How Hard Is Going Gluten-Free (When You Really Have To)?

Making significant changes to your diet is never a walk in the park, especially if you’re already an adult. 

For those with coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten intolerance, going gluten-free is less of a choice and more of a necessity (especially if you’re coeliac) – your body simply cannot handle gluten, so you need to cut it out once and for all.

But isn’t that difficult?

At first, sure it is. However, you’ll soon realise that it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, once you get into the swing of it, you’ll start to notice how much better you feel, and then you’ll genuinely enjoy it.

Here’s why.

There are plenty of naturally gluten-free foods

It’s a common misconception that “gluten is in pretty much everything”.

It might seem that way at first if you’ve recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease or a non-coeliac form of gluten sensitivity, but that feeling doesn’t last long. Once you’re educated, you’ll see that the overwhelming majority of foods are actually gluten-free.

Here are some big examples:

  • All fruits
  • All vegetables
  • Dairy – including cheese, butter, milk, cream, yoghurt and so on (all that delicious stuff!)
  • Meat – beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, you name it
  • Seafood – fish, shellfish, etc.
  • Nuts
  • Legumes – lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, fava beans, etc.
  • Rice – yes, really

What to bear in mind here: ‘natural’ is the key word

All of the foods above are gluten-free in their natural forms. What you need to be vigilant about is where that food comes from – and what form it comes in.

Many foods in our supermarkets are processed, either to extend their shelf-life or to enhance their flavour. The problem is, this processing sometimes means that additional ingredients are used, and they can sometimes contain gluten.

For instance, microwave rice – especially the flavoured kin – can sometimes contain gluten, added as a binding agent (even though rice is a naturally sticky substance). 

As such, one of the most important parts of going gluten-free is getting into the habit of checking labels and learning how to interpret ingredients. Buying foods in their natural forms wherever possible is also a good habit to get into, because it helps you ensure that you aren’t accidentally buying cross-contaminated foods.

Increased efforts in restaurants and eateries

10 or so years ago, gluten-free options in restaurants were few and far between, and menus were somewhat limited.

But now, increased awareness of coeliac disease has led to much greater efforts to cater for gluten-free diets.

A huge rise in gluten-alternative products

Saying goodbye to bread and pasta is one of the most daunting prospects of going gluten-free. After all, cheese-on-toast, sandwiches and spaghetti bolognese are among the most comforting foods around – and they all rely on wheat.

Or do they?

In 2020, that’s simply not true.

Thanks to the rise in gluten-alternative food products on the market, you can find gluten-free breads and pastas in every decent supermarket nowadays.

You can also opt for prescription-based, gluten-free food from leading authorities like Glutafin

*PR Collaboration

Glorious Greens! Simple Ways To Feast On Fruit & Veg

We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day – in fact that’s a conservative estimate. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative.

Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.

#1 Start the day with a breakfast smoothie

All you have to do is throw some fruits, low-fat yoghurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go.

You could sip your smoothie in a thermal cup on the way to work or just keep it by the side of your desk at home.

As a special weekend treat for your kids, use some frozen yoghurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast.

#2 Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day

With the proviso that too much is bad for our teeth and fresh fruit is always preferable but you could add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yoghurt-covered raisins in your sandwich box and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking.

You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My family loves banana chips in their breakfast cereal.

Just make sure little ones clean their teeth a good thirty minutes after eating sugary foods like these to protect their tooth enamel.

#3 Add fruit and veg to the family’s sandwiches

You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.

#4 Have a ‘salad bar’ at dinner

If it works for Pizza Hut ….  set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.

#5 Let them drink their fruits and vegetables

Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative. You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favourite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.

#6 Make a fruity dessert

Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yoghurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.  Make your own Eton Mess by smashing a meringue nest and combining berries and fresh cream.

#7 Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks

You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. And of course, there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it.

#8 Try some new fruits and vegetables

Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck, their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

#9 Make a pot of vegetable soup or stew

Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. Both of these make some great comfort food when the weather gets cold.

#10 Start “My Veggie Day”

Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise, they lose a turn and Mum gets to pick.

Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.

 

Fire Down Below: The Survivor’s Guide To Vaginal Atrophy

Finally, one of the most painful conditions relating to menopause is openly being talked about on social media, largely thanks to the wonderful book “Me & My Menopausal Vagina” by patient expert Jane Lewis (read my review here).

I never thought that, at 56, I would be spending more on moisturisers for my bits than I do on my face but, as the husband annoyingly likes to say, “it is what it is” and a dose of acceptance often takes us further forward than denying, shutting up and pretending everything is fine.

Vaginal Atrophy is the delightful medical term for vaginal dryness which is not just a problem peri- and menopausal women.  It brings with it a whole host of unpleasant and, in some cases, life changing, symptoms – burning, irritation, itching, bleeding, painful sex….  the list is quite extensive – and all the more difficult because of the other related conditions that our vulvas and vaginas have to endure – Thrush, BV and Lichen Sceloris to name a few.

Add to this the woeful lack of knowledge demonstrated by many doctors (male and female!) and the current near impossibility of actually being examined by a GP and you have a recipe for many women suffering this blight with no information, no help and no support.

It would never happen to men, would it!

Then there is the issue of HRT.  Hopefully we are moving away from the dark ages where any menopausal symptom is treated with antidepressants – it’s not our brains that are the problem!  It’s lazy diagnosis and unacceptable in 2020.

But there are quite a few options and it is largely a matter of trial and error to find what works for you – if you are lucky enough to have a GP who will take the right tests to discover which hormones you are deficient in.

For many vaginal oestrogen is a life saver – in the form of Ovestin (cream) or Vagifem (a tablet).  There are other forms but these are the two I am familiar with. And, replacing oestrogen can help with bladder problems too.

I am not a doctor but I would like to share (with their permission of course), the daily routines VA sufferers use to make their symptoms a little more bearable.

This is a huge subject and I heartily recommend reading Jane’s book as a starting point but I hope these tips give you some ideas.

Please, please, please – don’t suffer in silence.  This is not something that you need to put up with because you are getting older.

Tips from VA Sufferers (name withheld)

(You can find links to all the products mentioned at the end of this post)

~Since working from home, I now shower after having a bowel movement to avoid urine infections. I use Hydromol 500 in the shower and Olive and Bee to moisturise after showering. I use Vagifem 4 times a week.

~ I wash in Hydromol Shower Liquid and use Hydromol ointment when I am uncomfortable.  I also like Yes Oil Based lubricant.

~ I use Dermol Shower Emollient or Hydromol ointment for washing, Hydromol, Olive and Bee or VMagic to moisturise.  I use Vagifem and Ovestin internally for my VA and occasionally use Yes VM (Yes Vaginal Moisturiser).

~ I use Vagifem twice a week and Yes VM 3 times a week.

~ I use Vagifem every other night and Yes VM every day.

