Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Stress vs Overeating

Stress eating can ruin your weight loss goals – the key is to find ways to relieve stress without overeating
Harvard Mental Health Letter
Updated: July 18, 2018
Published: February, 2012
There is much truth behind the phrase "stress eating." Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary "comfort foods" push people toward overeating. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress, and according to an American Psychological Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.
In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.
But if stress persists, it's a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn't go away — or if a person's stress response gets stuck in the "on" position — cortisol may stay elevated.
Stress eating, hormones and hunger
Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies — granted, many of them in animals — have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a "hunger hormone," may have a role.
Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are "comfort" foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people's stress-induced craving for those foods.
Of course, overeating isn't the only stress-related behaviour that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.
Why do people stress eat?
Some research suggests a gender difference in stress-coping behaviour, with women being more likely to turn to food and men to alcohol or smoking. And a Finnish study that included over 5,000 men and women showed that obesity was associated with stress-related eating in women but not in men.
Harvard researchers have reported that stress from work and other sorts of problems correlates with weight gain, but only in those who were overweight at the beginning of the study period. One theory is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin.
How much cortisol people produce in response to stress may also factor into the stress–weight gain equation. In 2007, British researchers designed an ingenious study that showed that people who responded to stress with high cortisol levels in an experimental setting were more likely to snack in response to daily hassles in their regular lives than low-cortisol responders.
How to relieve stress without overeating
When stress affects someone's appetite and waistline, the individual can forestall further weight gain by ridding the refrigerator and cupboards of high-fat, sugary foods. Keeping those "comfort foods" handy is just inviting trouble.
Here are some other suggestions for countering stress:
Meditation. Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress, although much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. Meditation may also help people become more mindful of food choices. With practice, a person may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse.
Exercise. While cortisol levels vary depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, overall exercise can blunt some of the negative effects of stress. Some activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have elements of both exercise and meditation.
Social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. For example, research suggests that people working in stressful situations, like hospital emergency departments, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. But even people who live and work in situations where the stakes aren't as high need help from time to time from friends and family.
The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Opt4health does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physician, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Opt4health blog. Reliance on any information provided by Opt4health, Opt4health employees, other contributors appearing on the blog at the invitation of Opt4health, or other visitors to the blog is solely at your own risk.


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Monday, 9 December 2019

Cyberbullying and Mental Stress

Posted Date: May 07, 2014
Posted in Secureteen.com, Child Safety > Cyberbullying

The world is gradually starting to understand the different types of bullying that exist out there, especially cyber-bullying, which is the newest member of the bullying family. While extensive research has been conducted on the typical forms of physical bullying that exist at homes or at schools, the understanding about online bullying is still lacking on many fronts. One thing that every adult agrees upon is that cyber-bullying is proving to be more dangerous for the mental health of teenagers than physical bullying. There are many reasons for this new revelation regarding the impact of online bullying on the psychology of teenagers. Some of the reasons for online bullying causing mental stress are discussed below to help you grasp the concept in its entirety.
Virtually stressed out
The Family Institute is an organization committed to helping families from all walks of life to heal from psychological problems and as a result provides them with motivation to strengthen their mental capacity. Hollie Sobel, PhD, a Family Institute clinician who specializes in treating adolescents and their families, said, “While social media can serve to augment peer relationships in adolescence, it can also provide a forum for negative exchanges that can be quite hurtful.” She added, “Teenagers can’t emotionally process these painful experiences in the same way they do their face-to-face equivalents. There aren’t the same opportunities to work it out online.” This statement is important because the failure to pacify tense situations online can lead to stress among teenagers. After all, the human mind was designed to respond to facial expressions, tone of voice, and the general mood of the surroundings. The only virtual expression that can actually start a reaction in the human brain is a selfie of a pouting teenager. It makes the brain go cuckoo because no-where does the theory of evolution suggest that it makes you look sexier.
Out of sight
The greatest problem with handling online bullying is the anonymity that the internet provides to its users. A victim of bullying cannot see the bully nor make sense of all the messages coming their way. Moreover, the help coming in from online friends in the shape of kind words might not be as effective because the victim can neither see them nor feel their presence in their immediate surroundings.
Going viral
There is no such thing as an internet police yet that can intervene and stop cyber-bullying from taking place. The speed with which information flows in the virtual world can even put The Flash to shame. Therefore, if a teen is being bullied with taunting remarks online, other users can quickly jump into the fray and bombard the target with under harsh negative statements under the cloak of invisibility. Teens have a greater chance of succumbing to pressure in such cases where the attacks cannot be traced back to a single person.
Game changer
In the eyes of parents, academics and clinicians, the greatest long-term effect of cyber-bullying on teens is the demotion of home from the level of safe-zone. In the old days children would get respite from bullying for a while once they entered the secure confines of their homes. Traditional bullies could not just walk into someone’s house and beat the living stars out of a weak soul. With the advent of social media, the safe boundaries of a house are safe no more because the victims can be attacked once they are online. This keeps teens mentally stressed throughout the day and makes them fearful 24/7. When the pressure becomes too much to handle for kids, they would break down mentally and plunge themselves into deep depression.
The next time you check your cyber-bullying facts, don’t forget to tick online bullying as the most dangerous form of bullying that destroys the mental health of kids more effectively than traditional bullying.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Opt4health does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physician, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Opt4health blog. Reliance on any information provided by Opt4health, Opt4health employees, other contributors appearing on the blog at the invitation of Opt4health, or other visitors to the blog is solely at your own risk.


