies” such as Rescue Sleep and the standard rescue remedy for stress and emotional imbalance are fairly well-known in Australia.

Rescue sleep is said to calm your restless mind providing natural relief of occasional sleeplessness caused by stress and repetitive thoughts. Active ingredients in the rescue sleep product include white chestnut to help ease a restless mind, star of Bethlehem for trauma and shock, clematis for the tendendency to pass out, cherry plum for fear of mind giving way or anger, impatiens for irritability and tension and finally rock rose for frozen terror and panic.

The standard rescue remedy is also a combination of 5 Bach flower remedies. Allegedly, beneficial when you find yourself in traumatic situations, such as, emergencies, after getting bad news, feeling impatient and irritated, feeling tension and pressure, before an exam or job interview and all other kind of situations where you find you lose balance mentally.

Rescue remedy is said to help you to relax, get focused and get the needed calmness. Dr Oz recommends rescue remedy for stress and it has been endorsed by many celebrities such as Jennifer Anniston, Selma Hyak, Cate Blanchett, Martha Stewart and Van Morrison. We’re not saying you should try it because the celebrities’ do we are just showing that it is not a product only used by alternative medicine or homeopathy supporters.

Although homeopathy has recently been slammed as scientifically implausible and theoretically week in recent media reports by the Sydney Morning Herald and other major metropolitan newspapers. However a draft statement by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council said homeopathy which uses a large range of animal, plant and mineral products should not be confused with herbal remedies.

At the end of the day you are free to make up your own mind on whether you take homeopathic medicines or not. We just like to educate you on what is out there in the healthcare world so you are better informed to make decisions about your own health.

References

BachFlower.com. 2012. The Original Bach Flower Remedies. Retrieved 13 November 2012 from http://bachflower.com/wordpress/?page_id=293

The Bach Centre. 2009. All about Bach remedies. Retrieved 14 November 2012 from http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/firstpag.htm

Medew, J. 2012. Alternative medicine crackdown. Retrieved 14 November 2012 from http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/alternative-medicine-crackdown-20120313-1uyiw.html

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Easing the mind, body and soul with meditation

We have talked about lack of sleep and stress in other blogs and how they can be so detrimental to your health. One solution to combating both of those problems is through meditation.

Meditation by definition involves deliberately holding a person’s attention on a subject, object or process. It can also involve clearing the mind and leaves people feeling more “alive”, enhanced feelings of calm and heightened awareness. Meditation offers many health benefits, such as reducing stress, and supporting healing and recovery from accidents.

Meditation of one style or another can be found in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam as a means of realising spiritual enlightenment. Meditation is practiced for both health and religious reasons although it has become increasingly trendy these days to meditate as a self help tool for promoting good health, managing stress and for spiritual expansion and fulfilment without a religious basis.

You may be thinking this sounds very wishy washy. However it has been scientifically proven that many forms of meditation result in clearing your mind which promotes a sense of calm and heightened awareness which can be a powerful healing tool for many disorders such as anxiety, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, migraines, stress, insomnia, recovery from accident or illness.

The immediate benefits of meditation can include improved physical, emotional and mental health, focused and clear thinking, improved memory, enhancing a sense of self, more equanimity in the face of challenges and an overall satisfaction in life.

It is advisable to seek help from a meditation, yoga, kum nye, qi gong, thai chi teacher or your doctor if you would like some guidance on how to find a form of meditation that best suits you. It isn’t for everyone but it has fantastic health benefits especially when teamed with a healthy diet, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns. So what’s the harm in trying it right?

References:

Better Health Channel Victoria (2012). Meditation. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Meditation#

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Sleep, sleep, glorious sleep

Sleep is a much valued commodity in most people’s lives. For the majority, myself included, we can’t get enough. But for some getting to sleep and staying asleep is a really big problem which has negative consequences in their lives. For others too much sleep can be detrimental. It seems a little complicated too little and you’re tiered, too much and you’re sluggish. But really like most things in life it is all about balance.

All though everyone’s individual sleep needs vary in general most healthy adults require at least eight hours of sleep a night. However, some people are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours and others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten. So pretty much anywhere between 7 to 9 hours is average. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and to stay awake and alert throughout the day without relying on stimulants or other pick-me-ups.

In today’s lifestyle people are so concerned with exercise, healthy diets and stress management but sleep is equally important to these areas in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep aids the brain with learning and memory retention, metabolism and weight management, cardiovascular health, mood and quality of life, safety, immunity and cancer prevention.

Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory. A Harvard University study showed that those who slept before a cognitive task did better. In others, subjects discovered more insightful or creative ways to problem-solve after a good night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by altering metabolic functions it also contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime which has the potential to cause accidents.

The symptom of sleep loss, whether long or short term, we’ve probably all experience is moodiness. Irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and moodiness that can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression are all linked to lack of sleep. Too little sleep can leave you so tiered you don’t want to do the things you enjoy and effects the ability to work effectively.

Serious sleep disorders such as insomnia have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, cardiac arrhythmias and increase inflammation which are linked to heart attacks. Sleep deprivation also alters the body’s immune function. For example sleep loss around the time of a flu vaccine has shown to reduce the production of flu-flighting antibodies. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer. Harvard researchers have shown that women who work at night are at increased risk of breast and colon cancer.

So getting a good night’s sleep is clearly very important. However for some getting a decent night’s sleep is very difficult. Docmate strongly suggests consulting your GP if you are experience regular insomnia or difficulty with sleep. However some tips for a good night’s sleep include:

  • Regular exercise, but not within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Not using alcohol as a sleep aid
  • No caffeinated drinks after noon
  • Keeping your bedroom temperature cool
  • Establishing a sleep routine for going to bed and getting up
  • If your head is swimming with thoughts when you lay your head down keep a note pad by your bed to write them down and deal with them in the morning
  • A touch of relaxing oils such as lavender oil on your pillow case
  • Relaxing herbal tea before bed such as camomile or lavender tea

On the contrary too much sleep can also be a problem, although it is not as common a problem as lack of sleep. Depression plays a large role in sleeping too much as well as prescribed medications which may make you feel drowsy and feel the need to sleep all the time. Too much sleep can cause headaches, high blood pressure, higher death rate, obesity, poor dietary habits, heart disease and diabetes.

So it is a fine line between too little and too much but everything in moderation is the key here. If you are ever worried about your sleep patterns Docmate strongly advises to consult your GP for their advice. Happy sleeping everyone!

References:

All Sleep (2012). Oversleeping. Retrieved 13 October 2012 http://www.allsleep.com/sleep-disorders/oversleeping-too-much-sleep/

American Psychological Association (2012). Why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx?item=3

Harvard Medical School (2012). Six reasons why you need your sleep. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_011806.htm#art1

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