~ I always wash with Epaderm. I am currently using Estriol and Yes Ob (oil based) but after second appointment today with my doctor I’m going to reintroduce Vagifem. My external symptoms have improved but I am still sore internally.

~ I use Vagifem 5 times a week and Ovestin externally at bedtime. I use Dermol in the shower and also shower after a bowel movement or use peri bottle if not at home. I also use Yes VM if I feel I need extra. (A peri bottle is a bottle with a nozzle you fill up with warm water to wash intimate areas).

~ I wash and moisturise with Hydromol. I use Ovestin every other day.

~ I wash and moisturise with Hydromol. I use Ovestin internally and externally three times a week. I use Yes VM when needed.

~ I use Vagifem x 2 twice a week, Ovestin or a combined oestrogen and testosterone ointment on the vulva. I wash with water or YES Intimate Wash.  I use Yes OB, Emu Oil or olive oil to moisturise. I use YES VM twice a week.

~ I wash/shower with Epimax daily, use Ovestin 3 times a week and am still trying to find a daily moisturiser that suits me. I also use Yes VM for intimate times although I am still left sore. I’m waiting for an appointment with a gynaecologist to sort this cycle out.

~ I use Vagifem 3 times a week and Olive and Bee most days. I also take D-Mannose daily to help prevent UTI’s and so far it has worked.

~ I wash with Aveeno. I use Vagifem 3 times a week and take an HRT tablet each night. I use Olive and Bee for intimate times and when needed.

~ I use Vagifem twice a week and MD Replens when I need it. I just use water no soap of any kind. I have a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds and one of sesame seeds on weetabix every morning, eat either fresh or in juice peaches every day. These foods help our bodies to produce oestrogen.

~ I am using systemic HRT (estradot estrogen patches), progesterone every night, vagifem 5-7 nights per week and hydromol ointment after I urinate and Yes OB every evening.

~ I use Estrodiol and testosterone in cream form, progesterone at night in pill form. I use Olive and Bee moisturizer 3 times a day.

~ I started using Imvexxy last year and it has helped more than words can say. Before that i used Estrace cream and had tried Vagifem.

~ I use Vagifem 5 nights per week. I use Estriol Cream mixed with Olive & Bee externally on alternate nights. I use Olive & Bee after my morning shower but use water only to wash with. I use Balance Activ BV pessary weekly to maintain vaginal pH while on long term antibiotics. I have an 100 mcg Estradot patch and a daily blob of Testogel.

~ I use Estriol gel 2 pumps daily, Progesterone, Vagifem daily, Ovestin (all at night) Yes WB in morning and when needed and a gallon for sex if it ever happens.

~ I have an Estring ring which dispenses my HRT for 3 months. I use a Balance Active VM pessary every 3 days.

~ I’m on my third month using Intrarosa.  I moisturise with olive & bee twice a day,  use yesVM every couple of days and wash with Yes intimate wash.

~ I wash with Avène body wash, Dermol 500 for intimate areas in showers only. I use HRT gel daily with progesterone every 3 months. I use VMagic and YesOB when needed. I have Cheeky Panda toilet paper and use Avène water spray after every visit to the toilet.

~ my routine:  Ovestin twice a week, Vagifem twice a week, Yes Oil Based daily, VMagic when I am particularly irritated.  Yes Water Based and Yes Oil Based for intimacy.

As you can see, most of us are getting by with a mix of prescribed HRT and over-the-counter treatments.  It’s noticeable that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to dealing with this but what is important is that you take charge of your body and seek (demand!) help for your VA if you are suffering.

Sometimes something simple like a special cushion for sitting might help. There are ways to adapt your lifestyle to make you more comfortable for example by swopping to reusable cloth sanitary towels and liners and carrying a travel size vaginal moisturiser in your handbag.

Most importantly, make sure you examine yourself regularly (Jane’s book covers this thoroughly) and make sure you report any changes to your GP.  It doesn’t matter how old you are either.  There is no reason for any woman at any age to be uncomfortable.  I have heard from other women that they are now helping their older mums and relatives to seek advice if they are suffering from VA.  And what about older ladies in residential care?  I can only hope that someone cares enough to check that they too receive help if they are suffering from VA.

If you are suffering pick up the phone and ask for a GP appointment (telephone or zoom probably at the moment).  Don’t be fobbed off.  Do your research and ask for what you need.  If it helps write it down and read from your notes.  (Just say: “I’ve listed a few points I would like to run through with you).

Above all, let’s continue the conversation by talking about these issues with other women – and men too.  Our husbands and partners need to know what they can do to help.

Products Used

Prescription-only

Estring 

An estradiol ring which is inserted into the upper third of the vagina for 90 days and replaced by a new ring as appropriate.

Estriol Gel

Estriol (estrogen) delivered internally in a gel.

Imvexxy – an alternative vaginal estrogen product in the USA.

Intrarosa – a pessary containing prasterone

Ovestin – a vaginal cream to supplement estrogen

Vagifem – estradiol vaginal inserts in pessary form.

Over the counter

Aveeno

Cheeky Panda toilet paper

Dermol

A skincare brand specialising in creams, emollients, lotions and treatments for dry, sensitive skin and chronic skin conditions such as eczema.

Emu Oil

Expensive but some ladies swear by it.

Epaderm

Another emollient for dry skin.

Hydromol

An emollient and barrier cream for dry skin.  I have previously had this one on prescription.  It’s a decent moisturiser but not my favourite.

Olive and Bee Intimate Cream

This is a 100% natural intimate cream which contains organic ingredients and can be used as used as an intimate moisturiser, lubricant or massage oil.

Very popular but I found it stung slightly on application.

VMagic

Another intimate cream designed for the instant relief and soothing of irritated skin.  I quite like this one and it does seem to do what it claims.

Vulva Harmony

An intimate balm which has a more solid consistency than VMagic and is slightly cheaper.  I am trying this one at the moment so the jury is out.

Yes products:  Yes Intimate Wash, Yes Vaginal Moisturiser, Yes Water Based lubricant, Yes Oil Based lubricant.

I have used all of these and the one I prefer is Yes Oil Based.  In fact, Yes is the range I always return to.  If you sign up to their mailing list, the company periodically offer 25% discount voucher codes which are well worth using if their products are staples for you.

What works for me, though, might not work for you and vice versa.  It really is a matter of trying these out to find what works best for you.  You may even find just a bit of coconut oil or olive oil help but some ladies claim that these have triggered thrush.

A huge thanks to the ladies who have so helpfully shared their regimens with me. I hope you can see that there are things you can do rather than just sitting there in discomfort.

And, as ever, make sure you get professional medical advice with your VA issues – particularly to rule out any conditions related to vaginal cancers.

Feel free to share your tips and stories in the comments below.

Review: Oilesen Vitamin D3 For The Whole Family

Even though we have been blessed with some gorgeous weather of late, autumn is here and now, more than ever in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for us to keep our levels of Vitamin D topped up.

