Category Archives: blog

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Writing it Out: Journaling for Stress, Burnout, and Overwhelm

Category : blog

People who deal with a lot of stress understand the implications of it. You know what it does to your mental and emotional health, how it affects your physical health, and what the repercussions are. You are fully aware that it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t handle your daily life, that it can lead to burnout and work issues, and cause problems with your relationships and personal life.

If this sounds like you, don’t just make it a daily habit where you go through cycles of extreme stress. Find a better way to manage it, something that is healthy and has other benefits, such as writing about your stress.

Here are some ways to write out your stress and worry to finally take control of your life and stop living in constant worry.


Benefits of Journaling for Stress

Journaling is one of the best ways you can deal with stress. It provides so many benefits for you, from allowing you to do a brain dump (see below), to helping you understand where your stress is coming from. If you find out later that you have stress that comes in goes, going to previous journal entries in a stress journal helps you see what similarities there were, to figure out your main stress triggers.

And even more simply, it gives you a way to vent your worries and frustrations without worrying about burdening someone else with them.


Try a Brain Dump

The brain dump provides a really easy way to get all those thoughts, worries, concerns, and idea out of your head and onto paper. Through this process, you really de-stress a lot, even coming up with worries you didn’t realize you had. It starts helping you find clarity in your thoughts and worries, and helps de-clutter your mind.

All you need to do for a brain dump is write whatever comes to mind on a piece of paper. This is often referred to as ‘stream of consciousness’ journaling, because you are just writing whatever comes to mind, without being concerned about organizing your thoughts. If your mind switches to a new subject, so does your journaling! Just keep writing until you feel like all the main thoughts are out on the paper.


Have a Worry or Stress Journal

While you can journal in any type of journal you have, you might want a worry journal that is used specially for relieving your stress. This is something you will write in when you are dealing with a lot of stress or just trying to work through something. It helps to keep your thoughts organized, and makes it easier to go back and find a specific journal entry when you need to.


Talk About Your Anxiety or Depression

You can also write about other mental health issues you are experiencing, such as how your depression or anxiety is affected. This is good to keep together with your anxiety or worry journal, since they are frequently connected.

If you have clinical depression, you know the depressive episodes will come and go. However, you might not realise the link between depression and stress or understand all your triggers until you start detailing the experience in your journal.


Track Your Different Triggers

Keeping track of triggers is one of the biggest benefits of journaling for stress, burnout, and overwhelm. You need to know why you are dealing with these experiences, not just when. The more detailed you are in each journal entry, the more you will start to see similar patterns. It might be the same time of week, before or after payday, related to people in your life or personal relationships, and many other things.


Write in the Journal Throughout the Day

When you are writing in a journal to help with stress and overwhelm, try to write during different times of the day. While morning or nighttime journaling is also really useful, for this purpose, you might need to have it available more often than other people using their journal.

If you have a stressful event in the middle of the day, you need to have that journal nearby so you can write about it, then go on with your day.


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Tips for Reducing Stress at Work

Category : blog

Everyone experiences a certain level of stress at work, which can’t always be prevented. You have projects to take care of, a team to manage, and a lot of work to get done. Unexpected things can happen and curve balls come from every corner on some days.

While you aren’t able to prevent the sources of your work stress, there are some ways to relieve your stress and still manage work and your other responsibilities without it affecting you too much.


Improve Your Work Relationships

A lot of the stress you experience at work can be relieved just by working harder on your work relationships and friendships. When everyone gets along, people tend to support each other, help each other, and work together much more efficiently. Even if your work stress isn’t directly related to the people you work with, this can still be really beneficial for you.


Here are some tips for working on your work relationships:

Reach out to someone you have never talked to – Is there someone you work with who you haven’t had a conversation with or who is new at your company, why not talk to them? Reach out to them and introduce yourself, ask them some questions about themselves, and just strike up casual conversation.

Ask someone to lunch – The workplace is a great way to foster new friendships as well, which can be done during your breaks. Ask someone you work with if they want to join you for lunch, whether it is a close work friend or just an acquaintance you want to get to know a little better.

Offer to lend a helping hand – It is a great idea to try to help others with difficult projects or anything you are personally skilled at. When you notice a co-worker has a lot of work to get done or needs a little assistance, offer your help in a non-judgmental, but helpful way.