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Monday, 25 November 2019

Paul Pellman, Contributor (USA)

Nov 7, 2019, 5:00 PM
Paul Pellman. Courtesy of Paul Pellman
·         Paul Pellman is the CEO of Kazoo, an employee experience platform.
·         Pellman writes that fall is one of the most stressful seasons for employees — daily routines change with dwindling sunlight, and seasonal affective disorder is in full swing.
·         Stress costs employers $300 billion annually, and has a real impact on employees and the people around them. 
·         Managers should check in with their employees, put mental health initiatives in place, offer opportunities to stay active in the workplace, and lead by example.
From cooler weather to leaf peeping to pumpkin spice lattes, there's so much to look forward to when it comes to the autumn months. But what we may not realize is this time of year is one of the most stressful for employees in the workplace. With significant changes in daily routines to the dwindling number of daylight hours, we don't have to look far for the sources of our fall misery. 
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects around 10 million Americans annually, kicks off during this time of year. The resulting feelings of fatigue, depression, and hopelessness can easily seep into the workplace and are often exacerbated by work-related stress. In addition, according to the "Google misery index" created by former Pew Research analyst Christopher Ingraham, searches for "depression," "anxiety," and "stress" peak during the fall months. That trend has not only held steady over the years, but in fact, the same search terms are even higher in 2019. 
So what do we as leaders do about this problem to help our employees and ourselves get through it? It starts by understanding the effects of stress and working with employees to manage it. 
Understanding stress
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are three types of stress — acute, episodic acute, and chronic. While stress affects everyone differently, all three of these can negatively impact the health and happiness of employees in your workplace, and lead to a host of other health issues — like burnout. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization officially classified burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis due to the increase of "chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed." 
When looking at workplace stress in particular, it costs employers an estimated $300 billion annually due to absences, turnover, lower productivity, medical costs, and worker's compensation. Not to mention that an employee's low morale and loss of motivation often has a contagious effect, spreading angst to others in the office. In the "always-on" culture that is the new norm in today's workplace, many people have become so accustomed to stress in their everyday lives that they don't know how to manage it or where to turn.
Managing stress
Many employers may not realize that stress and anxiety have real consequences for their company, and instead they put the task of managing stress on the individual employee. When employees are dealing with stress it can affect concentration, relationships with colleagues, and ultimately work performance. By leaving the employee to manage this alone, companies are actually making the problem worse. 
One of the best lines of defense to manage stress in the workplace is to educate managers to better understand the signs of stress and how they can help employees through it. By using organizational programs and behaviors like the ones below, managers can help alleviate the effects of the fall doldrums on their team.
1.     Listen to your employees. A little communication goes a long way. Face-to-face check-ins show employees that you value their opinions and needs while also giving you an opportunity to see how they are doing. Managers that are attuned to their team will be able to notice the small, but important signs of stress early and can better manage things before they spiral out of control. At a company level, using anonymous, company-wide surveys to measure employee sentiment throughout the year will help you keep a pulse on how they're doing, which allows you to identify stressors or problem areas and take action at a faster pace.
2.     Actually address mental health. Nearly one in five adults in the US lives with a mental illness, yet 55% of employees say their employer either does not have (or they were unaware of) a mental health program, initiative, or policy. Destigmatizing mental health in the workplace and providing access to help should be a no brainer given how many employees are affected by it. In addition to publicizing mental health resources and fostering an open dialogue with employees, adding in-office benefits like light therapy for SAD and meditation classes will help destigmatize mental health in the workplace.
3.     Bring the workout to the office. Regular exercise is well known to improve both physical and mental health, but many employees find it difficult to squeeze it into busy work weeks. In addition to encouraging employees to work out on their own through incentives like gym membership reimbursements, managers can help integrate physical movement directly into the work day. Walking one-on-one meetings, reminder alarms to stand every hour, and taking the stairs to and from lunch are easy ways to get your team moving on a daily basis.
4.     Lead by example. Employees look to their managers for cues on what's acceptable in the workplace. Leaders need to show their team it's okay to disconnect by taking advantage of flexible work schedules or PTO, eating lunch away from the desk, and actually logging off when using sick or mental health days. If managers don't make an effort to handle their own stress, employees won't either. Similarly, encourage employees to support one another through physical acts, like helping with a project if they have extra time, as well as digital acts, like messages of encouragement and recognition via social communities.
With fall in full swing, now's the time to reevaluate how your company looks at stress in the workplace. Learning to manage stress and burnout isn't just important for helping employees feel happier and healthier — it's also best practice for retaining top talent. By prioritizing the employee rather than their work output, your company will not only be a happier place to work, but also a more productive one.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Opt4health does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physician, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Opt4health blog. Reliance on any information provided by Opt4health, Opt4health employees, other contributors appearing on the blog at the invitation of Opt4health, or other visitors to the blog is solely at your own risk.