Recent studies have also indicated that Vitamin D may help both lessen the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and of dying from the virus.

In a study by Dr Michael Holick, it was found that sufficient vitamin D can reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus by 54% and the vitamin can also help against other viruses affecting the upper respiratory tract.

And patients older than 40, those who had sufficient levels of vitamin D were more than 51% less likely to die than patients who were deficient.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin but, spending time outdoors is clearly not enough as it is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, one of the most important being to enable the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are involved in a number of essential processes that occur inside our cells.

Vitamin D also promotes the laying down of minerals in bone (bone mineralisation) and supports the function of nerves and muscles.

It is particularly important for infants and young children because it is needed for the development of strong and healthy bones and teeth and it is also important for the functioning of the immune system.

You may have an extra risk of a Vitamin D deficiency if you are in one of these groups:

  • those with darker skins who cannot synthesise vitamin D efficiently from the UK’s relatively weak northern sunlight
  • people who cover their skin whilst outdoors
  • those with minimal exposure to sunlight.

That certainly describes me – and, I suspect, most of us whose employment keeps them indoors for the majority of the day.

Whilst Caitlin and Ieuan do play outdoors during school playtimes, at home like many other children they spend a large amount of time indoors in front of screens.  Yes, we do our best to drag them out whenever we can but, like many parents, it is often a herculean struggle!

Did you know that, according to national surveys, one in five people have low vitamin D levels which are associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health such as rickets, osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength?

Even more concerning, a report published in December 2018 by the University of Queensland, reported that newborns with vitamin D deficiency had a 44 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life compared to those with normal vitamin D levels.

In fact, Public Health England currently advises that in the UK all children under five take a daily vitamin D supplement year-round and all adults throughout the autumn and winter months.

Sobering stuff!

We’ve been trying the Oilesen Vitamin D3 range from Swiss pharmaceutical company Valentis, containing high-grade natural ingredients including Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The products are vegetarian, family-friendly and purse-friendly.

Why D3 you may wonder?  Vitamin D2 and D3 are the two most important forms for your health but whereas Vitamin D2 is produced by plants, Vitamin D3 is the one made by your skin when you get enough sunlight. Studies show that Vitamin D3 is far more important for our health than Vitamin D2.

Oilesen products are designed to provide supplementary vitamin D3 and there’s a format to suit each member of the family: pregnant women, babies from birth through to older children, adolescents and adults, as well as individuals who may be housebound or who avoid sun exposure.

The range includes Oilesen Vitamin D3 500 Spray; Oilesen Vitamin D3 400 Drops; and Oilesen Vitamin D3 1000 Soft Gel Capsules.

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 500 Spray – 30 ml (320 doses)

Really easy to use, you simply spray directly under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek for fast absorption.  It has a pleasant orange flavour too. Children aged 4 to 10 years should be given 2 doses per day whilst children over 10 years and adults need 2 to 4 doses per day. Each dose contains 12.5 ug of vitamin D3.  This was Caitlin’s preferred way to take it as she could do it herself and feel very grown-up (under supervision, obviously!).

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 1000, soft capsules made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Children over 5 years and adults simply take 1 capsule per day during a meal. If there are issues with swallowing, the capsule can be chewed or the contents squeezed into a meal, a drink or directly into the mouth. 1 capsule contains 25 μg of vitamin D3.  Luckily Ieuan has never had a problem swallowing tablets and has lots of practice with his travel sickness pills.

The range also includes Oilesen™ Vitamin D3 400 Drops 10 ml. With a base of extra virgin olive oil which aids absorption, this product is intended to provide supplementary vitamin D3 for babies.

The dropper enables Mums and Dads to easily add a daily dose directly into the baby’s mouth or mix into food or drink.  Babies can be given 1 drop per day to be taken with a meal from birth. 1 drop contains 10 μg of vitamin D3.

The Oilesen Vitamin D3 range is available from local pharmacies nationwide and online at
oilesenvitd3.com or Amazon.

Should You Allow Your Teenagers to Drink Coffee?

Many of us adults grab a cup of coffee to help us kickstart our day but coffee consumption among teenagers is growing and, as a parent, you may be wondering if that’s a good thing. The common perception is that coffee is bad for adolescents. So, should you allow your teens to drink coffee?

The simple answer is yes but strictly in moderation as an excess of caffeine can be dangerous.

How much coffee is too much?

Many, me included, drink two, three or even five cups of coffee daily to keep us all day functional. Of course, our interest is not so much about the coffee but its caffeine content.  

The effects of caffeine are different for each person. Some people might feel jolted and jittery from a single cup of coffee while others will feel nothing from drinking three cups. The best amount of coffee depends on your personal tolerance levels to it.

That being said, no doubt that there is a daily maximum consumption limit of 1 cup for teenagers that you should not surpass regularly. Teenagers should avoid consuming more than 100mg of caffeine in 24 hours. 

How does drinking coffee affect growing teens?

It is easy to think that coffee will affect teenagers the same way as adults, but it isn’t necessarily true. It is believed that teenagers are more likely to develop a caffeine dependence by drinking coffee regularly.

There is further concern that regular coffee consumption can affect the emotional development of teenagers. Caffeine inhibits neurotransmitters in the brain, and it is possible that these neurotransmitters may be permanently damaged by overdosing on coffee.

Excessive coffee drinking is also a known factor for losing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Caffeine tampers with the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for helping us feel calm and peaceful.

With too high a coffee consumption, the benefits of the brain’s chemical messengers are denied them and the excess caffeine may make them anxious and agitated.

However, drinking coffee in moderation is not a problem and can have plenty of health benefits.

Drinking coffee in moderation is healthy for teens

Coffee is the world’s favourite hot drink, with an estimated 2.25 billion cups consumed every day globally. The famous French writer Voltaire is renowned for drinking up to 50 cups of coffee every day and lived until the age of 83.

If you are a teenager, there is no harm in sticking to only one cup of coffee in 24 hours. Make sure you don’t consume any other beverages that contain caffeine when you are on coffee (for example sodas and sports drinks).

Coffee boosts brainpower 

Coffee with sugar can turn you into a little genius for a while because the combination of caffeine and glucose activates certain sectors of your brain.

The caffeine in coffee acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. This neuronal activity triggers the release of adrenaline that affects your brain and body in several ways.

Your heartbeat increases, blood pressure rises, breathing tubes open up and sugar is released into the bloodstream for extra energy. Depending on the level of intake it can improve attention and concentration.

Coffee can help you get better grades in class 

Coffee can be a saviour is school and can definitely help to manage hectic schedule if appropriately consumed. You should know the right way to consume caffeine if you are planning to use it during your exams or tests.