Find Out What Your Stressors Are – If you want to truly get rid of your work-related stress, you need to figure out what the biggest stressors are. This might be the vending machine if you are stressed about losing weight, or having too much work piled on that you think you can’t manage on your own, or maybe you have had issues with someone you work with.

There are so many possibilities, that it is impossible to assume the work-related stress is the same for everyone. Take a week to write down in a journal or notebook every time you feel stressed, what you were thinking about at the time, and what the situation was.

Were you on your lunch break?

Did you just talk to someone at work?

Was it in the morning or afternoon?

Was there issues with a client or customer?

All of these details are important to figure out what is causing you the most stress at work.


Give Yourself Time to Recharge

No matter what you do for a living, whether you work in an office, outside, or even at home, you need time to recharge. Think about what your biggest stressors are, and get away from them at least a little bit every day.

If you work from home, your stress might be that you feel like whenever you are at home, you should be working. To recharge, you need to close your laptop, turn off your phone, and get into the mindset of taking a break or being done for the day. You need to understand the difference between working and taking time for yourself.


Have a Flexible Schedule

If you try to micro-manage yourself and plan every single minute of every day, you are going to get overwhelmed and burned out with work very quickly. The stress that comes from having your entire day scheduled and planned out can be rough on you, even if you are think you are doing a good thing.

Having a schedule and a plan is great for productivity, but if you are too strict with your schedule, it can create problems. Remember to have a flexible schedule and alternatives for any moments when you need to get something else done or just take a little more time for yourself.


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Can Vitamin D reduce the risk of COVID-19?

Category : blog

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin required to perform many body functions. It is required for absorption of calcium and phosphorus and to facilitate normal immune system function. It is also needed for bone health and without sufficient vitamin D bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamin D and calcium also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infections notably, upper respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin D is found naturally in oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines, red meat, liver, eggs, some fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. However, you don’t get enough vitamin D form the food sources and sunlight is the best source for Vitamin D.

Public Health England is recommending the use of Vitamin D supplements since people are mainly staying indoors during the lockdown which puts them at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency.

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year for people who are dark skinned, housebound, in care homes and usually cover up their skin when they are outdoors.

A recent study reported a strong connection between Vitamin D levels and COVID-19 complications. The authors suggested that “Vitamin D is most likely to reduce serious COVID-19 complications since vitamin D is important in regulation and suppression of the inflammatory cytokine response, which causes the severe consequences of COVID-19 and ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome’ associated with ventilation and death”.

Another research is recommending a dose of 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 IU/d for the people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 with an intention to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40-60 ng/mL (100-150 nmol/L).

NHS states there have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, there is currently no clinical evidence on vitamin D in COVID-19. More clinical trials are underway to study whether Vitamin D is beneficial in this context.

However, we still need to make sure we are taking enough vitamin D rich foods in our diet and Vitamin D supplements, as recommended by PHE, to reduce the risks of Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency, especially for older people as they are at high risk of poor outcome from COVID-19 and of vitamin D deficiency.

What is the advice for children, babies and pregnant women?

The advice is:

  • breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough
  • formula-fed babies should not be given a supplement until they are having less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day because formula contains vitamin D
  • children aged one to four should be given a daily supplement of 10 micrograms
  • The dose for adults (10 micrograms a day) applies to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

References

Laird, J. Rhodes, R.A. Kenny.Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19.Irish Medical Journal, 2020; 113 (5): P81

Irish Medical Journal – May 2020 Vol. 113 No. 5

Grant, W.B.; Lahore, H.; McDonnell, S.L.; Baggerly, C.A.; French, C.B.; Aliano, J.L.; Bhattoa, H.P. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients 2020, 12, 988.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32252338


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Do we need carbs and which ones to eat?

Category : blog

There are 2 types of nutrients that you get from the food once the food gets digested; 1. Macronutrients namely carbs, proteins & fat. 2. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Water and fibre are also essential for your life; however, they are not considered as nutrients.

So, what about carbohydrates (carbs)?

Do we need them?
Can we survive without them?
Which ones to eat?

We have always been told that carbs are such an essential food group for us, may be as essential as water. But what is the truth?

Carbohydrates is a nutrient but it is not that important for our survival, as our body can make the glucose it requires (which is a type of sugar that you get from cabs) from proteinand fat. Carbs release glucose into the blood and once this glucose enters the cells, they provide energy. So, does it mean that if you are on low carb diet you are short of energy?

