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Category Archive: Mental Health

The Importance of Taking Days Off

Today, it seems as though our society has adopted this “all or nothing” type of mentality, and working out is no exception. Oftentimes, working out can be a struggle. However, for some people, taking days off when trying to reach a goal can be just as difficult. We do not want to lose any of the progress that we are making, and we would like to see results as soon as possible. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our workout routines that we forget to take days off and give our bodies the rest that they need.

According to Russel Wynter, NASM certified master trainer and co-owner of MadSweat, “when the stress is too much physiologically for the system to handle, it can and will lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain.” Depending on the severity of the injury, we could ironically be pushing our goals farther and farther away if we do not give our muscles a break.

More negative side effects associated with excessive amounts of exercise with limited rest include a decrease in performance, sickness, a change in your hormones, poor sleeping patterns, and a decrease in your immune system. Certified Personal Trainer, NASM CPT, Sarah Gibson states that when we experience tears or strains in our muscles and joints, we in turn activate our immune system. Rest is a key element in ensuring that take a day off and step back from the practice, our immune system does not hve enough time to fix everything. Wynter also states that, “you should have at least one day of rest before attempting to work similar muscle groups again. The general rule is it requires a minimum of 48 hours to recover with full recovery seen within 72 to 96 hours post workout.”

When it comes to the recommended time spent on cardio throughout the week, experts strongly suggest that 30-60 minutes of moderate workouts (5 times/week) or 20-60 minutes of intense workouts (3 times/week) in order to get the most of your training. In order to build strength, your muscles need time and rest to rejuvenate. Different athletes and people with different goals will have different versions of “taking a day off.” For bodybuilders and pure strength training athletes this may mean taking a break from the weights one day and doing some form of light cardio. For others, this may mean withholding from all strenuous activity as a whole.

No matter what your athletic level may be, it is important to give your body rest and time to recuperate. If not, the possible consequences that you may experience may end up doing more harm than good regarding your body’s progress.

CK

Works Cited:
Gibson, Sarah. Well Bridge. “Give it a Rest: It’s OK to Skip Your Workout.” https://www.wellbridge.com/fit-like-that/give-it-a-rest-its-ok-to-skip-your-workout
Rosenbrock, K. The Active Times. “Why Rest Days are Just as Important as Working Out.” https://www.theactivetimes.com/why-rest-days-are-just-important-working-out

 

Stress on Our Bodies

Stress affects all people in very different ways. Whether it be stress from your work, home, or relationships, stress can take both a physical and emotional toll on our bodies. It is important that we cope with stress in ways that are healthy and effective.

According to Mayo Clinic, stress can effect our body, mood, and behavior. Some examples of these include:

BODY

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

MOOD

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

BEHAVIOR

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

 Your health and overall well-being are negatively affected by stress that comes from various aspects of your everyday life. It is important to become aware of these changes in your body, mood, or behavior in order to effectively cope with stress triggers.

Some activities for coping with stress:

Rest, meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, do something social with friends, take a walk, regular physical activity, deep breathing, etc.

While these coping techniques may be effective for many people in reducing stress levels, they may not work for everyone. If you have taken steps to reduce and better control your levels of stress and you still feel you need more, it is important to seek further help. High levels of stress can negatively affect our everyday lives, and it is important to take the appropriate measures in reducing it.

 

CK

Works Cited:
Mayo Clinic. “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=1.

 

Feeling Blue

For centuries, water has been associated with healing and spiritual properties that we have incorporated into our daily routines and cultural practice. Have you ever found your mood significantly change when you are near a body of water? There is almost a sense of pure serenity and peace when you are looking out over a lake or ocean. Why does this happen? Why does nature, and, more specifically water, sooth us the way it does?

 

According to Wallace J. Nichols, PHD, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, “researchers look carefully at studies detailing the calming effect of nature on the human mind, and they find over and over that water helps amplify nature’s soothing, healing qualities.” He also states that when it comes to our bodies, we all naturally have a “blue mind,” which can be described as a meditative state that can be categorized by qualities such as serenity, harmony, and satisfaction that is actually prompted when we are in or around different sources of water. Water can be a source of clarity, entertainment, and exercise in our everyday lives.

 


According to Nichols, the following are six important benefits when it comes to your “blue mind”

  • Water gives our brain a rest
  • Water can induce a meditative state
  • Water can inspire us to be more compassionate and connected
  • A blue mind is a creative mind
  • Exercise by or in water is good for our bodies and brains

 


 

Another important aspect of water that draws us into it is the ability that water has to both change and remain consistent all at the same time. Our brains and bodies get a two for one special by getting the benefit of stability and consistency with the added bonus of a stimulating change all in one! The positive benefits and advantages associated with water can be important for people dealing with the stress and pressures of everyday life. According to Nichols, “water impacts all five senses at the same time with a positive, powerful image and memory,” he says. “The good memories from a day on the water help override bad memories that haunt someone and possibly help crack that shell, letting them rejoin the world.”