Caffeine, like most drugs, is subject to the effect of tolerance, and it works on many receptors inside your brain. When you repeatedly use caffeine on a regular basis, the body upregulates or downregulates these various receptors to maintain homeostasis. The body generally reacts to drugs or chemical interference by trying to maintain a balance.

The solution is only to use coffee occasionally to prevent tolerance. If you drink coffee daily, try to cycle your caffeine.

Caffeine cycling means a brief period of stopping or decreasing consumption to reduce tolerance. A good starting point for caffeine cycles is to go one to two weeks without consuming caffeine in any form, to reset your tolerance.

Coffee makes the immune system stronger

Coffee contains an abundance of nutrients and healthful chemicals that can aid your immune system. According to scientists from several counties, coffee reduces the risks of premature death.

This is because coffee alters your immune system, making it stronger and healthier. Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play a crucial role in cancer prevention.

Coffee also improves your liver, heart, and digestive system. The best option is to stick to natural and freshly ground coffee because instant coffee contains fewer nutrients and more chemical additives.

Coffee reduces stress due to the release of dopamine serotonin, which triggers a good mood and lower risks of getting depressed. 

Most parents would never think of giving their teenage kids a cup of coffee, yet many teens consume drinks with just as much if not even more caffeine than coffee.

The truth is that these caffeinated drinks could pose far more of a risk to our teens’ health than a daily cup of coffee.

Where do you stand on caffeine consumption for teens?

Common Ear Problems And What You Can Do About Them

If you have ever had a problem with your ears, you’ll know that it can be tough to deal with. You are in pain and there’s no escape as it’s right there in your head. If you are struggling with hearing loss, you may be trying to mask it. But it is important that you speak to your doctors and find out what the underlying cause is.

common ear problems - woman holding her aching ear
It may simply be an issue with the way you clean your ears. A wax build up can affect your hearing  As the saying goes, never put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow and definitely NOT earbuds. If you suspect your ears are full of wax, see your GP or seek help from an ear clinic in London like Auris Ear Care or your nearest town or city.

There are many different problems you can suffer within your ears, and many can be treated or the symptoms at least alleviated. Read on for more information about some of the most common ear problems – and what you can do about them.

Common ear problems

Ménière’s disease

Ménière’s disease is a fairly rare condition, the cause of which is still unconfirmed. It occurs in the inner ear and causes bouts of dizziness and vertigo. Other common symptoms include tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Attacks usually last around 1- 3 hours, but the after-effects can be felt for up to 24 hours, and sufferers often need to stop and rest in order to feel well again.

For sufferers, Ménière’s can be debilitating. They never know when it will strike, and it may cause severe attacks of dizziness and vomiting at any time. This is very stressful for the sufferer and can understandably lead to depression or anxiety as well. It can cause problems for them in all parts of their lives. This can result in a large amount of time off work, difficulty travelling and socializing.

Scientists believe that the cause may be problems with pressure in the inner ear or issues with the membrane of the ear. A more specific explanation of what happens during an attack is still being researched.

Treatment for Ménière’s differs depending on your practitioner. Some doctors advise relaxation techniques including Yoga or Tai Chi. Some people find relief in guided meditations during an attack. In America, the newest treatment is a device that pushes air pressure into the ear which seems to stop the dizziness.

Other things that may improve the condition include changing your medication as some are known to produce the symptoms of the disease. A change in diet is also often recommended, for example cutting out sodium (salt).

Extreme cases may result in surgery – although patients will have gone through balance retraining and other techniques before they get to that point.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a symptom of Meniere’s disease, but it can also occur on its own. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a tinnitus sufferer. It might not sound too bad if you haven’t got it, but try to imagine what it’s like to have a constant high pitch whining in your ears that you can do nothing about.  It is incredibly frustrating.

It is more common in people over 80 years of age, but anyone can develop the condition. It’s often linked to hearing loss, although Tinnitus doesn’t cause it.  Many younger people today are beginning to suffer from tinnitus through overexposure to loud noise at rock concerts, festivals and in clubs.

There are several types of tinnitus.  The most usual kind is when the sufferer hears a whooshing, ringing or roaring in the ears. Pulsatile Tinnitus is when the sound pulses in time with your heartbeat. Suffers may also have musical hallucinations when the sound appears as fragments of songs or music.

Whichever type you think you have it’s important that you see your doctor for some advice on how to deal with this condition.

There are several things that we know can cause tinnitus. One is inner ear damage, which can be due to age, self-inflicted or due to a work-related injury.

Other causes include a build of wax, anaemia, diabetes and hypertension. It can also be a result of blood vessel issues and neck and jaw problems.

Your doctor may recommend a range of therapies that may help you cope with tinnitus. Firstly, CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy should be considered. Although not a cure, it is designed to help you reframe the problem and find working solutions to cope better with it in your daily life.

Secondly, hearing aids with noise devices (maskers) may help, as these can cancel out the noise that you are experiencing in your ears. Many tinnitus sufferers also use white or pink noise to drown out the sound at night, which allows them some peace and makes it easier to get off to sleep.

Tinnitus is a frustrating disease with no real cure and most of the therapies involved learning to live with the problems. They centre around finding relief where you can and dealing with the emotional and mental fallout. This is why many sufferers are referred for relational training and counselling.

You can read about my personal experience with Tinnitus and how it affects my life here.

Ear Barotrauma

Ear barotrauma or stretched ear is a condition which occurs when the air pressure in the middle ear and the ear canal is unequal. This causes the eardrum to bend inwards, which can lead to bleeding, bruising pain or even a rupture.

This can occur due to a blockage in the eustachian tubes. which normally help to regulate the air pressure in the ears. They let out additional air to the middle ear when necessary but if they get blocked for some reason, this does not happen and the eardrum can be damaged.

Ear barotrauma is only an issue when you experience air pressure changes. So diving, flying and other activities where your ears can pop should be avoided. These include travelling by tube and climbing at altitude, which can be risky if your eustachian tubes are blocked.

Blockages in the eustachian tubes can occur from tumours, scarring, and infections like colds or allergies. If you are suffering from a cold or allergy and have to do an activity where you will subject yourself to a change in air pressure, your doctor will recommend a decongestant. You can also chew or suck sweets to help alleviate the pressure or do specific exercises which will balance the pressure in your ears.

Ear Infections

Most of us remember having an ear infection as a child and the pain from these can be very severe and very unpleasant. They can be caused by either bacteria or a virus and there are some things that can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection in the ear. These include smoking, inflamed adenoids, colds and sinus infections. There is also a condition called swimmer’s ear which is caused by residual water in the ear, which helps bacteria to grow.

Depending on the type of infection a range of treatments may be prescribed by your doctor. Ear drops are a common solution to swimmer’s ear. If you smoke, then you will be asked to stop. Antibiotics can also help if it is a bacterial infection.