  Cell: +27823716364                                               Email: : huntly27@gmail.com
              Web Site: http://opt4health.co.za                            Facebook:  https://facebook.com/aubrey.huntly

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Recognize STRESS and learn how best to combat it with these tips

Learn how to use sensory stimulation to relieve stress on the spot and stay calm, productive, and focused—no matter what life throws at you.
At Opt4health we specialise in stress detection and relieve it by means of non-evasive cellular re-balancing. Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from the tension of traffic jams, chaotic meetings, arguments with your spouse, or a toddler’s tantrums? You can be that hero by learning to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening. Learning this skill takes time, experimentation, and practice—but the payoff is huge. You can stay calm, productive, and focused when you know how to quickly relieve stress.
What is the fastest way to relieve stress?
There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.
One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is to engage one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or through movement. But since everyone is different, you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover which technique works best for you.
Social interaction is your body’s most evolved and surefire strategy for regulating the nervous system. Talking face-to-face with a relaxed and caring listener can help you quickly calm down and release tension. Although you can’t always have a pal to lean on in the middle of a stressful situation, maintaining a network of close relationships is vital for your mental health. Between sensory-based stress relief and good listeners, you’ll have your bases covered.
Tip 1: Recognize when you’re stressed
It might seem obvious that you’d know when you’re stressed, but many of us spend so much time in a frazzled state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like when our nervous systems are in balance: when we’re calm yet still alert and focused. If this is you, you can recognize when you’re stressed by listening to your body. When you’re tired, your eyes feel heavy and you might rest your head on your hand. When you’re happy, you laugh easily. And when you’re stressed, your body lets you know that, too. Get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s clues.
Observe your muscles and insides. Are your muscles tense or sore? Is your stomach tight, cramped, or aching? Are your hands or jaw clenched?
Observe your breath. Is your breathing shallow? Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. Watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Notice when you breathe fully or when you “forget” to breathe.
Tip 2: Identify your stress response
Internally, we all respond the same way to the “fight-or-flight” stress response: your blood pressure rises, your heart pumps faster, and your muscles constrict. Your body works hard and drains your immune system. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways.
The best way to quickly relieve stress often relates to your specific stress response:
Overexcited stress response: If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Underexcited stress response: If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energizing.
The immobilization or “frozen” stress response
Do you freeze when under stress? The immobilization stress response is often associated with
a past history of trauma. When faced with stressful situations, you may find yourself totally stuck and unable to take action. Your challenge is to break free of your “frozen” state by rebooting your nervous system and reactivating the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” stress response. Physical movement that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, swimming, running, dancing, climbing, or tai chi, can be particularly helpful. As you move, focus on your body and the sensations you feel in your limbs rather than on your thoughts. This mindfulness element can help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move on.