 

Experiencing this state of “blue mind” does not require you to go sit at the beach and watch the waves crashing to the shore (as beautiful and peaceful as that may be). Rather, it can be something as simple as taking a bath, going fishing, or drinking water! Whatever your source may be, incorporate more water into your life. Both your physical and mental health will thank you for it.

CK

 

Works Cited:
Gregoire, Carolyn. Huffington Post. “Why Being Near the Ocean Can Make You Calmer and More Creative.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/02/25/mental-benefits-water_n_5791024.html
 
Wallace, J. Nichols, PHD. Experience Life. “Blue Mind.” https://experiencelife.com/article/blue-mind/

Technology and Sleep: What Poor Sleeping Patterns Do to Our Bodies

Pick your poison: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube you name it, and the Millennials are on it. Technology and social media combined have overtaken the minds and hands of society. Many of us have heard time and time again that the stimulation that comes from technology can disrupt our sleep patterns. Recently, the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study that emphasizes a very strong correlation between people with sleep problems and social media usage.  In the study, the researchers examined about 1,800 young adults, specifically those in the Millennial generation who have grown up in a tech-dominant society using social media for the majority of their lives. As they observed the results, “they found that the study participants spent an average of an hour a day on one or more of the major social-media platforms and checked their various accounts 30 times a week. Nearly 30 percent of them suffered “high levels” of sleep disturbance” (Cox).


According to Experience Life, the research conducted by Jessica Levenson, PhD, explained 3 ways in which sleep issues were connected with social media usage:

  • Late-night engagement on social-media channels can simply displace sleep time.
  • Interaction with other users on these platforms can trigger emotional, cognitive, or physiological reactions that can make falling asleep more difficult.
  • The light emitted by computer screens can disrupt circadian rhythms and disturb sleep patterns.

While the study does not irrefutably state that social media usage causes sleep problems, it does support the idea that the use of social media can negatively affect the quality of sleep someone is having at night.


A poor night’s sleep can affect aspects of your everyone’s everyday life, not only Millennials. Your quality of life and your overall health and wellness can reap the negative consequences of poor sleep patterns. An article on ABC news reports that “research has shown a clear link between technology use before bed and compromised sleep that affects our health and wellbeing.” So, not only could technology and social media be affecting your sleep patterns, but also functionality throughout your day to day routine as well.

It is important to note that technology and social media usage do not affect everyone in the same way. The light, stimulation, and interaction that comes from using technology can affect people and their sleep patterns in different ways, some more extreme than others. Some forms of technology are also more disruptive than others, such as video games and more interactive outlets.

When it comes to our bodies, sleep is an essential factor in keeping us healthy and well. Not only does a poor night’s sleep make us feel less than 100%, it has also “been linked with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, weight gain, reduced immunity, and some studies have found there’s a relationship between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure or heart disease” (Johnson).

Getting enough sleep and giving our minds a rest (especially before bed) are crucial in ensuring we can function as our best selves the following day. End your night right to start your day better!

CK

Works Cited:
Cox, Craig. Experience Life. “Social-Media Use Linked to Sleep Problems in Millenials.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-10-21/how-technology-use-messes-with-your-sleep/7950336.
Johnson, Cathy. ABC Health and Wellbeing. “How technology use messes with your sleep and what you can do about it.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-10-21/how-technology-use-messes-with-your-sleep/7950336.

 

Putting the Fun Back in Fitness

It seems that all too often, our workout can begin to feel more like an obligation than an enjoyable activity. Why have we suddenly lost the fun that comes from physical activity and a healthy lifestyle? Is it possible that working out and training for performance are actually serving as unhealthy activities for our bodies—is the thing that’s supposed to improve our health actually hindering it? If we are so focused on the endgame of the workout and the process it takes to get there, we lose one of the most important aspects of exercise: the experience.


The ability to succeed at any elite level has dramatically increased as the years have progressed. The pressures to look a certain way and perform at a certain level have overtaken the minds of our society as a whole. According to coach Andrew Read, “one of the best ways we’ve found to fix this in our training is to incorporate playful periods into our training.” Any type of natural movement along with playful games and activities are essential and key factors to ensuring we do not get caught up in the wrong aspects of fitness and forget about all of the positive benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle.

What we may not realize is that “our bodies and minds are hungry for play. And when it comes to movement, the conventional mindset in response to this need — thinking we need to grind away on machines that typically lend themselves to repetitive motions — is incomplete and imbalanced,” (Heffernan). Playful activities and fitness routines incorporate all of your senses. While you receive the physical benefit of run around or playing a game outside, you also received the additional incorporation of your sensory systems that works to connect you to the world and environment that surround you. Incorporating play into our workout routines allows us to feel young again while making our exercise fun and efficient.