You can prevent further infection by keeping your ears dry and away from infection carriers such as your fingers. It is essential to keep your ears as clean as possible. It is also important to remember that cotton buds should not be inserted into the ear canal. They are just for clearing the outer folds of the ear. By inserting them into the canal, you can introduce bacteria that will then develop into a full-blown ear infection.

There is also a risk that inserting them too far may puncture the eardrum leading to lasting damage. Don’t do it!

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is something that many of us expect to experience with age. However, it can occur for a number of reasons at any time in our lives. I have mild hearing loss which, it is thought, is inherited from my relatives on my mother’s side.

There are two main types  – conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. There is also a third which is a combination of the two.

Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage to the ear, so the sound waves are not passed to the inner ear effectively. This can be due to a blockage, a tumour or a build-up of wax.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the type most seen as we age, and is due to the destruction of the tiny hairs in the eardrum that pick up and amplify sounds. It can also be caused by trauma such as a very loud noise like an explosion.

Before hearing loss can be treated effectively, it needs to be identified and classified by a health professional. This is because there could be a number of underlying reasons why your hearing is deteriorating. Without knowing what the causes are, treatment is unlikely to be successful.

It could be that the sufferer has a perforated eardrum, Meniere’s disease or meningitis. There is even a condition where skin clumps in the ear and affects hearing called cholesteatoma.

Each cause will need to be looked at individually and treated appropriately. Some people can benefit from a hearing aid, especially if they have a Sensorineural hearing loss. Others will need surgery, and some may need to find a way to cope with the loss of their hearing to continue to lead happy lives.

Dealing With Worry – Powerful Strategies That Work

If like me, you frequently wake in the middle of the night with thoughts racing through your head, taming your worries can seem impossible. You know – that voice which helpfully lists all the bad things you did 20 years ago, reminds you that you’ve forgotten the car’s MOT and suggests the corn on your left toe may turn out to be fatal.  Because all these things can be fixed at 3 am or in the middle of a meeting, right?!

But, with patience and regular practice, you can become calmer and learn how to take control over your worry as soon as that familiar voice in your head starts nagging.

Here are the strategies you need to nix those annoying worries before they take hold.

Arm yourself with facts

You’ll often find that toxic worry stems from either a lack of information or the wrong information. You could be worrying about something that you don’t fully understand for example.

So, if you want to take control, you’re going to want to arm yourself with facts. Learn everything you can about the thing you’re worrying about.

The more knowledgeable you are about the thing you’re worried about, the less you’ll actually worry.

The caveat to this is where medical matters are concerned.  I fully admit I have a longstanding relationship with ‘Doctor Google’ but make sure you check the source of the information, as well as the age of the articles you’re reading. The most sensible thing to do is to consult a trained medical professional.  Your ‘Google research’ will at least arm you with a list of questions to ask your doctor. You could write them down and take them to your appointment (or, at the moment, discuss these over the phone or online).

Create a plan

Having a plan in place to combat toxic worry is also a good idea. For this, you’ll need to write down all of the things you’re worried about.

Once you have your worry list, you can start to think of ways to reduce them. Create an action plan for each one of your worries. How can you eliminate the worry and what steps will you need to take?

Creating a little to-do list of things you can do to reduce the worry can also really help. As you tick off the tasks, you’ll start to feel more in control of the situation.

If you’re a journal lover, this is a great excuse to invest in a lovely notebook to keep by the side of your bed to capture those niggling ‘to-do’s’ as soon as they appear.

And, by the way, there’s no reason why you have to do everything on your to-do list yourself.  Very often we find ourselves people pleasing and taking on tasks which are really someone else’s responsibility.  Take a good long list at your list and ask yourself “should I really be the one sorting this out”? Time for some delegation if not.

For example, if you are overwhelmed with the pressure of working from home and keeping the house tidy, it’s time to come up with a list of chores for your partner and kids and to set firmer boundaries around ‘work’ and ‘home’ time.

Allow yourself small worry windows

Rather than trying to ignore your worries, it can really help to make time to acknowledge them. Try setting aside small windows of time each day during which you let the worries have full rein – say for 20 minutes or so.

The idea behind this is that you train your mind to worry only during these designated periods and then aim to forget about them for the rest of the day.

Whilst this may undoubtedly take some practice, it creates a much healthier balance, ensuring you aren’t burying your head in the sand, but you also aren’t letting your worries take over either.

Challenge your thoughts

Here’s a saying I really love and I quote often to my kids when they are anxious.

“You are not your thoughts”.

You see you create your thoughts and, with practice, you can choose different thoughts.

When you start to notice those negative worrying thoughts, it’s time to challenge them. It’s common to make your worries appear worse than they actually are. You’ll find yourself jumping to the worst conclusion, expecting things to turn out really badly.

The trouble is most of the time these thoughts aren’t factual. You’re literally worrying yourself sick and not leaving yourself open to the possibility that things won’t be as bad as you think.

By challenging your thoughts, you’ll get to see whether your worries are genuine concerns. It also gives you the opportunity to identify healthier, more positive ways to look at the situation. Look at what the probability of the worst-case scenario happening is. Also look at whether the worry is helping or hindering the situation. If it isn’t helping, why are you giving it the power to control you?

However, stopping toxic worrying just because you know it isn’t helping isn’t exactly easy. That’s why you’ll need to work on challenging your negative thoughts and worries every single day.

Sometimes we need a little support to learn how to do this and to put our worries into perspective, by seeking help from trained professionals such as BetterHelp counselors who will listen and gently guide you to the solutions that are best for you.

Interrupt the cycle

A great way to take control of your worries is to interrupt the cycle. When you catch yourself worrying over something, turn your focus to something else.

Exercise is one of the best distraction techniques. As soon as you start to feel that worry building, get up and start moving. The exercise will both interrupt the worry cycle and help you to eliminate built up stress and anxiety. Meditation, deep breathing and reading are also great distractions you can try.

Excessive worrying can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing but there are ways to tackle and control it. Try some of the ideas above to take control over your troublesome thoughts and start living a happier, healthier life.

Is Toxic Worry Stopping You From Being Successful?

I have suffered from anxiety for many years and readers of this blog now that I am prone to overthinking, overplanning and taking steps that others might think excessive in order to ‘keep calm and carry on’ – for example scouting out parking spaces and visiting hospitals prior to appointments in case I get lost on route.

Another name for this blight which lurks like a malevolent spirit on your shoulder just waiting to ruin your day is toxic worrying.  Worse than that, however, is the fact that this kind of worry could be a huge obstacle between you and your success – in all areas of your life.

Understanding the Different Types of Toxic Worrying

There are many different types of toxic worry and you may recognise yours in the list below.

Generalised toxic worry

With generalised toxic worry, there is no one cause. You worry about everything from finances to relationships. The worry is continuous, and it really impacts your day to day life.

This is actually the most common type of worry. You’ll find it hard to get a break from the worry and anxiety, and there may be no particular trigger.