Tip 3: Bring your senses to the rescue
To use your senses to quickly relieve stress, you first need to identify the sensory experiences that work best for you. This can require some experimentation. As you employ different senses, note how quickly your stress levels drop. And be as precise as possible. What is the specific kind of sound or type of movement that affects you the most? For example, if you’re a music lover, listen to many different artists and types of music until you find the song that instantly lifts and relaxes you.
Explore a variety of sensory experiences so that no matter where you are, you’ll always have a tool to relieve stress.
The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. Let your imagination run free and come up with additional things to try. When you find the right sensory technique, you’ll know it!
·Look at a cherished photo or a favorite memento.
·Use a plant or flowers to enliven your work space.
·Enjoy the beauty of nature: a garden, the beach, a park, or your own backyard.
·Surround yourself with colors that lift your spirits.
·Close your eyes and picture a place that feels peaceful and rejuvenating.
·Light a scented candle or burn some incense.
·Experiment with different essential oils.
·Smell the roses or another type of flower.
·Enjoy clean, fresh air in the great outdoors.
·Spritz on your favorite perfume or cologne.
·Wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
·Pet a dog or cat.
·Hold a comforting object (a stuffed animal, a favorite memento).
·Give yourself a hand or neck massage.
·Wear clothing that feels soft against your skin.
Slowly savoring a favorite treat can be very relaxing, but mindless eating will only add to your stress and your waistline. The key is to indulge your sense of taste mindfully and in moderation.
·Chew a piece of sugarless gum.
·Indulge in a small piece of dark chocolate.
·Sip a steaming cup of coffee or tea or a refreshing cold drink.
·Eat a perfectly ripe piece of fruit.
·Enjoy a healthy, crunchy snack (celery, carrots, or trail mix).
If you tend to shut down when you’re under stress or have experienced trauma, stress-relieving activities that get you moving may be particularly helpful.
·Run in place or jump up and down.
·Dance around.
·Stretch or roll your head in circles.
·Go for a short walk.
·Squeeze a rubbery stress ball.
·Sing or hum a favorite tune. Listen to uplifting music.
·Tune in to the soundtrack of nature—crashing waves, the wind rustling the trees, birds singing.
·Buy a small fountain, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your home or office.
·Hang wind chimes near an open window.
Vocal toning
As strange as it may sound, vocal toning is a special technique that reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Try sneaking off to a quiet place to spend a few minutes toning before a meeting with your boss and see how much more relaxed and focused you feel. It works by exercising the tiny muscles of the inner ear that help you detect the higher frequencies of human speech that impart emotion and tell you what someone is really trying to say. Not only will you feel more relaxed in that meeting, you’ll also be better able to understand what he’s trying to communicate.
How to tone
Sit up straight and simply make “mmmm” sounds with your lips together and teeth slightly apart. Experiment by changing the pitch and volume until you experience a pleasant vibration in your face and, eventually, your heart and stomach.