Although, our brain uses glucose as the main source of energy but if we don’t eat carbs our body can make glucose out of fats or proteins. And, if somebody is on ketogenic diet (mainly using fats as the main source of energy), our body can use the ketones produced as the by-product of fat burning as the main source of energy. This means if somebody is on a low carb diet, our body is still capable of producing energy that it needs to perform important functions.

Let’s dig deep into this topic to find out the answers to these questions.

What are Carbohydrates?
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are molecules that have carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In simple terms, carbohydrate is the sugars, starch and fibre found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. It is also found in processed foods such as burgers, cookies, bread, pasta, pizza etc.

The two main classes of carbs are starches and sugars:

Starch is made up of lots of units of glucose. The glucose is released into our blood as carbs get digested and broken down. Now how quickly it gets released depends on the quantity, amount and rate of its absorption.

Quick releasing carbs are known as high GI carbs such as starchy foods as they are digested and absorbed more quickly into our blood than complex or low GI carbs.

High GI foods include sugar and sugary foods, sugary drinks, white bread, potatoes and white bread.Low GI foods include wholegrain foods, such as oats, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa, some fruit and vegetables and some lentils.

Sugars
There are different types of sugars such as;

  • Glucose, Galactose and Fructose are mainly found in starchy foods, milk and fruits respectively
  • Lactose is found in milk and milk products is made up of Glucose + Galactose
  • Sucrose known as Sugar, is made up of Glucose + Fructose

Out of these, glucose is absorbed the quickest in the gut causing a rapid increase in our blood glucose levels. However, other sugars do not increase the insulin level as rapidly as glucose because the galactose and fructose are stored in the liver before getting converted to glycogen (glucose reserve) or triglyceride (stored fat).

How does it all impact our weight?

If we eat too much of high GI foods such as starchy foods, the glucose is released quickly in our blood increasing our blood glucose levels. As it did not have the time to get properly digested in our gut, it does not keep us full for longer and makes us hungry quickly as the blood glucose levels drop. This is due to our hormones known as hunger hormone called Ghrelin as this hormone is released from the stomach which sends signals to your brain that you are hungry.

I will talk more about hormones affecting our huger and weight in the next article.

Starchy foods have always been promoted for maintaining our blood glucose levels and losing weight. However, we know now why people struggle to do so if they base their diets on starchy foods.  Because eating too much starch foods is equivalent to eating too much sugars that causes blood glucose to rise and increases stored glucose and triglycerides (fat).

So, what should we eat?

We need to eat foods that keep us full for longer and helps maintain our blood glucose levels such as protein, fat and fibre rich foods.

  • Eat unprocessed foods: Opt for whole and unprocessed real foods such as fruits and vegetables, plenty of omega 3 fats (fish, walnuts, olive oil), goods fats (coconut oil, olive oil, avocados), legumes, nuts and seeds. These foods are high in antioxidants and polyphenolsthat reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, help promote anti-aging, balance your blood sugar levels, and improve your liver detoxification to prevent or reverse insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • Include proteins: Opt for rich sources of proteins such as wild caught fish, grass fed poultry, legumes, seeds, nuts. Proteins
  • Fats: Eat fats that promote anti-inflammation in your body including omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds.
  • Fibre: Include fibre-rich foods such aswholegrains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and non-starchy vegetables with meals or eat them as salad.
  • Fermented foods: Include foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kambucha, fermented idli, dosa and miso that contain good amounts of probiotics which can feed the good bacteria in your gut.

Final thoughts
As we have seen there are different types of carbohydrates. So, making the right choices by eating healthy, fibre-rich carbs including wholegrains, green non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds more, while avoiding processed, unhealthy, refined carbs like sugary foods and drinks, white rice and white flour would help maintain steady blood sugar levels, feed good bacteria in the gut and promote weight loss


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Hypothyroidism and what can you do to improve your thyroid function?

Category : blog

Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition where your thyroid gland is underactive, meaning it doesn’t produce enough hormones.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism include;

  1. Fatigue, tiredness, or sluggishness
  2. Weight Gain
  3. Depression
  4. Fertility problems
  5. Cold feet and/or hands
  6. Depression
  7. Dry and thinning hair
  8. Dryness of the skin
  9. Mental Fog
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