Social worry

With social worry, you’ll typically find yourself worrying about how you come across in social situations. You’ll feel uncomfortable around people and fear being judged by those around you.

There are different levels of severity with social worry. It may simply make you feel uncomfortable and anxious while you’re out. Or, in severe cases, it could make you avoid social situations completely.

Perfection worry

None of us is perfect. However, those suffering from perfection worry tend to feel like they should be. You’ll scrutinize everything you do, berating yourself for not doing better.

It could be perfectionism at work, at home or within your social circle. While a little perfectionism can actually be healthy, too much quickly becomes toxic.

With this type of worry, it causes extreme distress if you don’t do things as well as you feel you should. It can impact productivity and prevent you from taking on opportunities as you’ll start to believe you won’t be good enough.

Fear of making mistakes

Fear is a common emotion, but it can easily take over your life. This is especially true when you’re scared of making mistakes.

The truth is, we all make mistakes and it is how we learn from them that helps us to develop and grow as people. When you have toxic worry relating to the fear of making a mistake, you’ll start to avoid taking on opportunities.

If you do suffer a failure, you’ll take it personally. You’ll struggle to move on, and you’ll spend most of your time worrying about what you did wrong.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In some cases, toxic worry can be related to post-traumatic stress disorder. While this is the least common type of toxic worrying, it can still be a potential cause.

With this type of toxic worrying, it occurs after a stressful and traumatic experience. It could be an accident you’ve suffered, or a death of a loved one for example. In order to avoid going through the experience again, your mind starts to worry more, and you’ll be triggered by a variety of things that remind you of the incident.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition which requires professional treatment.

Why recognising your toxic worry is important

So, why is recognising the type of toxic worry you’re experiencing important?

The different types of toxic worry have a slightly different impact on your health and wellbeing. They also require a different form of management. Some will require professional help, while others can be managed successfully by yourself.

It is only after you have identified the type of toxic worry you’re experiencing, that you can work out how to get past it.

Toxic worrying can have a debilitating impact on your life. The above are some of the main types of toxic worry you may recognize in yourself. No matter what type of worry you’re dealing with, it’s important to find a way to treat it before it worsens for example by seeking counseling on BetterHelp, which is like talking to a good friend in confidence; but one who can give objective and practical support.

Signs You’re a Toxic Worrier

Now you know what toxic worrying is, the question is how can you determine if you’re a toxic worrier?

There are lots of signs and symptoms you can watch out for. Identifying toxic worry early on gives you the best chance of getting it under control quickly.

Here, you’ll discover some of the most common signs you’re a toxic worrier.

Physical symptoms to watch out for

While worry is largely associated with mental and emotional symptoms, it can cause a lot of physical issues too. Just some of them include:

  • Headaches
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Dry and spotty skin
  • Racing heartbeat

The stress caused by toxic worrying is what largely triggers the physical symptoms. Did you know for example, that the digestive system has the same amount of nerves as your brain? So, when something is off, you’ll be prone to issues like stomach aches.

When you’re worried, it can either make you go off your food or overindulge in it. If you’ve gone off your food, you’re going to start losing weight as you won’t be consuming enough calories. If you overindulge, you’ll gain weight quite quickly.

The more you worry, the faster your heart will beat. A racing heartbeat can cause nausea and dizziness, as well as heightened anxiety. These are the main physical symptoms of toxic worrying you’ll want to watch out for.

You avoid situations

Often, when you worry so much about something, you’ll start to avoid it. Social worry is a good example of this.

Those who struggle with social-related worry, start to avoid going out or being in social situations which make them uneasy. Those who worry consistently about money may start to avoid looking at bills and ignoring the problem.

Whatever it is you are worried about, your mind will come up with creative ways to avoid the situation. Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.

You tend to over plan

A common symptom of toxic worry is over-planning. This means you’ll follow a strict routine, planning ahead for any eventuality.

If you fail to plan, it sends you into a panic. You won’t deal with the unexpected very well and change won’t be something you’re excited about.

This is the main symptom of my own toxic worrying habit.

Constant worry over the future

Do you constantly find yourself worrying over the future? If so, this could be a symptom of toxic worry.

There is nothing wrong with worrying a little over uncertainty. It’s natural to feel anxious and nervous over the future. However, if your worries are constant and you worry about every little thing that could happen, it’s a sign that it isn’t normal.

Sleep troubles

One of the tell-tale signs of toxic worrying is sleep troubles. When you have a lot on your mind, it’s extremely difficult to switch it off. This can mean you’ll find it really difficult to get off to sleep.

Or, you could find it difficult to stay asleep. Those who suffer from toxic worry tend to wake up frequently throughout the night. As soon as they awake, they begin worrying which in turn makes it hard to get back to sleep.

It is a vicious circle that can be really difficult to get out of. As you experience sleep troubles, it can also start to affect your health and wellbeing.

As you can see, there are a lot of symptoms of toxic worrying. The above are some of the most common you might recognize within yourself.

If you do suspect you’re suffering from toxic worry, it’s important to take steps to start controlling it. The good news is, regardless of how bad the worries have become, there is help available to manage and eliminate it.

Fight Sugar Cravings The Healthy Way

It’s a rare person indeed who hasn’t experienced a craving for sweets and sweet treats. In fact, a considerable 91% of women admit to food cravings of some sort – it’s 68% for men – with refined sugars and carbs being high at the top of the list.

It’s clear that you must accept cravings as an occupational hazard of life. They exist and they’ll cause hunger pangs at some point. However, what you mustn’t do is give in and assume there is no answer.

Indulging will only encourage the onset of early diabetes and future heart disease. You must resist the temptation, but you have to do it healthily.

Snack On Healthy Sweets

When it’s time for a snack, your brain tells you to raid the fridge or the treat’s cupboard and let loose. However, you know it’s wrong, so you decide to go cold turkey and let the cravings intensify. A compromise is necessary, and CBD gummies provide the perfect middle ground. As well as being low in sugar, they release cannabinoids into the body, a nutrient that’s notorious for resisting everything from your appetite to pain. Plus, you’ll experience a fulfilled sensation since they’re tasty, unlike some healthy variations!

Eat Foods That Fight Sugar Cravings

Yes, they’re real! It’s worth noting they won’t eliminate them entirely – they’re not miracle workers! Still, certain foods can take the edge off enough that it’s noticeable. It’s surprising how small a reduction in your cravings is required to make it easier to stick to a routine. With that in mind, you want to stock up on fruits. As you know, the likes of berries and apples contain natural sugars that are much healthier than their refined counterparts. As a result, your body will get a hit without dealing with the nasty side-effects, such as glycogen and energy spikes.