Tip 4: Find sensory inspiration
Having trouble identifying sensory techniques that work for you? Look for inspiration around you, from your sights as you go about your day to memories from your past.
Memories. Think back to what you did as a child to calm down. If you had a blanket or stuffed toy, you might benefit from tactile stimulation. Try tying a textured scarf around your neck before an appointment or keeping a piece of soft suede in your pocket.
Watch others. Observing how others deal with stress can give you valuable insight. Baseball players often pop gum before going up to bat. Singers often chat up the crowd before performing. Ask people you know how they stay focused under pressure.
Parents. Think back to what your parents did to blow off steam. Did your mother feel more relaxed after a long walk? Did your father work in the yard after a hard day?
The power of imagination. Once drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, try simply imagining vivid sensations when stress strikes. The memory of your baby’s face will have the same calming or energizing effects on your brain as seeing her photo. When you can recall a strong sensation, you’ll never be without a quick stress relief tool.
Take a break from technology
Taking a short hiatus from the television, computer, and cell phone will give you insight on what your senses respond to best.
·Try tuning into relaxing music instead of talk radio during your commute. Or try riding in silence for 10 minutes.
·Stuck in a long line at the grocery store? Instead of talking on your phone, take a moment to people watch. Pay attention to what you hear and see.
·Instead of checking email while waiting for a meeting, take a few deep breaths, look out the window, or sip some tea.
·While waiting for an appointment, resist the urge to text and give yourself a hand massage instead.

Tip 5: Make quick stress relief a habit
It’s not easy to remember to use your senses in the middle of a mini—or not so mini—crisis. At first, it will feel easier to just give into pressure and tense up. But with time, calling upon your senses will become second nature. Think of the process like learning to drive or play golf. You don’t master the skill in one lesson; you have to practice until it becomes second nature. Eventually you’ll feel like you’re forgetting something if you don’t tune into your body during challenging times. Here’s how to make it habit:
Start small. Instead of testing your quick stress relief tools on a source of major stress, start with a predictable low-level source of stress, like cooking dinner at the end of a long day or sitting down to pay bills.
Identify and target. Think of just one low-level stressor that you know will occur several times a week, such as commuting. Vow to target that stressor with quick stress relief every time. After a few weeks, target a second stressor and so on.
Test-drive sensory input. If you are practicing quick stress relief on your commute to work, bring a scented handkerchief with you one day, try music another day, and try a movement the next day. Keep experimenting until you find a clear winner.
Have fun with the process. If something doesn’t work, don’t force it. Move on until you find what works best for you. It should be pleasurable and noticeably calming.
Talk about it. Telling friends or family members about the stress-relief strategies you’re trying out will help you integrate them into your life. As an added bonus, it’s bound to start an interesting conversation: everyone relates to the topic of stress.
Tip 6: Practice wherever you are
The best part of sensory-based strategies is the awareness that you have control. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, quick stress relief is within arm’s reach.
Quick stress relief at home
Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident.
Kitchen. Ease kitchen stress by breathing in the scent of every ingredient. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.
Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands and breathe in the scent.
Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.
Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light.
Quick stress relief at work
Meetings. During stressful sessions, stay connected to your breath. Massage the tips of your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Sip coffee.
On the phone. Inhale something energizing, like lemon, ginger, peppermint. While talking, stand up or pace back and forth to burn off excess energy, or take calls outside when possible.
On the computer. Work standing up. Do knee-bends in 10-minute intervals. Suck on a peppermint. Sip tea.
Lunch breaks. Take a walk around the block or in the parking lot. Listen to soothing music while eating. Chat with a colleague.
Your workspace. Place family photos on your desk or mementos that remind you of your life outside the office.
Quick stress relief on the go
In traffic. Play music or listen to an audiobook. Take a different route to see something new. Do neck-rolls at stoplights. Sing in the car to stay awake and happy.
Public transportation. Take a break from reading, cell conversations, and music to tune into the sights and sounds around you. Try noticing something new, even if you’re on the same old bus ride.
Running errands. Wear a special perfume or lotion so you can enjoy it while you rush from place to place. Carry a stress ball in your pocket. Take a mental “snapshot” or “postcard” at each destination.
Waiting in lines. Instead of worrying about time slipping away, focus on your breathing. People watch. Chat with the person ahead of you. Chew a stick of minty gum.
Need more help or support, contact us at Opt4health

Cell: +27 823716364
Email: huntly27@gmail.com
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Authors: Robert Segal, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson. Last updated: October 2019.