By definition, exercise is “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.” Some examples of exercising that go beyond your basic treadmill and elliptical workouts include:

Going on a hike

Walking

Rock Climbing

Dancing

Yoga

Interactive Video Games such as Wii

Play a childhood game

No matter what your workout of choice may be, make it fun! Get a group together and turn a physical activity into a social one. Be active, be healthy, and, most important, be happy.

CK

 

 

Works Cited:
Heffernan, Andrew. Experience Life. How Fun Fosters Fitness. https://experiencelife.com/article/play-on/
Nerd Fitness. 25 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It. https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/25-ways-to-exercise-without-realizing-it/
Read, Andrew. Breaking Muscle. Putting the Fun Back in Fitness- the Importance of Play and Community. https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/putting-the-fun-back-in-fitness-the-importance-of-play-and-community

 

Musical Motivation

Have you ever noticed that when “your” song comes on when you’re working out, you feel a rush of adrenaline and a newfound sense of endurance?
Where does this come from? Why is music such a motivating factor when it comes to our workout performance?


The study of music and its relationship to working out was not studied in depth until the mid- 1990s due to the technological advances that made it possible for more and more people to listen to music on the run. Now, scientists have been studying the impact that music has on improving athletic performance.

One of the more widely accepted views on why music makes working out easier is that it serves as a mental distraction. The music we listen to serves as a distraction from the fatigue our body is facing and the exhaustion that comes after about 10 minutes of cardio and weightlifting. According to the Guardian Report, the distraction that comes from music can boost athletic performance by 15%.

Not only does the music you listen to distract you during your workout, but it can also help control and pace your run too! The songs you listen to while you run, bike, walk, or lift weights can help stimulate the motor section of your brain in order to help set the pace for your workout! According to the Huffington Post, “clueing into these time signals helps us use our energy more efficiently, since keeping a steady pace is easier on our bodies than fluctuating throughout a sweat session.”

So, next time you hit the tredmill or bike, make sure your playlist is one that is going to keep you motivated and “in the zone” throughout the duration of your workout!

 

Works cited:
Hughes, Virginia. “Why Does Music Help Us Exercise?” National Geographic. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/15/why-does-music-help-us-exercise/.
Staff, Experience Life. “Music=Motivation.” Experience Life.  https://experiencelife.com/article/music-motivation/.
 “7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Workout.” Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/why-exercise-workout-music-playlist_n_4173931.html.

 

 

Get Your Head in the Game

When it comes to your health, two factors usually come to mind: your physical activity and your diet. However, there is a very important and essential factor when it comes to your overall health and well-being that it is too often overlooked: your mental health. Nourishing your brain is important in order for your body to function and operate correctly. Positivity and relaxation are both key components when it comes to improving upon your mental health, but there are some other tips and suggestions we have for you in order to ensure your body can become and stay mentally fit!


AVOID HIGH SUGARS

Our body creates and supplies glucose, which is essential for our brain’s functioning throughout the day. However, the simple sugars which are located in junk food cause peaks and drops in this circulation, and therefore upset the balance of our brain. According to the World Health Organization, it is recommended that only 5% of our caloric intake come from sugars. Today, however, people are consuming close to 5 times that much! Studies have shown that high sugar consumption can lead to low levels of insulin. As a result of this, cognitive functions such as memory and learning skills can be at risk

GET MORE PROTEIN

The amino acids found in the protein we consume are key components for a healthy brain. They provide essential materials that are needed to create the neurotransmitters that our brains depend on. Experts have stated that 20-25% of our daily diet should come from some type of high-quality protein. According to Psychology Today, “The hormones and enzymes that cause chemical changes and control all body processes are made of proteins.” Therefore, the basis for our brain’s daily function stems in part from the proteins we consume.

 REGULATE YOUR STRESS WITH VITAMINS

Everyone knows how stressful stress can be on your body. Stress hormones, however, can be regulated by vitamins such as Vitamin B, B3, and C. These vitamins can protect your body and its neurotransmitters from stress hormones that can have a negative effect on your body and your overall health.

READ A BOOK

We know that when it comes to your body, it is important to exercise and stay physically active. When it comes to your brain, however, we sometimes tend to forget that we need to do the same thing. Reading is the exercise of the mind! It can help to stimulate your brain and reduce your levels of stress. Reading has also been linked to improvements in memory as well.

REMEMBER TO SMILE

Research shows that a regular gratitude practice has the capacity to create new neural pathways that support a more positive outlook. Being around positive and uplifting people has also been shown to increase your happiness and overall sense of feeling. This is important to remember for you personally because, after all, you don’t want to bring down the people around you!

CK

Works Cited:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200301/brain-power-why-proteins-are-smart
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/06/sugar-brain-mental-health_n_6904778.html