Only Buy Small Portions

Cold turkey is a pointless tactic since the drop from eating lots of sugar to none whatsoever makes the cravings more intense. Still, it’s hard to stop eating, even though you know it’s bad for your mind and body. A straightforward way around this is to buy single-sized portions that are enough for a quick snack or an after-dinner dessert. With small portion sizes, you won’t panic about having anything to eat, yet you can’t go overboard once the ice-cream touches your lips, either. It’s the ideal middle ground for those who can’t trust themselves!

Do It Before Exercise

Eating sugar before working out has two advantages. The first is that you burn off the calories straight away, rather than letting them fester and turn into fat reserves. Secondly, it’s essential to boost your energy levels pre-exercise as it will encourage you to work out harder for longer periods. The likes of iced coffees and energy drinks, while high in caffeine, also contain sugars that aren’t dead. It’s a two-birds-with-one-stone situation as you get to ease your cravings, too!

Did you think that consuming sugar was always unhealthy? There’s a right and wrong way, so which will you choose?

Top 6 Crystal Healing Benefits of Moldavite

Of all the strongest crystals in the world, whether it’s a ruby stone, a malachite rock, or a kunzite crystal,  moldavite crystals outdo them all. The moldavite stone is not only a powerful crystal but contains intense psychic vibrations that are not only known to protect but at the same time, help with a person’s spiritual journey. There have been stones from outer space with unimaginable powers and it’s perhaps the reason why Clark Kent has never been so in tune with Kryptonite stones!

That aside, there are so many reasons why people seek help from crystallites. Whatever your reasons are, you’ll be safe to know that moldavite crystallites hold a lot of power, and they’ll help in so many aspects of life including wealth, health, and your spiritual well being. Speaking of the moldavite’s health benefits, here are the top six healing benefits of the moldavite crystals. They include:-

Allows You To Take Control Of Your Heart Chakra

Now, this might sound unfamiliar to so many people especially those who don’t know what the heart chakra is. In layman’s terms, the heart chakra is the powerhouse for all your emotions and spirituality. These are key elements that could in so many ways affect your health because come to think about it, your emotions could, if affected, cause you instability in your health. These could be ailments that revolve around high blood pressure, stress, and depression. 

Having a balance in both your emotions and spiritual well being could help in controlling some of these ailments. If you are looking to be in tune with your chakra, the guys of https://buymoldavite.com will be happy to provide you with incentives and insights on how to get a moldavite stone that’s best suited for your needs. This is a stone that was curved in fire and greatness and to get a moldavite stone that’s for you, you’ll need to do a lot of homework.

Among the factors that you’ll need to consider when it comes to- choosing a moldavite crystal includes:

  • Check for quality – Now, not every stone you find out there will have the qualities and characteristics of a moldavite crystal. So, it’s critical that you only go for the best moldavite suppliers before you get duped into investing in a synthetic type.
  • Cost – With the moldavite’s metaphysical qualities as well as the health benefits this crystal presents, it has become a highly sought-after stone meaning that some dealers can sell it at expensive rates. But before investing in just any moldavite crystal, always ensure that it’s of the best quality. 

Rediscovering Your True Self

Having or wearing a moldavite crystal will help you to rediscover your life purpose. There are so many ailments that come as a result of missing out or getting confused about a person’s purpose in life. A purposeful life will help you to make the right life decisions including making sound lifestyle decisions that will not hurt your physical and emotional health. Drinking and smoking are some of the most influential lifestyle habits that could cost you your health. Wearing a moldavite crystal can help you get in touch with realms that could allow you to rediscover your life purposes. This allows you to change lifestyle choices that will not be beneficial to your health. 

A Sense Of Protection

Nothing is as healthy as having a sense of protection all around you. The reason why most people spend so much on costly medical bills is as a result of worrying about their security and safety. Having or carrying a moldavite crystal in your purse or embedded on your necklace will help to release energy levels that will help to ensure you of your security as well as guide your steps in your day to day life. It’s said that darker hued moldavite crystals can help to guide you in your travels and in giving you the strength to endure and persist. 

Healing

Moldavite owners have attested to the fact that the crystal has energies that surpass ordinary knowledge. This energy comes with some healing power to help you recover from ailments. This is a health benefit that is sought-out-after by so many ailing patients and it’s only a wish that they knew of the healing benefits of a moldavite crystal. 

Improving Mental Health

Your brain plays a huge part in the body’s healing processes and without the brain, not so many body processes can take place. Healing is one of the aspects that are taken care of by a healthy brain. Among the things that you can do to catalyze the healing process includes meditating with a moldavite crystal. This will help to rejuvenate your mental capacitors and energize your mental receptors to help your body heal at a speedy rate. When meditating with a moldavite crystal, it will play a crucial role in releasing energies that will open you up to higher power levels. It will also help to quiet a troubled mind allowing the other systems of the body to work at full capacity. 

A Powerful Burst Of Physical Healing Energies

For years, moldavite crystals have been used to illuminate physical abilities as well as in helping with physical imbalances that are troubling to one’s physical well state of being. In line with most ancient moldavite healing procedures, a moldavite crystal can help in slowing down the ageing process, boost mental rejuvenation, and slow down some of the most common degenerative processes that affect the healing processes. This means finding a pro in this field to help you understand more on this topic. 

They say that not everything that glitters is gold and this statement couldn’t be any truer because there is a huge goldmine in things that don’t glitter. Moldavite crystals are not as precious as gold but they have healing health benefits that, in line with the above pointers, you’ll reap the full benefits of. 

Now More Than Ever It’s Time To Be Hopeful

There’s no denying that 2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us so far thanks to COVID-19 and sustaining a healthy, happy lifestyle has often seemed like an impossible juggling act. Nevertheless, history has shown us that maintaining a positive attitude and a sense of optimism can help make life more bearable and help us to develop the internal fortitude to keep going when things look grim.

I am not suggesting that we behave like Pollyanna, the girl from Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 novel who, with her father, played the “glad game” as a method of coping with the difficulties and sorrows that beset them. Nor am I suggesting that we paint on a smile and try to cope with things alone.  Many of us could benefit greatly from objective and non-judgemental support and in such instances, there are plenty of online resources to help us – for example counseling from BetterHelp.

But, with the power of hope, optimism, and positive thinking, it is easier to keep your balance.

The Power of Hope & Why it Matters

For some, hope is simply “wishful thinking” but that’s not, I believe, a great place to be. We may go through life with an expectation of how it “should” look, yet life frequently delivers us something entirely different.

We make plans and then something gets in the way of those plans: the actions of others, circumstances beyond our control like a job loss or divorce. One of the hardest things to accept is that we are not always in control. However, the beauty of hope lies within what we can control – our reaction.

When we take on being hopeful, we take back our power. The art of being hopeful allows us to understand that, while we cannot control the circumstance at this moment, we can hope for something better in the future. When we are hopeful, our actions emanate from that positive belief. Being hopeful puts us in the driver’s seat and we can head in a different direction.

The Power of Optimism & Why It Matters

While being hopeful is essential in maintaining our equilibrium when life throws us a curve, being optimistic is different. The power of optimism is key to sustaining a healthy balance in all areas of life such as relationships, career, and health. What is optimism? The best way to describe optimism is having a positive expectation, a certainty, that all things will work out in your life with the most optimal result.

The more optimistic you are, the more you expect to get positive results. When you maintain an optimistic outlook, your brain attempts to produce results that are in alignment with your mindset. Your actions stem from your beliefs; if you believe things will work out for the best, your thoughts, feelings, and, actions reflect that belief.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The Power of Positive Thinking & Why it Matters

While hope is an intentional mindset for future goals, wishes, and desires and optimism is a way of living life from a habit of being certain of positive outcomes, positive thinking is more of a conscious lifestyle.

Positive thinking is a way of looking at a situation and finding the silver lining. For example, if you lose your job, you could view this as either an ending or a new beginning. You may find an even better job or start your own company. Reframing something negative with the power of positive thinking and seeing the potential gives us the power to see the possibilities within our experience.

Whilst we cannot always control our circumstances, we can control how we think about them using the power of hope, optimism, and positive thinking. That is one choice which is always ours.

There are also benefits to our physical health by adopting a more positive frame of mind.

If you adopt the belief system of “I think I can, and I know I will,” you are likely to find that your diet and exercise routines are transformed.

In the story of “The Little Engine that Could,” the little blue engine goes to the rescue of a larger train which has broken down and, with much determination and effort, manages to pull the larger engine over the mountain. However, without the benefit of an optimistic mindset (“I think I can, I think I can”), the Little Engine might not have succeeded.

This kind of determination will help us in all circumstances and the benefits of adopting a positive outlook include:

  • A healthier mind and body
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Increased momentum in reaching our goals
  • A willingness to take on other challenges in life

We are also more likely to be attractive to others so our friendships and relationships may improve greatly.  I am sure you have heard the expression that “some people are radiators and others are drains” or that some are “energy vampires” who make everyone feel low and miserable in their company.  That said, it should be remembered that these behaviours may well be symptoms of depression so those who struggle to be positive may well need help or counseling.

If you constantly focus on how hard something is going to be or how much you hate doing it, you are unlikely to succeed.

This will only make you think, feel, and take action steps in the opposite direction of having optimal physical health. Optimistically focusing on the thought process of “I think I can, and I know I will,” keeps your mindset in a forward-moving, goal-setting pace where your goals are more achievable.

And, don’t forget that our mental and physical health are connected.  If you’ve ever been disappointed, I am sure you’re familiar with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Our emotions, thoughts, and feelings are all stored in our bodies somewhere. When we are nervous the ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in and we get butterflies or an upset stomach. When we are anxious we may experience sweaty palms and trembling, while embarrassment may make us blush crimson.

We are facing an uncertain future but one thing is for sure, adopting a more positive attitude and using the power of hope and optimism, is more likely to see us through than negative thinking and pessimism. Our support networks of friends and family are so important, aren’t they?  But we should not hesitate to seek outside help if we feel our coping mechanisms are stretched too thin.  

As they say,  you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if you want to help others.

Why Monitoring Your Sleep Gives You An Advantage

Do you often wake up in the middle of the night? Do you have a full night’s rest and still feel tired throughout your day? Are you looking for ways to optimize your mood, memory, concentration, or performance at work? Are you feeling impatient with those closest to you lately? Do you find yourself forgetting things you used to be able to remember easily?

Sleep monitoring may be the solution. Monitoring your sleep can provide the valuable information you need to make positive changes to your sleep and, therefore, your life.

Why Is Sleep Important?

You’ve heard it before, and you’re going to keep hearing it because it’s true. Sleep is a crucial part of your health.

While we sleep our bodies are working away to repair muscles, organs, and other cells. Chemicals that strengthen your immune system flow through your blood while you sleep. Your brain organizes all the new information it received while you were awake, storing the important things for easy recollection, and putting the less critical data away. These things happen while you are having a dream whenever you’re deep asleep. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made (catchy commercial jingles, that one time in grade four you felt really embarrassed, etc) but sleep is what allows us to wake up the next day and continue to function.

A good night’s rest can:

  • Reduce your risk of motor vehicle accidents
  • Increase the regulation of your appetite
  • Enhance your immune system
  • Improve your concentration and memory
  • Have a positive effect on your relationships
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes and heart conditions
  • Elevate your mood and creativity
  • Boost your athletic performance and libido
  • Steady your blood sugar levels
  • Encourage the balance of your hormones

While these benefits can really be useful, there are still some challenges to consider. In particular, women beginning the transition into menopause are at a higher risk of sleep deficiency. A lack of high-quality sleep can impact almost every area of your life. Your health, your mood, your relationships, your work performance (and therefore your finances) are all affected by sleep.

How Can Monitoring Your Sleep Help?

We become aware of things that need improvement when we track them, and sleep is no exception. Monitoring your sleep will help you identify if you’re getting enough good quality sleep. It can also help you find the culprit of your ongoing battle with exhaustion.

 

Several things could be affecting the quality of your sleep including daily habits, environmental noise, obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and environmental light.

How To Monitor Your Sleep

There are two major ways to monitor your sleep.

#1 Visit a sleep clinic where doctors will track your vitals and movements throughout the night. If you suspect you have a medical sleep issue, such as sleep apnea, visiting a clinic is likely your first choice.

#2 Invest in a sleep tracking device. If you want more data than a single night’s rest can provide, a sleep tracking device might be the right choice for you. A sleep monitoring device can also help you track whether the lifestyle changes you are making are positively affecting your sleep.

Countless sleep tracking devices are available on the market, but how do you know which ones are of high quality and which are a waste of money? The professionals behind this guide suggest you take some time studying how a sleep tracking device can help you. After you have determined how best it is used, you can effectively get an accurate number of your sleeping hours.

Humans Are More Likely To Change Habits When They Track Them

If you monitor your sleep, you will be able to identify patterns in your lifestyle and their effect on your sleep. You will be able to notice at what time and on what day your sleep is of higher quality. You can use this information to deduce if things you are doing throughout your day are negatively impacting your sleep.

For example:

  • Comparing your sleep on weekdays and weekends
  • Comparing how much actual sleep you get when you go to bed at 10:00 pm versus 1:00 am, even if you stay in bed for the same number of hours in each case
  • What time you go to bed and what time you actually fall asleep
  • The quality of your sleep when the television is left on, versus when the screens are off
  • You may even discover a larger issue, maybe you move around rapidly in your sleep and this is something to bring up to your doctor

So you’re thinking of tracking your sleep, but how do you do it? Given that you’re not conscious, how can you take note of your movements? Your heart rate? Your blood oxygen levels?

Sleep is a crucial part of your overall health. Learning more about yourself and your particular sleep requirements can have a drastic impact on your health, your work-life, and your relationships.